Q&A With Sarah McCoy
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Q&A With Sarah McCoy
Today I have the pleasure of doing a Q&A with New York Times, USA Today and International Bestselling author Sara McCoy. Some of Sarah’s novels are “Marilla of Green Gables,” and “Mustique Island”.
Sarah: What a pleasure to chat together. Thank you for being one of the wonderful channels between authors and readers. It means so much to everyone in the literary community!
Q: So Sarah at what point in your life did you realize writing was your calling?
A: I’m an introvert and suffered from severe, almost debilitating, shyness as a child. But inside, I felt like I had this lush, secret garden in my imagination—cultivated by the books I read. That place never made me feel awkward or unwelcome. It didn’t shift like the ever-changing military posts my family moved to. The people in my books were as real and influential in my upbringing as any in my reality. I paid close attention to them—all of them. The major and the minor characters. They were my literary family. Sort of like the distant aunt or cousin that you may not see on a daily basis, but a family reunion would not be the same without them. So from my earliest days, I was thinking like a writer. I knew I would go into something related.
I can’t put a finger on one experience that was my you are called to write epiphany. Was it when my books were published? Or was it when my high school English teacher read one of my stories and told me she enjoyed it? Or when my mother took my first pre-school “book” in hand and declared it a treasure? I don’t know. My career has not been one of splashy firework moments. It’s been more of a mountain hike. Slow, laborious but gratifying— working my way across the switchbacks, focusing on the path ahead, the summit above, and not letting myself stop to look behind. I’m still on the journey and wake up every morning asking for the strength to put one step in front of the other. It’s a faith walk, and all I know for certain is that every push forward puts me a little bit closer to the top—the calling.
Q: I can’t wait to read your novel “Mustique Island,” especially watching and reading about the royals and knowing that was Princess Margaret’s escape. What made you want to write about Mustique?
A: Side note: Did you watch The Crown on Netflix? If so, wasn’t it sensational?! There’s an episode with a scene on Mustique that’s pitch perfect.
My novel MUSTIQUE ISLAND was catalyzed by three of my obsessions: British royals, islands, and complex family dynamics—siblings in particular.
The spark of inspiration came through a PBS documentary on Princess Margaret. The film documented Margaret’s wedding and mentioned that one of the Queen’s Ladies-in-waiting (Anne Tennant) and her aristocrat husband (Colin Tennant) gave the newlyweds property on their privately-owned island, Mustique.
I had never heard of it. I’m Puerto Rican and during the writing of my first novel, I did a lot of research on Caribbean culture—the original Taino and Arawak people who then were colonized by the Spanish and French and the British. I thought I was familiar with all the islands in that region. But no, I’d never heard of Mustique.
So, I did what any historical novelist does, I searched for every document related, scoured the internet for books and ordered many from England. One source was particularly intriguing: Colin Tennant’s autobiography. In it, there was a snippet about a Texas beauty queen who received a fortune in a divorce settlement from her British brewery baron ex-husband but had no place to land herself having been ex-communicated from ranking society. And suddenly, I saw her, I heard her Texas twang, I knew this woman’s desperate desire to belong somewhere. Colin went on to explain that he sold her a plot, she built a gorgeous house on it, and her grown adult daughters came over. The story had seeded. A woman named Willy May, her daughters Hilly and Joanne, an island called Mustique, royals, colonial privilege, celebrity excess…
Q: What’s your advice to those who want to write? What advice do you give to those who struggle with writers block?
A: My advice for budding writers is persevere. This writing life is hard. Ninety percent of your work is in solitary confinement where no one sees your toil, your tears, the sleepless nights, and writing sores from being enslaved to the story realms. And that’s exactly what you are as a writer— a bondservant to your characters, a minstrel to the masses, a peasant to a kingdom of critics. But if you know for certain you could not be happy doing anything else, then join the gypsy tribe and persevere. It’s a painfully beautiful, heartbreakingly joyful life and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your novels? If so are they currently in production and are you the executive producer writer?
A: No, I’m not an executive producer or currently in film production. I think of Hollywood like Cinderella. If a fairy godmother comes down and turns my pumpkin to a carriage, my mice into coachmen, my rags to riches in one bibbidi-bobbi-boo— I welcome it! Meantime, rest assured, I will work my derriere off, find a way to that ball, and dance. By God, I will.
Q: What were your favorite novels you read this year so far?
A: Despite writing novels, I’m a nonfiction devotee. I listened to the audiobook of Stanley Tucci’s memoir TASTE and it surprised me in so many wonderful ways that I have to say that’s at the top of my favorite list.
For fiction, I just finished Taylor Jenkins Reid’s CARRIE SOTO IS BACK. I love learning things I know nothing about, such as tennis. Somehow this book was able to masterfully get a non-sporty woman (Sarah McCoy) rooting for fictional sports celebrities (Carrie Soto). That, my friends, is the magic of literature. Currently, I’m reading a handful of books by friends releasing next year. Let me tell you, 2023’s literary cannon is loaded with some explosive winners!
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you spoil a little bit?
A: I am writing a new book and it’s another historical novel with a mysterious twist. So maybe I’m writing a mystery… or maybe it’s history that has yet to be discovered. The book genres (i.e. labels we insist on creating) are as ambiguous as trying to label people. The book is sort of about that, too. That’s all I can say for now, but I’m excited to share more!
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, which author would it be and why?
A: Gracious, that’s a hard one. I have too many brilliant friends writing too many brilliant stories to pick just one. I’m always open to collaborations—books and anthologies to teaching workshops and festival events. My day-to-day writing is very solitary and requires that to be productive. But it’s exciting to stretch my skills in team projects, especially when the team members are friends.