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writers you love - author q&a

Sarah Dessen on picking favorites, choosing titles and being famous

We’re pretty sure the whole world adores Sarah Dessen, and we—and our amazing readers—are no different. Sarah answered a bunch of GL reader questions not too long ago on Facebook, and we’re putting them on Inkspiration so you can read all her incredible answers. In part one, she’s dishing on character crushes, movie adaptations, dealing with super emotional scenes and much more.


Reader Q from Courtney C.: What book are you the most proud of and why?

I'm really proud of my book DREAMLAND, which I think was the hardest one to write, in many ways. It's a darker book and has a domestic violence issue in it, so it's not a romance like a lot of the others. But I think it's an important book, or at least it was to me.


Reader Q from Andyra N.: What gave you the idea to tie in a little something from some of your books into your other ones? It’s like a little scavenger hunt.

I started putting places and people from the previous books into later ones because I had so many questions from readers asking for sequels. I never wanted to follow a story fully from the end of the book, but I did like the idea of letting people know how characters from other novels were faring, if they were okay. It's a thank you to my readers, more than anything.


Reader Q from Carolyn O.: What’s it like to have your work adapted into a movie?

I actually had a GREAT time when they adapted Someone Like You and That Summer into the movie How to Deal. I didn't have much input on the script, but they did listen to my comments and I got to watch them film and go to the premiere. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. So fun!


Reader Q from Christelle G.: Which of your boy characters is your favorite?

I love ALL the boys in my books (I think I kind of have to, if the narrator is supposed to love them) but my heart will always belong to Dexter from THIS LULLABY. He was probably my favorite character to write, ever.


Reader Q from Abby B.: Do you see any of yourself in your protagonists?

I think there's a little bit of me in all of my narrators. Halley from SOMEONE LIKE YOU is probably the most like I was in high school, in that she was the quieter half of a strong friendship. But I wish I was like Remy in THIS LULLABY. That's who I wanted to be, at least in terms of her confidence.


Reader Q from Amy M.: How do you come up with such interesting names for your main characters?

I spent a lot of my younger years wishing I had a more exciting name. Two of best girlfriends were named Atiya and Bianca, and I dated a guy named Tioga. (True! He's actually married to another friend of mine, but that's another story.) Anyway, I always wanted a more exotic name, so I think that's why I work hard to find unique ones for the girls in my books. I get them from everywhere. Have been known to steal them from girls in my signing lines, even. That's where I got Colie from KEEPING THE MOON.


Reader Q from Cici O.: How do you decide which issues to tackle in your books?

I honestly never start a book with an issue in mind. Even with DREAMLAND it was always about Caitlin to me. I think beginning with an issue can be tricky because for me character comes first. If I listen hard, they'll tell me what they have to say.


Reader Q from Emily M.: Out of all your characters which one did you enjoy writing the most?

I honestly love all the girls in my books. I spend months of my life with them, sometimes years: they become real to me. So it's hard to pick a favorite. And hard to leave them on the last page, but it's my hope that everyone is in a good place. I like happy endings.


Reader Q from Erin P.: Do you get emotional when you write the really climatic or emotional parts in your books?

I definitely get emotional during the harder scenes. When I was writing Dreamland I had to often step away to breathe a bit. It's hard to build up a character and tear her down, very draining. But I'm proud of the final product.


Reader Q from Samantha L.: How do you feel when you see your books on the stands in the store?

Finishing a book is the best feeling EVER. The best I can compare it to is the last exam of a hard, hard semester of school. You work so hard, and push yourself, and then finally you can just STOP and breathe. Until you have to start revising, that is.


Stayed tuned for part two!

published April 22, 2014
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