SarinaLanger is a dark fantasy author of both epic and urban paranormal novels.
She’s as obsessed with books and stationery now as she was as a child, when she drowned her box of colour pencils in water so they wouldn’t die and scribbled her first stories on corridor walls.
(‘A first sign of things to come’, according to her mother. ‘Normal toddler behaviour’, according to Sarina.)
In her free time she usually reads one audiobook, one ebook, and one paperback (one for every occasion), plays video games, and obsesses over mythology.
She has a weakness for books on writing and pretty words. (Specificity, anyone? Or perhaps nebulous?)
Sarina lives with her partner and daughter (read: their cat) in the south of England.
Genre: paranormal urban fantasy romance
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
To be honest, I don’t remember what exactly inspired this one. I wrote the first draft almost two years ago (I think) when I finished another WIP sooner than expected and needed something else to make up the NaNoWriMo numbers. I’d written down a few notes in the summer for this one, but I didn’t have an outline or any of my usual plotting. So, I pantsed the very first draft.
And this, friends, is how I learned that I can’t pantse a book. I need a plan or it’ll end in disaster.
When I came back to this book after initial critique partner feedback, I decided to just start over. They actually liked it, but it didn’t feel right to me. I love mythology, so I wanted to include a few things in this series. I sat down at my desk one morning to plan this one, jot down a few ideas for a sequel, maybe, and then suddenly I had rough ideas for ten books. That’s not usually what happens, but this book was very vocal, if that makes sense, from the re-start.
Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
My least favourite part is when I hit that stage, usually in my second or third edit, when I don’t want to look at it anymore, none of the plot twists hit as they should because I’ve read it and picked away at it so many times, but I can’t send it to my critique partners just yet because it’s not quite there. That part can be a slog. I didn’t have that with Death and Magic. Fingers crossed the next nine will go just as well.
My favourite part is almost everything else. A few moments I especially love are early on into a WIP when anything can happen, seeing my covers for the first time, listening to the audition scripts for the audiobooks, and seeing critique partners and beta readers heap love on my characters and the stories. All of that is so special, and I don’t see any of it ever getting old.
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
The books that were a big influence on Death and Magic were the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas. I didn’t actually love the first one (mostly because of Tamlin the Asshole), but when I finally picked up the sequels, I got through them fast. I actually got a little obsessed with them. I ended up analysing what it was exactly that had me so hooked and realised that I loved the combination of fantasy, humour, darkness, and spice, and that’s exactly what I’m aiming for in Esta’s series.
Esta’s story is a slow-burn romance, though, so don’t expect a lot of heat right from the start. The beginnings are definitely there, but I don’t think it’ll get really spicy until Book 3. It’ll be a decology, probably, so that’s a lot of time to make stuff happen. I won’t be rushing into everything in Book 1. I’m not a fan of insta-love, so this’ll develop more organically.
Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
That depends entirely on the time of year. I work term-time in a university library, so I’m off over Christmas, Easter, and nearly three months over the summer. I have a lot more time to write then, but naturally, it’s also the best time to get other things done, like audiobooks. I’m always surprised by how much of a backseat the actual writing takes during those times. I can edit at work if it’s quiet enough (I’m super lucky to have very supportive colleagues who make sure we have all of my books on our shelves), but I can’t listen to audiobook chapters, for example.
During uni terms, I get up much earlier than I need to so I can write before work. I’d be too tired afterwards, so it needs to be in the mornings. Having that pressure works well, too—I know if I don’t write now (usually between 7 & 7:30am), it won’t happen that day. It always feels good to leave the house around 8am and know I’ve already got the words down. It takes a while that way, but it does get the books written. Although, I’ve also lost track of time more than once and then had to rush out the door, which is less fun.
Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Don’t put any pressure on yourself. This is your first book, so it’ll be your biggest learning curve. This is great because of how much you’ll grow as you work on this book, but it’s also daunting. It doesn’t need to be perfect—all first drafts are shit, so cut yourself a lot of slack. You’re not going it alone—don’t be afraid to find critique partners (bookish friends you trust to be honest with you), beta readers, and editors to help you improve the story in a considerate way.
And if after all that you’re just not feeling it, you don’t have to publish it. You can write just for yourself. I recommend it, too. If you haven’t written anything before, you probably shouldn’t publish right away. Give yourself some time to grow as a writer and develop your skills. You only get one debut novel.
Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?
