Monday, February 7, 2011

Sara J. Henry - LEARNING TO SWIM

Hold on to the seat of your pants, people!! ANOTHER book give away! HOLY SMOKES!

Today, I am featuring an interview with author Sara J. Henry. Her exciting new book, LEARNING TO SWIM comes out later this month!


Description from Amazon & Booklist:
When Troy Chance spots what she thinks is a small boy being tossed off the back of a passing ferry, she instinctively jumps into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. She rescues the youngster and discovers that his arms were bound with an adult sweatshirt. He’s incredibly frightened, speaks only French, and won’t tell her what happened. Troy determines that she will keep him safe rather than turn him over to the police. When he finally begins to confide in her, he tells a bizarre tale of being kidnapped, hearing his mother murdered by gunshot, and then being held for months. As Troy tracks down the boy’s father, she begins to question whether she will be able to let him go, since he has unleashed within her a maternal instinct she had no idea she possessed.


Sara J. Henry has been a soil scientist, sports writer, corresponding writing school instructor, book editor, freelance writer, magazine editor, bicycle mechanic, and webmaster. Her first novel, Learning to Swim, has been called “emotional, intense, and engrossing” by Lisa Unger and “an auspicious debut” by Daniel Woodrell. You can read the first chapter here.

I had the opportunity to ask Sara a few questions, and of course, I asked "writerly" questions.  Here's the interview:

1. You mentioned that you found your agent, Barney Karpfinger, on the acknowledgment page of a John Lescroart book. Was Karpfinger the only agent you queried? Can you describe that process of getting your agent a bit more?

I'd initially queried one other agent with this manuscript, and when I decided that person wasn't right for this book I went straight to my BEST AGENTS FOR MY BOOK list and sent out a batch of queries, Barney’s among them. Surprisingly, this part of the process went blindingly fast (mind you, I rewrote and polished the manuscript like mad first) - every time I sat at my computer requests for full or partial manuscripts were coming in. Then several offers followed, Barney's among them - I let the other agents know I had offers on the table; I met with Barney, decided, and signed. He really was perfect for me and for my book, and I’m well aware of how extraordinarily lucky I am.

2. If you could go back in time and tell yourself something you know now that you wish you would've known during the writing and editing phase of this book, what would that advice be?

That you can do it, even if you feel that your brain is going to break and this seems that it must be the stupidest book ever written. I’ll quote my friend Michael Robotham here: “It's like sleeping in a two-man tent with your best friend for a year. And it doesn't matter how good a friend they are, you're just so sick of them by the end of that process...” Although I’ve heard him tell the story when it’s a beautiful woman in the tent.

3. Was there an event or person that inspired this story? Who? What? And if not, how did this exciting plotline come to be?

I'd lived in Lake Placid and worked there as a sports editor and freelance writer, much as my main character, Troy Chance did. I was visiting the area and driving along the shore of the huge Lake Champlain on a cold and misty day and for some reason envisioned a woman standing on the deck of one of the ferries and seeing a child fall into the water from the other ferry - and then diving in to rescue him. Then I had to figure out how to write an entire book around that one scene. (I also had to figure out how to write a book in the first place, but that's another issue.)

4. Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you and/or your book?

I can beat Scott Phillips at arm wrestling. Or almost, anyway. And the sequel to this book will be out next year.

Thank you Sara for the interview. AND, a huge thanks to Sara for giving away an ARC of this book! Simply leave a comment on this post by midnight 2/10/11, and a winner will be selected at random. Sara will mail the book directly to you! YAY!

**Edited: deadline extended to 2/10/11**

25 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun read...love to win it!!

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  2. Hi, folks, this may be a finished book instead of an advance reading copy, or it may be an once-read ARC mailed by someone other than me. And I've asked Margo to extend the deadline a few days or until there are 25 entries, so please spread the word!

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  3. Oh Sara, so excited to read this!! I love how you came up with the idea--WOW!

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  4. A soil scientist!? A gal after my own heart. :) I'm definitely adding this to my (ever-growing) To Read list.

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  5. That sounds really interesting, especially for a debut novel. That's going on the list, for sure.

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  6. That looks very interesting! I'd love to read it!

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  7. Congrats Ms. Henry. The sample first chapter of LEARNING TO SWIM pulled me right in...I would be very interested to read the rest of the book and see where the story goes. Please enter me in the contest to win a copy of the novel.

    Ms. Kelly, your blog is wonderful... Hope some doors will soon open in your search to secure a literary agent! Hang in...

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  8. Oooh, this sounds like a great read. Great interview, too. I love hearing what triggers a story idea and I love the encouragemen (#2 question/answer).

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  9. I'd be upset about you revealing that fact, Sara, except for the fact that it's a strong contender for Best Anecdote to come out of 2010. Underestimate this woman at your own peril, folks.

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  10. This sounds great! I love a good heart-pounding read! :) Put me in for the drawing! :)

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  11. Thanks, everyone. Yes, I was a soil scientist for 12 weeks, before I decided life was too short to spend it not trying to write for a living. Scott, you've bandied the story about, so I felt free to disseminate it - I'm in fact doing a whole post on comparing writing a book to arm wrestling. :-)

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  12. I'm in! That sounds like a great read.

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  13. Quinn's cat didn't bat me out of the Thunderdome first, so I'm traipsing about to all the other places where I might be more fortunate and win a copy of this book! :-)

    Thanks for the chance to win! Cheers!

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  14. Sounds good. Can't wait to read it!

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  15. Heather, people who don't know about Quinn's contest are gonna be wondering about you ...

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  16. Margo, Sara, I would love to win this book. The first chapter is so enticing.

    All the best,
    Dawn

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  17. Great interview : ) I wrote my current MS around a single scene too, but it was based on a dream.

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  18. Would like to win a copy. Quinn's cat did not like me either, Heather. Ah, well - if not picked, I'll get to the bookstore when weather gets warm.
    banphriosa at yahoo dot com

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  19. Sounds like it will be a goood book, I need to be on the look out for it, that is, if I don't win it here.

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  20. Terrific interview, Margo. LEARNING TO SWIM sounds intriguing! I'd love a chance to win! Best wishes to Sara on the release of this awesome debut novel. I'll spread the word!

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  21. I have read the first chapter of "Learning to Swim", and I am hooked. I was going to order this for my Kindle, and found out that it is not available yet!!! I am suffering here to find out about the little boy.
    I would love to have a copy of this book. I think I am going to be a Sara J. Henry fan for life. Move over, John Grisham, Iris Johansen and Tami Hoag. You have some competition now :)
    Priscilla / prismisspp@gmail.com

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  22. I got an email from "Read it Forward" and read the first chapter and I am dying to read the rest! I love these days when I stumble upon something so great that I will keep thinking about it until I get my hands on that book. Thank you for the opportunity!
    my1littleworld at gmail dot com

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