I first met Sarah in 2013, and she had recently turned 20 years old. Sarah told me that her dream was to have a novel published - she stated it with such clarity, determination and passion, that I knew she'd do it.
Over the course of two years, I've watched her dream come to fruition. Every lunch catch up, she'd tell me of her progress: from receiving a mentor in writer Victoria Purman, beginning the first opening chapters, to hitting and overcoming writers' block, receiving a publishing deal, going through the long editing process, having her book cover designed, and now: her first book. Love Elimination launching on June 30th.
A bit about Sarah:
Studying: Bachelor of Law/Arts (Creative Writing)
Favourite book: On The Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
Favourite genre: It's a tie between young adult and romance
Can you give us a brief summary of Love Elimination?
Love Elimination is set behind-the-scenes on a reality TV dating show. Anna is a reluctant fill-in coerced onto the show by her sister, who is one of the producers. All Anna wants is a quick elimination, but Luke Westwood (Olympian snowboarder and Love Elimination's leading man) has other ideas. It's a fun and flirty romance with big budget dates, a camera in every corner, and cast of twelve competitors vying for Luke's heart.
Genre: Contemporary romance.
Setting: Australia (mostly - there's an international holiday thrown in!)
Intended audience: Women
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
What inspired the novel?
The novel is inspired by my obsession with reality TV dating shows. I love them all: The Bachelor, Married At First Sight, If You Are The One... I couldn't get enough. So I ended up setting my book on one and the story developed from there.
What inspired the book's cover design?
The cover was entirely the genius of the Harlequin design team. They tried a few different things until they came up with the final version, which is gorgeous, and glamorous.
You're a law and arts student - what drew you to writing?
I've always loved reading and writing, but after high school I 'got serious' and enrolled in a law degree. It was my mum who convinced me to do a double degree, and not give up on my passions: writing and drama. When I really struggled with my first year of law, it was writing that gave me back the balance I so desperately needed.
Tell us a little about your writing experience: what writing have you done in the past?
I wrote my first novel at 16, and posted it on Wattpad, receiving over 9.7 million views, before I decided to self publish. I've held a number of editorial positions, and written reviews and articles for publications, including Empire Times, InDaily, Lip Magazine, and Voiceworks. Most significantly, I won Carclew's 2015 'Colin Thiele Scholarship for Creative Writing' which allowed me to develop a novel with a mentor - bestselling romance author, Victoria Purman - and pitch at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in 2015.
Who are your main literary influences?
For romance, my literary influences are Victoria Purman (my mentor), Rachael Johns, and Kylie Scott. The authors who have had me hooked for years are Meg Cabot and John Marsden.
What do you love about the romance genre?
Romance is eternally optimistic. There will always be a happy ending (or at least, happy for now.) It's also a great genre for feminist issues and analysis, since romance is generally written by women: for women, and about women.
What do you believe are some popular misconceptions about the romance genre?
There are so many! I recently wrote an essay about it for Voiceworks called 'Feminism, NASCAR, and The Italian Billionaire's Secret Baby.' The misconceptions range from romance being porn, to the entire genre being poorly written, to there being a 'formula' that authors follow, and so on. It would take too long to address them all here, but I recommend Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan's Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide To Romance Novels for anyone wanting to read up on romance.
What advice do you have for other aspiring writers/novelists?
Write. Learn as much as you can - join a writer's group, attend workshops, surround yourself with great writers. Be proactive - pursue opportunities and push yourself.
What are the next steps for you, and your book? When can we purchase Love Elimination?
Love Elimination is taking up all the space in my brain at the moment. It will be released July 2016. You can buy it from bookstores, retailers, online - wherever you like to buy your books!
Celebrate the release of Love Elimination with Sarah at Dymocks bookstore in Rundle Mall on Thursday the 30th of June, 6:00-8:30PM.
Photos via Sarah Gates Author Facebook page.