An Interview with Sarah Langley
Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?
Writing is a marvelous pursuit. And any opportunity for publishing is exciting!
What is your favorite and least favorite addition that you contributed to this novel in your chapter?
It was important to me that our characters had moral intentions. I didn’t want Julia and Billy the Bootlegger to end up being jewel thieves, especially in my chapter. It was a relief to get the chapter worked out so that they ended up having more honorable motives.
How did you write your chapter – in a burst of inspiration or carefully outlined?
With lots of help… LOTS of help. Lissa Staley could not be a better librarian. She not only made time to help with my plot outline, but she was also very supportive and reassuring. Dennis Smirl, a friend and author of a previous chapter, sorted out plot problems of the direst sort. When I called him up to ask for some help, his ideas were so instant and so perfect that I just had to laugh from joy (and relief.)
What have you learned about writing fiction from participating in this project?
How intensely important an author’s writing is to him. Although I only wrote one chapter, I suddenly realized how much the story affected me when I had one of the most interesting moments. Our neighborhood had a parade, and a jazz band performed in one of the yards. When I saw the band all getting in their van, I immediately wondered if that was the band Pete was part of. Of course, a second later, I felt silly for thinking that. But then I had that sudden shudder of delight that every writer gets when they know they’ve connected to their story and characters in a way that goes beyond any relationship with a living human.
What is your writing background? What do you usually write? How was this project different?
I’ve been a writer all my life. I frequently find old papers with things I’ve written down throughout my short life… church sermon notes that were more like narratives, school notes that were more like inspirational quotes, and hundreds of poetry ideas. Writing poetry is one of my main hobbies, but I also love to write hand-written letters and journals (so far I’ve written over thirty!) One of my favorite projects is my Gratitude Journal, in which I write five or more things I’m thankful for at the end of each day. I hope one of the readers of this interview will try keeping a Gratitude Journal – it’s even better than I could describe. As is true with any writing.
Sarah Langley, life-long lover of words, grew up finding rhyming words for every object she saw. She wrote numerous short stories, all of which were silly, but her young eyes saw them as masterpieces. Now she writes both poetry and novels because she loves the feel of a pen in her hand, the way a nib sinks into handmade paper, and because words (whether rhyming or not) are always stuck in her head like a favorite song. But most importantly, Sarah wants her writing to simplify the ideas of life and thereby inspire her readers to search out all the marvelous complexities and connections in life for themselves.
When not writing, Sarah dons her clown outfit and twists balloons so she can make children smile. She and her brother started their balloon-twisting business (Airheads) four years ago. But whether twisting balloons, helping children, or just living life, Sarah is always searching for inspiration to put those words in her head onto paper.