Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Author Interview: Sarah Mandell

Today I am excited to have Sarah Mandell, author of "Celia on the Run", on the blog today to tell us a bit about her book, her writing process, and whether or not she loves books that have endings that rip your heart out! 

From Goodreads: "Nick Novaczek is a cautious soul, a 17-year old with a quiet thirst for danger. On the eve of his grandmother’s funeral, danger finds him by the motel swimming pool. Her name is Celia and she’s everything he’s not. This foul-mouthed beauty is hitchhiking across the country to make amends with her estranged father and doesn’t carry an ounce of fear or hesitation in her tattered suitcase. 

Hours after meeting Celia, Nick is hopelessly hooked and “borrows” his parents’ car to join her mission, even though her story is full of holes. It’s the mistake he’s been waiting his whole life to make. After weeks of detours, with hundreds of miles left to go, their wild adventure unravels, but she won’t turn back, no matter how desperate things get. Celia’s got a charming smile to pay her way, a willing accomplice, and an endless supply of lies. Not to mention a gun." 

CELIA ON THE RUN if you first novel, can you tell us a bit about how it came to be?

Celia on the Run is the first of my novels to make it to publication, but it was in the works for quite some time. I started writing it several years ago but had trouble ending the story, so it sat incomplete while I went on to write other novels. I had no clue how to properly end a wild and crazy adventure like Celia on the Run, but was really happy with the characters and the first half of the story, so I couldn't abandon it. In the summer of 2010, while my computer was boxed up and unreachable as my husband and I moved from Maryland to South Carolina, I was struck with the ending quite suddenly, and of course that was horrible timing because I couldn't actually write it down. I finally finished Celia that summer and linked up with a literary agency (Nine Speakers) soon after, who shopped around the manuscript and we eventually signed with Untreed Reads. There was about 4 years in between when I wrote the first chapter and when the novel was published in February of 2012, but looking back, it doesn't feel like that long ago!

What are some upcoming projects that you are working on?

I'm so excited about my next novel, which is something I've been working on over the last year while Celia on the Run went through the editing process. My latest story is called Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe, and it's all at once ridiculous and tender. The story follows Daniel and Dylan McElroy, an inseparable pair who've just excused themselves from the foster system while taking the opportunity to steal a soon-to-be euthanized giraffe, all the way to Nebraska farmland. With a sixteen-foot stowaway in the back of a trailer that also doesn't belong to the trouble-making brothers, they end up in a deserted-looking barn where a beautiful redhead named Josephine discovers them and is very displeased. She lives here with her father who is spoken of but never seen, she's got a way with animals, a secret for every hour of the day, and has unintentionally caught the interest of both brothers who swore they'd never let some girl come between them.

Being an indie author what impact (if any) have book bloggers had on your career?

Book bloggers are incredible in what they do. I had no idea this virtual world even existed until I became a published author, but now I have a huge respect for what's happening out there. All these people who don't know each other, coming to one place to talk books, not just the story lines and characters but what actually goes into writing and publishing them - it doesn't get any better than that! As a first time author with no credentials to write a book other than my intense love of writing, and having published only in ebook format, I know having a web presence is critical for spreading the word, but I also think the blog community has so much to offer in the way of sharing advice and testing out ideas.

Do you read reviews? If so, how do you respond to negative (or not-so-nice) reviews?

I do read reviews, but I try not get offended if someone didn't care for the story. I can't begin tell you how many books I've read and personally disliked, so I wouldn't expect everyone to enjoy reading something I wrote just because I wrote it. I don't write reviews for other books unless I thoroughly enjoyed them because I personally know how much time and effort went into it. The other thing I have to keep in mind is that Celia on the Run is a bit of a tough sell, it's published as Young Adult, but there are some aspects of the story that really aren't appropriate for readers under 16. The story is gritty at times, gut wrenching too, but I tried hard to write realistically without being unnecessarily graphic. Still, this is a story that's not for everyone, and I knew that going in, so I can't expect everyone to enjoy reading it the same way I enjoyed writing it. Thankfully, I've gotten good reviews so far!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Taking a break from something you've been working on longterm can do wonders for the story and your writing. I know you want to finish it up as soon as possible and get it published, but if it's just not working 100%, give it time. Chances are it will all come together, better than ever, if you let the story rest and move on to something else for awhile. You'll come back with better writing skills, plus a fresh outlook, and that's a winning combination.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Writing Celia on the Run was a multi-media experience for me, and I think that is fairly unusual. With my fine art background, love of photography, and miles and miles of travel experience, a lot of that crept into my writing. I wanted to share that with readers, so if you visit www.celiaontherun.com you'll find a road trip photo album showing Nick and Celia's fictional journey across the US, a map of their zig-zaggy path, and playlists inspired by the story.

Yay or Nay Quick Questions

Coffee? Yes please

Love triangles? Yes, but not in real life

Cliff hangers? Always!

Music while writing? Absolutely, it sets the tone

Endings that rip your heart out? My favorite kind!

Distractions while writing? Knowing I have to stop at a certain point

About the Author: 
Sarah Mandell is a designer and writer living in Greenville, South Carolina. She owns a small handmade business called Once Again Sam where she makes and sells leather jewelry and quirky felted creations to local galleries and customers around the world. Her debut novel, Celia on the Run, was published in 2012 by Untreed Reads.


  1. Great interview! It's nice to see authors who appreciate book bloggers! :) It's an online world ;) I hadn't heard of this book before it sounds pretty neat!

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