Sara Beth Parker grew up on the edge of Texas’ most populous city with her three siblings and loving parents. She always dreamed she’d be some sort of artist. In college Sara Beth even obtained a degree in interior design. Up until that point she had dappled in photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, and just about every other artistic venture available. In elementary school Sara Beth had briefly perpended authorship as a potential career path, but never did she think that specific dream would come to fruition. Yet here she is, twenty-something years old, married, and authoring books from the comfort of her Washington home. Illustrating, too, for as it turns out her history in art has assisted her greatly. She also designs the cover art for her books.
What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I love fantasy. I can’t get enough of it. There’s something compelling about world-building, about creating something out of nothing. Granted there are always outside influences. Something might sway your characters and settings in one way or another, whether it’s a personal experience or an idea you bounced off of someone else. But the human mind is a wonderful place. Twenty people can create twenty similar concepts in twenty unique ways, and each one will be interesting. Also, the rules of fantasy literature are far less constraining than those of other fiction genres. In fact, fantasy encourages you to bend and even break the rules. It’s refreshing.
Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
My favorite thing about The Battle for Liberty is the personification. I wrote it in such a way that the book breathes, that it lives. The words reach out to touch the readers and draw them into a new world full of life. You can see the colors, feel the textures, and smell the air as you walk along the bluffs and through the fields of Whenua.
What character from your book fills you with hope?
Potentate Hōhonu, a headstrong loch-wyvern in my book, fills me with hope. His past is littered with sadness and horror. He has a difficult time riddling out what to do in regards to the future, and he can be irrational. Despite all his failings, he is also kind and generous. Hōhonu has tried to make the best of his mistakes, and he continually strives to be better. He wants to be better, to overcome his weaknesses and prove to the world that he is worthy of his post. I find hope in his, for lack of a better word, humanity.
Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
She is promptly asked where her father is; and when she cannot produce him, she is asked kindly to leave. After all, this is no place for a little girl.
What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
The most fascinating thing about Liberty is her naïveté. Far too often, people ask for a strong female lead and get just that, only that. She’ll be physically strong. She’ll have the ability to shoot an arrow more accurately than Odysseus and will beat up bad guys with increasing regularity. At the same time, she’ll have no dimension and no development. Liberty is strong. She is smart. She is resourceful. And she is a child. She’s as soft as she is wild, and she doesn’t have the answers to everything. Her faults make her human, make her significant. She is a strong female lead in the physical sense; but she is also strong in her growth, in the many weaknesses she recognizes, in the few weaknesses she overcomes.
When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
I’m an emotional person. I cried during Castaway. I’ll never forget you, Wilson! But seriously, I made myself cry while writing this book. You come to love your characters; and although sometimes you have to kill one or two or twenty, it never becomes easy. Well, some of them have it coming. But I also make myself laugh. I can’t write a book I don’t enjoy. Working alongside the ranges of human emotion is an important part of writing. It helps you engage with your readers and draw them into the pages of your book. I suppose I don’t really work alongside emotions. I work through them, within them, around them. Without them, what is a story? It is nothing more than words on a page. Emotion is the bread of a story. The reader goes hungry without it.
How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
I make time. Writing is not my full-time job. I work eight hours a day, five days a week. That means I’ll squeeze in writing whenever I can manage. When I get off work, I might write a paragraph or a chapter. If I’m really working through my creativity, I’ll write during my lunch break. Going on a road trip? I’ll bring my laptop. Writing without a deadline can be harmful in that you don’t have a specified time of completion, but it also gives you flexibility. Therein lies a piece of advice. Don’t force yourself to write. That’s how writer’s block starts; that’s how you damage a perfectly good idea. Let the words flow through you. If they come in slow trickles, let them slide. If they come to a screeching halt, take a break. Watch a movie. Read a book. Leave your writing alone for a week. When you come back to your book, you might discover your fingers typing quickly as the connections begin to line up perfectly.
Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
I’m horrible on the marketing front. I have no business training, few resources, and less time. In all honesty, I’m still in the process of overcoming it. Goodreads has proven to be a useful tool with its giveaways and threads and author pages made available to the public. I’ve also put my eager friends and family to good use, having them share my posts on Facebook and otherwise spreading word. It’s also fantastic that there are numerous blogs opening their arms to those like me for interviews such as this.
If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
The market is too oversaturated with smut. People who work hard to put together a well-written novel, something with substance in its characters and plot, get pulled into the trash when they should be soaring with the likes of Martin and Goldman. It’s hard to establish yourself, especially if you’re self-published, especially if you’re writing part-time. I’d cut down on the trash so the glorious novels have fresh air to breathe.
Your hero’s name is Liberty. The name has an obvious source and meaning. Your villain’s name is Kino, a word which has many different meanings. Was this intentional, and if so, what meaning did you wish the reader to attribute to it?
I’m a sucker for both etymology and anthroponymy, the studies of words and names respectively. Combining the two provides me with endless possibilities in naming my characters. Liberty is, indeed, obvious in its meaning and application. As for Kino, it is one of many Maori words I used in the writing of my novel. I had originally intended for The Battle for Liberty to be set in New Zealand. While that didn’t pan out, I retained many of its influences. In Maori, Kino means “evil”. Thus the villain of the story is, in both name and deed, evil.
Describe your muse.
Salt-and-peppered, 70-year-old Canadian man, horn-rimmed glasses, goes by the name of Howard Shore; though I might be cheating on him with the likes of Hans Zimmer, Jeremy Soule, and John Williams. When I get in a real writing mood, I put on my Lord of the Rings Pandora station and get into my zone. Any successive instrumental film, game, or show score that follows is welcome. It helps if there’s a bouncy stability ball in the room as well. I fidget.
If we wanted a good story—book, show or movie—one that you didn’t write, where would you send us?
I would send you into the realm of epic fantasy, naturally. From my perspective, the quest for a good story will always travel through the pages of books. JRR Tolkien is a classic answer, and indeed I love the world he has built from Middle Earth to the Undying Lands. I don’t think there’s another author, alive or dead, who has put that same level of dedication into developing their world. JK Rowling has probably come the closest. I’ve also recently taken a great interest in Patrick Rothfuss. His writing is deep and ingenious while remaining extremely relatable, and his interactions with fans make me respect him for his humor and general outlook.
What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
Nothing can surpass the beauty of a Houston thunderstorm. I know, I know. “There’s the Texan!” But honestly, Texas storms are dangerously thrilling. I used to stand outside or by my window and watch the thunderheads roll in, depending on whether or not my mom had caught me in the driveway. The lightning jumping from dark clouds to saturated earth in quick succession has crept into both of my novels thus far. There’s something chillingly reverent about something so dangerous dancing around in the heavens, and I’ll never be able to put the vision from my mind as long as I live.
Find Sara Beth Parker online:
The Battle for Liberty: facebook.com/thebattleforliberty2017
The Calm Within the Storm: