Sara Walsh's The Dark Light is a novel I definitely expected to enjoy, but little did I know I would finish it and wind up adding it to my 'favorites' list at once. When I put down The Dark Light, I simply could not stop thinking about its story, its characters, or even how Walsh had managed to craft such an intriguing, unique, and suspenseful novel. Thus, when Sara agreed to do an interview with me on Ivy Book Bindings - my very first since I began my blog - I was absolutely thrilled! I am overjoyed to welcome Sara to my blog today and I hope you will all enjoy my interview with her just as much as I enjoyed conducting it myself! :)
Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she's concerned, that's about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town. That is, until Sol arrives. Mia's not one to fall for just any guy, but she can't get Sol--or the brilliant tattoo on his back--out of her mind. Then Mia's brother goes missing, and Mia's convinced that Sol knows more than he's sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol's not who Mia thought he was--and neither is she.
Interview with Sara Walsh
My Questions for the Interview
Sara's Responses to the Questions
My Comments to the Interview
Hi, Sara! Thank you so much for visiting!
First and foremost, I have to ask - what made you think of parallel universes?
I wanted to create a world that was separate, yet connected, to our own, and to show how what happens in one world can have consequences in the other, so a parallel world seemed to fit that idea. Also, I love the idea of layers of worlds, and how what we see around us every day--in this case, the American Plains--might not always be as they seem. That’s pretty much the idea behind The Dark Light.
I love the idea of parallel universes myself, so the way in which you wrote about them in this novel was absolutely fascinating! I especially like the concept of, "a world that was separate, yet connected, to our own." I definitely felt that while reading this novel.
It is mentioned in your biography that the idea of The Dark Light came from a local news event of a boy mysteriously reappearing after a decade. What other events/novels/music/etc. inspired you to write this novel?
The boy’s reappearance, coupled with a road trip across the plains, was the catalyst for The Dark Light, but it wasn’t until I was writing that I saw a lot of the ideas that influenced me as a young reader appearing in the story. As a child, I loved stories about regular people in fantastical settings, like Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia. About halfway through the first draft, I realized that was exactly the kind of story I was writing, and just decided to have fun with it. I’d say The Dark Light is basically a modern day Narnia with kissing!
I think that's a great way to describe this, Sara, especially as The Dark Light has the same magical feel as Narnia does, only a more mature scale.
One of the biggest reasons why I loved The Dark Light so much was because of the characters. Which character do you feel you are most like?
Of all the characters in The Dark Light, I’m probably most like Delane. I’m pretty laid back, I like to goof around with friends, and I tend to look on the bright side about most things in life.
I love that you're like Delane, Sara, especially as Delane is one of my favorite characters in this novel! I loved getting to meet him and was pleasantly surprised by the large role he played in this book as Sol's best friend!
The Dark Light has been classified as a mixture of genres - do you agree with this? What genre(s) would you categorize it in and why?
I totally agree. The Dark Light is a mixture of genres. I classify the story as fantasy, but even then it’s a blend of different fantasy sub-genres--paranormal, urban, and a touch of traditional fantasy, too. There’s definitely romance in the story. Action and adventure. And there are elements of mystery. I never deliberately set out to blend genres to this extent. I do read widely, and I think that’s where a lot of the genre-blending comes from. The aim for me was to take all the elements that I love in a story and to just have fun with them.
I love that The Dark Light is such a wonderful blend, simply because it can appeal to a wider audience that way and it has a large dose of originality in it, so that's wonderful!
I found the concept of Sol's tattoo, the Lunestral, to be fascinating. Can you explain how you came up with the idea for this and what role tattoos play in this story?
I always pictured Brakaland as a very visual society, and I wanted to reflect that in the characters that inhabited the world--someone like Vermillion, for example. Many of the people there were going to be bright and bold with huge variation between each other. For me, body art was a great way to show how Brakalanders carry their stories on their skin, and how those stories connect characters to their past and the mythologies of the culture, and that was certainly true of Sol. I then took it another step and decided it would be fun to embody those tattoos with mystical characteristics, like the seeing eye on Duddon Malone’s hand, and how Sol’s Lunestral offers protection from demons.
