Debut Author Sarah Healy Says That When Someone Dismisses Women’s Fiction, It’s A Personal Challenge To Write Books That Can’t Be Dismissed

Is that title not the BEST. QUOTE. EVER. about women’s fiction? I mean, truly? THAT should be on a T-shirt. And a mug. Hmmm. Don’t get me started.

I think you’ll agree that for a new author, Sarah’s got some sage advice worth heeding: believe in yourself, and don’t always believe others. Kind of a universal truth wrapped up in a neat little author interview!!

Please welcome Sarah to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

Debut Author Sarah Healy Says That When Someone Dismisses Women’s Fiction, It’s A Personal Challenge To Write Books That Can’t Be Dismissed

Amy: I love your book cover, Sarah! But let’s get this out of the way…what’s Can I Get An Amen? about? I have a feeling it’s not a religious book, am I right?

Sarah: Thank you! I love my cover, too! And you’re absolutely right, CAN I GET AN AMEN? is not a religious book. Rather it’s about a divorced unemployed woman who has to move home with her born-again Christian parents to try and find herself while her mother tries to convince her to find Jesus. So while there are definitely references to religion, it’s really a book about dealing with family and finding love.

Amy: How did you come up with the idea for this novel?

Sarah: Well, I grew up in a very religious household. And even though I don’t share my parents’ brand of faith, we’re still extremely close. I think a lot of people were brought up with more religion than they currently practice, but that’s rarely represented in fiction in a manner than doesn’t seem loaded. For me, that sort of generational disparity is more a source of humor than angst.

Amy: What was your process like for writing it?

Sarah: Like most debut novelists, this was a book I wrote in stolen moments and whatever snatches of time I could find. I typically wrote at night, after my kids were asleep, which is how I’ve been writing my second book as well. It means I haven’t watched T.V. in about two years, so when I find myself in a conversation involving Mad Men or Girls, I just sort of smile and nod.

Amy: Did you find any obstacles along the way to publication? How did you overcome them?

Sarah: Every step of the publishing process has had its own heartbreaks and triumphs. I think the way to overcome them is to believe in yourself even when it’s borderline delusional. That’s what keeps you marching forward — some deep, innate belief that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, even when all evidence is to the contrary.

Amy: What is your definition of women’s fiction? And does the label bother you?

Sarah: My definition of women’s fiction is probably the same as most: fiction that’s written primarily by and for women. And no, the label itself doesn’t bother me at all. The only thing that I’ve had an issue with is that the genre tends to be dismissed, even sometimes by women. But I sort of take that as a challenge, to try to write the sorts of books that can’t be dismissed, books that break through those traditional category barriers.

Amy: What is your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?

Sarah: I think the thing I try and remember most when I’m writing is that if the characters and story aren’t real to me, then they won’t be to my readers. I would also say don’t be afraid of writing something bad. Before I wrote CAN I GET AN AMEN? I wrote a terrible book. It will never be and should never be published. And while it wasn’t very much fun to spend a year working on something that would never be read, what I learned from writing that book was invaluable. I almost feel as though it was like getting a degree… except way, way cheaper.

Sarah Healy lives in Vermont with her husband and three sons, where she works in marketing consultancy. Can I Get An Amen? is her first novel. To learn more about her, please visit sarah-healy.com and facebook.com/sarahhealyauthor. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/SarahEHealy.

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10 thoughts on “Debut Author Sarah Healy Says That When Someone Dismisses Women’s Fiction, It’s A Personal Challenge To Write Books That Can’t Be Dismissed

  1. My question is WHY is that first book terrible and will never be printed? At what point did you know to finally give up on it and move on. It seems like if you can write one book that is being published, you have the talent to fix the first one.

  2. ” the thing I try and remember most when I’m writing is that if the characters and story aren’t real to me, then they won’t be to my readers” . . . YES! If I am bored, they will be, too – if I think “that’s cheesy/too long/isn’t plausible/is contrived” so will they — listening to those thoughts/voices is important!

    Good luck with your book – love that cover!

  3. Hats off to your cover designer! Wow! And I think it’s great that you recognized your first novel was just a stepping stone to the next one–I think far too many of us (me, included) keep whacking our heads against the wall when we’re trying to fix a book that really doesn’t grab both our hearts and heads.

  4. Great interview! And I love Jesus Bobbleheads … one of the characters in my novel Blue Straggler also has one. (He’s a tow truck driver named Tuck who went to Baylor University in Waco, Texas.) Can’t wait to check out Can I Get An Amen?

  5. I love this! And I loved watching the video interview. It’s nice to know that Sarah has a drawer novel as well. I feel the same way about mine. Sucks that I spent two years slaving over it, but the learning experience was much cheaper than getting a degree! I look forward to reading Can I Get an Amen?

  6. “Every step of the publishing process has had its own heartbreaks and triumphs. I think the way to overcome them is to believe in yourself even when it’s borderline delusional.”

    Amen!

    Congratulations and best wishes, Sarah.

  7. I was going to quote the same lines CIndy quoted! It’s hardest to believe in yourself when you’re feeling delusional. Thanks for the advice, Sarah. Your books looks very interesting– it’s so interesting to hear you talk about being jealous of the Catholic kids. I was raised Catholic and thought Jewish people were much cooler…!

  8. Oh my goodness (just watched the trailer), I can’t wait to read this book! I grew up right next to Chicago with a huge Italian Catholic population, too. And yes, all the ‘cool girls’ were Catholic as were/are most of my friends. I’m also very familiar with the born again Christian culture (not through my family, but I dabbled in it for a couple of years)… This book is sure to be right up my alley!

    Amy, my TBR list keeps growing every time I read a blog post here. :)

  9. I love the advice to write books that can’t be dismissed.

    This book looks brilliant! Family and religious struggle are topics dear to my heart! Just added it to my pile on GoodReads, and I’m looking forward to it! :)

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