Interview with Sarah Dahl

Published 2017-01-18.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do, and vividly, because I was only at primary school but added lots of colourful drawings to it, so my "readers" (my parents then) could see exactly what I had in mind. It was a story about a little magician who wanted to help his friends out and who together with them solved a riddle in a forest. I believe I still have the "draft" in "paperback" somewhere ...
I have always drawn and painted as much as written, and during some phases I picked up the brushes more often than a pen or keyboard. Writing took a backseat for several years, until I discovered -- during the writing of my master's thesis -- that CREATIVE writing can be so much more fulfilling! It was my distraction, outlet, fantasy escape ... it recharged my batteries and earned me positive feedback that spurred me on. That's how I got back to writing, and seriously.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first story, our mum used to read stories to us almost every day. But I remember the impact that book had that my dad put up on the highest shelf, so I couldn't reach it, and only allowed me to read it when I was -- in his opinion -- "old enough"! That were YEARS of anticipation, you can imagine the excitement when I finally was allowed to take it down and to my room. I'm talking about Karl May's Winnetou.
I know he made almost everything up without sticking to facts, it was all make-believe, but he managed to place me in the middle of his Wild West and among the quirky characters and their conflicts. It was mesmerising! I read it all in one, endless weekend, I remember I only came out to eat, then kept turning the pages. I totally fell in love with those beautiful, wise American Indians and my madness about Winnetou became so intense, my dad one day put me in the car and drove me all the way to the North of Germany, a 6 or 7 hours drive, to see the "Winnetou" open-air theatre, where the one and only Pierre Brice played the lead! We arrived, watched the show, and drove back the same night, all in one day, and I so LOVE my dad for it! Looking back, I think it was just the adventurous setting, the bold characters and exciting world Karl May created that kept me hooked for years and made me become an expert on the real American Indians (the hunters of the plains) -- cause even then I couldn't stand bad -- or NO -- research at all! Today, a writer wouldn't get away with so little or no research anymore.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The total control I get over every aspect of my work. As an artist I think maximum freedom is vital to thrive. What if I spent over a year writing and editing a story that I poured all of myself into, and then others (publisher etc.) decide major things like the cover or marketing? I couldn't stand the frustration of no control over major aspects. Plus I have a problem with being told what to do, when I can think for myself -- and I'm thorough, a perfectionist and ambitious. So that helps ;-)
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a super-easy-to-use platform that covers a wide range of options. So far, I have no complaints and find their new features, such as email subscribers, really helpful.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The solitude, the quiet thinking, and to live in and create a new world. Unique, flawed characters and their passions. To dive into that world and CREATE stories, stories that someone else will read and therefore have come alive in their own imagination, is just amazing.
What do your fans mean to you?
Every single fan is just pure joy and also a responsibility. I imagine the few or many fans sat in a room, looking at me, willing to let my stories come to life in their own minds. Like in the olden times, the Viking times of crackling fires and storytelling. It doesn't matter how many listeners there are ... all that matters is the story and the joined experience.
What are you working on next?
I'm always working on the next sensual Viking romance story. And one or two novels at a time. The number of projects I work on simultaneously is probably insane, but that is true for every writer or artist ;-) The brain just never stops...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids, my hunger, and my love to create. And some days I'm just not inspired -- and hope to be able to just stay in bed. That is work, actually: in bed I had the best ideas!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I go for long walks, hikes, and do yoga. I'm particularly bad at meditation, because my mind always frolics in the peace and wanders off to create instead of calm down. My teacher knows this and keeps reminding me ... but I just LOVE the serenity to plot ...
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