Please look for the answers to questions for your book report BEFORE you email. Most of the commonly asked questions are answered below.
If your question is NOT answered below, email Sarah at: sarahdarerlittman at gmail.com.
Warning: I've successfully completed K-12, college and a masters degree. It entailed doing a LOT of HOMEWORK. Please don't ask me to do yours.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
A: I seem to remember wanting to be an airline stewardess when I was really little, which is pretty funny considering I really don't enjoy flying all that much. I also wanted to be an actress, which might be why I enjoy reading stories aloud to my kids, because I get to use lots of different voices. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school, but for various reasons I ended up being a) financial analyst and b) a farmer's wife before I finally got up the courage to do what I really wanted to do all along.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I wish I knew! Seriously, I never know what will spark an idea. Sometimes ideas come from my own life. Sometimes I read something in the news or on a social media site or I hear a story on the radio that makes me start thinking. Ideas come from all sorts of places, and you never know when they will hit you. The important thing is to read widely and be open to ideas and to constantly think “ what if?” The other important thing is to write your ideas down, because otherwise it’s easy to forget them - especially when you get to my age.
Q: Are you main characters based on you?
A: There's a bit of me in some of my characters, but what happens to them didn't necessarily happen to me. That's why my books are called novels rather than memoirs.
Q: Do you have any tips for becoming a better writer?
A: Check out the Writing Tips Section under the "For Writers" tab on this website. I’ve also written a lot of blog posts both on my blog and on various other blogs, so it’s time to learn how to use your research skills. Knowing how to research effectively is important for your future career - not to mention for your life as a citizen in a democracy.
Q: Do you have a favorite book that you've written?
A: That’s like asking me which is my favorite child. I spend so much time and love on each of my books I get very attached to them.
Q: Do you have a favorite book by another author?
A: I can't possibly answer that because I love so many books. Plus, I have a lot of friends who are authors and I don't want to get anyone upset!
Q: Have you ever considered making a movie out of one of your books? You could make a LOT OF MONEY doing that! Also, can I star in the movie?
A: If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question (also, the “When are you going to be on Oprah?" when she still had her talk show, and “I have a great idea for a book, will you write it for me and we’ll split the profits 50-50?”) I could retire to a nice beachfront property with a hunky cabana guy bringing me umbrella drinks. And I love those little umbrellas! So here’s the thing: It’s really not up to me. It’s up to Hollywood. If they are interested they will option a book and get a someone to write a script. Usually that someone isn’t the author of the book. But even then, there’s no guarantee that the movie will happen. It has to get “green lit” by a studio, in other words, someone has to come up with the MONEY to make the movie. So while I would love to walk the red carpet of a movie based on one of my books some day (although trust me, I’d be so freaked out worrying about WHAT NOT TO WEAR I would drive everyone around me, not to mention myself, insane) I’m just going to keep on writing the best books I can till my agent tells me Hollywood’s on the phone. But in the meantime, feel free to tell me who you’d like to see cast in the imaginary movie of any of my books!
QUESTIONS ABOUT SPECIFIC BOOKS
CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC:
Q: Why does it say G-d in CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC and LIFE, AFTER instead of spelling out the whole name?
A: Observant Jews don't spell out the name of G-d on paper in case the paper is disrespected or destroyed.
Q: Were you brought up Jewish or Catholic?
A: I grew up in a more reform Jewish household. CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC was written as an answer to my teenage self on a question that really puzzled me growing up: “How do you be Jewish without being ‘too Jewish’?” That was a message that I picked up on from my family, and I found it incredibly confusing. I also was fascinated by the rituals of Catholicism; I had many Catholic friends growing up.
Q: What inspired you to write PURGE?
A: I talk about that here. But here’s a bit more: one of the reasons I wrote PURGE, and that I am so open in speaking about my own struggles with depression and bulimia, is because I want people - especially young people who might be struggling as I did - to know that there is hope and possibility.
Purge isn't a memoir, but is based on my own experience, both with trying to recover from bulimia, and with attempting suicide, and spending time in a psych ward. I also spent time in an Intensive Outpatient Program (mine was five days a week). This was in 2001, and I'll tell you what I've told my own children so many times - that it was the worst time in my life, but it was also the best thing that ever happened to me. All of my bricks falling down forced me to rebuild the foundations of myself in a healthier way, and this time I could examine each brick as I was doing so and think - is this a healthy one or not? If it wasn't I knew I had to try to replace it with something different.
It wasn't an easy process by any means - I don't lie to my own kids, so I'm not going to lie to you. But it was, as I say, the best thing that ever happened to me, because it has helped me become the stronger, healthier, happier woman I am today.
WANT TO GO PRIVATE?
Q: What was the inspiration for Want to Go Private?
A: I talk about that in this video:
Also in this interview: http://www.yalibrariantales.com/2011/07/author-interview-sarah-darer-littman.html
Q: What made you think of the plot and Lara herself? Did you actually experience these things when you were younger, or know someone who did?
A: Lara’s story was inspired by several real life incidents. But none of them happened to me personally, because I’m so old that when I was growing up we didn’t have the Internet! When I went to college I took a computer class and we were just starting to get personal computers to program on. My classmates started out learning on punch cards on mainframe computers. We didn’t have cell phones and certainly not smart phones. We had to type our papers on old fashioned typewriters and look things up in a card catalogue at the library when we were doing research instead of using a search engine.
I think there are pros and cons of growing up each way. That’s why I find it so interesting to explore these issues in my books - because I get to think about what is easier and more difficult about growing up in today’s world.
Q: I am doing a book report on your book "Backlash" for my 8th Grade language arts class. For my book report I need to have a map of where the book is set and even after reading the book I couldn't find the exact setting of it. Could you please tell me where the book is set?
A: There’s a good reason you can’t find the exact setting. It’s because Backlash is set in a non-existent midwestern town called Lake Hills. I wanted it to be “Everytown”, or even “Anytown” - the point being that situations like this can and does happen all around the country.
Q: I have one question, do you have any future plans about writing a sequel, maybe about Lara and Bree becoming friends? Or about Liam and Syd?
A: At this point I don’t have a plan to write a sequel to Backlash, but one thing I’ve learned is to “never say never” : )
Q: Where and when were you born?
A: I was born on March 7th, in New York City, the same year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. No, I won't tell you what year that was. Time to use those research skills.
Q: Do you have any kids?
A: Yes, I have two, a boy and a girl. My late mother promised me that one day they will realize that I have become incredibly wise again, after becoming very stupid and embarrassing when they hit the teen years. I am still waiting for that day in eager anticipation. I’m beginning to see hints of it, but we’re not fully there yet! Please do not write asking their names and birthdays - thanks!
Q: Do you have brothers and sisters?
A: I have an older brother and a younger sister. And yes, that makes me the Tormented Middle Child, just like Jussy in CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC. I also have three nephews and three nieces whom I adore to bits. Please do not write asking for their names and birthdays either.
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Dark chocolate, of course! The higher octane the better. I love Lindt Excellence 85%, Taza Chocolate and dark chocolate salted caramels.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: Well, I love to READ - that goes without saying! But I also love watching movies, swimming, pilates, tennis (except I have had to give that up because of tennis elbow and wrist problems) cooking, travel, museums, going to hear live music and dancing - except I have to do that when my kids aren't around, otherwise I embarrass them. I am a history and politics junkie and was elected to my town’s legislative body. I also finally indulged myself by purchasing a "Midlifecrisismobile" - the convertible that I've wanted ever since I was a teenager. A stick shift. And let me tell you, it is just as awesome as I thought it would be. Some things are worth the wait!