Sarah Perlmutter is an English teacher from Pennsylvania who has self-published her Young Adult apocalyptic novel The Blast. It follows the story of Beatrice and her family as they fight to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, exploring themes of moral choices and humanity. The novel has been very well received and its current highest rank on Amazon is #26 in YA Dystopian! Sarah agreed to answer some questions about her novel and her self-publishing experience.
Why did you choose to write a story set during and after the apocalypse?
I’ve always been interested in human nature, and what better way to test it than to put people in extreme survival situations? I also really enjoy the science fiction genre, especially post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, so I wanted to contribute to that genre of YA literature with my own take on the world’s end.
The Blast is fairly short, did you consciously choose for it to be a short novel or did it just turn out that way?
I did consciously choose for it to be a shorter novel, because I wrote it to be a companion piece or prequel for the trilogy I’ve been working on for a couple of years now. I meant for it to only be a novella, but at its current word count and length it’s straddling the line between novella and novel. Once I started writing, I had more to say than I initially anticipated I would.
How did you build the cast of characters for The Blast?
I built the cast of characters based on characters in my trilogy. I knew Beatrice, Eleanor, and their parents had to be in The Blast, but some of the other characters I added to help explain who they became as adults, like Henry and the Smiths. Characters like Jacob and Mr. Timmons were included to help explore themes in the novel, while characters like Drew helped me to flesh out the community within which Bea and Eleanor grow up and later raise their children.
The Blast is a prequel to your Deathless trilogy. Which idea did you come up with and write first?
I came up with the idea for the Deathless trilogy first, and then halfway through the second book, I realized that I didn’t know nearly enough about Beatrice or what happened before the trilogy begins. I began writing The Blast as an exploration into Bea’s character and as a way to bring the entire world to life for myself. The trilogy now exists in a world that is much more believable and complete than it did before I wrote The Blast.
What made you decide to take the self-publishing route?
I sent out maybe 5 queries for the first book of the trilogy when it was not in the proper shape to be published, and, not surprisingly, received 5 rejections. I began researching self-publishing then, and learned that it can actually be a viable route for publishing these days. I wanted to test out the waters of self-publishing as an alternate option, and after receiving positive feedback on The Blast from readers on Wattpad, I decided that would be the perfect book with which to test self-publishing. I’m glad I did, because now I feel like I have a better handle of the whole industry.
What do you think the pros and cons of self-publishing are?
The huge pro of self-publishing is how much creative freedom you have. The book is exactly as you want it, as is the cover and all other materials for it. However, as a self-publisher, you really need to be ready to invest serious time and money into your project. Good cover designers and editors cost money, as does professional formatters for your manuscript. That’s the con of self-publishing: Because you are in control of everything, it requires much more work to get your book into reader’s hands. A lot of writers just want to write, but when self-publishing, you must also be your own editor, production manager, designer, marketing professional, advocate, and internet personality.
Has self-publishing been a positive experience?
So far I have really enjoyed my experience with self-publishing! I have learned so much more about the industry than I would have if I kept querying, and I love experimenting with different marketing platforms for The Blast; however, I will still try my luck at traditional publishing for the trilogy and for any future projects. If it doesn’t work out with traditional publishing though, I’d be happy to self-publish again. Do you have any advice for writers hoping to be published? Write! Write so much that it becomes an obsession. Write books, stories, plays, and poems of all genres. The more you write, the more pieces you have to choose from for submission calls, and the more likely one of your pieces will be chosen. Have fun with the submission process, and find a new way to view rejection. Rejection shows you’re living your dream, because every single writer you’ve ever heard of was rejected just as much as you. And if you like the idea of self-publishing, do it. Don’t wait. Get your manuscript ready, and do it.
Quick fire questions!
-Are you an organised or messy planner?
I am a messy planner masquerading as an organized one. I always have a plan, but it will be in 15 different notebooks, in the notes on my phone, on my Pinterest boards, and in my mind.
-Favourite character from The Blast?
I have to say Bea. When I finished writing The Blast, I really felt homesick for her perspective. But I also love Ellie. I didn’t think I would, but by the end of the book, she was one of my favorite characters to give dialogue. I love her voice.
-Would you survive the apocalypse?
Not likely. My husband and I are not at all prepared like Bea’s family was, and I’ve never even held a gun.
-What would be your weapon of choice – force or diplomacy?
Diplomacy for sure. I’m a teacher by day, so I feel like diplomacy is second nature to me. Force, not so much.
So difficult! It’s a four-way tie between Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.
My gut’s telling me to go with Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Oh man, even more difficult! I love so many characters for so many different reasons! Right now, because I recently finished reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, I really enjoy Finch’s character.
The Blast is available NOW to purchase on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.
Follow Sarah on social media:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahPerlmutterbooksTwitter: @SaPerlmutterWebsite: http://www.sarahperlmutter.comPinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/saraibunbury/Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24265868-the-blast
You can read my review of the book here!