Sarah Robinson is the four-time Amazon Bestselling Author of Sand & Clay, Tainted Bodies, Tainted Pictures, and Logan’s Story. Her very popular romantic suspense trilogy, The Photographer Trilogy, includes Tainted Bodies, Tainted Pictures, and the not yet released Untainted. Her latest publications include Sand & Clay and Logan’s Story, both in the Sand & Clay Series. All of her novels have reached Amazon’s Bestseller Rank in Crime, Crime, Thriller, Contemporary Romance, and/or Romantic Suspense. She also has a very large social media following, including over eleven thousand Facebook fans.
Her writing often concentrates on the complexity of love in emotions, combining psychological complexities and human flaws to create very real characters that readers can relate with. Her work focuses on redemption and forgiveness, learning to build on what has been broken. Her characters are often in conflicting situations, leaving the reader to decide what is right and what is wrong. She uses her stories to hold a mirror up to the reader and ask them to see things they never knew, or had forgotten, about themselves.
Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in criminal psychology. She is newly married to her soul mate, Justin, who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiasts as she is. Together, they own a zoo of rescues including 2 dogs, 7 cats, and 5 turtles, as well as volunteering and fostering for multiple animal shelters.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
How did you choose the name of the villain in The Photographer Trilogy books?
-His last name is in another language that gives a clue as to who he is and his first name I named after my turtle!
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I don’t have one strict writing process, it depends on what I am feeling and when I feel inspired. Normally, my best writing happens in the dead of night when everything is silent and still. I like to have pictures of my characters up on my computer while I write to help me picture them while I am writing.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Sure, all the time. I go through random spurts where I will suddenly write a ton and then I will go weeks without writing a single word. I don’t try and push it, I just let my mind think about it and process it until I finally have something to put down on paper. I think if you try and force it out, it won’t be quality work. I need to work when I’m inspired.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Never stop writing and never let the negativity of the world get to you. Remember why you started writing in the first place. This is advice I’ve gotten from amazing authors, but it’s been hard for even myself to follow. It’s definitely a very key piece of advice for anyone wanting to be an author.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently working on multiple projects. I am finishing the final book in The Photographer Trilogy, Untainted. I am working on a project with a large publishing company that is unannounced as of right now. I am also working on a book with my husband which I enjoy a lot. Then, I am also planning the sequel for Sand & Clay as well as Dylan’s Story from that series.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I don’t think I have a particular genre, in fact, it’s really hard to figure out where I fit in. The Photographer Trilogy can be considered anything from crime thriller to romantic suspense. The Sand & Clay series is contemporary romance. Some of my unpublished work is also all over the map. I think that that is what makes me unique as a writer is that I don’t have one thought or idea that I write about, I can branch out and create multiple different worlds for my readers.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
I think indie authors are the future, I think that it will definitely become more mainstream as time goes on. The only problem is that it’s a tough world. Like any other business, people are cut throat and most readers don’t see that side of it. It’s very unfortunate and really not a world I want to be immersed in. I’ve made a new policy for myself that the world may have my books, but they may not have me.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I started off being published traditionally, then moved into indie, and now I am kind of straddling the line and doing both. I don’t think that I have one path in particular that I am going to choose, rather I just want to see where my books take me. I would say that I have been very lucky in the traditional sense, I never had to submit manuscripts to hundreds of places, but rather both times I was approached to bring them a book from scratch.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
Sand & Clay was originally traditionally published until I took the rights back and self-published it. I redid the cover and edited a lot of the content, but I didn’t change the title. It was kind of like releasing a brand new book, mainly because it was. I changed so much in it to make it more the way I wanted and I love it so much more now.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Meeting new and interesting people that I otherwise never would have met. Gaining inspiration from the strength of other authors.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
I don’t think I have one strategy and I certainly don’t have one that works the best. I think word of mouth is always the best advertisement, but I do use a lot of social media to get my name out there. I think it’s extremely difficult to understand where the balance is between spending time marketing oneself and spending time writing. It’s not a balance I have mastered yet.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
I use Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Scribd, and Createspace. I refuse to use Smashwords due to major piracy issues I had with them. The ones I currently use, I have had good experiences with.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
I love writing romantic suspense the best. The combination of mystery and romance is perfect for me. I love writing in general though and like I mentioned earlier, I don’t think I fit one perfect genre. My training and education is in criminal psychology so crime and romantic suspense are right up my alley.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I normally text the idea to myself to look back at later. If I write it on a piece of paper, I normally lose it so putting it on my phone has worked well.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
If I am writing a full length novel, I always aim for over 50K words, but normally it’s much longer than that. I think you know as you go what will happen and what it will need. It’s impossible to plan exactly.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
I think I have learned a lot about people and business from being in this world. I think I lost a lot of my innocence and naiveté about the world. I don’t regret any of it, and I love to write, but I have certainly seem the underbelly of the indie world. I have heard reviews and gotten messages from readers who tell me that my books inspired them and that means the world to me. Especially with The Photographer Trilogy, since I touch on such a personal topic that is based on a real story, people who have been through similar tragedies often connect with it and find it inspiring.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
I think that the title and cover are hugely influential. I doubt that most people look much at the page numbers, and I think that they assume they know the content based on the title or cover. Either that or the title and cover leads them to want to read the synopsis or not want to read it. I’m really not sure though. I know that a cover can really grab or lose me though.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
I have never used this nor am I able to state an opinion on it.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Reviews are extremely important. I think that they are what make us continue writing and what make readers buy books. I think the best is a variety of good and bad reviews- the controversy peaks people’s interest. For example, the topic covered in The Photographer Trilogy can EASILY pull in a negative review just because of how upset it could make someone and I went into it knowing that. But I want those reviews because I want my books to impact people and if it impacts you to the point that you are upset then it did exactly what I wanted, it made you look at something in yourself you didn’t like or you hadn’t wanted to acknowledge.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
Absolutely no tolerance for that at all. I have done reviews for authors before but there has never been any sort of reciprocity, payment, etc. I think honesty is, above all, the most important part of a review.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
Sadly, yes there are and I have seen it. Mostly it is incited by other authors who are jealous of an author and send their friends to mess with that author for those exact reasons. Like I said, I’ve seen the worst of the underbelly from a distance and with personal experience. I think it’s sad because readers don’t want that- they just want a book that they can fall in love with.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
I don’t think I ever have.
