Thursday, February 2, 2012

Apocalypse Now: An Interview with Sara Wilson Etienne

It's my birthday!  Which's also release day for Sara Wilson Etienne's HARBINGER!  It was so nice of Penguin to think of me on my birthday!
In all seriousness, I'm thrilled to have Sara here to talk about HARBINGER!

Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller.
When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.
But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.
Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.
Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.
And here's the fantastic trailer:

Sara Wilson Etienne
Thanks for being here, Sara!

1.  Tell us about your road to publication with this book.  Was it straight and narrow or long and winding?
I’m gonna go with long and straight. Writing the book and getting it published took me a full ten years, but there weren’t any crazy twists or detours along the way. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote Harbinger countless times. Teaching myself to write--how to put together a novel--as I went. I got notes from my critique groups, went to conferences, met my agent at one, then rewrote my book a few more times, and finally sold it! Thinking back, I was pretty single minded about the whole thing, so I guess…life is a highway? I wanna ride it??

2.  The mythology in HARBINGER is so unique.  Your Author's Note at the end gives us a tantalizing glimpse into your research and world-building; can you expand on that a bit?
Hmmm…well, I don’t want to give anything away. But let me say this. I LOVE research. I love immersing myself in a sea of facts, sifting through the sands to find that one perfect detail. And the best details—details that are worth basing a book on—are the ones with a tiny amount of specific information and then lots of unknowns surrounding it.
And that’s what I found when I started researching Maine’s history and pre-history, something delicious and solid, but with crazy questions that no one could answer. So I set about making up my own answers.

3.  Music is a strong theme in the book, from the drumming that Faye hears in her head to the song that Kel sings to her.  What's your writing playlist like?
I listened to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack while writing HARBINGER and it pretty much works as a soundtrack for my book. Pounding Taiko drums, eerie wailing, and sweeping melodies. It instantly let me sink into Faye’s world and linger there.

4.  What's your writing process like?  Do you have any rituals?
Well, I start my day with coffee and breakfast and I have some wrist problems, so I do arm exercises while the caffeine is kicking is. Then I put whatever music I’m listening on repeat. I listen to the same music over and over while writing a book. It’s like a trigger. Yes, I am Pavlov’s dog.
As for the big picture, I’m big into rewriting beginnings until I get a grip on my characters and plot. And in fact, I tend to rewrite whole drafts, rather than revising details until I finally work out a solid version . My favorite part though is after the book has a sturdy framework and I get to make it pretty!

5.  Tell us what's up next for you.
Well, I’m revising a new book, unrelated to Harbinger, currently titled Unworthy. Like I mentioned, I rewrite a lot and, true to form, I’m re-envisioning the whole thing right now! It feels a little daunting but I’m pretty excited about it!

6.  How are you celebrating my, your release day? :-)
Happy Birthday!!!  
I’m celebrating with awesome art! I’ve been doing these art reveals every Thursday... twenty-five amazing artists have created Harbinger-inspired pieces of art. So this week, I’ve been building up to the release with a slew of reveals. You can see them here,  at
And on Saturday, Feb 4th, I’m having my launch party at Children’s Book World in LA. I can’t wait!!!! Was that enough exclamation marks? I’m seriously ready to sign some books and party big time!

7.  Lastly, we at the Lucky 13s believe in lucky charms.  And since talismans figure so prominently in HARBINGER, tell me - do you have any talismans?
Yes! I have a hedgehog necklace my sister gave me…I wear it when I need a little extra courage. I also have a lot of Wonder Woman accessories that do the same thing. Stripey, tall socks help too. I guess I have a lot of talismans that remind me to be brave!

HARBINGER  is out today! 
Sara's Website
@wilsonetienne on Twitter


  1. That's a seriously AWESOME book trailer.

    Off to Amazon!

  2. I loved that interview! And that book trailer is AMAZING. The book sounds so awesome! I really love a book where the author has put in a lot of time researching. Happy Book Birthday, Sara, and Happy Birthday, Nicole!

  3. Congrats on your release Sara. Your book sounds awesome. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who spent 10 years on one book. It gives me hope. And Happy Birthday Nicole!

  4. I've watched this trailer a million times. One of the best I've seen. The book looks amazing and I can't wait to read it. HUGE congrats!