If you catch any common theme in my blog posts, it might be Girl Power. I’m a huge fan of boss ladies (as I kind of strangely like to call women who rock as of late). I’m a huge fan of women who follow their dreams and do things to better the world in their own way.
I met one of these women recently. Sally Slater is a colleague of mine and an author of young adult fiction novel, Paladin, which weighs in at No 7 on the Wattpad fantasy chart, with 10.7M reads according to The Guardian and Wattpad. No big deal at all, right?
Sally has a sharp whit and a biting determination in everything I see her do. She’s got a unique view of women’s role in literature (and in real life, I think it fair to say), and I think she serves as an outstanding example of what can happen when you “follow your bliss” and work for what you want.
I can’t congratulate Sally enough as her book is now on pre-order at Amazon. I’m sure there’s plenty more for us to see from this lady!
Enjoy a little Q&A Sally was kind enough to complete for me, below.
- How did Paladin come to fruition? Where does your story as an author start?
I’ll answer your question in two parts, because my discovery of writing and the story of Paladin stemmed from two unrelated events. I owe becoming an author to a professor in college, who shook some much-needed sense into me. I spent most of college trying to figure out who and what I wanted to be (first an actress, then a lawyer, then a healthcare professional…), and it wasn’t until he pulled me aside and said, “So, you’re going to be a writer, right?” that writing as a profession ever crossed my brain. He also bluntly told me that if I didn’t find a way to write in my career, I’d be miserable for the rest of my life. I really owe him a thank you note for that kick in the pants.
Paladin, on the other hand, was in part a pent-up response to all the hype around Twilight. I loathed Bella Swan, but more than I hated her character, I hated that this was the young woman millions of girls were looking up to. I’m going to spoil the Twilight series a bit here, but Bella at one point gets dumped by her boyfriend, and she becomes literally nonfunctional and near-suicidal. And that was glamorized! What kind of message is that to send? (See, even now, I can’t talk about the series calmly).
Instead of just ranting about it, I decided to write a book with my kind of heroine – a strong female protagonist who kicked butt but wasn’t totally unrealistic or unobtainable.
- Why the young adult fantasy focus?
I may be the grand old age of 26, but young adult fantasy remains my favorite thing to read, and now to write. It’s what I read growing up to the near exclusion of all other genres and I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon, though I’ve since branched out.
- Who is the Paladin reader?
When I first started writing and sharing Paladin, I assumed most of my readers would be young women since my main character is a woman. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many guys have been into my book, too. There’s some humor, some romance, and a whole lot of action and violence, so I’d like to think there’s a little something for everyone.
- How did you create your characters? Do you take from your personality traits and life experiences?
I’d say the only character who remotely resembles anyone from my life is Sam of Haywood, the main character of Paladin. There are elements of my own personality that I gave her – I think we share the same sense of humor, and I also gave her my unfortunate nose because I think having a big nose builds character (or something). But our different circumstances (I’m not the daughter of a duke, alas) lead to very different overall personalities.
Braeden and Tristan (my two male leads) are heavily influenced by anime. Does watching anime count as life experience? Any otaku will immediately see evidence of my anime obsession in Braeden’s silver-white hair and funny eyes. Every anime lover needs their silver-haired bishounen.
- What do you love most about playing the role of “author?”
I love being able to control stories and having the power to decide how they end. Although to a certain extent, your characters control you and you lose control over your own story—but that’s a pretty cool experience, too. I love that I’ve created this whole other world with characters that feel almost as real to me as real people (notice I say almost…I haven’t gone crazy yet!). And it’s pretty amazing to be able to share this world with other people.
- What would you say to someone thinking about starting a foray into writing a book (of any type)? Any inspiration or caution?
I think at one point or another, every writer gets stuck and doesn’t know where to go with their story. Maybe it’s because they start doubting their own work, or because they don’t know where to take the plot next. I would just say that “writer’s block” or self-doubt or whatever you want to call it is completely normal, and to stick with your story. Set your story aside for a week or a month if you need to, but then come back to it.
- This might be a silly question, but did you have any hesitancy whatsoever to put your name on the book? Did you feel any pressure to make your name gender neutral? My point in asking this surrounds the (now antiquated) J.K. Rowling phenomenon / hoopla over the fact that a female author could do so well (gasp!).
Honestly, no. First of all, giving full credit to my parents here, “Sally Slater” might as well be a penname. It just rolls right off the tongue. Well done, parents. Basically, I had to either become a newscaster or an author, and I became the latter.
Second, Paladin is a story about a woman, by a woman. I’m incredibly proud to have written a story in the fantasy genre—which is so often dominated by men—about a powerful, realistic heroine. I want my name all over it.
- Lastly, what’s the most amazing, funniest, craziest things that’s happened in the process of writing and publishing a book? (I’m thinking about some funny fan stories, etc.)
Upon Googling myself…as one does…I discovered that I am listed as a young man’s favorite author on his OKCupid profile (in the section where you can list your favorite books, movies, etc.). I’m the first author he has listed, ahead of Lois Lowry’s The Giver and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. I was tempted to send him a message, but I realized that might be creepy…he is definitely too young for me, and I no longer have an active OKCupid profile.