She runs a YouTube channel with over 35k subscribers, and she’s a successful voice actress who’s been contracted to work on a number of video game projects. Now, Sara Secora (25) is working on what may be her biggest accolade to date. She’s in the process of editing the first in a series of her young adult fantasy novel, Throne of Lies; set for release in Spring 2016. We decided to start a conversation with her and ask some questions about the writing and editing process. Below is the full interview.
When did you first know you wanted to write a book, and how old were you?
Sara Secora: I’ve always enjoyed writing in small forms: poetry, short stories, and things of that nature. I would say that my desire to write a book began some time in my mid-teenage years. At that point, I wasn’t sure how to go about it, and I wasn’t even sure what I specifically wanted to write. I did tell others that I wanted to write a book, but no one took my claims very seriously.
So I began writing a few concepts and ideas. I even started the workings of an amateur self-help book of sorts. After that, I began to work on a little story about a girl named Amethysta. In fact, that is probably the only thing about the story that hasn’t changed throughout the years. Her name has stayed the same.
I officially started to write Throne of lies in 2007. The main character, Amethysta, is a seventeen-year-old, which was exactly how old I was when I created her. I’ve grown with this character, but the essence of her is very much true to that of a girl her age.
How did you come up with the idea for Throne of Lies?
SS: I like to think of Amethysta as a version of myself. Not a direct copy, but an extension of my characteristics. I’ve taken my own experiences and given them a fantasy spin. That really helped when I began writing this book. The full idea for Throne of Lies wasn’t clear at first. As I wrote more I figured out what I wanted to happen, and removed what I didn’t. Over the years the story has changed a great deal. It took turns I never anticipated, but as it stands, I am very proud of the story it is today.
You’ve been working on Throne of Lies since 2007, can you explain why it took so long to finish? Were there lengthy gaps between writing?
SS: Writing a book takes a lot out of a person. It takes immense heart, time, and money—things I wasn’t able to give completely during a lot of those years. I’m at a point now where I am able to give this book my all. And in truth, I’m glad I waited.
There were also years when I didn’t touch the book, but it wasn’t forgotten. The process of writing a book goes so far beyond the actual writing, and I learned this along the way. I had moments where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish Throne of lies. I had moments of extreme self-doubt as I think all authors do. I decided to just take it a step at a time, and now I am almost there!
Can you explain the complexities of writing a book that you know will be a series?
SS: Being a first-time author, I believe it is a risky move to begin with a trilogy series. I’ve now locked myself into a three book series which means pacing is everything. I need each book to be filled with equal amounts of information and intrigue. That is no easy task, and even more so for a new author.
I’ve sunk a lot of money into editing (three rounds total) and I think that was the best move for me. It really gave me the push and guidance I needed to set things straight for book one, and even some ideas for book two.
I get the feeling that people are weary when it comes to funding self-pub books. Did you receive many criticisms when crowd-funding the project?
SS: I didn’t meet my goal which was $3,000, although I was grateful that I raised just over half of that. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to IndieGoGo for funding. My YouTube channel has demographic that didn’t match my books demographic, so I knew it would be rocky. To my surprise, there was an outpour of support from friends and viewers.
Yes, there were some criticism from folks about my method of self-publishing, but what I think they don’t understand is there is no right way to self-publish. It all depends on the specific needs of the author, and there are many services online from various websites to help you get there.
With the assistance of the raised money, I was able to get my book with the editor right away for round two! In fact, I just received my manuscript back from the editor the other day, and I am so happy with the results already!
Do you find it difficult to fully flesh out the world and other characters when writing in first-person?
SS: I always envisioned this story being told through the eyes of Amethysta, so that forced me to go down the first-person path. It has been challenging to do that while keeping everything interesting, and also exploring other characters. I think people prefer to read third-person and to write in it because it is far less limiting, but I’ve stuck to my guns on the first-person decision because I believe that is how this story was always meant to be told.
With fantasy fiction, it’s easy for authors to create ways to push the plot along and get out of plot holes. Is it difficult to balance the level of fantasy/fictional elements in the world so that readers aren’t overwhelmed?
SS: That has been a struggle. I wanted to keep this book easy to read, but also still obviously in an old-times fantasy world. That is also something I’ve brought up with the editors, and we’ve worked together to try to keep the experience inside this world I’ve created by watching out for any words that might be too modern. Although, since this is a fictional world, I am given some freedom to make creative choices of my own.
Editing can be a stressful process for authors; can you explain the process for Throne of Lies?
SS: So editing has been rough. I’ve gone through and edited the book from start to finish countless times. I’ve given chapters to friends to review before I started seeking professional editorial help. By the time I sent my manuscript out to Kirkus, I felt my work was pretty cleaned up. They offered a lot of assistance and suggestions that helped spark new ideas on how to bring everything seamlessly together.
Then I spent more months editing on my own before I sent the book out to CreateSpace for another editors opinion on my work. That leads us to where I am now. I am back to editing on my own for the final time before I ship it out for a final copyedit.
What was your main reason for going self-pub, and did you consider pitching to publishers before?
SS: I did send my manuscript out to one publisher, but after some research, I realized that a first-time author being accepted by a publisher wasn’t likely. So instead of going through the brutal 6-9 month waiting periods only to never hear back because my work was thrown into the slush pile, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Self-publishing is easier now than ever with companies like CreateSpace out there.
I happen to know you’re a huge gamer and that you have a high level of appreciation for geek culture. Has your love of games inspired your writing at all?
SS: Absolutely, I adore all things fantasy and that includes RPG’s such as Skyrim, Dragon Age, and World of Warcraft! I feel that my imagination developed all the more because of my experience with gaming.
What’s next for Sara Secora, the author?
SS: I’m going to finish this book and then probably take a little break before getting into book two. Of course I will also be continuing with my YouTube channel AviGaming, and also voice acting!