About Sara Baker:
Sara Baker’s fiction has been published in Cleaver, Confrontation, H.O.W. Journal, The China Grove Journal, TheIntima.org, The Examined Life Journal, The New Quarterly, The Lullwater Review and other venues and has been shortlisted for the Bridport and Fish contests. Her poetry has been published in Stone, River, Sky: the Negative Capability Press Anthology of Georgia Poetry, The 2011 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, The Apalachee Review, The Healing Muse, Ars Medica, and elsewhere. Her work has been shortlisted for the Eludia award, and she has been a finalist for the Gertrude Stein award, and the Hemingway Days First Novel Contest, among other awards. Her screenplay, One of Us, was a finalist in the CineStory screenplay contest, and her radio play A Wagner Matinee, was aired on BBC Radio and NPR. She has been a fellow at the Hambidge Center, and has received scholarships to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She has an M.A. in English from Boston College.
After teaching English literature and writing at the college level for fifteen years, Sara’s own experience with illness and loss spurred her to design and facilitate a writing-to-heal workshop for cancer patients and caregivers at the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support in Athens, Georgia. Over the eleven years she ran those workshops, she presented and published extensively in the field of expressive writing. Her passion to share the healing that can emerge from writing comes directly from her own experiences. Her writing helped her regain a sense of self and ultimately heal.
Sara lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband, physicist and author Todd Baker. They have three grown children, one almost grown, and are grateful to live in such a wonderful community. When not writing or teaching, Sara is an avid gardener, dancer and dog lover.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is how I explore the world, how I make sense of it. I think it was Joan Didion who said that she didn’t know what she thought until she wrote it down. I am interested in the inner world of my characters, in their journeys and how they make moral choices in a chaotic world.
Tell us about your writing process.
I do not outline. I start with an image, or an intuition about a situation. The Timekeeper’s Son, my latest book, is a novel inspired initially by a newspaper piece about a boy who ran in front of a car and caused an accident. Evidently, the child had a lot of emotional problems. I flashed on an image of his parents, the back story of his and their struggles, and the image drew into it a lot of other concerns that had been floating around in my mind: How do people sustain community in dire times? What happens when schools are underfunded? How does a boy go forward into manhood when he does not have a good relationship with a father? Josh, the 17 year-old protagonist, is not supported in his creativity by his clock-obsessed father. Issues of race and history came into it, organically.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When the writing is going well, I listen and watch my characters. It really feels as if I am simply taking notes as they go about their business! But it doesn’t always flow. I treat writing as a job: I try to get to my desk at 9 and work until one. I need to walk or swim before I settle down to work. I also take time in the morning to do some yoga, meditate and write a few morning pages. These routines are really important to me. I don’t get on the internet until after one, and I do not take my iPhone up to my study. I don’t play music in the morning, but I do in the afternoon, when I attend to more “business” type things. I write drafts initially by hand, then put the work into the computer, print it out, revise by hand, print it out, etc. I write many drafts: I wrote 7 full drafts of this book.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Get feedback, but don’t write by committee. That is, don’t workshop your piece to death. Don’t show it to anyone until it is pretty well done, and then take criticism with a grain of salt. Push outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself, but also believe in yourself. Nadine Gordimer said writing fiction is like being a tightrope walker: you can’t look down. Be yourself. Write for yourself first. Choose good models, but don’t try to write like someone else.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I am very happy I published with a small publishing house, Deeds Publishing. They have given my book the personal attention a larger house might not have. They are a local company, and I like being able to drop in and talk about business with them–they always have time for me. I think publishing locally is like eating locally–you have a more individual, artisanal product. Also, we have a great independent bookstore, Avid Bookshop, which features local authors. It makes the whole enterprise of publishing much more of a community endeavor.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Wow, that is a tough one. I think it will be decentralized, as it is becoming. I know that I tend to like to read off-beat books from independent presses. The problem is that the big houses have become so profit-driven they only want a sure thing. Which makes them cautious and insular. I suppose they will continue to exist, but I hope that independent presses and authors will get more of the market.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Literary Fiction, Family Life, Women’s Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.