CHILDREN'S & YA BOOK AWARDS ~ CHILDREN'S & YA BOOK REVIEWS ~ SEAL OF APPROVAL
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View more Literary Classics award winning AUTHOR SPOTLIGHTS
AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
on her award winning book  
MOTLEY EDUCATION
S.A. Larsen
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I was a huge film buff when I was in middle grade and high school. I’d examine scenes, plot-lines, and character motives, trying to dissect the workings of the tale. It always irritated me when a scene took a twist I didn’t agree with or when a film ended differently than I believed it should have. So I’d rewrite the scene or the ending. Eventually, that fixation turned total focus on my dance career – the first way I conveyed stories to the world. But I never lost sight of my affection for storytelling.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
At twenty-two months, my youngest child was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, a neurological disorder where no pathways from the brain to the mouth muscles exist. Picture books and puzzles become his outlet to communicate with us. Through this process he became fixated with mythology, and in turn, so did I. (Side note: after years of speech therapy, he’s now a thriving thirteen year old at the top of his class academically, which I actually attribute to his years of disciplined therapy.)

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“Look beyond the extraordinary and you will see most value in the simplest of things.” Life can sometimes distract us with all sorts of bobbles and trinkets. We look for answers in all the wrong places, making us lose focus on what’s really important. That doesn’t mean we can’t have all these other things. Just don’t let them cloud your judgement and the truth of happiness in life.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Without a doubt, it’s Ebony Charmed – my main character. I was a Catholic school kid. We had rules and daily rituals about attire, homework, and attitudes to follow. While those are needed, such set structure limited my growth as a child. Ebony is the closet middle-grade me. I wanted to wear combat boots and dye my hair funky colors. My favorite color was black and I liked the creepier side of life. Cemeteries and the lives of those residents fascinated me. The only difference between me and Ebony is that I really can’t see ghosts and she can.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
With MOTLEY, I set out to convey one special theme – self acceptance. I want kids to grasp the truth that their uniqueness is a gift not a detriment and that, despite any flaw they might have, they are valuable.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
My journey as a magazine writer gave me the opportunity to interview some amazing youth athletes. All were martial artists, but some were also stars in other athletic arenas, modeling, and even childhood acting. It was wonderful talking with these young kids. A few still stay in touch with me through social media.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
My answer, hands down, is Jane Austen. The depths of her writing and the mastery of her character development go without saying. Simply amazing. But to do it during a time in human history when woman were thought of as lesser, as homemakers and a product to marry off to increase the family’s standings in society was remarkable. I often ponder the courage it must have taken her to do so. I can only hope to live my life in such a way.

WHAT  INCIDENT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I’d say the death of my grandmother, who was the greatest support system any young thirteen-year-old girl could have asked for. Not simply in life, but in dealing with my mother, who is a severe depressant. My memere – as I called her – understood the uncertainty I faced every day with my mother. The grace with which she continued to love my mom and shield me from as much pain as she could is a priceless gift, one I’ve tried to live my life by in return and pass on through my work.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
As with most writers, my journey to publication has been a twisted one. I began writing for small news publications, youth athlete magazines, and eventually young adult anthologies. Somewhere between all of that I began writing children’s manuscripts.

After many near-missed signings with agents, I submitted my young adult manuscript to publishers and received multiple offers from smaller presses. Instead of accepting an offer, I signed with an interested agent. A sale looked promising at first, but then my author-agent relationship fizzled and I found myself going it alone, again. Listening to my gut, I did a complete rewrite of that YA manuscript. Fortunately, this resulted in another round of several offers, and I chose my YA publisher.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
This question made me laugh out loud a little because when I think about it my answer has nothing to do with the act or craft of writing. It’s all about self-belief and the stubborn pursuit to achieve. The journey of writing a book takes pure determination, a will of steel, the openness to learn, and the acceptance of one’s flaws.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
People always talk about branding. I’d rather describe it as ‘Being you.’ You must decide who you are as an author, what you stand for, and what purposes you want your books to have in the lives of others. The key is to be genuine. When focusing on the physical sale of a book know that each book will sell differently. Discern what is unique and important to each and use that as a catalyst to pique the interest of purchasing readers. Also, mingle with the writing community because they will be your greatest asset in promoting your work.  

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
MOTLEY has been well received by the award-giving writing community, receiving five literary awards to date. As affirming as these recognitions are to me, my greatest accomplishment has been seeing the sparkle in the kids’ eyes when I chat about MOTLEY with them at their schools. I can see their little brains aspiring to be more than they thought they could be. I am truly blessed.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
Like most writers, I’d love to achieve the title of New York Times Bestseller. But at the heart of it all, my greatest literary yearning is for my writing to touch people’s lives, inspiring, encouraging, and giving them a mirror to reflect on themselves and their world. Ultimately, I want to leave my mark to help others long after my time here has ended.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
While a high school senior, I was approached by a professional Broadway dancer who was impressed with my skills. She offered me a position in her New York City class. However, I never took the position because multiple sclerosis struck my mother, who already was a severe depressant. For the sake of my family, I stayed home to help care for her. I was lost, having no idea what to do with my life. Looking back, I realize that I’ve always been a storyteller. Back then it was exploring the joys and tests of life through motion and music. Today, it’s through words.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
If your readers would like to stay in touch with me they can sign up to be part of my MVR Mulisha, where I share great books and sales from other authors, updates on my work and latest releases, and giveaways for members-only: Newsletter.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
Marked Beauty – Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Smashwords | Kobo | Website
Gears of Brass – Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Publisher
Under a Brass Moon – Amazon | B&N | IndieBound |

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, the second book in the Motley Education series and book II of Marked Beauty. I also have a young adult story that explores the realities of living with a parent who suffers from depression.

The second book in the Motley Education series is tentatively entitled The Shifting Hollow. Think the eeriness of Sleepy Hollow mixed with the adventure of Sleeping Beauty. But with crows and zombies. And of course, all that Norse Mythology has to offer.