Sarah graduated from Swarthmore College with a double major in Education and History. After teaching in the Philadelphia public schools, she moved to New York and earned her Masters in Classroom Literacy from Bank Street, where she spent as much time in their bookstore as in their lecture halls. Still, she didn't catch the "writing bug" (flu) until several years later. While encouraging her students to find their authorial voices, she discovered she had one too.
Q and A
Favorite books and writers? The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin changed me forever. I remember flipping through the end, searching futilely for more pages, an author's note--anything--and then sobbing because it was really, truly, over.
Octavia Butler's works aren't easy reads because of the themes she unflinchingly delves into, but she also frames this within incredibly empathy and optimism for humanity. She just awes me, professionally and personally. I've reread her book of short stories, Bloodchild, many times. I'm also a big Vernor Vinge fan.
Where do you live? Philadelphia.
What's your writing process? I have small children, so two tools are indespensable to me: outlines and the #5amwritersclub. I'm not going to lie -- it was hard waking up at first. But now I cherish that morning time all alone with my computer and a REALLY BIG cup of coffee. The outline is key because even when I'm half-asleep, it tells me exactly what I'm supposed to work on. Ideally, later that day I revise what I wrote and smooth out the prose. When I finish the manuscript, I send it along to a wonderful group of critique partners and beta readers I met through Twitter and sleep in for a few weeks while I wait for their feedback. :-)
Interests? I love theater. Growing up, I was always acting in school plays and in community theater productions. As a teacher, I often integrate improv and playwriting into my curriculum. I always wished I had learned to play an instrument, so a few years ago I decided to teach myself ukulele from Youtube videos. Sometimes I can even coax my preschooler to play her own uke while my baby shakes a tambourine or screams. Voila! My dream of a family band unlocked.
Best personality trait? I think my flexibility. Years ago when I met my husband, who is first generation Armenian, I knew very little about Armenia or its history. I now speak Armenian functionally and can cook a mean rice pilaf.
Favorite shows? The Good Place and Brooklyn 99 (Boom boom!). Mike Shur is a sorcerer--he makes me fall in love with his characters every time. I also love The Expanse and Westworld.
Why do you write middle grade, specifically? Almost all my teaching training and experience has been with upper elementary-aged kids. I've done countless read alouds of A Wrinkle in Time and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and I've restocked so many copies of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid I've lost count. The "middle grade reader" is certainly not one thing, but I like to think that I've had glimpses of what's important to them. My manuscripts tend to be "upper middle grade," I think because I particularly loved sharing books with my students that asked them to grapple with complex themes, story structures, and characters. A few of my favorites are Holes, by Louis Sachar, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and the City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, which is also one of the inspirations for my newest manuscript.