Mar 22, 2012

Author Interview & Art Reveal with Sara Wilson Etienne

I recently got the chance to chat with Sara Wilson Etienne, author of Harbinger, and she was nice enough to answer some questions about her new novel, her inspirations, and offer some great advice.

1. Where did you get the idea for Harbinger?
When I came up with the story for Harbinger, I’d just graduated from College of the Atlantic in Maine. I moved out to California, but I was still haunted by the rocky coastline and these castlelike old buildings on my college campus. Harbinger started out as a longing for a place and a time I no longer had, but it became a new world where I wanted to live.

2. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love revising. That part where the story structure is solid, but you’re still trying to add color and tone to the book. This is the part where I get to hunt around for the perfect word. Or tweak the dialogue so it means just a little bit more. Or shine a brighter spotlight on a character. It’s slow and meticulous and so very satisfying! 

3. What are your must-haves while writing?
Well, I like to get up and wander around a bit while I’m writing…so during the morning I’ll often get another cup of coffee or a snack while I’m problem-solving a scene. But the only thing I really need is my music.

I listen to the same music over and over while I’m working on something. While I was writing Harbinger, I listened to the Battlestar Galactica soundtracks... thundering taiko drums and epic crescendos... it really helped me see my world in front of me. Plus, Bear McCreary is a genius! With my new book, it’s the beautiful, bleak music of Sigur Ros.
4. What are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing a new book working with the same editor... the fantastic Stacey Barney at Putnam. My new book is completely different. Different characters, different story, and that’s exciting. And scary. I lived inside the world of Harbinger for so’s strange to step into a new story. But honestly, there is nothing more fun than to get lost inside a world that you’re creating!

5. What’s the last book you read?
I just read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was desperately heartbreaking, but also funny, and incredibly well written. It felt doubly emotional for me because it takes place in Indianapolis, where I went to high school. Shockingly, there aren’t a lot of books set in Indianapolis and the real-life landmarks from that time in my life made the story feel extra real.

6. What’s the last thing you ate/drank?
A monster cookie…chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, etc…yeah, that’s what I call breakfast! Omnom!

7. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Butt-in-chair. Even when you start doubting yourself or your story. Even when you aren’t sure what the next chapter or sentence or word should be, stay on the page, butt in chair, and move forward. The only thing that makes someone a writer is the act of writing.

Though…balancing it with the opposite is vital too. Don’t forget to get out of your writing cave sometimes and live your life! Talk to other people who are doing what you’re doing…writers’ conferences, critique groups, coffee shops, twitter. Writing is a careful dance of internal and external. Above all, remember to enjoy it.

Here's some new art for Harbinger:

Be sure to follow Sara and stop by her website:

Follow Sara: @wilsonetienne
Walk the Path! Explore the whole gallery of HARBINGER-inspired artwork at

Here's a link to a full size image:


  1. Great interview. I especially loved how she explained the idea behind Harbinger.
    (A BSG note doesn't hurt this interview either. The nerd in me is very happy.)

    A little off topic, but she looks just like one of my friends!

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