Sunday 22 March 2015

INTERVIEW: Sarah Noffke

Today I'm happy to share with you an interview with Sarah Noffke, author of The Lucidites series! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, Awoken?
Awoken is the story of a young girl named Roya Stark, who has just discovered she’s a part of special race of humans and that her fate is tied to that of a dangerous man’s, Zhuang. Roya is a Dream Traveler, which allows her to use her dreams to go anywhere in space and time. She’s also clairvoyant. Zhuang has taken her family’s consciousness hostage and Roya knows the only way to save them, and the world at large, is to fight him. The Lucidites, a seemingly good society of Dream Travelers, swoop in and offer to assist Roya. However, upon arriving at their headquarters, she learns she hasn’t been told the whole truth. Still Roya remains reluctantly committed to the mission she must lead. And there is some hope for her, since she’ll have the aid of five talented Dream Travelers who all have their own special ability. Roya has plunged into a dynamic and dangerous new world, but what keeps her awake at night is the fact that the fate of humanity’s dreams rest of her shoulders.

Awoken is the first in The Lucidites series, in which all three books were released at the same time. What made you decide to release the whole series all at once?
I did make the conscious decision to release all three books in the series at once, and have since learned this is considered an edgy approach. The reason I did this was to cater to the reader’s needs. Releasing one book at a time stirs up a lot of media and marketing attention. But readers, from my experience, don’t want to wait. Why make them? I’m a reader and I loathe when I have to wait six months for the next book to come out. And all too often, by the time the book is released I’m off reading something else and can’t get back to it for a long time. I’m not sure that I’ll always release all my books in a series at once, but if it’s what the reader wants then I will. I serve readers, not a hungry publisher.

What inspired you to write about people who can dream travel?
I’ve always been obsessed with dreams. They’re this enigma, which seem to carry so much power. How many times have you dreamed something that came true the next day? Or dreamed about a friend and then they called out of the blue? Or had the strangest déjà vu? Dreams hold so much richness and also a ton of mystery. I have always wondered how I could use them more fully in my own life by lucid dreaming. All these fascinations of mine with dreams led to the idea of a special race who transcend time and space when asleep. And from there the rest of the story slowly unraveled.

How did you come up with the villain of the story, Zhuang?
The idea for an ancient villain came to me when I was reading about Zhuangzi, who was a Taoist philosopher. He said, “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” Once I read this I quickly latched onto the idea of a villain who was once good, but became corrupt through greed. And so Zhuang was born, but he dreamt himself as things much more threatening than a butterfly. Maybe most writer’s start with creating the hero, but in my case I started with the antagonist. From there the idea of stealing consciousness through dreams took shape and everything fell into place.

Did you relate to Roya at all, or any of the other characters whilst writing the story?
I relate to all of my characters in one way or another. Roya is in many ways a lot like me, and in other ways we’re complete opposites. She’s quiet and antisocial, which I’m not at all. She’s also very brave and a badass, and I can’t say I’ve ever been either of those. However, we both share a love for classic literature, use sarcasm way too much in conversation, and truly believe the world is innately good. Besides from Roya, I think the character I relate to the most is Aiden, or at least I highly admire him. He’s a very focused individual, who also doesn’t take himself too seriously. I love how much life he interjects into his scenes. Is it wrong that I want to be a nerdy scientist in my next life?

What made you decide to write the series for young adults?
YA is my genre of choice when reading. For young adults, nothing is fixed. For the most part they don’t know who they are, who’ll they marry, who they’ll become or where they’re life is going. All of these uncertainties make for a lot of adventure and tension. Also, young adults have a hunger for life that dissipates to a certain extent for adults. As adults, we’re bogged down by the day-to-day. Young adults have a fresher perspective. I also love interacting with my young adult audience for this reason. They are so inquisitive and passionate.

What was your favourite part of the writing process?
Falling in love with the characters. When I first start writing a book all of these characters come to me, like I’m meeting the whole gang at a party. Over weeks of outlining and brainstorming, their personalities are revealed. Then I start writing and it’s like we’ve all taken an extended holiday together. Somewhere between the first page of a novel and the last, I find that I’ve attached myself to a few different characters and in some cases, fallen madly in love with them. I’ll tell you this, when I finished the last book in The Lucidites series I cried and cried and cried. I felt like all my friends had gotten on a ship and sailed to a distant land where I would never see them again. Yes, that’s right! I have imaginary friends.

Do you have any advice for other inspiring writers out there?
Every writer has advice on this topic and it’s all worthy. It’s advice from other writers that’s made me who I am. With that being said, I don’t want to repeat what most say, but I’m going to anyway. My promise is that I’ll try to say something new too.

So most will tell an aspiring writer (and they’re correct) to read as much as possible, write every day, and read books on how to write.

Alright, now here’s my something new that I give to only you: Become intimately acquainted with the writer inside you. This is not a person the world outside will know. This is the part inside you that only you know, that tells stories inside your head, and imagines fantastic things when the normal day-to-day is going on around you. You’re the only one who knows this person and the only one who can interpret their stories. Make a habit of closing your eyes once a day and meditating with this person. In time you will be so connected to them that their words will flow from you effortlessly. Most writers I know will agree that their books do not come from them, but rather through them. This happens when you open up this channel.

And if that sounds too metaphysical for you, well then just check out Stephen King’s autobiography, On Writing. He’s a genius.

Finally, are you working on any other novels at the moment?
I’m currently writing a new trilogy. I’ve complete the first two books and hope to start the third by early spring. It another series about Dream Travelers. There’s all new characters. A new society. And it’s WAY more dystopian than The Lucidites. It’s also a lot darker and a little sexier, but still YA. The series is called The Reverians.

Thanks so much to Sarah for stopping by! You can read my review of Awoken here, and look out soon for my review of book two in The Lucidites series, Stunned. 

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