1 Dec 2012

Author Interview: Sarah Billington

When sixteen year old Poppy Douglas writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki, she has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global.

A local band picks up her song from Youtube and soon she's along for the ride with her own fanbase as they blow up on the local club scene and hit the international charts. Though it turns out leaving Cam behind isn't as easy as she had hoped.

Tangled in a web of unfinished homework, ill-considered sexting and a new lead-singer boyfriend, Poppy has a choice to make between the ex that inspired it all and the rock God whose poster lines the inside of half the lockers at school. But as she struggles to keep her emotional dirty laundry private, she learns that the truth can be hard to find when your life is in the headlines.

Sarah Billington is an Australian writer and editor who likes to write stories with love, laughs, suspense and zombies. Sometimes all in the same story. Her favouritest thing to write about are those horrendously awkward moments that come with being a teenager. Or a human being. Sarah was extremely accident-prone and klutzy as a kid and teen, so her cup runneth over with experiences of horrendously awkward moments to draw from in her writing. Thankfully, she has grown out of her klutziness. Mostly. She is, however, still an embarrassment.

She loves a variety of random things, which include Swing Dancing, Ice Hockey, Roller Derby and is a bit obsessive about paranormal investigation shows and channel E!.


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
SUCH an easy question for me. Louise Rennison and Brent Crawford.My two FAVOURITE OF MY FAVOURITE comedy authors. They're so skilled. I think we could write something fantastic and hysterical. I would learn a lot from them both as well.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I write all over the place, but mostly it is on my netbook in bed or on my desktop PC on my desk. I also write notes and the odd scene in a notebook I have with me all the time. Good for down times when waiting for people or I suddenly nut out a scene in my head that's been troubling me, or I am inspired when out somewhere not in front of a computer.

A typical day for me, as an author and freelance editor and book cover designer is pretty different each day, as some days I don't even leave the house whereas others I'm out all day.

They all start with waking up and checking my email and facebook on my phone.
There's a bit of groaning and complaining about being awake before I get out my laptop or take the big commute a couple of metres to my office and reply to emails, do some book marketing, write, reply to emails, read industry blogs and discuss techniques with an online writing group, reply to emails, edit, lunch, maybe a nap, edit, reply to emails, book cover design, design marketing materials, write, collapse in a heap.

That's the typical day, anyway.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Second guessing myself as to which direction the book should go. I am currently writing The Kiss Off 2 and have a bunch of different plot threads I'd really like to explore, but there's only so much room in a book and I need to focus more on the MAIN plot more than the subplots. But I like the subplots too and they'd also make for a good book but... I don't know which would make the BEST book. I have to make a decision. As I'll discuss below, sometimes my subplots are BETTER than my main plot, so it's hard to know which direction to go. Halp?

When and why did you first start writing?
I don't remember when exactly I first started writing, but I do know it was in early childhood, as soon as I knew how, I did. I had notebooks and looseleaf paper all over the house with half written stories. I read a lot and you could tell what authors I was reading at the time, because I mimicked their styles, which was how I learned to find my own. As a tween I wrote a lot of teen murder stories, because I read a lot of R.L Stine and Christopher Pike. I wrote about a club of friends who started a business, ala Babysitters Club but with a more teen angst Sweet Valley High vibe. It's an exciting time, learning to write and finding your own voice. Took me a long time, but I did!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The Kiss Off started out as a subplot of a different book. But this subplot was way more interesting. I wanted to write about a girl whose personal opinions and experiences became widely known and how she dealt with it. She started out as a blogger, but it didn't feel big enough. I liked the idea of writing about a song writer, I found it interesting how well-known it is that Taylor Swift writes about real-life heartbreak and there's so much speculation about who each song is about. Youtube is so big right now which is a great way for her to go viral, but I wanted it to get really big, so by adding some hot rock stars who become the biggest new band, that would make her song and personal experiences hit the tabloids and celebrity news. Then it all sort of extrapolated from there. :)

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I am a big reader. Or I want to be a big reader, but time doesn't allow as much of it these days. Actually, no, that's not true. I am also an editor so I read a LOT, but they are first drafts, and with a very critical eye. Reading for pleasure-wise, right now I am in the middle of three books: Skylark by Meagan Spooner, That Boy by Jillian Dodd and Ghosthuntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Don't give up. Keep writing, keep learning, keep persevering. It might be hard, but if you try long and hard enough, you'll be successful. It can be really tempting to give up sometimes, and sure, take a break, but don't give up entirely. The times it feels like you're not getting anywhere, you're actually learning all the ways not to do things and eventually you'll get it right. What a waste all that time and effort would be if you DID give up, right?


PURCHASE LINKS (I don’t know which ones you want so here’s a stack of them. )

Omnilit – The Kiss Off ebook only
Book Depository – The Kiss Off paperback only
Fishpond – The Kiss Off paperback only

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