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writers you love - author q&a

Sarah Porter tells all about her Lost Voices series

Creative writing teacher Sarah Porter decided to write the book series she had wanted and needed to read when she was a teenager. The result? The amazing Lost Voices series. The third and final book, The Twice Lost, was just released. Here, Sarah spills on her inspiration and what she wants YOU to learn from her writing.
Q. When did you start showing an interest in writing?
In 4th or 5th grade I started writing a novel which was way too heavily influenced by The Secret Garden. It was about a girl living in an infinite house who was visited by a sorcerer in the form of a raven. I don't think I ever quite finished that one, but I got about fifty pages in!
Q. How old were you when you wrote your very first novel? Did you always want to be an author? Was it hard getting a book published?
I was in my early twenties when I wrote my first book. It was too crazy to be publishable, but writing it was good practice! At times while I was growing up I wanted to be an artist instead or a professor of languages like J.R.R. Tolkien, but I always came back to writing.  As far as authors go, I was Tolkien obsessed early on.    

Q. What inspired you to write Lost Voices?
There were several sources of inspiration for Lost Voices. I used to have dreams of being a mermaid that were set in a gritty urban industrial area. I would be swimming very fast under abandoned piers and warehouses; those dreams have always stayed with me and I never forgot them. Another source of inspiration was a walk on the beach with a friend, where we took turns making up a story about a punk mermaid who was sort of an outcast. And in grad school I wrote a story about mermaids who could swim through the ground as well as the ocean, and who would steal girls from their families and recruit them. So I guess Lost Voices evolved into a novel from bits and pieces of these dreams and stories that I was creating over time.
Q. Are the personality traits of the characters in your book based off of people you know?
I don’t really like to base character traits on my friends or people I know, I find that a bit disrespectful. The characters come from my imagination, but I do share one thing in common with Luce: like her, I was so shy that I used to lose my voice. It really used to happen to me in class, where a teacher would call on me and I just wouldn’t be able to make a sound.

Q. What would you like teens to learn from Lost Voices?
Being independent-minded, creative, and persevering is what it's really all about for Luce. She’s talented but not really that much more talented than a lot of other mermaids. What’s special about her is that she pushes herself and takes that talent in in new directions. She keeps pushing her own boundaries and experimenting and that's how she grows as a singer. Her willingness to keep trying is what makes her the hero; it’s not that she has some incredible gift that no one else can share. So keep practicing, trying new things, and maintain your freedom of spirit and intellect.  

Q. Who is your favorite author?  Who motivates you to keep on writing? What was the best book you ever read?

Growing up I loved Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, and I also enjoyed reading lots of the classic Russian fairytales, Virginia Woolf and Faulkner. As for what motivates me to keep writing, well, at this point I couldn’t imagine ever stopping. Writing and books just mean too much to me.

Q. What can we expect from the next book in this trilogy?

Without giving too much away, in the next book Luce starts to learn to relate to other people in a much closer way than she has before. She starts to say what she really thinks and feels, and to stand up for herself. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that she finds both love and a truly intimate friendship for the first time.  The challenges she faces just keep getting bigger, and she has to get stronger to meet them!


Thanks, Sarah! You can pick up your own copy of the entire Lost Voices series right here. 


published July 18, 2013
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