Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business.



Sarah Rees Brennan was born and raised in Ireland by the sea, where her teachers valiantly tried to make her fluent in Irish (she wants you to know it’s not called Gaelic) but she chose to read books under her desk in class instead. After college she lived briefly in New York and somehow survived in spite of her habit of hitching lifts in fire engines. She began working on THE DEMON’S LEXICON while doing a Creative Writing MA and library work in Surrey, England. Since then she has returned to Ireland to write and use as a home base for future adventures. Her Irish is still woeful, but she feels the books under the desk were worth it.

What are you reading right now?

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. I'm loving it! I've been a fan of the author since her take on Arthurian legend, THE WINTER PRINCE.

What first sparked your interest in writing?

I was terrible at ballet. No, I really was, but I taught myself to read super young and was endlessly fascinated with stories from then on. That inspired me to become a writer from a pretty young age...as I recall, I was five, and when I was seven I wrote my first book. (It was very, very bad, and about ponies.)

What do you love the most about writing? The least?

I love getting the ideas, and thinking about the characters and planning my favourite scenes, and writing when it's coming in a flood...and I hate when there's a revision you have to make, but it's hard to do and means losing something you love.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I'm very linear, because otherwise I'd write all the exciting bits and none of it would make any sense. I like to write with my writing friends if I can, and loud music if I can't...sometimes I write in front of the TV! Very much not the ivory tower type: I feel like to write about the world, writing in the world helps.

What are your passions?

Reading, obviously. ; ) Narratives of all kinds, so theatre and cinema as well. Swimming and travelling!

What inspires you?

History. Fiction. Travel. Landscape art. Everything is inspirational!

Why fantasy?

Fantasy is a way of talking about reality, writ large. Writing about dragons tells us our own dragons can be defeated: writing about thunder gods describes how we feel when we hear thunder.

Why young adult?

Young adult was the first fantasy I loved. I read Tamora Pierce's SONG OF THE LIONESS before I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and my love for fantasy was cemented by reading Diana Wynne Jones and Margaret Mahy, both primarily writers for children. It's a very exciting time in your life, when you change most.


I saw a documentary about human children who had been brought up by wolves, and I wanted to write about what a member of a dangerous, fantastical species raised by humans would be like.

How was UNSPOKEN born?

I read other books about romances in which the couple could read each others' minds, and it was always romantic, unproblematic, and proof of soulmatery. And I always thought it would be more complicated and embarrassing than that. Then I had the idea to combine that with Gothic mystery. ; )

UNSPOKEN whiplashes back and forth between hilarious and intense (and I mean that as a compliment). Which was more fun to write: the humor or the drama?

Thank you for the compliment! Both, I think. I love writing jokes, but I couldn't write a book that was all jokes - I tried once - but I also can't write a book without humour. I don't care about the dangers characters face, unless those characters have a sense of humour!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writers write. Don't talk about wanting to do it more than you do it, don't worry too much about publication or your own flaws - write, write, write and you'll get better.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

I'm secretly a spy. (Oh no, I wasn't supposed to tell you that...)