By Libby Stille, Publicist
Sasha Dawn’s latest YA novel, Blink, is a 2019 Edgar® Award nominee! The winners will be announced next Thursday, April 25. Ahead of the ceremony, we chatted with Sasha about the nomination, her favorite mystery writer, and what’s next for her.
Q&A with Sasha Dawn
How did you find out that Blink was an Edgar Award nominee?
My husband Joshua and I were on our way to a job site–for the day job; we own a kitchen design firm–and we stopped for breakfast at our favorite diner in town. My phone alerted that someone mentioned me in a Twitter post. And there it was: #Congrats 2019 Edgar Noms #youngadult… I fumbled my breakfast order, but managed to receive an omelette I enjoyed. Joshua and I spent most of the breakfast trying to determine if it was true. My editor Amy Fitzgerald confirmed the rumor. I practically jumped out of my seat.
An Edgar nomination is an incredible validation. In a hypercritical society, everyone is a judge, yet here was an entire committee of practiced critics coining my book among the five best in the genre. And for someone who’s been writing creepy stories since she was seven years old, it’s literally a dream come true.
What gave you the idea for Blink?
Chatham Claiborne blinked into my mind in the middle of a lecture on Rhetorical Situation, when I was teaching college composition. I wrote her name on the board. Twenty college freshman wrote her name in their class notes (or maybe they were doodling ladybugs…what do I know?).
Chatham was a mystery. She came to town shrouded in secrets, and no one knew how long she’d stay. I thought of her often, and I even wrote short stories about her plight, but nothing cemented. However, one night, Joshua and I were conversing about the many trials we’d faced in childhood. Neither of us is the product of safe-keeping, after all. And it occurred to me that a character enduring Joshua’s hardships might be the perfect vehicle to tell Chatham’s tale. Ergo, I named the narrator after my husband, and the rest is history.
You’ve mentioned before that research is an important part of your writing process. What research did you do for Blink?
Research for Blink varied. I learned a lot about high school football, and that was fun. I tapped back into the artist I was in high school to discuss clay relief and sculpture. (Incidentally, I shared my Best of Show honor with Chatham . . . the honor went to me my senior year.)
But the most intense research, and rather difficult to swallow as I gathered it, was the dynamic of domestic abuse in families. I had accepted a challenge in taking it on. I had to convey Joshua as a real kid with frustrations in regards to his mother’s decisions, but I had to keep him sympathetic to her patterns of behavior. It was depressing at times, and their situation often brought me to tears as I wrote it.
Who are some of your favorite thriller authors? Do you have any book recommendations for thriller newbies?
I was reared on Mary Higgins Clark. My favorite is a lesser-known Remember Me. Additionally, I absolutely adore Jessica Warman’s work. Jessie and I went to grad school together, and time with her in critique groups helped shape the writer I am today. I learned much from her, and her books are always stellar.
What’s next for you?
Next, I’m going to the Edgar Award Gala in NYC! I’ll be posting and tweeting all weekend.
I’m currently finishing my third book by my alter-ego, Brandi Reeds, for release in 2020. But much will happen before that. Brandi’s Third Party will debut on September 3, and readers can expect another Sasha title, too.
In October, I’ll publish Panic, a story about a girl (a.k.a. the rope in a tug-o-war between her divorced parents) striving for stardom. Madelaine, whom I named for my youngest daughter, faces anxiety issues. Hers is a different kind of suspense than readers are used to seeing from me. It’s more emotional in nature, but still deals with external threats. Here’s the gist of it:
Madelaine loves music, loves the stage, and loves performing. When she finds a fragment of poetry that inspires her to finish a song she’s been writing, she tracks down the poem’s author online in hopes of starting a collaboration. But as more pieces of the poem find their way to her, she realizes the online poet can’t possibly be the one who’s leaving them for her. At the same time, some shocking family secrets upend Madelaine’s home life. As Madelaine struggles to separate the images people present online from the realities of who they are, her quest for truth, strength, and stardom takes turns she never expected.