Today’s interview is with the author of Now & When, Sara Bennett Wealer!
Hey there book lovers! Today I’m bringing you another exciting author interview with Sara Bennett Wealer, author of the upcoming YA contemporary Now & When (Releasing July 14th, 2020). The book sounds really wonderful! Read on for some fun questions, story inspiration, writing advice, and more!
Now & When sounds amazing and like such a fun read! I’d love to know what inspired you to write the story?
SARA: A lot of my stories are sparked by a memory of someone I knew or something that happened when I was a teen. The stories don’t bear any resemblance to anything that actually happened, it’s just that lingering bit of emotion or image that gets me going. In this case, it was a classmate I always argued with. No romance developed, but looking back I realize how teen-me’s reaction to this person was based on such a limited perspective and often informed by my own insecurities. I liked the idea of exploring how we might treat someone differently if we had insight into our future selves – even if just a glimpse. From there, the story turned into a romance, which was sort of brooding in its first iteration, then turned into more of a romantic comedy (I call it a romantic dramedy, since I don’t think it follows all that you’d expect in a rom-com), based on wonderful feedback from my editors.
Can you give a brief summary of what Now & When is about for those who haven’t come across it yet?
SARA: Sure! Skyler Finch hates Truman Alexander with every fiber of her being. So when her phone starts sending her notifications from the future, and it looks like she’s with Truman—as in romantically with him—she goes on a quest to fix it. But changing the future means messing up the present. And Skyler might just need Truman as an ally as she works to figure everything out. In this rom-dram with a time-travel twist, finding your way means accepting that life doesn’t come with a roadmap, and that people, like glitchy phones, are full of surprises.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
SARA: The primary bit of advice I can offer is just to write. So many people get started but then fizzle out. You have to be able to finish a full-length novel if that’s what you’re looking to achieve. And then you have to be able to revise it, possibly several times over. Writing books takes a lot of stamina.
Once you’ve written a book, get ready for rejection, dejection and picking yourself back up to try again. I know that sounds depressing, but perspective is key in this business. It’s a long process just getting published – you may have dozens of rejections, you may have to scrap a project and try with a different one. Just getting something on the shelves is a huge achievement. And unless you’re one of the rare ones whose debut turns into a mega-seller, you’re still going to face rejection with future projects. You can’t be discouraged for long if you want an authoring career.
With the situation that the world is in right now, what do you think Truman and Skyler would do in self isolation?
SARA: That’s easy for Truman! He’d spend the time taking extra courses to boost his GPA, studying for the SAT and ACT with the goal of getting perfect scores. Then Skyler would remind him to spend some time on his art, and he’d get lost in that until his parents guilted him into going back to academics.
Skyler would probably be super-restless without being able to see her friends. She’d break the rules until Truman shamed her into following them again. Meantime, they’d both go crazy not getting to see each other as much as they’d want to. They’d have to remind each other that this is only for a short time in the now. They have to stay strong in order to build a bright and happy future.
There’s the element of future in Now & When, would you be interested in seeing the future? Why or why not?
SARA: No thank you! I think the older you get, the more you realize how important it is to just focus on enjoying, or at least dealing with, what’s happening now. The future could be amazing, or it could be bleak, either way I don’t think you can ever be sure how much of it is within your power to change. So rather than drive myself to distraction focusing on that, I’d rather just savor the good things in my life right this moment.
What did you love most about writing Now & When?
SARA: I loved the revision. When I sold it, the book was a lot more weighty and depressing. My editor told me it was “a rom-com yearning to break free.” I had a lot of tragedy happen in my life while I was writing it, so I guess that found its way into the story. Getting to re-write it into something more light and fun helped me heal during grieving in such a wonderful way. It was a ton of work, but a real blessing.
If you could swap places with a fictional character (whether your own or otherwise) who would you be?
SARA: I have no idea! So many stories I like deal with characters who are in difficult situations, so I’m not sure I’d want to swap lives with them. I do think I’d love to live in Edith Wharton’s world – that rarified Gilded Age New York that she writes so incisively about. I’d love to be her best friend and snark about society while wearing gorgeous clothing and maybe doing something to help the people who aren’t in that rarified world.
The opening scene of NOW & WHEN is a tribute to my favorite Wharton novel, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?
SARA: I’m a huge ballet nerd, so I can spend hours watching ballet on You Tube or following dancers on Instagram. My husband and I love to cook, so we’re always trying something new, whipping up dishes with fresh and interesting ingredients or making comfort food that our family loves. We also love to travel, which is really bumming us out right now. We were supposed to go to Ireland at the end of July, now that’s off. We might try to go to Italy in December, but who knows if that will be possible? We’re doing the best we can with road trips, trying to stay positive.
Any future projects that we should look forward to?
SARA: The next book I’m working on is about a girl who grows up in a family-owned funeral home. She’s trying to decide if she wants to take over the family business, juggling friends and an on-line fandom she runs with one of them, when a new boy comes to town and shakes up her world. There’s ghost hunting, family drama, a love triangle and possibly a spirit lurking around… I’m having a blast with the latest revision. I don’t have a release date, though!
I loved this interview so much and that next book sounds absolutely wonderful! Do buy your copy of Now & When which is out today 💛
About Now & When
For fans of Jenny Han and Christine Riccio comes a romantic dramedy about a teen girl who stumbles upon a mysterious website that tells her everything she doesn’t want to know about her future.
There’s something about Truman Alexander that Skyler Finch finds incredibly annoying. Actually, several things: his voice (grating), his arrogance (total know-it-all), his debate-team obsession (eyeroll), and his preppy vibe (does he iron his shorts?). She does her best to avoid him and focus on the important stuff: friends, school, and her boyfriend, Eli. His promposal was perfect–just like he is–and the future is looking bright. Or is it?
For some unexplainable reason, Skylar’s phone is sending her notifications from the future . . . a future in which, to her horror, she appears to be with Truman. As in, romantically. As in, Skyler cannot let that happen.
But trying to change the future means messing up the present, and what Skyler sees keeps shifting. Classmates disappear and reappear, swap partners and futures. Turns out there are no actions without reactions, and life doesn’t come with a road map. But sometimes the wandering leads you exactly where you need to be, and people–like glitchy phones–are full of surprises.
About Sara Bennett Wealer
I grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (“The Little Apple”), where I sang with the show choir and wrote for my high school newspaper. I majored in voice at the University of Kansas before deciding I had no business trying to make a living as an opera singing. I now make my living as an author, producer and copywriter. I’m represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.