A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sarah Lampkin is a 2015 graduate from Lynchburg College [University of Lynchburg] with a master’s degree in English. Since graduation, Sarah moved to Northern Virginia to work in the IT field as a Technical Writer while continuing her research for her graduate school thesis. When she isn’t working, Sarah continues her Celtic mythology research and Gaelic studies, while working on the Dead Dreamer series.
Although she currently lives in Northern Virginia, Sarah frequently travels back home to Richmond to visit family, friends, and her godchildren. During the winter months, she is in Richmond more frequently to spend time in the woods hunting and contemplating the meaning of life. She doesn’t always succeed in both endeavors, but the music of nature is worth it for peace of mind. In her free time, she likes to play RPG video games, and preparing for hunting season.
To make sure she can make the most out of her day, she wakes up at 3:45am every morning to work on her fitness, so in the evening she has time to continue writing. Her passion for writing has been around since high school where she wrote her first short story. It continued as she worked towards her bachelor’s degree, and that is where the Dead Dreamer series began.
Her work mainly focuses on Celtic themes, mixed with elements from the spiritual world. And her characters always have a flair of attitude and sarcasm because writing damsels in distress is something she just can’t do.
She currently writes for The Parliament House and is seeking a literary agent.
If you would like to reach out to her, please fill out the Contact form and she will get back to you as soon as possible.
1) Thank you Sarah for doing this interview with us, it is truly an honor! To Dream is to Die is your debut novel but you have other stories and novellas also that are along the same lines of the subject matter of your novel. Can you tell our readers a little about your debut novel and where the inspiration for the idea for the series came from? Where can we find your novel and other works?
To Dream is to Die is something I came up with over ten years ago while staring at a ceiling fan while lying on the floor in the middle of my bedroom one night. It was right after I began my freshman year, and I needed something to do that wasn’t school work! I was missing home, and believe it or not, I missed the spirits that haunt my home (You read that right. Spirits that haunt my home). From there I started to wonder what it would be like if I could actually talk with them and the idea evolved from there! It’s gone from a simple concept to a long and drawn out complex plot! You can find it anywhere books are sold (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.)
As for my other writing, you can find the prequel series The Child Dreamer on my website: Dead-Dreamer.com. You can also find it on Wattpad (@Slampkin)! Not only that, another book I’m working on, Tainted Wings, can also be found on both platforms. Both free to read!
2) What is it that made you want to be a writer? Was it something that you felt called to do early on in your childhood or did the passion for it come later on in your life? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
Oh no. I never thought I’d become a writer. As a child, I HATED reading. Absolutely hated it! It wasn’t until the 7th or 8th grade when my mother dragged me to the bookstore, forcing me to choose a book. The book I chose was the first installment of the Daughters of the Moon series by Lynne Ewing. I finished the book that night and begged my mother to take me back to go and buy the rest. I was smitten. Writing didn’t even cross my mind until I decided to write Lynne a fan letter, telling her how much I loved her books. And she wrote me back!
After being pen-pals with her for a while, I started to dabble in writing and wrote the original version of Tainted Wings, then known as Angels: Moon and Sun. Lynne inspired me to take my ideas and allow them to flourish on paper. She was even willing to read the first chapter of Angels. God bless her too, because going back and reading it…it was terrible. But she had such patience with me and always encouraged me. She was and will always be my true inspiration.
My favorite thing about being a writer is the ability to create your own rules. It’s your story, which means you control everything; the people, the laws, even the mythology. That thought alone allowed me to create something unique and strong on it’s own. Something so close to reality, but teetering along the edge of fantasy. It always depends on what you truly believe in.
3) What’s the first book you can remember reading that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What are you currently reading?
Lynne Ewing’s books, of course! I finished her Daughters of the Moon series within a week (all of the books that were out at the time). It’s because of her I fell in love with reading and fell in love with writing. If it weren’t for her, I’m really not sure where I would be in life. Or what I would even be doing! It’s a mystery.
My favorite author (other than Lynne) would be Maggie Stiefvater. I love how she incorporates Celtic mythology into her work. I still go back every November to read her book The Scorpio Races.
Currently, I’m reading quite a few things. I tend to jump from book to book, even when I haven’t finished them. Other than research books, the top few I’m reading are Dream Keeper by Amber Duell and Two Thousand Years by MB Dalto!
4) What is your writing routine like? Do you outline your novels before you begin writing them or do you just dive write in to the story? How long does it typically take you to complete a novel? What projects are you currently working on right now?
My writing routine is completely chaotic. There is no set time for anything. Literally, only when I have time. I tend to write while watching everything play out like a movie in my head. Although I’ll eventually outline for the final result, I tend to write as the characters lead it. It’s their lives, and I have to see how it will play out too.
It can typically take me a year to write a novel, but because of work, it can take me a little bit longer now. I would say two years to be safe, but if I have a deadline, I will meet it against all odds. For instance, I’m going extremely busy with the release of To Dream is to Die, but I’m also working on the sequel, as well as Tainted Wings chapters.
5) Do you prefer traditional publishing houses, small press publishing, or self-publishing? Have you had to deal with a lot of rejection before getting your work published and if so how did that rejection affect you in terms of your writing confidence? Where you see the publishing industry heading in today’s technology advanced culture?
