My most recent (and first published) book is a memoir called Bringing in Finn. It is the story of my 7 year journey to having our son- a journey that included fertility treatments, stillborn twins, miscarriage – basically a whole bunch of trauma- and then a miracle- when my then 59 year old mother offered to and successful carried and delivered our biological child- my son Finn.
It is mostly a book facing adversity while pursuing a deep desire of the heart.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am originally from Alexandria, Virginia- right outside Washington DC. I am the oldest of 3 girls. I started writing in elementary school but was “in the closet” as a writer until my mid-late twenties when my desire to share my writing became stronger than my fear of rejection and I outed myself and began submitting writing for publication, first articles and then books.
What inspired you to write this book?
Both the belief that art heals (and transforms challenging experiences) and the memoir writers that have transformed and inspired and WOWed me- Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Ruth Reichl – to name a few.
How did you choose the title?
My agent, editor and I all had boys- first children- within eight weeks of each other so when I started writing we would send chapters back and forth between feedings – in the middle of the night. One night we batted around some title ideas and Bringing In Finn came to my mind. I emailed it over and the publisher loved it so it stuck.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I had written a memoir before BIF that my agent had been shopping around. I worked for 2 years on the manuscript, an entire year on the 93 page proposal. The book received some terrific affirmations from publishers but no book deal. When I shared that I wanted to write about our surrogacy experience with my agent, she had me draft a 3 page “treatment” letter and the book sold the next week. The publisher- Seal Press- part of Perseus group- had read, and liked the first book proposal but the book hadn’t been right for their “list.” Having the 2nd book sell to them so fast felt like a great encouragement that nothing in writing is wasted. When I feel as if my writing publishing is not happening as fast as I’d like it to, I try and remember my job is to write the best book (or piece) I am capable of – then send it out to as many places I think would be interested and keep having faith the work will be published somewhere great.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I wanted to be a writer from childhood.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I usually read a paragraph or two from a book I think is phenomenal. This reminds me of the kind of writing I aspire to and sets the bar high. Even if my writing doesn’t reach that level, I think the practice elevates my craft- upps my game. During writing Bringing In Finn, I read from The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (to me, this memoir is perfection). I am writing a novel next so my new “writing guru” is Karen Russel- novel Swamplandia.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Most of the time, a name comes to me that just feels right. Other times I look at genealogy websites or baby name books to source out a name- particularly if I am looking for a special meaning for a name, or names from a particular country or tradition.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Since this was my first book, I learned A LOT- and still am. Primarily that despite popular discussion to the contrary, the people I’ve met in the publishing industry and dedicated, love writing, writers and are there because of their passion.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I have been and am so honored and grateful for the opportunity, I think I would do everything the same.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I love this question. I read like a fiend. I would be happy talking about books all day. Now that I am a mother, I have less long stretches of reading but I still do a book every week or two.
Some all time favorites – Childhood: The Big Orange Splot and Sara Crewe & Harry Potter- because they are magical and Soulful and felt like they were of my DNA somehow. Young Adult: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Everything by Shakespeare, and lots of good horror and witchy stories like Stephen King and Anne Rice (can you tell I was a dramatic teenager)? Adult: Because the writing and content is staggering and beautiful: Tender at the Bone, The Glass Castle- for breathtaking memoirs. The Bell Jar- because it’s awesome and really spoke to my mid-twenties quarter century crisis self (also Girl Interrupted and Prozac Nation). The Red Tent for a beautiful, original, sensual novel. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver- because it felt like eating the most nourishing meal and The DaVinci Code because it was so much fun and Goddessy.
Poetry: Mary Oliver.
Swamplandia- Karen Russell- one of the best literary fantasy novels I’ve read
Also – for some same reason Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.
The Fault In Our Stars- beautiful, honest, funny YA novel
The Dirty Life- lovely and thoughtful memoir about NYC woman who falls in love with a man she interviews for an article moves to run an organic farm with him upstate.
The Art Forger- fun, interesting, sensual novel
The Grand Obsession- because it’s a good story and took me to a sub-culture (piano tuners)
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
As I mentioned, my next book is a novel. The story is a modern day holistic therapist discovers that she is descendant from a line of powerful French witches- a secret society of women who fought for the honoring and freedom of women during the time of the European witch hunts.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
If this is your dream- go for it! Write, get a writing buddy or group or take a class and absolutely believe you can do it.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
I think women or men who have gone through infertility.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Thank you- I would be delighted to visit with you- www.saraconnell.comGet your copy of Bringing in Finn at Amazon.com,