Sarah and I share a belief that the best promotion is supporting others, and the way her podcast has succeeded in that goal inspired me to find my own way to highlight women doing amazing work. The idea for "Badass Ladies" was born, and I'm so glad to be featuring Sarah in its very first profile. (Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end!)
Kate: What are your current projects?
Sarah: I put out a podcast that features long-form interviews with young adult and middle grade writers. I did most of the interviews while on a cross-country road trip, so I got to sit down and have in-person interviews, which are so much more personal and intimate. I got to ask some of my favorite writers how they came to writing, what challenges a creative life poses for them, and got lots of adorable pet sounds.
Besides that, I have a couple of contemporary YA manuscripts I’m working on, and one heist book.
Kate: When and how did you decide to commit to a creative career?
Sarah: I avoided thinking about a career for as long as possible, so when that caught up with me in junior year of college I realized my only real skill was writing. I’d already declared an English major but applied for the journalism program and fell in love with that kind of story telling. Between my work as a reporter and all the incredible creative work I’ve been able to do related to writing books, I know I could never have a job that didn’t challenge me in that way. I’ve looked at jobs like that – public relations, etc. – and couldn’t even make myself apply for them.
Kate: Do you have any other creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?
Sarah: I’m an amateur design nut, so I spend countless hours looking at interior design blogs and drooling over beautiful prints and cards and custom furniture and the whole thing. I’d spend all my money decorating my home and wear a paper bag if it was socially acceptable. Beyond that I love drawing and painting for fun, and want to learn to play the guitar and the drums, too. I think all creative endeavors feed each other, because they can’t help but shape your worldview and challenge you to think differently.
|Portrait of the Artist as a Young Badass|
Sarah: I take forever to write and edit books. Because I have a lot of things on my plate I’m somewhat squeezed for time, but even when I have a free afternoon it can be tough to get myself into the zone, especially when I haven’t been writing frequently. Self-discipline is what I’m most concerned about right now.
Kate: How do you stay inspired? Productive? How do you deal with negativity?
Sarah: For me, inspiration and productivity represent the extremes of a spectrum. To get inspired, I love to travel, have new experiences, mix up my schedule and change my mindset. But to be truly productive, I need structure and a steady schedule. Balancing those two things is tricky, and I’m still trying to get the hang of it.
As far as dealing with negativity, I have a pretty low tolerance for bummertown people. So I tend to cut Debbie Downers out of my life, or try to interact with them as little as possible, and that eliminates a lot of unnecessary negative junk. Otherwise, I try to be thoughtful about negativity – is there anything about that situation I can control, or changes I can make to avoid it in the future? I also go for long runs, which help me work through a lot of upsetting things and find some forgiveness from myself, which is the first step to feeling better.
Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.
Sarah: One of my very first interviews for my college paper was with a muckity-muck in the athletic department. I got a phone interview with him and didn’t prepare beforehand, at all. After a couple stuttering sort-of questions, the guy said, “It doesn’t seem like you have a plan. Give me a call back when you know what you want to ask.” It was profoundly humiliating. But the direct result was I started a habit of preparing obsessively for interviews and other professional situations. Thanks to that guy’s disinterest in B.S., I am better at almost everything I do, so I can’t even be ashamed of the moment anymore.
|Kate & Sarah|
Sarah: I came to feminism late in the game, and struggled with even using that word until I was well out of college. When I was 23 and working in my first job out of college, I was sexually assaulted while at a work conference. I had loving and supportive friends and family around me, but there were “What were you doing there?” questions. My personal community just hadn’t tackled these issues yet. Thankfully that was when I had just joined the writing world, and met all these amazing women who taught me so much about feminism, assault, the landscape of power and privilege I was navigating without having words to describe it.
Frankly, I’m pretty pissed there wasn’t a voice in my life as a young woman telling me it was okay to be called a bitch (or worse), not liked, or even shunned if it meant I was standing up for myself and insisting on feeling safe. That’s what I’m committed to in my work, representing alternative stories about girls who challenge the social pressure young women face to be nice, pretty, and quiet.
Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?
Sarah: Listen. Create a platform for their voices and stories. Insist that they are heard.
Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?
Sarah: Find the very small voice in the back of your mind that tells you what you truly want (not what you think you SHOULD want), and listen as hard as you can. Find ways to give that voice a megaphone. And try, to the very farthest extent of your abilities, to not give a fuck.
I started writing books after my father died. I set off on the podcast road trip when my marriage fell apart. No one’s life is untouched by tragedy, and the only advice I have to give anyone going through awful times is to art – art as hard as you can. There’s literally no way it can hurt.
You can find Sarah all over the internet:
website / twitter / tumblr
first draft podcast / twitter / ya highway / tumblr
I'm asking each Badass Lady featured to pick a quote that they think deserves to be preserved for all-time in handicraft -- then crafting it and giving it away to a reader! (Sorry, US only, unless I figure out a way to make a cyber craft.) Here's Sarah's pick:
Want to give bozos the finger ALL DAY LONG?
Leave a comment telling us your favorite badass quote and you'll be entered to win!
(Note: I am actually wearing this tank at the moment, but winner gets to choose their own color/size/sleeves/etc. And if you'd rather just admire the snark, you can choose a pillow, wall hanging, or other option I haven't thought of yet.)
Want even more?
Watch the Badass Ladies You Should Know website for a second
"Short Answers" interview and bonus material later this week!