As a six-year-old girl, Sarah Sutton dreamed of nothing more than becoming a published author. While many other kids her age probably did not have visions of what they wanted to be, Sutton knew in her heart what her destiny was. So, she set out to make it a reality.
“I first started writing because I wanted to get all of the chatter out of my brain and onto paper,” Sutton recalled when asked about the start of her journey. “Ever since I was little, I’ve always had such an active imagination. Writing became an outlet for me, letting out the creativity that would have made me go crazy otherwise.”
follows the story of Remi, a 17-year-old girl who falls for her best friend after accidentally kissing him at a party.
“I knew I always wanted to write about teens,” she explained. “What drew me to YA (Young Adult) Contemporary, though, is kind of funny. I initially started writing YA just to let my creativity go. I initially only wrote YA Fantasy or Paranormal Romance and writing Contemporary was just for fun. Quickly, it turned into my favorite genre and now I write exclusively in it!”
She highlighted that much of her process involves just sitting down and writing and that there is no set process, but the creativity just flows for her. Sutton started writing What Are Friends For to burn off some imagination.
“I was in the process of querying a different novel and had so much time in my hands,” Sutton recalled. “I decided to just start something new. I never even planned on publishing it! But as I wrote it, I quickly fell in love with the idea of Remi and Elijah, and knew their story needed to get out into the world.”
As she has gone through the rigors of self-publishing, Sutton has learned a lot about the struggles of the industry, and how to market herself and her story.
“Self-publishing is quite the numbers game—you have to watch your reviews, your sales, your marketing—and it can get to you after a while,” she detailed. “However, it I’m trying my best, whatever the outcome is, it’s enough. Learning that was hard, but much needed.”
While she promotes What Are Friends For, she also has a new book coming out this year. Out of my League is her next book. She actually explained that she wrote the story before What Are Friends For, and she wrote it as a farewell to her high school years.
“This was my first ever venture into YA Contemporary, and I just fell in love!” Sutton said.
In Out of my League, Sutton crafts a story where a high school student named Sophia who strives to prove that her school’s baseball team is allocating the school’s funding that might otherwise go to her journalism program. She meets Walsh, the star baseball player, and becomes conflicted between his public persona, her mission to take down the baseball team and the guy she gets to know better.
With storytelling, crafting characters can be difficult but also can be enjoyable for writers once they get going, and really get deep into the history of their backgrounds. For Sutton, she enjoyed writing her male characters over her female characters.
“I’m torn between saying Elijah and Walsh,” she replied. “I love the guy characters, but those two really have my heart.”
With anyone that self-publishes, there will be hurdles and difficulties. But it’s how writers learn from the past that helps them grow.
“I’m a lot more confident in terms of self-publishing the second book,” Sutton said. “Confidence can come with experience, and in this way it’s totally true! The entire process doesn’t scare me as much as it did before.”
Sutton hopes to keep writing enjoyable stories that teenagers can read and also learn
something from. Each of her stories have characters that have had to endure normal issues a teenager would deal with, and added drama to make the story enticing, but also relatable.
For future writers, Sutton hopes they can practice their craft, and reading everything in that genre to establish what they want to do.
“Reading is so important to flex that writing muscle, to learn new techniques, and to improve overall,” Sutton explained. “Read some books on the writing craft as well, because that can be so helpful too! My favorites are Save the Cat and Writes a Novel and the Emotion Thesaurus. Those two books changed my writing life!”