Sarah J Maas: Struggle with guilt of wanting to spend time with son when on a deadline
American fantasy author Sarah J Maas talks about her first adult fiction work, and balancing writing and motherhood, among other things.
Bestselling author Sarah J Maas’ releases have always been highly anticipated. However, with her latest work, House of Earth and Blood, first in the Crescent City series, what whetted the fans’ excitement manifold was the announcement that the contemporary fantasy series is her debut into the adult fiction genre. Since her earlier books, such as Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses, were in the YA (young adult) category, this shift took many by surprise.
The book revolves around half-fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan, who seeks revenge after a terrible tragedy and ends up embroiled in a violent web of greed and politics. Packed with a gamut of fantastical characters — faes, werewolves, wraiths, angels, merpeople, and whatnot — the book promises to be an engaging read for fantasy aficionados. Excerpts from an email interview:
Are you nervous about starting a new journey with a new universe?
Not at all! It’s actually been really exciting and delightful to get the chance to explore a new world and characters, and learn every detail about them! That sense of discovery is exactly why I love writing so much. It’s a total thrill for me.
Why the transition from writing for young adults to writing for adults?
It wasn’t a conscious choice, but rather just the story that called to me. From the moment Bryce walked into my head, I knew she was in her early to mid-twenties, which placed her and her story firmly in the adult realm.
What draws you to the fantasy genre?
I’ve never quite been able to explain why I love fantasy so much, but my obsession with it has been around since I was a kid.
Where did the idea of Crescent City come from?
I was on a plane for one of my book tours, years ago, and the idea hit me out of the blue while listening to some music. At the time, I had no idea who the characters were, or what their world was, but I just saw this epic, emotional scene (what is now the climax of the book) play out in my head. It moved me so much that I began crying (in the middle of the plane!), and I knew that if I was having such an intense reaction to just a kernel of a scene, it was a story I had to write.
Which character in House of Earth and Blood did you enjoy writing the most? And which was the toughest to flesh out?
Honestly, I loved all of them so much that it’s hard to pick just one. But if I had to choose, I’d say Bryce. She’s the heart of this story, and from the moment she walked into my head, I was so captivated by her. Plus, she kept surprising me until the very end, which is always something that delights me as a writer. As for the toughest to flesh out… all the characters were so vivid in my mind! If anything, just finding the space in this book to convey everything I wanted to regarding these characters was a challenge (there’s a reason why it’s so long, ha ha). I just adore them all so much that I could write probably another 800+ pages of them hanging out (but I guess that’s what the next few books are for!).
Your son will soon enter the Terrible Twos. How is your experience of balancing motherhood and writing? Do the sleepless nights interfere with your writing time?
Fortunately, my son has been a great sleeper for most of his life (knock on wood!), but juggling being a mom and my writing career has definitely been something I’ve had to figure out on a day-by-day basis. I’m lucky enough to have my husband be our son’s full-time caregiver (in addition to helping me with the business side of my writing career). So most days, the things I truly struggle with are just the guilt of wanting to spend time with my son when I have to sit down and focus on a deadline. It’s something I’m still figuring out, but hearing from other moms that they’ve struggled with the same things has been a huge help.
Do you have any plans to write books for children?
My son and I spend a lot of time reading together. But while I’d love to one day write a book for him that we could read at bedtime, I don’t have any plans or ideas to write one yet.
Do the reader reactions influence the future of your stories and characters in any way?
Not really. I just write the stories that are in my heart and my head, and let the characters guide me where they need to go.
What books are you currently reading?
Right now, I’m not reading anything. The joys of being a mother of a toddler! But I’ve got Christina Lauren’s The Honey Don’t List on my nightstand, waiting for me. I love their books!
Which are some of your favourite characters in literature?
I have too many to name, but if I were to pick a few — MacKayla Lane from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
One message you would like the readers to take away from Crescent City.
Through love, all is possible.