Sarina is an epic/dark fantasy author and freelance editor from the south of England, where she lives with her partner and her daughter (read: her cat).
She is as obsessed with books and stationery now as she was as a child, when she drowned her box of colour pencils in water so they wouldn’t die and scribbled her first stories on corridor walls.
(‘A first sign of things to come’, according to her mother. ‘Normal toddler behaviour’, according to Sarina.)
In her free time, she has a weakness for books, pretty words, and plays video games.
She believes that the best books are those where every ray of light casts a shadow.
CONNECT WITH SARINA
Welcome to SPFM, Sarina! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
I’m a witchy, fantasy-reading cat lady!
Summarize your book, Rise of the Sparrows, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee, because it was my introduction to horror and showed me that this genre doesn’t have to be gory or nightmare-inducing.
Livingston Girls by Briana Morgan, because she’s such a versatile writer and I loved her take on magic (poetry = spells).
Origins of the Never by C.J. Rutherford, because it has magic and fairies and alternate realities and dragons and distant planets and it works. I read once that authors shouldn’t combine sci-fi and epic fantasy, but this novella proved to me that it can be a fantastic combination.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
I’m a control freak, so I love being in charge of every part of my books. I choose my cover designer, my editor, my formatter, my illustrator for my maps. I know everyone I’m working with, and that collaboration and personal touch is important to me. I also love writing the first drafts! There’s something special about all these words pouring out of my fingertips and holding the finished product in my hands months, sometimes years, later.
What I really don’t love is that moment when I realise that I’m not done with my current edit but I’ve also looked at it so much that I no longer know what’s what. I know the book needs to go to my editor or my critique partners so I can get their input, but I also know it’s not ready for that. This is a hard moment for me, because it’s become difficult to make sense of what the draft needs.
How do you approach worldbuilding?
Worldbuilding is actually one of my favourite things! I write epic fantasy, so I get to create everything from scratch, from the continents and their ecology to smaller details like currencies and how education works. The readers never see so many of these bits, but knowing them as the author gives my books depth, and that in turn makes my characters more believable and relatable. Building a world like this is self-care to me.
What’s the first story you ever wrote?
Oof, that was a long time ago! I don’t remember what I called it – there’s a chance it didn’t have a name – but I used to write little stories for my Mum’s colleagues. She’d take me to work with her on my primary school summer breaks, and I’d write stories for everyone. I don’t remember which one came first, but there was one about a zoo and one about distant city lights at night. They were only half an A4 page long, but I felt so grown up and her colleagues adored them.
What’s your writing ritual/routine like?
That depends on the time of year. I work term-time at a university, so my summer looks very different to my autumn.
When I’m off from the day job, I take my time in the morning. I make a cup of tea, and I sit in my garden with it for a quiet moment. My cat usually joins me. Sometimes, I meditate afterwards for a bit of extra peace. I then set a timer, normally 15 minutes or 30, and write! I write all my novels in Scrivener and have recently discovered the joy of writing short stories by hand.
During term-time, things are a little more rushed. I get up earlier so I can fit in at least 15 minutes of writing (or rewriting or editing, depending on where I am in the process) before work. That way, I can go to the day job knowing that I’ve made progress, but it does take longer to get books out like this.
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would tell your younger self?
You don’t need to be perfect. Your words don’t need to be perfect. Just write and enjoy the process. Perfection is an illusion, so only aim for it if you can accept that you’ll never reach it.
What’s your social media platform of choice, and why?
I never thought I would, but I’ve recently joined TikTok! I love the bookish communities on Twitter and Instagram, but I feel like more epic fantasy bookworms hang out on TikTok. I love the interactions I’ve had on there, so right now, that’s my favourite.
If you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
I’d definitely choose flying. There’s nothing I find more relaxing than to be outside in strong winds, so if I could fly through it, it’d be a dream. Also, my parents and sister live in another country, and being able to fly would make it much easier to visit them.
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
I have a dark epic fantasy trilogy in the works and an urban paranormal decology (my mailing list subscribers voted for this one!). The first book of the trilogy, Blood Wisp, should be out later this year *crosses fingers*, but it’s very early days for the first book in the 10-book series. I’m currently writing the first draft of that one.
Apart from that, I’d love to join a few anthologies with my short stories, and I’d love to be a guest on a few podcasts! My own podcast (The Writing Sparrow) has shown me how much I enjoy it, but it’s a great deal more scary to be a guest on someone else’s.
About Rise of the Sparrows (Relics of Ar’Zac #1)
A cursed omen who dreams of death. A girl who calls fire with a wish. A group of resistance fighters who need the king to die.
Prophecy has brought them together, but will it destroy them too?’
Rachael is no stranger to struggle: her parents abandoned her when she was five, she is homeless, and the villagers avoid her because they fear her prophetic dreams. Rachael is okay with that—if they leave her alone, they won’t harm her, and she can look after herself. But then she meets Cephy, and Cephy isn’t used to being away from her mother’s warmth.
When her father beats Cephy again, she burns the house and her family down with her magic. The scared villagers call on the White Guard to take them away and execute them, but neither girl is ready to die. Together, they escape into a world they know nothing about… towards a Mist Woman with dark plans and a resistance plotting regicide.
Rachael wants only to live in peace, but the resistance needs her, and it promises a better tomorrow for all magically gifted. It’s everything Rachael wants and more…
But is she prepared to commit the ultimate crime and claim the throne to get it?