Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Fortnight of Guests: Sara Grant

Sara Grant
We have Sara Grant with us today: her amazing debut Dark Parties came out earlier this year and now she's made up a fun game for us!  Thank you so much, Sara!  I had loads of fun with the guest post, and I hope all of you guys do too!! :D

Fact or Fiction?
Post by Sara Grant

Writing is often a strange combination of fact and fiction. I heard Hilary Mantel speak about her memoir Giving Up the Ghost. Someone asked if it was odd to have complete strangers know so much about her life from her memoir. She said something like: in a memoir she controls what her readers know about her life, but in her fiction she unconsciously reveals so much about herself.

Now that my first novel has been published, I know what Mantel means. There are several points of connection between my life and my debut young adult novel Dark Parties. Some I’ve included intentionally, drawing on life experiences. But after I’d finished writing the first draft of the novel, I realized that other personal elements had slipped in.

Dark Parties is set hundreds of years in the future and recounts sixteen-year-old Neva’s rebellion against a government that keeps its citizens imprisoned under an electrified dome. What does modern-day me have in common with my dystopian thriller? I’m not sixteen nor do I live under such oppressive government control. I thought it might be fun to see if you can distinguish fact from fiction. Half of the statements below are fact and half are fiction. Can you guess which is which?

1.       The citizens of Homeland have grown to look more and more alike. The teens in Dark Parties create identity marks to express their individuality. Neva’s best friend Sanna has created an S-shaped scar on her cheek. Her boyfriend Braydon always wears red pointy-toed boots. Neva has a snowflake tattoo on her pelvic bone and so do I.
2.      I’ve given my secondary characters the names of my friends and family. (I do this in part to see how many of them actually read the book. J)
3.      The cover image of the UK version of Dark Parties was based on a photo of me taken at my senior prom.
4.      Dark Parties starts with a party in the pitch black. During the party, Neva and Sanna hope to recruit their friends to help with their secret rebellion. I’ve hosted a party in the pitch black too! (Except mine was less about rebelling and more about trying to eat dinner.)
5.      Neva and Sanna meet in a graveyard to plan their rebellion. I’m also fascinated by graveyards and like to write in graveyards because I find
6.      Like Neva, I was scared of the dark when I was a child.
7.      A significant subplot in Dark Parties is Neva’s quest to find her grandma who has been missing for ten years. Neva’s grandma is based on my Grandma Ruth Murray.
8.     Neva and her band of rebels spray paint an anti-government slogan around the capital. This scene was based on my experience spray painting a ‘slogan’ on my high school when I was a teen.
9.      My father was a politician so Neva’s feelings of living in a fish bowl came from being dragged into the spotlight from time to time because of my father’s career.
10.  I named Neva’s love interest Braydon Barlett because B.B. was the initials of the first boy I ever kissed.

The Answers
1.       Fiction. I have no tattoos, but if I did it probably would be snowflake.
2.      Fact. Senga is the name of my husband’s aunt who is a dear friend and a bit of a rebel! I’ve included the names of my writers group pals in a scene toward the end of the novel. And many friends and family members have been surprised to see their  first or last names – never both – in the pages of Dark Parties
3.      Fiction. The cover illustration is by Fernanda Brussi and she has no knowledge of the cream and peach prom dress I designed and had a local seamstress make for my senior prom. I wore my hair in a French twist with faux pearls threaded in and – because it was the 1980s – I had fringe teased to an impressive three-inches high. (No, I’m not providing a picture.)
4.      Fact. When I got my book deal, my best friends threw me a party at Dans Le Noir in London. It was an incredible dining experience – and, yes, it was in the pitch black.
5.      Fact. I love graveyards. Graveyards of sorts are featured in both Dark Parties and my next novel, scheduled for publication in 2013. Maybe it’s the storyteller in me that sees a gazillion stories lurking among the heart-felt epitaphs and the weather-worn statues. When I lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, I used to write at Crown Hill Cemetery, which has more than 185,000 graves dating back as far as 1864.
6.      Fact. When I was young, I was scared of the dark. I used to sleep with the bathroom light on. Even now, I don’t sleep well if it’s pitch black. Luckily I live in London and there’s too much ambient light outside for it to ever get too dark.
7.      Fact. My grandma passed away more than a decade ago, but, like my main character Neva, I still miss her every day. Many details I included about Neva’s grandma were based on my dad’s mother who was also named Ruth – the way she smelled, how she loved to dress in bold colours, etc. She was a wonderful grandma who had a great imagination, feisty spirit, and a fantastic sense of humour. I didn’t set out to write a tribute, but I found myself writing this dystopian novel with the relationship between Neva and her missing grandma at its heart. I understood Neva’s yearning to see her beloved grandma again and her willingness to risk everything to find out what had happened to her.
8.     Fiction. I’ve never been arrested and the closest I’ve come to creating graffiti was scribbling a Jackson Pollack-like image with Crayons on the wall behind my front porch swing when I was five years old.
9.      Fiction. I was born and raised in Washington, Indiana, a small town in the Midwestern United States – one of the flyover states as some Brits like to say. My dad was a banker and mom taught kindergarten. Both of my grandmothers lived in Washington, too, as did many of my aunts, uncles and cousins. Growing up everyone knew everything about me. I think that’s where some of the claustrophobia in Dark Parties comes from.
10.  Fiction. But the funny thing is a just realized that the initials of the first boy I ever kissed are R.R. Do you think there’s any significance in that?


Contact Details
Twitter: @authorsaragrant
Web site:

Thank you so much, Sara!  I loved this post - it was jsut so much fun!! :D  I hope you guys had fun too!!
Everyone, if you liked this post, make sure you follow all the FoG events on Twitter at #FortnightOfGuests

About Sara and Dark Parties

Sara Grant was born and raised in Washington, Indiana, a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Sara is senior commissioning editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children. She has worked on ten different series and edited more than 75 books.
Dark Parties is her first young adult novel.

Dark Parties
Sixteen-year-old Neva was born and raised in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. Hundreds of years ago, her country constructed an electrified dome to protect itself from the outside world. What once might have protected, now imprisons. Her country is decaying and its citizens are dying.
Neva and her friends dream of freedom.
A forbidden party leads to complications. Suddenly Neva’s falling for her best friend's boyfriend, uncovering secrets that threaten to destroy her friends, her family and her country -- and discovering the horrifying truth about what happens to The Missing. . .

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