Name – Sarah Lyons Fleming
Age – 39–Ack!
Where are you from-
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, but have lived in OR for eight years.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I have two kids, a husband and two cats. Lots of lovely parents and a brother and sister. I majored in Sociology in college–the best degree for a fast-paced career, no? I love to read, write (of course), sit around doing nothing, make artsy stuff and be silly.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Well, I just released my second book in my Until the End of the World series: And After.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started in 2011. I had been reading a lot of prepper fiction, and I wanted to read about someone I could relate to in a post-apocalyptic situation. I didn’t want a YA protagonist, although I love YA, or a male protagonist, although men are cool. I wanted chick lit, post-apocalypse style. So I decided to write it myself.
I was trapped under my son’s napping feet (the only way he would nap–stinker!) for 1.5 hours per day and decided to try my hand at writing down the story that had appeared in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess when I self-published my first book. It was kind of hard to say at first. I felt like more of a dabbler. I hadn’t been writing fiction since I was a kid or dreaming of being a writer for years. I wrote blog posts and random things for myself, but it was all non-fiction. But if you write, you’re a writer. Whether you’re unpublished, traditionally published or self-published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Hey Fiona: I don’t want to repeat myself, but I answered that above. 🙂
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Hmm, I’m not sure. I tend to be less metaphorical than a lot of writers. I love dialogue. I like writing that doesn’t make you have to work to see the story in your head, so I tend to write that way. Beautiful lines are, well…beautiful, but if I have to stop to admire every line of a book I lose the story. And I love story. I want to look up from a book and wonder why I’m still in my living room and not the world the author’s created.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For Until the End of the World: It’s something the protagonist said with her parents when she was a kid. It was so fitting that I didn’t even have to think about it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s always hope. Love, in all its many forms, is everywhere.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well, it’s zombies, so that’s not very realistic. But I tried to keep the situations and emotions as realistic as possible. I wanted it to be like real life in that no one is perfect, although we’d like to be. And even if we’re not perfect, we’re still amazing people. We’re just human.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I know people similar to many of the characters, but they’re all a mixture of folks. And I love prepping and survival, so adding all of that was lots of fun for me.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I always joke that I got started on post-apocalyptic fiction when my dad handed me Malevil (a novel about the survivors of a nuclear holocaust) when I was nine. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder probably started my prepping obsession. There are so many other books that I can’t think of at the moment that had a major influence. I feel like so many did their share in bits and pieces.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished The Echo Prophecy by Lindsey Fairleigh (Great book!). Like, an hour ago. My next book isn’t decided on yet. I have a to-be-read pile twenty feet deep. Well, it’s on my phone, but if it were paper books it would be twenty feet deep.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Rachel Aukes, Claire C. Riley, Lindsey Fairleigh, Tracey Ward. Some zombie, some not. But all great.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on book 3 of my Until the End of the World series, titled All the Stars in the Sky.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I just have to say that my family and friends rock! They are so supportive, and my husband is an amazing editor. Otherwise, I’ve met some really amazing indie authors and reviewers. I’ve found that most indies help each other out. I love to discuss, joke, commiserate and promote with the wonderful people I’ve met.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do. I didn’t at first. But I’m sort of addicted to writing. It’s a craving. So I have to justify my absence to my husband and kids somehow. Kidding!
Anyway, yes I do. And it doesn’t feel like work, which is the best feeling. The other day I took a break while I was writing, and I couldn’t wait to get back to my last sentence. That’s when I realized (once again and even more) just how freaking awesome it is. And how lucky I am. Yeah, I say awesome a lot. Child of the 80’s.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m proud of my latest. I had it where I wanted it, and the feedback was great. Every once in a while I get an urge to re-edit book 1, just because I feel I’ve grown as a writer, but I probably won’t. Onward and upward!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a couple of paragraphs from And After. I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to give you too much, or any of book 3:
I can still smell the bodies when we get back to the farm. It sticks on your clothes and in your sinuses. The frozen Lexers don’t splatter the way thawed ones can, but they still stink. We park the snow machines quietly, well aware of how close a call that was. Toby dashes off to begin his celebration of life, quite possibly the least solemn of us all. Now that the Lexers are thawing, it’s only a matter of time until the pods come. They’ll find us eventually. They may not communicate, but they follow each other looking for food. Looking for us.
I haven’t forgotten what the ever-present terror of millions of zombies feels like, but it’s had a chance to fade since the autumn. The winter gave us time to heal from shell-shocked survivors back into the people we once were, barring the visible and invisible scars we all carry. We’ve grown used to not worrying. The rustle of the trees really has been the wind, every snap of a branch heavy snow or ice. We haven’t become complacent, but it’s time to get back into that old mentality—the world has never been more of an eat-or-be-eaten place than it is now.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Action scenes. I’ve been told I do them well, but they take a million edits. I see the whole book as a movie in my head, so figuring out the action–where everybody is, what’s in the way, etc–takes a lot of work and rewinding of said movie. Interspersing a character’s reaction to what’s happening while also letting the action speak for itself can be difficult.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I know I sound like every other person ever when I say Stephen King. But it’s true. I think he manages to create not only a plot that leaves me interested, but also wonderful characters. His sentences are deceptively simple yet sometimes beautiful, without smacking you over the head with it.
And Bill Bryson. I love that man. Like, marrying kind of love (don’t tell my husband!). His writing is sarcastic and funny as heck.
I also love chick-lit authors and have a special place in my heart for Sarah Bird.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, but maybe one day I’ll get to. I love to travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did. They’re fairly simple. Anything more than that and I’d have to hire someone.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I don’t think of it as hard. There were the normal frustrations–plot details, digging into a character’s motivations, etc. But even when frustrated, I love it all.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a ton, most having to do with the craft of writing. It took a whole lot of edits to get it where I was happy with it. Mainly things like: stop using as and -ing. Be sure to include and be clear on a character’s emotions because that’s what readers relate to, even if they’re not “pretty” emotions. Maybe especially if they’re not pretty.
I also learned that it’s hard work but so much fun to be immersed in a world of your own making.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. I know, we all say that, but I mean it. No one ever sees my first draft and that allows me to write as badly as I want and never think of what people will say. I let the story come out and just plug along, knowing I’m going to fix that word or sentence that makes me cringe.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! Really. I’m so touched when I get emails and messages and Facebook posts from people who’ve enjoyed my books. It makes my day and year and life and…I guess that’s all. And reviews–I LOVE reviews.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t. But I loved the Little House and Narnia books most of all as a child.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I like to do artsy stuff, but I’ve done less since I’ve started writing. Really, there’s nothing I’d rather do in terms of hobbies these days.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like The Walking Dead, of course. Firefly and Torchwood were wonderful. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and all those critically-acclaimed dramas. As for movies, I love everything from Sci-Fi to Romantic Comedies, as long as it’s done well.
I know I’m forgetting so many, but you know when someone asks you what your favorite TV show is and the only thing you can think of is Family Matters? Which you don’t like. Yeah, happening now.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’ve never met a pastry I didn’t like. I like indie rock mostly, and have a soundtrack that goes along with each book. I’ve posted the playlist on my blog after publishing each book.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
What I did before, which was make stuff. I had a handmade soap and toiletries business for years, and most recently I made and sold concrete tiles, fairy doors and sculptures. I designed and made the molds, as well as hand-painted the tiles.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My blog is the link “Whatnot.”