It’s my pleasure to welcome author Sacha Black to my blog!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m predominantly a Young Adult fantasy author but I’ve also got some dystopian, science fiction and contemporary YA in me too. With my other writing hat on, I pen non-fiction writing craft books, the first of which was about creating better villains.
How long have you been writing for?
With a view to publishing, I’d say five years. But I’ve always loved writing. Nine was when Eden East, the character for my first book, Keepers came to me. I wrote on and off at school, but nothing serious until I started blogging almost six years ago.
What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?
I absolutely love creating new worlds and seeing how characters develop. The process of creation boggles me a bit. Where do the characters come from? How are they so whole and life-like in our consciousness?
Part of me NEEDS to write. I find it a real positive point in my day, I guess it’s therapeutic in some ways, but it’s when I’m at my happiest.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
I write at every spare opportunity I can. Whether it be sentence fragments in corridors between meetings or on the toilet!! Mostly, I write from 7pm to midnight every night after my son has gone to bed.
How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?
Good question. I wanted to be traditionally published at first. But then I looked at both processes and realized there was no way on earth I’d a) give up control of everything and b) earn a tuppence for my books.
I had a clear vision for my book cover and I didn’t want to be told what I could and couldn’t have on it. Nor did I want them to change my plot in any way and I also didn’t really fancy having my confidence knocked by years of rejections.
Last, and one of the biggest drivers was the money. I really want to write full time and the traditional route was far too much of a gamble. You only earn between 10% and 15% of a books sale price, and of that 10/15% you have to give your agent 15%. So, for every $3.99 eBook I’d be lucky to take home 30c. Whereas with indie publishing I can earn $2.69 on that same eBook sale. I know that you get bigger visibility with trad, but I had faith that this was the right way forward. And so far, it has been. I’m well on my way to reducing my hours at work in favor of writing time.
What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?
EASY and super-fast. I’m not bashing the traditional route I am sure if the opportunity arose and it was the right one I would take a trad contract. But it’s kind of empowering doing it all yourself. The first book was a HUGE learning curve, it was hard trying to understand all the nuances of formatting and cover designers, but once I’d done the first, it was smooth sailing.
Everything is down to you – from finding and approving a cover designer to the formatting and physical uploading and publication to Amazon. But there’s a bunch of software out there that makes it easy for you. It took me 40 minutes to format the eBook and paperback for Keepers – and it was only that long because I couldn’t choose a template of what I wanted it to look like!
As soon as you have your edits back from your editor and you’ve completed them, you can format a book and have it live in the Amazon store in hours. No two-year waiting period like the trad industry – but even short timescales has it’s downsides, like less time to build an audience. But swings and roundabouts!
Are you currently working on anything new?
I’ve got an entire production schedule set up with dates and my designer and editor booked for next year. I’m currently working on the sequel to Keepers – I’ve got a freebie novella in that series and the third book in the series coming out next year. I’m also writing a non-fiction book on productivity and if I have time a creative writing prompts collection to bust the block. Oh, and if I get all that done then I will draft up the first book in my dystopian YA series!
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
There is no other career. I am going to make it happen. I know that’s a cop out. If you’d asked me a few years ago I’d have given you five different possibilities but now I know there is no other career for me!
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
To celebrate the small and big successes alike, celebrate as you go and give yourself a slap on the back. I’m terrible for not acknowledging achievements and that doesn’t help my mindset or imposter syndrome.
What is your favorite book, genre, or author?
I read about 50/50 YA in any form, and non-fiction. I crave knowledge, so I read a lot of business, marketing and mindset books. Don’t get me wrong, I do read some other stuff too. But those are my predominant genres.
Three books I love this year:
Delirium series by Lauren Oliver
A Darker Shade of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t let anyone tell you no.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you want writing to be your full-time job, or your business, then treat it like one. Don’t write in your PJs get up, get dressed for work. Your books are more than a string of words in a story, they’re products. You can iterate them in a million different ways. Never underestimate how much you know and how valuable that knowledge is to others.
About Sacha Black
Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.
Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.
When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.
Connect with Sacha Black
Title: Keepers – The Eden East Novels
Where is it published: Amazon
Release Date: 17th Nov
Formats: Paperback and eBook
Purchase from: Universal link to all bookstores is here
Eden’s life is balanced…
…until her soul is bound to her enemy.
When her parents are murdered, the realm of Trutinor is threatened. Then a mysterious human arrives and changes everything.
As Eden’s world spirals out of control, she doesn’t need a charismatic Siren from her past returning to complicate life.
Now, saving Trutinor is the last thing on Eden’s mind.
Two murdered parents.
One deadly choice.
‘Where there is Balance, there is Imbalance.’
