Interview with Sarah Butland
Thanks A.F. for having me and letting me share with your readers a bit about me.
I was born in Ontario, the year was 1982. I was moved to New Brunswick for over 15 years and now reside at home in Nova Scotia, Canada. I married my high school sweetheart and have a superstar son named William and a cat named Russ who all make my house a home.
After many stories, attempts at novels and thousands of ideas later, I created BananaBoy, and the Adventures of Sammy was born; Sending You Sammy, was my first published children’s book. Then came Brain Tales - Volume One, a collection of short stories and finally Arm Farm, my current literary pride and joy.
Can you tell us something about your books?
My writing career took a fantastic leap when I discovered a solution for childhood obesity and literacy that I could contribute to. While working a full time job I had the opportunity to colour in downtime and while colouring a red superhero I ran out of red and switched his typical colours to green and yellow. In the moment of switching from this colourful character and the two headlines about obesity and literacy rates I discovered BananaBoy and wrote his story which became Sending You Sammy.
Then, in an effort to continue this children’s book series, I published Brain Tales, a collection of short stories most can enjoy. Finally, while on maternity leave, I was able to finish by long anticipated adult novel Arm Farm – the story of a forensic sciences student trying to solve her parents’ cold case but finding herself a victim of her own case.
Overall I’m equally proud of all three books for the readers I've been able to connect with.
What inspired you to write children’s books?
Further to what I mentioned above, the underlying concerns that inspired me to go into the children’s category is the devastating rates of both childhood obesity and illiteracy. At the time of writing all three books I was in New Brunswick which is consistently named the obesity and illiteracy capitals of Canada – something I wanted to change.
You've also written some books of general fiction and poetry. Is it difficult to change your mindset from writing for children to books aimed more at adults, or is it a natural process?
Adult writing comes a lot easier to me as I assume their desire to read is already there. With children it’s a challenge for me to ensure I’m not talking down to their intelligence without being too full and losing their attention.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
Routine?! No, I don’t have any type of will power or ability to have a routine of any kind. I can and do write anywhere I have the time to. I don’t plot, plan or brainstorm with my writing, I write as if I’m reading so that each page is a genuine surprise.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Time. I don’t have any. I stay at home all day with my active toddler and because we don’t have him watching TV he is always wanting to play, explore and have me read to him. It’s incredible what choices this little human being is making and forcing on me that make me love him more but it leaves me no time to write as I work nights full time.
When I do have time to myself, which is extremely rare, I’m too unfocused to sit down to write. I’m cleaning, sleeping or just trying to relax which is near impossible for me to do.
Who has inspired you as an author?
My grade three teacher and substitute teacher are the two women I look back on often. Their confidence in my abilities with spelling and creativity has stuck with me. Then, as a writer, I was in awe when I went to see Robert Munsch with my nephew. The whole auditorium filled with young voices reciting almost every story Munsch was telling and it blew me away that he had such a captive audience in the province where literacy rates were a real concern.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing spending time with my family is most enjoyable. It’s rare that I’m trying to make up for lost sleep or catching up on cleaning the house but I am most often watching my son bike, play or making him lunch.
Working full time and keeping my son home during the day to raise him like we want leaves little time for much else, especially new writing. And then, of course, I love to read, go to the beach and fit sleep into the schedule.
What’s the next project for you?
Blood Day – The Novel is the current work in progress. It’s my biggest challenge yet not only for lack of time or focus but because it’s borderline supernatural, nothing I ever imagined myself doing. It started with a short story I entered because I heard, with the deadline looming, there were not many entrants. So I somehow sat while my then 1 year old played beside me and, between feedings and making sure he was safe, I spit out this insane short story I thought I’d never have to visit again. After it won and I had a lot of fans who wanted to know what was next but declining to write it themselves I sought out to finish the tale of the young adult who wouldn't bleed. About a third of the way in I've lost track and need to fill in some blanks to be able to continue it.
Thanks again for A.F. Stewart for inviting me to guest host today and for all of you for reading.
Sarah Butland, author of Sending You Sammy, Brain Tales - Volume One and Arm Farm
Please visit me at www.SarahButland.com to support myself and many other authors. This month as everyone heads back to school, the leaves start changing colour and the air brings a chill I am bringing you lots of reading material in hopes you'll find something you love to read. While I am putting forth a huge effort to bring awareness to my own books I understand that everyone wants something different to read. Please show a huge welcome to all my guests by commenting and checking out their books.