This may be unpopular, but there’s no such thing. I believe that writers use writer’s block either to blame something they have no control over and therefore it’s not their responsibility, or as an excuse because it’s easier than admitting that they’re scared of other people reading their book, of this book not being as good as their last, of everyone hating it, of not being good enough in general—lots of things.
Writer’s block itself—being physically unable to write because the muse isn’t talking to you today—isn’t a thing. Inspiration comes as you write. If you’re waiting for the muse to come to you, you’ll be waiting for a long time. Instead, show the muse that you’re serious and get writing.
If you’re staring at the screen or your notebook and feel drained, you may have burned out. Take a break. If you’re staring at the screen or your notebook and can’t think of what to write, move on to another project. It may not be this book’s time. If you can’t get excited about your book, you can’t expect your readers to be excited either.
If you’re a pantser and swear by winging the whole book, then that’s great if it works for you. If you tend to get stuck and don’t know how to move on, just do a tiny bit of plotting. I don’t mean the ‘plan every single chapter in extreme detail’ kind of plotting, just enough to give you a road map. Give yourself somewhere to go.
As an editor, I often see writers frustrated because they can’t figure out what their characters should do next. They’re thinking about what the character should do or what would be most exciting for the story when they should consider what the character would do. It’s not really up to the writer to decide. It’s up to the character—all you need to do is listen and let them act as they would according to their nature. Think of them as real people. When you really know your characters, you’ll never wonder what they would do again, because there’s only one option. When you ask yourself ‘what would my best friend do?’, you don’t think about what would be most exiting for your situation. You know what they would do, because that’s just who they are. It’s the same with your characters.
Instead of blaming something that doesn’t exist, figure out what exactly is stopping you from writing—fear, burnout, a lacking understanding of your characters, not enough direction, a lack of excitement for this particular project, etc—and address that issue.
If you want to write a book, it’s your responsibility to make it happen. Blaming writer’s block takes at least some, if not all, of that responsibility away from you.
Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?
All of it! I genuinely loved every scene. (well, except two. I love how they came out, but I was crying when I wrote them, so hopefully you’ll cry too.)
Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
From early reader feedback, this book is a comfort after a long day, it’s fun, and it’s a great escape from the mundane. If that’s something you want, then you’re this book’s ideal reader.
Q9: What are you working on now?
I’m going through the First Big Edit of Blood Vow, the final book in the Blood Wisp series. Remember what I said earlier about the edit eventually becoming a slog? I’ve hit that spot. Hopefully it’ll be with critique partners by the time this interview goes live. I’ll be a lot more relaxed if that’s the case.
I’ve got the sequel to Blood and Magic outlined, but I just want to get this First Big Edit done before I start writing. The tone in BloodVow is very different, and I don’t want to muddle it and make it harder than it needs to be.
I’m slowly world-building a new epic fantasy called The Silence of Magic, and I’ve got several audiobooks in the works: Wardens of Archos, Blood Song, and A Dream of Death and Magic.
Q10: What are you currently reading?
You’d think I’d read more over the summer since I’m home, but no. I’m slowly making my way through A Court of Silver Flames (hardback), the Adamant Spirits charity anthology (ebook), and Neon Gods (audiobook). That last one, at least, should be done and reviewed when this interview goes live! I’ve got the audiobook of Child of Fear and Fire lined up next and looking forward to it.Find out more about Sarina Langer by following the social media links below:
A Dream of Death and Magic is now available in ebook and paperback
Esta Anderson’s life is missing something.
She feels there should be… more to, well, everything, and her ambitions of being a photographer aren’t exactly going as planned, either. But she’s determined to change at least the latter this summer. She just isn’t sure how—inspiration has been a bit of a bitch lately.
She’s also a lucid dreamer who knows her dreamscape better than her actual neighbourhood. So, when one day she finds a strange obsidian void lake in her dreams, she can’t just pretend it isn’t there. Something has to happen if she jumps in… right? It wouldn’t make her feel so seen and strangely whole if it were nothing.
Except, that’s exactly what happens: nothing. At least at first. But then…
Who knew the world was so full of fairies and vampires and werewolves and demons and— Magic? Well, obviously they did, but Esta feels like she’s finally seeing the world as it really is. And with that new insight comes all the photography inspiration she’s been waiting for.
Except the Veiled are hiding for a reason. They’ve seen war before, and if Esta isn’t careful, her enthusiasm and curiosity could start a new one. Some of the Veiled are ancient, they remember the last battle against humanity…
And they know just how to turn Esta’s lucid dreams into her worst nightmares.