With self-publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an overabundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
I think it’s based on word of mouth. If I come across a book that I have never heard of the author, then I will probably not read it. However, if I have heard of them from other people, read suggestions, etc then I will read it. There are a lot of books out there that are self-published but not edited or really taken the time to make it a great book.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
I think it’s the same as a parent sending their child into the world for the first time. You hope that you did everything you could to make them accepted and loved, but you just never know.
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
My favorite story is The Photographer Trilogy in general, however, I think my best writing was in Logan’s Story. I think my writing improves leaps and bounds with each book I write.
What is the intended audience for you book?
18+ for sure, not due to sexual content since I am a “fade-to-black” kind of writer, but for adult themes, language, and criminal story lines.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
Sometimes I forget my own stories. I think my readers know my books better than I do! My brain is so wrapped up in the next book, the next project, that sometimes I forget about a part of a book when a reader talks to me about it.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
Always write an honest review and read for the love of reading only.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
Yes, I used Facebook a lot but am moving over to Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest more now since I think Facebook has become more of an unhealthy community rather than a book-loving community. I think that the advances in technology and social media have made authors reachable to fans. For the first time, you can read a book and then go chat with the author if you want to! I love that, I love to get to know my readers.
What makes a good story, why?
Passion. Not necessarily in the book, but in the author’s heart. Passion about the story, love for the characters, and a fierce protectiveness of them as if they are jewels to be displayed to the world in only the most loved way.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
I think that they are very important, they need to fit the character. They need to be unique, but also blend in. I often use a random name generator online and click through it a thousand times until I come up with bits and pieces that inspire a name for me.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. It depends on how much time I have. I try not to respond to them unless the reviewer directly asks me to. The bad reviews can hurt, but I also love them because that is how I have grown as a writer. Each of those negative reviews (well, the constructive ones) have taught me something that I used in future writing. Sometimes you do get one of those just mean reviews that has nothing helpful in it and is just hurtful, those are hard to take but I find that a cold beer and a snuggly husband is the perfect cure for that!
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
I have not and do not plan to attend any signings right now. I might attend one next year in my home town, but that would be my limit. Like I said, my policy is that the world may have my books, but they may not have me. I don’t like when authors post pictures of their children online or private information. I also think author signings can sometimes be popularity contests or be different than what you would think that they should be.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
The hardest scene for me to write is usually the crime scene part, the most raw and painfully detailed scenes in which I know that the readers are going to be hurting because I am hurting. Those scenes in which I hurt my characters is as devastating to me as it is to my readers. I love my characters, I want to protect them, and yet, the story sometimes calls for allowing them to be hurt.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I am unsure. I think I always go with what I want to write and have been successfully doing that.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
No, usually day dreaming but not actually asleep-dreaming.
Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?
There is a lot of overlap in my different series between characters and that will continue to happen!
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Tainted Bodies is the only book I’ve written that is almost 75% a true story. The rest are all fictional, however, my characters all have pieces of people I have known or met. I think all writers pull from what they know.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Passion and love. Imagination. Not being afraid to write something people won’t like. Stress management and time management are the best tools a writer must have.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I think that I have read so many books that I have adored and others that have made me wonder how it ever was published. I think all of those experiences have helped me figure out where I want my own books to fit into the literary world. I think when I was a novice and brand new to the writing world, I learned a lot of things by watching other authors (both good and bad) and plan on taking those experiences with me to help me know what type of author I want to be.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
I love them both. I happen to use ebooks more often due to a lack of space for paperbacks, but I love them all!
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
Right now it is like a part-time career that I hope will turn into a full career one day. It definitely is a creative outlet and sometimes a therapeutic outpour, but it really depends on where I am in my life and where I am in the story.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
I think just finding the time to balance a family, full time job, and then writing on top of all that has been the biggest challenge.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I have an editor who I absolutely adore and owe everything to!
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
I am really not sure, I think I am still exploring both avenues so I can’t say one way or the other. I think self-publishing is a lot more work but a lot more freedom so it depends on who you are and what you see for yourself.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
I think anything non-consensual I wouldn’t write about. Non-consensual in terms of that being a good thing. One of my books contains a non-consensual scene but I clearly display how awful that is. It’s just not something I personally like.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Everything and anything from my past, to my present, or my dreams of the future.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Unique story lines, descriptive writing, and characters who differ from the ordinary or the expected!
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
No, I have a wonderful cover designer who knows how to find the perfect photographs to describe my books. She is able to figure out what I want before even I know.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
My least favorite part is the end. You’re done. The story is done. The characters are done. Yet, they are still inside of you, they will never leave. Their story is never done and yet you are choosing to say goodbye. It’s heartbreaking. My most favorite part is right at the very beginning when you are brainstorming the story and you get all these lightbulb moments where you are just so excited to write a scene you just thought of!
Books by Sarah Robinson
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