Born and raised in Atlanta, Sara is a southern tall-tale teller with a terrible poker face. So, she writes fiction to better conceal the difference between truth and imagination. After dabbling in careers in academia, politics, and even a lucrative job in high-end fashion, she always found her way back to writing. Sara lives with her husband and two children, who think communication is best achieved through volume, repetition, and pure conviction. GRAVITY’S HEIR is her debut novel.
First off, tell us about your debut, Gravity’s Heir. Is it based in our known universe? Where does the title come from? Will it be part of a series?
Gravity’s Heir is set in a completely unique three-star system, with multiple inhabited moons, planets, and quite a few asteroid mining and satellite systems linking everyone together. What allows for travel between those planets is a fun technology I developed that uses gravity and energized gravitons to push and pull small spacecraft between larger interstellar bodies. That’s actually where the title comes from, since my main character’s grandfather developed artificial gravity and gravity propulsion flight; Lena is the heir to the empire that technology created. Currently I do not have plans to write a sequel, though I suppose I could be persuaded to write in that universe again if there’s enough interest.
How detailed do you get with the sciencey aspects of your world building?
I probably spent more time developing the technology and science than I did writing the book itself! Though very little of the nitty-gritty makes it into the text of the book, I did confirm that my science was consistent with the theoretical physics of gravity, gravitons, and particle and quantum mechanics. Though, naturally, there is some hand-waving assumptions given we don’t actually have working artificial gravity, yet.
Gravity’s Heir touches on the concept of found families. Did you have any specific inspirations?
The biggest inspiration for my found family is Joss Whedon’s Firefly. In fact, what I originally set out to write was my own Firefly set in a WWI-inspired conflict. I was influenced by Battlestar Galactica, Becky Chambers’s Wayfarer series, and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series as well.
In a previous life, you worked in high-end fashion. Is that experience reflected in how you discuss your character’s clothing or appearance?
Sadly, I didn’t get to incorporate much of my fashion obsession into this book. Lena eschews her past as an heiress in favor of simple clothes that move and fit comfortably. She’s a tank-top and pants kind of girl. The main character in my current work in progress is a bit more into her appearance, so I may be able to incorporate some high fashion sensibilities in the next book. I may even send her on a shopping trip to Gucci and name drop some of my former colleagues. That will be fun to write!
How did you snag your publisher, Black Rose Writing?
I got my publisher through the least glamorous, but most tested and true methods: a cold query. I spent over a year querying agents, participating in online pitch contests, doing everything I could to get my book in front of anyone who might be interested in it. While I got a lot of positive responses, I didn’t snag enough interest to get a contract. I was ready to give up, but my critique partners insisted I query a few small publishers that accepted unagented manuscripts. In early 2019, I sent it to about ten publishers that I thought would fit me, and within a month I had an offer from Black Rose Writing. They offered incredible terms, great distribution, and an accelerated publishing schedule to get my book in stores within nine months. It took a stressful few months to get everything edited and perfect for publication, but exactly nine months later, I had a book in hand and available for order from everyone from Amazon and Barnes and Noble to Target and Walmart. Then the pandemic hit. Oh well, timing in publishing is difficult in the best of times.
You’ve got a great series on your blog called “Perfect Pairings.” Tell us more about that!
My Pairings Project is a fun way to wed two of my favorite things: great books and great cocktails. I pair in depth book reviews of some of my favorite recent reads with drinks specially chosen to complement the book. I swear, lately I spend more time on this little passion project and promoting these brilliant books I’ve read than I do promoting my own book. It’s just so much fun to identify a theme or a character or a certain feel to the book I’m reading and then find a cocktail that evokes that same feel. I’ve literally spent an entire week calling up specialty liquor and grocery stores looking for just the right ingredient to go in a cocktail, and I’ve even made up my own recipes from time to time. I then mix up the drink and photograph the book and the cocktail for my blog. It’s been a bit of a success, with many of the authors featured choosing to use the cocktails for book events of their own. One of my cocktails, The Blueberry Cove, is even going to be featured in an upcoming sequel to Elizabeth Penney’s debut Hems and Homicide.
Can you discuss your upcoming projects?
For my own writing, it’s slow going at the moment. I’m homeschooling my five year old and taking care of my one year old, so I haven’t had as much time for my writing lately. But I am working on two books. One is an urban fantasy about a half-human fairy princess turned bartender in Atlanta who has to find and stop a killer. The other is a contemporary fantasy about a group of women who start a book club that slowly turns into a powerful coven. It’s Practical Magic meets Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. I also have a short story coming out next year in the annual JordanCon Anthology, alongside authors like Faith Hunter, Darin Kennedy, and David Alan Jones.