Hi, my name is Amber and I have the pleasure in interviewing for the first time Sarah Beth James author of Save me. Save me is a raw, gritty LGBT story that needs to be read.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I have been writing on and off since I was a teenager. Shorts, fan fictions, stories. I always wanted to get my Vampire Legacies series published, but I never quite got it how I wanted it to be. Then with the sudden upsurge in vampire fiction after the Twilight books released it didn’t seem the right time to publish on the subject. Then on my friends birthday last year, he told me the only thing he wanted for his next birthday was to see me published. Leaving me setting myself the challenge of finding a book to write, finish and publish in a year. Save Me was never the book that I meant to publish, but it was a story screaming to be told. The beta readers have loved it, as much as I have so I hope the public gain as much enjoyment from our characters as we have.
How much of this story is based on some sort of fact?
The core characters Jack and Nic are based on real people, and some of the experiences they have. Some of it is based around my own personal life, and the experiences of close gay friends of mine. The rapes, abuse, the coming out issues, the questioning your own sexuality is all based on real life. Of course made a lot more dramatic, and the names changed. The hate churches are based on american ones I googled and researched for many months. A lot of preachers really do think you can beat or pray away the gay. I even read reports of a gay man forced to have sex with his mother to teach him the error of his ways. Although I do have a woman forced on a man in the story, I never went as far as it make it a family member. For those of us who have given stories to be used, it started as a form of therapy to write it all down and talk about what experiences we had, and as it progressed we all agreed that we wanted it to be published so that the next generation that that warning that NO this is NOT how a relationship is. We all make mistakes when we are young, but if we spare just one person who thinks a chokehold relationship is normal then it was worth writing. That rape is NOT just a third form of sexual contact, it is wrong!
Firstly that being gay/bi/straight/trans/whatever isn’t wrong, or sinful, or to be hidden. That you have a right to be who you are, whoever that is and yes there will always be people that hate you for it. That just shows that they are jealous of you living as your true self. Just remember there are just as many people that love and support you in your life style. Secondly abuse is wrong in any way shape or form, do not stand for it in your relationship! I made that mistake for 8 years of my life, my relationship nearly killed me, so stop right now and seek help if you are in that kind of relationship. Lastly I tried to pitch this so that it would appeal to all forms of love, whoever you date. Showing you that yes, you can lose you way, you can turn to the wrong places looking for love (like addiction, abuse and so on), but in the end you will find your own way. You will heal from it all, and be stronger for it. In the sequel you will see a lot of Jack learning to cope with what has happened, rebuilding his life. Most of all I just want people to know that suicide is not the only way out of these kind of situations.
What was the most challenging in your writing?
Other than stopping Jack and Nic from trying to jump in bed together every ten seconds? They gave me a lot of trouble when I tried to write things ways they didn’t agree with! It was very hard for me in places to write about the abuse, or the rape given the fact it's been a pretty constant part of my adult life. There were times I had to walk away from the book a few days before I could continue working on a scene. Or even skip forward to a new scene completely.
Who do you like to read and why?
I read a lot of vampire fiction, mostly for knowledge on my own vampire series. Trying to pitch around what is already out there. One writer who stands out there is Mr Darren Shan, who I did credit in the book for being very supportive and giving ideas to young writers. Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite fantasy writers, it was his book Neverwhere which first made me want to be a writer when I was younger. I love how descriptive his writing is, how he draws you straight into the storyline and plays with your emotions. I read a large amount of fantasy, sci fi and crime books from all sorts of writers. I think the broader you read, the more you understand how to characterise your own writing. Laurie King is another author I love, for her Mary Russell Sherlock Holmes series. She brought to life a young woman who was strong enough to stand up to the great detective. Lately I have taken interest in Chris Colfer’s inventive fantasy series giving exciting twists on classic fairytales. I like books which make you think, that aren’t the normal every day life style. I like books with strong realistic characters, emotive writing that makes you feel a part of the storyline.
What is your routine for writing?
Working it isn’t always easy to fit writing in. I always keep a notebook with me wherever I go, so I can write if I get ideas. I often write on the bus into town as it takes over an hour. I know a lot of people write straight to their iphones/ipads/computers. I can’t work like that. I always do a first draft on paper, yes I have a pretty impressive collection of notebooks. Then type it up and make edits as I go, then keep editing on the computer until it is exactly how I want it to be.
How did you come up with the title?
Titles and names are my curse. I completely hate coming up with either! The title came from a Queen song I was playing during writing the first few chapters. It just seemed to fit with the message I was trying to give. I play a lot of Queen, Bowie and Adam Lambert music as muse for writing. Anything rock with a good beat.
Do you see writing as a career?
I hope to one day yes. For now I work bar and retail jobs to pay the bills, writing in every moment of spare time I have. The dream would be to of course one day be able to support just from my writing, but I know that is a good few years off yet. Doesn’t stop me from keep trying, nothing worthwhile is easy and nothing easy is worthwhile. I can’t wait until I can stand there signing at my first book event, talking to my fans about my work. That would be wonderful.
Who designed the cover?
Originally it was planned to have a hand drawn cover, I had arranged an artist I knew to sketch it for me who let me down. With my deadline looming I had to design a cover myself that I am not completely happy with. If it reissues in the future I will change the cover artwork to something more like my first imagining.
Do you ever get writer's block? and if so how do you break it?
All the time, it drives me completely crazy. Like all writers there are days when writing chapters looks a lot more like playing candy crush and eating cheese puffs. Going out for long walks sometimes helps clear my head on the really bad days. I try to work on other projects, or skip ahead to a chapter where I know what is going to happen then back track. I actually wrote the second to last chapter of this book halfway through writing it, so I knew where I was going to find out how to get there. When I got to the actual ending Jack pointed out he needed to say something else, so we ended up with a second ending, but it all worked out in the end. I have really good muses who always try to help me out when I am stuck, and great beta readers as well.
Ok, let's talk charity. Do you have something that you lend your voice to?
I openly support Aids and Cancer charities. I lost my nan to cancer when I was 17, which curtailed my writing for sometime as she had been my strongest supporter. My partner, he had an aids scare a few years back, and is currently undergoing cancer treatment. I recently raised £351 in a fund raiser for Breast Cancer Now, Mercury Phoenix Trust and World Aids Day. This book, I am donating 10% of profits to Have A Gay Day, which you can find on fb or twitter if you want more information. Michael who runs it is a wonderful person. Also operating out of an office building in Dayton. They support gay people who need advise, rehousing, they operate a suicide prevention line along with other projects. I am supporting this organization because I had a very difficult time coming out in 2012. My parents were not exactly willing to accept being religious. They gave me a very hard time about being confused and not really bisexual, it was only when I started to date a man again they decided to come back into my life. During my questioning time, and after coming out Michael and Have A Gay Day were a huge part of my support network. Without them, the man I date now, and a few really good friends I know I wouldn’t be here now. It's always huge on the news about supporting gay or questioning teenagers, and their suicide rates, but it's actually just as important to support people coming out of all ages. I was 29 before I started questioning my sexuality and even after my first experiences with women I still found myself questioning for the better part of the next 3 years who I was inside. Have A Gay Day, has a very important task along with other organizations like The Trevor Project and Stonewall in bringing information to these people to help them adjust to their new lives as their true selves. And yes, it is a big adjustment in your own eyes as much as anyone else's.
Talking with Sarah about her book Save me was wonderful. She brought some serious subjects to light. Addiction, abuse and trying to understand the real you on the inside. You should read Save me. I love it. I give it 4 stars and I hope it becomes a series. Absolutely Amazing.