Riding high with two other best-selling novels, Sarah Jio's latest book "Blackberry Winter" is on a league on it's own.
Q: What inspired you to write "Blackberry Winter"?
A: The novel was inspired by a song I heard on the radio called "Blackberry Winter" by Hilary Kole. I'd never heard the song before, and I became instantly enamored by its beautiful melody. I decided that I wanted to title a novel "Blackberry Winter" and challenged myself to think of a plot to fit the beautiful song. That night, the characters began whispering to me and I had a glimpse of their stories. The novel was also inspired by my experience as a mother. (I dedicated the book to my three sons, and to mothers everywhere.)
Q: Having children, how do you find the time to write?
A: It isn't always easy! My boys are 5, 3, and 1, but it helps that my husband is very hands on and supportive and frequently swoops in to give me writing time, especially on weekends when he'll take them on long adventures to the zoo or a favorite museum. I find that I can get a lot done in those four-hour weekend blocks and also after they're tucked in bed. We believe in early bedtimes in our house, so I tend to do a lot of work in the evenings. Right now my office is a tiny little room at the side of the house that isn't very exciting (in fact, it doubles as the family's storage closet, and I'm looking at an enormous box of diapers from Costco right now!), but in the new house that we're building, I'll have a window-filled space with a fireplace, bookcases, and a sofa. I cannot wait!
Q: What authors/books have had an influence on you?
A: I grew up loving the Anne of Green Gables books, The Babysitters Club series, Nancy Drew, and later in high school, Maeve Binchy's novels. Of all authors, I admired Maeve Binchy's ability to create worlds for her characters that I felt apart of. I think a lot about how her stories "felt" as I write my novels now, and I hope to create the same cozy and alluring worlds for my readers.
Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A: Keep at it and don't lose heart! Writing every day, even if it's just a few sentences, is key to your success (both so you keep in the material each day and so you exercise the creative side of your brain). I also suggest that people give up on novel starts that fail to excite them. Yes, working on any draft can be laborious at times, but if the story stops haunting you by day and keeping you up at night, it's likely that it won't grab an agent or a reader's attention either. My rule of thumb is that I must LOVE a book I'm working on if I am going to keep with it.
For more info on Sarah Jio and her books, visit her at her website.