I loved the way you used tattoos in this novel, so thank you for elaborating more on your motivations behind that. It was definitely an aspect of this novel that I loved!
I know a lot of authors use online programs to organize their writing and some even write by shorthand first before transferring their material to the computer, so what is your method of writing?
I have to admit that I’m really boring and just sit down at my PC and write. I do scribble down notes in all kinds of strange places, and I always keep the iPad by the bed in case I wake in the night with a shiny, new idea. I don’t tend to outline in huge amounts of detail, just enough to cover the major events in the story. I’m not always sure how I’ll link those events until I start writing. For me, discovering how the story comes together is the best part of writing.
I know a lot of authors who tend to write that way as well, Sara, so it's nice to see that novels can work out even without elaborate planning and outlining.
I know many readers (including me) have fallen in love with Sol. How did you go about creating his character?
Thank you! Sol was the toughest character to write, by far! He’s an incredibly reserved, incredibly focused guy, and as we only ever see him from Mia’s point of view, it was a real challenge to chip away at that front so that Mia, and the reader, can ultimately see the other sides of him. With Sol, I knew from the start that I wanted to play with the hot, sexy, mysterious bad boy image, and flip it. On the outside, Sol appears to fit that mold--and he certainly has a reckless side and a past that we only really touch on in the story--but beneath that I knew I wanted Sol to be much more--a true friend, a loyal companion, a guy who sees the bigger picture.
I have to tell you, I think you achieved exactly what you set out to do with Sol. While I adored his bad boy image from the outside, it was what was inside Sol that made me - and Mia! - fall so hard for him, so I love that we were able to see the real Sol underneath his exterior image.
I thought Mia was an extremely unique protagonist, simply because her strengths lay in her inner perseverance and courage opposed to any type of outer displays of strength, such as swordplay. What made you make the conscious decision to create Mia in this manner?
With Mia, I needed a character who didn’t have all the answers, but who wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to get her brother back. I needed someone who was independent and determined, so we could watch how she’d react when totally out of her element. Mia’s strength does lies on the inside, but she also has lots of vulnerabilities, especially in terms of her past. She can be very single-minded, almost to the point where she’s too independent. For me, one of the key parts of Mia’s journey was always going to be her realizing that it is okay to trust other people.
I really loved Mia in this novel, especially as she was so easy for me to relate to as well. I think it's remarkable that you are so aware of your characters and what you want for them and it definitely shows in your writing - especially Mia's flaws, which really only add to her character and personality.
If The Dark Light ever sold movie rights, who would be in your dream cast?
I seriously have no idea! I’d want relatively unknown actors for Mia and Sol, just so we can get to know the actors as we get to know Mia and Sol in the story. I’d love to see who a casting director would pick as Vermillion. She’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the story. Very fun to write.
I can definitely see how Vermillion would have been fun to write! She's an eccentric character, to say the least, so I think some new actors would work really well for the casting of this novel!
Lastly, I have to admit that The Dark Light is a wonderful stand-alone novel, but it also leaves just enough hanging for a possible sequel. Do you/have you planned a sequel to this novel? If not, what other future plans do you have in terms of writing?
It’s early days and as yet there are no plans for a sequel to The Dark Light, though I do know where this story would go next and where it would ultimately end up. It is something that I would love to write. Beyond The Dark Light, I do have an idea for an epic YA sci-fi that I’m itching to write. Like The Dark Light, there will be new worlds and plenty of twists and turns.
Yay! I'm so excited about your future plans, Sara! I'd love to re-visit the world of The Dark Light but your YA Science Fiction Novel sounds amazing as well! I can't wait to hear more about it soon! :) I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog today! I love this interview and I'm sure everyone else enjoyed this one immensely as well! :D
Sara Walsh is British, but happily lives in Annapolis, Maryland. She graduated college with a degree in psychology, but soon decided that telling stories was much more fun. When not writing, Sara is usually reading, drowning in tea, or frolicking around town with the world's cutest St. Bernard. The Dark Light is her first novel.
Want to learn more about Sara? Visit the following links: Sara's Website/ Blog/ Twitter/ Facebook/ and Goodreads. Or, if you'd like to buy a copy of The Dark Light, you can do so on Amazon.