I have been working with the Dead Dreamer series for over ten years now. Which means probably thousands of rejection letters! My middle name is reject, I tell you! In my life, I’ve become fairly used to rejection in various areas of my life. But I tend to take those rejections, and try to push myself forward to show them what they’re missing. Of course I’ll be upset at first, but then I become determined. Determined to see my work improve and show them they should have taken a chance on it. One night to drown my sorrows in whiskey before saying “screw it” and getting back to work.
To Dream is to Die was self-published on Amazon for years before The Parliament House Press accepted the novel for publication. Although self-publishing was convenient, I’ve come to realize it isn’t always the best way to publish. It can be for some, just not for me. By being accepted by Parliament, I’ve come to learn a lot in under a year! Whether it was with marketing, networking, or even basic editing, I learned so much. I would always prefer a small press publishing to self publishing. I can’t comment on traditional publishing since they still reject me!
With today’s technology, it has become a lot easier to put your work out there, and that is amazing! When I was self-publishing via the kindle years ago, the entire process was a complete headache. I’ve watched as the program morphed over the years, and it is 100 times easier! Thank God! Not only that, there are also websites like Wattpad that help unknown writers show the world what they’re made of. I still can’t get over how amazing it all is.
I hope as we continue to move forward, traditional publishing houses will be more open to taking a look at the unknown and realizing their potential! Especially with the entertainment industry! Indie authors have voices and stories that are so unique and could become great movies/television shows! I just hope they’d be willing to take something so different and making it something awesome. Stop repeating the same tropes and try something else!
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer (other than being published) thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My most significant achievement as a writer would be gaining my Masters degree. My love of writing pushed me to further my education which allowed me to expand the world of Dead Dreamer far past the original limit I had set for myself. As the years go by, I hope that I continue my research and learn as much as possible to enhance my lore and writing in general. I can’t say where I’ll be in the next five years because I’m honestly just living life as it comes. But I hope I’m still writing and the world loves Dead Dreamer as much as I do.
7) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature?
Being a writer means putting on many hats. Business woman/man, book enthusiast, researcher, professional typists; so many things! I was fortunate in that I worked at a radio station for a few years while in college, and worked with a lot of creative people in the business. One especially taught me the world of commercial writing and that has proven to be so useful. It can be hard to juggle everything all at once, but knowing all of the work will be worth it helps. I have more trouble juggling my gym routine and my job with writing more than anything else! I’ve pretty much forgotten what sleep is at this point.
8) Do you like to read your own work? Do you have a network or small group of friends who are writers where you guys read each other’s work before it goes out to an editor or the publisher?
Lord have mercy, no. I hate it. And why I hate it? Because I always want to change something or fix an error I’ve suddenly discovered. I’ll really only read my work when I’m editing or because I have to go back and remember what I’ve written. So many plot points have gone through my head, there are times I can’t remember what I’ve actually gone with in the books. It’s ridiculous.
As for a network of fellow writers, the people I’ve met via Twitter have been amazing. I have a small chat group with a few other writers and we’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and even helping with writing promotions or blurbs for our work. There are even a few who will read my chapters of Tainted Wings as I write them and give me notes. I will try to do the same for them. It’s always helpful to have another set of eyes. Especially the eyes of someone that doesn’t live in your head. You always need that different perspective to make sure everything makes sense and goes together.
9) What advice would you give to other writers out there trying to get their foot in the door and become a published author? Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start hinders their chances?
Keep writing. It’s never too late to become a writer. Whether you’re published or not, you’re a writer. Having a late start or having a hard time breaking through that door of the publishing industry can’t take your achievements away from you. Writing anything is a huge deal. A lot of people claim they’ll write books, but then give up within a year when their dreams aren’t met. But persevering and continuing to work on your craft can only help. It allows you to get your work ready for that one publisher who is ready to take a chance on you! You never know when that will be, so keep going!
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
When I was a teenager, I was becoming extremely frustrated in the fact that I couldn’t find a YA book that wasn’t somehow revolved around some kind of great romance. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those books. But at the same time, I’ve never experienced romance. I don’t understand love like most because I’ve never really felt it before (a romantic love). So by writing the Dead Dreamer series, I was giving the world something unique. Something different. A book focused on a heroine that wasn’t a damsel in distress. A woman who had to solve her problems on her own, and wasn’t willing to leave it up some great love to help her through. She only has her own resolve to push her forward. Of course she has friends and family to support her, but in the end, she is her own support.
That was my purpose. Writing a character who could rely on herself. Who doesn’t need some great love to tell a great story. There are others out there who want to feel that power. Powerful without needing someone else to get me there. I have had help and support, it’s true. But I never would have gotten this far if I hadn’t pushed myself to keep going. And that’s what To Dream is to Die is trying to say. You may not have all of the answers to the great mysteries of life and sometimes things are going to get hard. But you can be damn sure Brenna is going to keep moving forward to find the answers and get through the hard times.
I felt this purpose more than ever when my mother passed away almost nine years ago. I was always alone, but when she was gone, the feeling left me even more hollow inside. Writing helped me fill that void in my life. Giving me something to fight for. So, I gave Brenna something to fight for: herself. Brenna doesn’t hide her feelings, or hide the truth. She’s blunt and unapologetic about it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.