Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Sarah Raughley on why having superpowers would be super awesome

The author of Fate of Flames answers eight questions from eight fellow authors in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.
Sarah Raughley is a YA writer and the author of Fate of Flames. (Melanie Gillis, Simon Pulse)

Sarah Raughley's stories feature elements of magic, otherworldly powers and the fantastical. Her YA novel Fate of Flames features four girls with the power to control the elements who must come together and save the world from a terrible evil. 

Below, Raughley answers eight questions from eight fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Gail Bowen asks, "If you could live in the world created by another writer, what fictional world would you choose, and why?"

Harry Potter, of course! Being a wizard has been a childhood dream of mine for at least a decade.

2. Lynn Coady asks, "What are the common themes (or settings, symbols, etc.) you always seem to come back to in your fiction (e.g. bears, wrestling and Vienna in John Irving novels)? Where do those elements come from and what makes them so tenacious?"

I always seem to come back to magically empowered kids (specifically magically empowered girls) because growing up, I always thought it'd be cool to have supernatural powers. A lot of my work also tends toward adventure and wonder — breaking free from the doldrums of your daily life to get swept up in some grander quest or epic fight. I was largely inspired by these kinds of stories since childhood. But sometimes, as with Feather Bound, that epic fight can be more of an internal one.

3. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "Do you think the portrayal of certain character types are beyond you? Can you name a character in a novel, whose personality, point of view, character traits, etc. you know you could never write?"

I never say never because I'd like to take on any challenge as a writer. It's better to try to step outside of your comfort zone every once and a while.

4. Drew Hayden Taylor asks, "Which comes first, the title or the book?!"

The title, ha! Even if I change it later, I need the title before I can sit down to write one word of the book.

5. André Alexis asks, "Are you conscious of the rhythm that paragraphs have, their length, when you're writing? Or is that something you work on as a form of sculpture afterwards?"

I sculpt it afterwards. I let the rhythm dictate itself as I'm writing and worry about the fine details later.

6. Hoa Nguyen asks, "What is your writing area or desk like? Please share a description."

It's messy. Right now there is a computer that doesn't work and a TV that hasn't been on in five years, some junk, a hole puncher, some books, a bottle of vitamins and a phone. That's why these days I usually write on my bed or the chair downstairs.

7. Deborah Ellis asks, "Did being a writer make you feel distant from others when you were growing up, an observer rather than a participant?"

No, I had no reason to feel detached from others just because I was a writer. I was an introvert somewhat, but that didn't come from my writing. In fact, being able to share my work with my friends has always been a lot of fun and brought us closer together.

8. Hiro Kanagawa asks, "What is the most significant piece of work you have abandoned, warehoused, burned, completely destroyed? Was it painful or liberating to get rid of this work?"

I had one book that I got my agent with, but we never sold. Now I'm somewhat cannibalizing certain aspects of it so it can live on in other works but this is incredibly painful as I still feel like there's something that can be done with it, if I tweak it a bit. So I'm still curious about what to do with that.