Monday, April 25, 2011

Interview with Sarah Jio

The Violets of March: A Novel

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I think I may have been born with a pen in my hand! I was writing stories as early as the first grade, when I won a “Young Author” competition. My first “book” (don’t laugh) was titled “A Tug Boat’s Dream.”

Please tell us a little about “The Violets of March”.

The Violets of March follows a heartbroken woman on her journey from New York City to a small island near Seattle, Bainbridge Island, where she spends the month of March as a guest of her great aunt Bee. It is here where she finds an old diary, dated 1942, written by an anonymous woman. It is only when she’s able to solve the mystery of the diary that she’s able to put her own life back together.

How did you become published?

I worked for many years in magazines before I found the right idea for a novel. I wrote The Violets of March and signed with an agent, who sold it to Penguin (Plume) in February of 2010.

What was the publishing process like?

Very exciting. There’s so much about selling a book that I did not know about. For instance, there’s a lot that happens in the year before a book is published that I didn’t know about until I experienced it—the editing, revising, copy-editing, cover copy, title discussions, book cover selections, marketing, publicity, etc. It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I’ve found the experience very exciting.

What is something you wish you would have known about the publishing business?

I can’t think of anything specific, though it would have been nice to have a crystal ball and know that I’d be having a book debut right around the time my third child would be born. Then again, if I knew that, I may have been too afraid—so, ignorance is bliss on that one, I guess.

What has been your best author experience so far?

Hearing from early readers! I have gotten the most amazing, heartfelt emails from readers. It’s flattering of course to hear that someone loved something I wrote, but what’s more amazing is knowing that this little story of mine touched people—made them smile, laugh, cry, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that. So fun!

What is the least thrilling/attractive part of being an author for you?

I’m not sure just yet, so far I’m really loving all of it. I sold my second novel, The Bungalow (out in April 2012) again to Penguin, and the editing process (which we’re going through now) has been terrific. I was fortunate to turn in a pretty clean draft, and my editor was really pleased with it, so I didn’t have to tear the manuscript apart. I suspect if it were different, I would say that the revision process is the least thrilling, because it can be very tedious and difficult to go through a novel and make changes—it can sort of feel like finding a needle in a haystack when solving plot problems.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing, of course. But specifically, only start writing a story that absolutely thrills you. For a novel to be good, and sale-worthy, and reader-worthy, it has to grab you, grip you, and keep you up at night. If the story and its characters don’t get you excited, it’s probably not the one. And why would you want to spend a year of your life working on a story you don’t really love?

Congratulations! What was it like to see your debut novel in print?

Thrilling. I’m still in disbelief actually. It feels like a dream.

How did you decide to write novel in this genre? Do you plan to write in any other genres?

This story just hit me, and I had to write it. I don’t know if my book really fits in any category, per se. But, since I’ve already sold my second novel and am hard at work on a third, I can say that all fit into the same sort of genre, where past and present are weaved together, where mystery is present, and there’s always a sprinkling of romance mixed in, too.

Do you have a novel in the works?

Yep, as mentioned earlier, my second novel, The Bungalow, will be out in April 2012. I’m currently writing my third, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

What is your favorite book?

I don’t have one favorite book. But I do have a long list of favorites. A few random mentions: I adored Sarah’s Key (as hard as it was to read due to the emotional subject matter); L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will always have a special place in my heart, and I read The Thornbirds on my honeymoon in a beach bungalow in Tahiti, and I adored it.

What is the last book you read?

I just read Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong. I’m a runner, and I loved her musings about running and life.

What are you currently reading?

It’s hard to believe, but I think I’m the very last person on the face of the Earth who has read The Help. I finally picked up a copy and am cracking the spine this evening, in fact!

Do you have a pet?

Yes, a rascally golden retriever by the name of Paisley. She steals socks, diapers, shreds napkins, and is generally loveable.

You recently had another baby, how do you balance writing and parenting?

I work at night a lot, which means very little TV time. It helps that I’m very goal-oriented, too, and happen to love what I do—so writing feels like playtime for me. I also have a fab husband who is so incredibly supportive. He took our two little boys out for daddy adventures on Saturday mornings for two months while I finished my second novel last fall.

Name three things you couldn’t live without.

My family. My Blackberry. My Nespresso coffee machine.

If you were given the opportunity to invite any 5 people to dinner who would you invite?

Oh my goodness, so hard! OK, I’d pick: Gwyneth Paltrow (I interviewed her last week for Glamour and she was so lovely!), Nora Jones (so she could sing for me!), George Clooney (eye candy), Maya Angelou (adore her), and my husband, Jason, who is always my favorite person to have dinner with.

Name three things on your bucket list.

Not sure exactly sure what a “bucket list” is! :) sorry, can’t answer this one!

Are you a night owl or early bird?

I’m more of a night owl, but I have to get up early each day because I have small children who wake up at the crack of dawn. Yawn.

Who is your favorite author?

I can’t commit to one, but I think Maeve Binchy is pretty much all-around amazing. I’d like to live in one of her stories. She is the reason why I want to visit Ireland just as soon as my kids can handle the long flight.

What is your preferred writing atmosphere?

At night. With the window cracked a tiny bit, and a rainstorm outside (I live in Seattle where this happens quite a bit). Kids in bed. Mug of hot tea on my desk. Peace.

What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?

I love to cook and bake. I also am a runner, so I try to squeeze in a jog daily (which is tough sometimes). And, I think gardening is the most energizing and calming activity ever.

Do you have a favorite reading/writing snack?

Almonds! They are so healthy and satisfying.

Which question in this interview was your favorite?

“What has been your best author experience so far”--because this is a new journey for me and it’s absolutely thrilling. Thank you so much for having me on your beautiful blog, Tiffany!
Sarah xo

Thank You Sarah!! I have one copy of "The Violets of March" for giveaway thanks to Sarah!  If your interested please fill out the form below and leave a comment on this interview!  Must be a follower or subscriber of this blog to enter.  US/CAN only.  Thank you!


  1. Aww, I love that Sarah put her husband on her dinner list :o) She seems like a very cool person! Can't wait to read this one!

  2. Great interview & such a pretty cover!

  3. I like that she put her husband on the list too. Also the storyline sounds great with the tie in to Bainbridge Island. I have thought about living on an island off of Washington before so that is an extra for me in this book.


  4. I have yet to read THE HELP. I love rainstorms. A quiet house with a mug of tea and a good book/movie sounds like heaven.

  5. I'm looking forward to reading this book - the setting really grabs me, I love the area, having visited it when staying with my aunt in Port Ludlow.

  6. i am looking forward to reading this fabulous novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  7. Great interview. I think it's neat that she has been writing since the first grade. This sounds like a book I would love to read.


  8. Sounds like a very special story. I like the concept of the hidden diary and its secrets.

  9. I am a fan of Maeve Binchy as well that's great! Thanks this book sounds really good!


  10. thank you for visiting us, Sarah!!!
    & congrats & good luck to you on the release of The Violets of March...........

    i look forward to reading it!!!!!

    & thank you also for the giveaway!!!!


  11. This book sounds intriguing -- like the kind of story I could really get into! So please enter me.



    jhsmail at comcast dot net


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