Today I’m welcoming Sarai Henderson to my blog as part of my ongoing Author Interview series!
PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?
Sarai Henderson: My name is Sarai Henderson. I live in Oregon, in a small town south of Portland. I’m the mother of three young boys who keep me busy and the author of HUNTER, a YA urban fantasy/paranomral about bounty hunter telepaths who work for a ruthless telepath faction.
PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?
SH: My writing started after my ballet career suddenly ended when I was 18. I had always enjoyed writing when I was young, but didn’t truly come to life until that was all that was left. I wrote my first novel in my early twenties (House of Chaos) but didn’t publish it until this year, 2016. After I had my third son, I decided to write Hunter, my most recent novel and my first to be published. It took me a year of lunch breaks from work and a Twitter pitch party to land my publisher, Evernight Teen.
PW: ET is the publisher of my YA novel Manifesting Destiny! What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?
SH: Hunter is a YA urban fantasy/paranormal. I love urban fantasy because I can describe the world around me, so people can see what I love and hate about places I’ve been. In Hunter, I describe how the rain falls here in the NW. Its something I actually love, but I let my main character in the book loathe it. I wanted her to portray misery in that moment and the rain really helps with that (even though it truly is a beautiful thing).
PW: Nice use of imagery and symbolism. In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?
SH: Sixteen-year-old Hunter is stuck between her telepath world and the strong arm of the government where she must choose between trust and loyalty.
PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?
SH: I’ve always loved Emma Stone and her big eyes. She would be a perfect Hunter and I think I would make Chris Pratt Seeker. He has the big brother kind of vibe that Seeker is known for.
PW: I love Chris Pratt, would watch him in just about anything.
What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?
SH: I’m a huge fan of Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series. He was what drew me to epic fantasy, magic and the paranormal. Everything he writes is unique and creative. He is my favorite author.
PW: What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?
SH: I’m reading Allegient right now, finishing up the series before I see the last movie. I’m also working through the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I’ve been reading those books for 10 years now and I’m only on Book 4. That’s some deep stuff.
PW: I read the first couple Wheel of Time books but felt overwhelmed, not up to the task. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to read something so densely, lushly written. I stand in awe of Jordan’s world building, and in awe of you for attempting to read it!
Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?
SH: My process is pretty much word vomit. I sit in my car on my lunch break from work and write until my hand cramps. I can usually come up with a pretty good plot in my first draft that needs some small tweaking in the next draft. Its worked for me so far.
PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?
SH: My first draft takes me about a month and a half, but the following drafts can take me another six months or so. I usually consider a novel done when I can’t stand reading it any longer.
PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?
SH: This book was unusual when it came to the submission process. I finished it just in time to participate in Pit2Pub, a Twitter pitch party by Kristin D. Van Risseghem. My first 40-character pitch received eight requests, one of them happened to be my current publisher, Evernight Teen. I was researching all the publishers that had shown interest in my novel when I got a message on Twitter from Evernight Teen saying that they were really interested in my novel and how much they wanted me to submit to them, so I did. They were the second query I made with this new manuscript. A few months later, Hunter was published.
PW: I had a similar experience with Manifesting Destiny. What are you working on now?
SH: Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Hunter called Seeker. It’s going to be telepaths against telepaths with a new threat and blast from Hunter’s past. Who knows what will happen? Well, I guess I do 🙂
PW: What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?
SH: Don’t give up. I spent several years trying to publish my first manuscript and only two tries to publish my second. Anything can happen. You never know.
PW: Good advice. Seems like if the first book doesn’t sell, write something else and try again.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
SH: I dream big and want to have my Hunter series turned into a movie, but in reality, I think I’ll have my current series done and started on another. Hopefully, a little better known than I am now.
PW: I’ve been trying to get one of my novels turned into a movie for over three years now, but the industry is a tough nut to crack. Good luck with your work!
Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:
SH: My favorite quote is from the movie ThorL “You want me to put down the hammer?” I use it for everything. “You want me to put down the tuna sandwich… Laundry… Three-year-old child.” It works for everything….
PW: Ha! Love it! Favorite color:
PW: Favorite TV show:
SH: The Walking Dead
PW: Favorite movie:
SH: Fifth Element… Lelu Dallas, multi pass.
PW: Oh my God, we say that around our house all the time! Okay, someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:
SH: My favorite Chrises: Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, Pine.
PW: Good taste! And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?
Sixteen-year-old Hunter belongs to the Telepathic Alliance for the Latent or Newly manifested, otherwise known as Talon, a bounty hunter community known for their ruthless tactics. Her latest mission in San Diego was supposed to be a piece of cake, but when the job takes a treacherous and deadly turn, not even her telepathic abilities could have warned her of the dangers lurking around the corner.
There is only one place for Hunter to go, and that is straight into the hands of the government and their Psychic Intelligence Team, but even the “Normal” world isn’t safe. With each passing hour throwing her deeper into the game of life and death, Hunter must decide who to trust before this mission becomes her last.
Sarai Henderson is a retired ballerina from Oregon City, Oregon, where she spends most her time chasing down her three rambunctious boys and writing on her lunch break at work. She enjoys DIY projects, Photography and writing on her blog about life as a mother of an autistic son. Find her online at www.exballerina.com or on Twitter @Shendersonbooks.