Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Highest Honors in Creative Writing. Her first novel, That Summer, was a 1997 ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She is also the author of Just Listen, The Truth About Forever and Lock and Key, which recently reached number 1 in the New York Times Bestseller list. Sarah Dessen lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Sarah Dessen’s first novel That Summer was a 1997 ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Along for the Ride won the GoodReads Choice Award (Young Adult) in 2009.
Meet Sarah Dessen
Did you always want to be a writer?
As far back as I remember, I’ve been writing. I’ve always had this
wild imagination, and I love to embellish stories to make them more
interesting. When I left school I wrote like crazy. At times it seemed
stupid – I was broke and there was no guarantee that anything
would come of it. Luckily, it did. But even if I hadn’t sold a book
I’d still be writing. It becomes part of you, just something you do.
Who were your favourite authors as a child and who
are you into now?
I really liked Judy Blume and Lois Lowry. Currently I’m really into
Anne Tyler, who wrote The Accidental Tourist. John Irving’s
A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite book right now.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English. Anything to do with writing and reading. I’d been writing
forever, but I got frustrated in school because there were rules about
what you were Supposed To Write. I wanted to be able to make
everything up, even then.
Where do you get your ideas?
This is a hard question, and there’s no single answer. Usually I start
with something that did happen to me or to someone I know, and
build on it from there. There are so many stories out there waiting
to be told. You just have to keep your eyes open.
What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
I think, first of all, you have to believe in yourself and your work.
Writing can be really solitary, so you have to be not only your
own harshest critic but also your own biggest fan. But what really
matters above all is that you are writing. When I’m working on a
book I’m at the computer every day. Work out what time of day
you get your best work done, and try to write at that same time,