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Author Interview: Starr Sanders

Festival Staff / March 7, 2015

Starr Sanders is currently a freelance writer in Tucson, AZ who has spent most of her life educating others - particularly high school students - on everything from English to Economics. She met her husband at the age of 13, falling in love over an anchovy pizza. Her passions include reading, Scrabble, nonprofit work, and - of course - storytelling.

This year, Starr will be joining the Tucson Festival of Books in the Author Pavilion with her first published novel The Boy Without A Face. This thriller tells the story of a brutalized teen who spends years creating a new identity to take revenge on his childhood bullies. A recent review of Starr's writing states that as an author she knows how to keep a story moving and at the same time write an intriguing tale with strong character development.

1. Why is fiction important?

Fiction is important because a fiction writer is able to create a story to convey what may in actuality be truth. In my case, my primary story is about bullying and the resulting aftermath. By reading The Boy Without A Face, the reader learns about the impact of bullying on other people's lives and is able to apply the character's experiences with their own.

2. As someone who had an entire career in education before you started writing fiction, how do you think that time prepared you to write or supported your success?

As a former educator, my teaching experience is invaluable to my fictional writing. After reading the work of so many students, I learned to encourage students to try and write something that they would enjoy reading themselves. Lying was okay when writing fiction! I found experientially that most students have amazing fictional brains and their work often is unbelievable, yet based in truth. Following my own advice, The Boy Without A Face, therefore became a confluence of real events transformed into a different yet exciting fusion of characters and story.

3. What inspired you to write your first book?

The inspiration for my first book came from being an insomniac. After getting tired of playing mind games in an attempt to sleep, I decided instead to write a novel in my head as I spent the hours in bed. My goals were to write a book that captured the reader's attention immediately, to move quickly to keep the reader's interest, and to have an ending that didn't fall flat in its finality. After writing half the book in my head, I eventually put it on paper until completion.

4. What's the funniest thing that's happened to you at a book event?

During a recent book reading, I decided to serve champagne along with a large colorful cake in the shape and design of my book cover. The cake and drink were located to the right of me as I spoke. As I scanned the audience while speaking, most of those in attendance were intently focused. But rather than looking at me or the podium, they were concentrating primarily on the cake and drink. At the end of the reading, the attendees, post haste, devoured every morsel of food and drink in the briefest amount of time imaginable. It appears it may have been difficult to concentrate on two things at the same time. Hard to compete with cake!

5. If your book had a soundtrack, what songs would be in it and why?

A soundtrack of my book might include the following anti-bullying/think peace songs:

"Imagine" by John Lennon

"Mean" by Taylor Swift

"Coward of the County" by Kenney Rogers

"Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson

"Born This Way" by Lady Gaga

"You Had To Pick On Me" by Matt Kennon

"Make It Stop" by Rise Against

"Fighter" by Christina Aguilar

"Who Says" by Selena Gomez

"Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Aspiring authors would do best to read the works of authors they enjoy, and note what they like and dislike in their stories. After completing a book, writers would further benefit by gathering together a focus group made up of a wide range of people who will give honest feedback after reading the draft. You don't have to use all their suggestions, but many can be helpful. Keep an open mind!

7. What are you working on right now?

My current book, entitled Pinkwashed, is almost finished. This book is about a fast-talking and witty city councilwoman who discovers a major illegal cover-up involving a local fracking company. Her discovery takes her into a world she is unfamiliar with, unsuspecting of what can and will happen to her. It is suspenseful, intriguing, and the twists and turns will hopefully leave the reader unable to put the book down.

8. Where can we buy your books?

During the Festival of Books, I will be selling and signing books at the Central Author Pavilion from 1:15 - 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 15.

Books are also available locally in Tucson at Antigone Books as well as on Kindle, Amazon, and by special order from most bookstores.

Named Sponsors

Arizona Daily Star
University of Arizona

Presenting Sponsors

Tucson Medical Center

Major Sponsors

Friend of the Festival
Pima County Public Library
Stocker Foundation
University of Arizona BookStores
Western National Parks Association
William & Mary Ross Foundation
University of Arizona - Facilities Management

Key Sponsors

Brucker Trust
Marshall Foundation
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