In the happy, clean community of Austin Valley, everything appears to be perfect. Seventeen-year-old Em Fuller, however, fears something is askew. Em is one of the new generation of Dream Travelers. For some reason, the gods have not seen fit to gift all of them with their expected special abilities. Em is a Defect—one of the unfortunate Dream Travelers not gifted with a psychic power. Desperate to do whatever it takes to earn her gift, she endures painful daily injections along with commands from her overbearing, loveless father. One of the few bright spots in her life is the return of a friend she had thought dead—but with his return comes the knowledge of a shocking, unforgivable truth. The society Em thought was protecting her has actually been betraying her, but she has no idea how to break away from its authority without hurting everyone she loves.
Sarah Noffke has joined me today to chat about her novel ‘Defects’, the first book from the Reverians trilogy. Sarah, thanks for setting aside a little time today to chat about your novel. Now, I’m quite excited to learn more about how this novel came into being. Can you kick off today’s interview by letting us know where the inspiration for this novel, and its accompanying trilogy companions originated?
I really wanted to write a dystopian that tried to sabotage those who were rebellious. And I wanted there to be this strict class system. I also loved the idea of setting it in the mountains of Oregon. From there the story really took shape on its own.
Why did you choose the mountains of Oregon and not another state?
I lived in Oregon for five years.
That makes sense and comes back to that old adage write what you know. Did you largely employ that advice from that adage, or did you find some topics that you didn’t know much about when you started writing that you needed to research during the writing process to make sure you did these aspects justice?
Yes, there is a bit of medical science in the book and I wanted to be accurate.
Medicine, even in fiction is something that you don’t want to get wrong. One of the things that I think that you really got right in this story was the characters and their growth. How did your central characters develop?
When I was growing up, I was a tomboy and had many guy friends. The main character is similar and she has two guys who she adores.
Those character dynamics must be fun to write.
Yes, the characters are all really deep and lovable. I could hear their voices and they felt like my best friends. The protagonist is super likable and I just wanted her to succeed.
We won’t give away anything about her success because that obviously takes away from the thrill of ‘Defects’ and the next two books in the trilogy, but can you sum up what you feel the most important thing that you want readers to take away from this book?
It’s a story of love, friendship and sacrifice. It will make you cry and cheer and then laugh.
I’m glad that we get to laugh after we cry and cheer. When you start writing do you know the order of the emotions or the direction that you want to take the story on when you first start writing, or do you allow the characters to direct where they end up?
Usually I know how it ends, but I don’t know how I’m always going to get there. After fourteen books, I haven’t been lost to get to that ending.
Now after fourteen books, the writing bug has obviously bitten you. Can you let us know where your pen plans to venture next?
I plan on writing a werewolf series that is set in the same universe as this.
I can’t see why you’d leave that universe now after you’ve had so much fun there. You mentioned that over the course of your writing career you’ve completed fourteen books. Why do you write?
Because I hear voices.
*Laughs* At least you’re honest!
Actually, it’s partially true. I do hear things and see stories and I know they have to be told.
Are you telling these stories full-time, or do you have other employment?
I’m a college professor. My occupation keeps me humble. But writing has always been my first love.
Do you get to play with your first love every day?
I do write everyday and I shut the world out. Usually I turn on music and I don’t allow myself to stop until I’ve reached my goal for the day.
What music do you like to work by?
I love singer-song writer music. It has soul.
It almost sounds like you transfer some of the soul from the music to the novels you write. I would imagine that from time to time the infusion of soul from the music runs out and you need to recharge. What techniques do you use to combat writer’s block?
I take a walk. Nature always connects me back with my inspiration.
Once you’ve re-inspired yourself and the first draft is complete, how does editing unfold?
I read through and edit two to three times. Then I have my first beta reader proof and then it goes to a professional editor.
As you’ve published many books and have even ventured into the foreign language and translation foray, do you have any top tips that you can share with aspiring authors?
Read everything you can about how to write and promote. Never stop learning. This is a hard industry, but the ones who succeed, don’t give up. Support each other. We are in this together.
That is great advice. Never stop learning and support each other. Simple, yet strong. Now I’d like to let you have a little breather, while we change gear and move onto my favorite round where I fire random questions to learn more about your soul and personality in a quick and quirky way. Let’s start with what is your favorite ocean?
If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
I have one in my books. He’s a redheaded Brit who is overly snarky and full of himself.
*Laughs* That sounds pretty monstrous to me :). Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
That’s a shame. Alas, I will have to continue on my quest to find quiz team contenders. What is your zodiac sign?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
What other people think of me is none of my business
Have you ever danced in the rain?
I applaud your accuracy with that answer. If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write the national anthem?
Gregory Alan Isakov
How are the colors in rainbows made?
I wonder if they team up with the Leprechauns to get those pots of gold at the end of those rainbows. Are you left or right handed?
What color socks are you wearing?
Gray and blue. They are Tardis socks because I love Doctor Who.
Who doesn’t love Doctor Who? I have an awesome Doctor Who heat-changing mug that shows a creepy looking Weeping Angel when you fill it with hot water that I got for Christmas one year. If you don’t already have one of these mugs you should add it to your own Christmas list :). What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Cookies and cream
What is your favorite line, quote or statement from a book?
“So we beat on, boats against the current. Borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby
What is your favorite word?
I have to say that dichotomy has to be on my top list of favorite words too. I like how it rolls off the tongue. And finally because I do have a very strong love for quotes, what is your favorite quote?
Love the craft, the practice of your art, and the peaks will come. – Palmubo
That is a wonderful quote. Sarah, thank you for loving your craft, practicing it and sharing your works with the world. I wish you the best of luck with the promotion of ‘Defects’ and I hope you enjoy working on your upcoming werewolf adventures.
Want to find out more about Sarah? Connect here!