First Law – The Book of Balance
* * *
Father always said not to trust a Fallon that can’t keep the Balance. I should have listened.
* * *
My mother and father are fidgeting. Perched, along with everyone else’s parents, on the front row of the lecture hall’s steep tiered seating. Someone must have opened a door because a ripple of air drifts through the auditorium and makes the stage’s velvety green curtains wrinkle. I close my eyes, letting it wash over my skin and take a deep breath. It doesn’t help. The wind is carrying everyone’s anxiety, and my Elemental power can’t help but seek out the anomaly and feed it into my system like a virus.
I snatch a glance at the Earth simulator door. It’s in the middle of the stage, entrance dark, exterior plain and cube-like; a solitary shape; a grim reaper ready to make me fail my exams. Behind me, the last couple of classmates are waiting their turn, chewing their nails and watching the current exam play out on the screen above the stage.
They’re useless, of course. A virtual sim is nothing like being on Earth. But the Council won’t allow anyone in the field until they’ve been Bound and passed their finals. Especially not if they’re me.
“You’re too precious,” Arden, the Council deputy said every time I begged him to let me go on the school field trips. “Your Fallon blood is too royal to risk injury or death before you’re properly qualified. You know that, Eden.”
I do know; I just wish I could change it. Frustrated, I scan the sea of parents in the theatre seats. But their faces are as strained as my classmates. I focus on Father instead. He sits up a little higher, and for a brief moment, we share a knowing look. Then it’s gone. Replaced with a poised expression and a smile befitting any Fallon. He broke the rules and smuggled me through the barrier into Earth to practice. Under normal circumstances, as a Fallon, I’d have an unfair advantage because I’m stronger than most Keepers. But today, Victor is on my team, and he’s more useless than the sims. Worse, his score impacts mine. And that is exactly why Father smuggled me out to practice.
Victor’s lanky figure slides into place next to mine. His white-blond hair is muted with grease that’s turned it a mousy shade of beige. The sloppy top knot is, I imagine, an attempt to hide the oil. I swear I can see the strands twitching and moving like bugs crawling over his scalp. I turn away to stop my nose wrinkling.
Victor might be my Potential, but it’s still a mystery to me why the Council of Trutinor think Victor is the most probable candidate to become my Balancer. How is he supposed to Balance my soul?
“Victor,” I say, struggling to hide the distaste in my voice.
His clawed index finger extends until it pokes me in my ribs.
“You better not mess this up for us, East,” he says.
You can’t practice with magic for long without it leaving a trace. I like to think of it as a magical signature. I’m lucky. My eyes, like Mother’s, are turning violet, like the bright glow of a lightning flash. Victor isn’t so lucky. As a Fallon and a Shifter, with the ability to shift into any animal he wants, he could have had any animal trace. But our traces reflect our truest selves, our magical essence, and his is a wolf. One of his hands is gnarling up and forming a mangled wolf paw. A paw that I’ll have to hold.
I knock his dog nail off my side and glare at him. Fire elements flicker in my belly, daring me to retaliate. But my parents are watching so I stay composed, stand a little straighter and under my breath say, “We both know I’ll carry your whimpering ass across the finish line, Dark. So why don’t you play nice and I’ll let you thank me after. Hmm?”
He bares his canines, and for a second, I think I hear a growl emanate from his chest. Before I can call him out, Professor Kemble signals the auditorium’s silence. Two students exit the sim door, they’re pale, eyes darting over the crowd as they weave their way stage right and down into the waiting room.
“Fallon Victor Dark? Fallon Eden East?” Kemble says and gestures for us to approach the Balance simulators.
Victor’s face pinches like he’s sniffing something sour. It takes all my willpower not to slap the expression off his face. Even though he’s never said it, I know he can’t stand the thought of being Bound to me any more than I can to him.
The stage stairs creak underfoot as we climb. I flash a final glance at the front row. Mother’s violet eyes are bright as she nods and urges me on. I look at Father and smile to myself. Physically, I am like him with the same stocky stature and dark, curly bird’s nest on top of my head. But behind Mother’s sparkling eyes I see the grit and determination that’s burning in my gut too. Her palms cross in her lap, an attempt to hide her tension. But even from the stage, I can sense the electricity sparking like hot static between her palms.
Victor doesn’t bother to look at his parents and it’s that ego that’ll catch us out in the sim if I’m not focused.
Professor Kemble moves center stage, his floor-length green Keeper robes a stark reminder of what’s at stake. If we mess up, we won’t secure a place at Stratera Academy, and we won’t keep the Balance or get a place on the Council.
Kemble opens the sim door. I take a deep breath. Then Victor and I step into the darkness.