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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Interview with Sara Furlong Burr ~ Author of the Enigma Black Trilogy

Today I am delighted to host an interview with author, Sara Furlong Burr. I was lucky enough to be contacted by Sara about her book, Enigma Black back in January and I was excited when she contacted me about the sequel, Vendetta Nation that came out last month. Sara's books are amazing and I think one of my favourite indie-published series. Enjoy the interview and go and check out her books everyone!
Enigma Black (Enigma Black, #1)~*~

MH: Hi Sara, thank you for agreeing to an interview! Firstly why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do when you’re not writing?

SB: The pleasure is all mine. I was born and raised in the State of Michigan where I still reside with my husband and two daughters. Writing is just my hobby right now, though I’d like to make it my full-time job one day. For the last twelve years, I’ve worked as a legal assistant, and my writing has unfortunately had to take a back seat to that and life in general at times. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family, going to movies, reading, shopping, camping, and taking road trips.

MH: When and what made you decide to become an author?
SB: I think I’ve always wanted to be writer, even before I was fully aware of it. Writing always came easy to me, and I never had to struggle with what to write for school projects. It was also very therapeutic. Kind of like therapy, except free. But as I grew older, becoming an author seemed more of a dream than a reality, so I just kind of gave up on it. However, over the years stories have crept into my head, begging to be written down. So after much resistance on my part, I finally relented. And I must say, I’m glad I did.

MH: I know the feeling. What do you enjoy most about writing?
SB: Writing provides me with release. It’s a way for me to vent all of my frustrations, hurt feelings, anger, and pain and find resolution and peace in life through the characters I create. Of course, I also enjoy other people reading my work and enjoying/relating to my characters and the words I’ve created.

MH: I agree, I use it to escape the real world as well. Anyway, I’m always interested in how other authors name their characters. How and what do you use to name yours?
SB: There’s really no science I use when it comes to naming my characters. I either give them names I like or names I believe suit their personalities. For example, Blake has always struck me as being the name of a cool, badass type, while the name Victor has always seemed dark and mysterious. When it came to naming the main character in the Enigma Black trilogy, I wanted to find a unique name that others would hear and immediately identify with the trilogy and not ten other novels. The name “Celaine” was born by simply adding a “C” to the beginning of my middle name (which was also my grandmother’s name).

MH: Some characters just name themselves don't they? It's normally the unique ones I struggle with. :)What gave you the idea for Enigma Black and the trilogy? Is anything inspired by real life or people?
SB: I have a fondness for dystopian novels, and also a fondness for strong female characters. When I began writing Enigma Black, I knew the beginning and the end, but nothing in between. The story only came to me as I sat down and began keying it in, and it has evolved into something I hadn’t expected it to become. I would be lying if I said that some of the characters aren’t inspired by some of the people in my life. Snippets of dialogue were taken from actual conversations and some mannerisms that a few of the characters have were inspired from people in my life.

MH: What made you decide to write dystopian and YA novels?
SB: I’ve always been a fan of dark stories where good and evil battle it out in a world that’s crumbling around them. Dystopian novels have a way of bringing out both the good and the bad in people and require a lot of characterization and world building on top of plots that are more involved than just love triangles and paranormal happenings. They’re gritty, bleak, but still usually contain a message of hope that the world will change for the better. They aren’t “And they all lived happily ever after” novels, but are real and more true to the way the world actually works.

MH: I loved Enigma Black and Vendetta Nation however, some of my favourite moments were the darker parts of the book. Does it scare you when you read work back and see what you’ve written (it does when I write darker fiction – I can’t believe some of it came from my head)?
SB: Thank you so much. It’s always great motivation for me to continue writing when people tell me how much they like what I’ve done. Yeah, there are times when I feel like a homicidal maniac when it comes to some of the scenes I write. And it’s usually then that I switch gears and write other aspects of the story that don’t involve explosions and death. This allows me to feel halfway normal again.

MH: Which characters were your favourite and least favourite to create and why?
SB: Celaine, Ian, Chase, Blake, Victor, Cameron, and Kara have all been fun to flesh out in completely different ways. I really don’t have a least favorite character, but if I had to pick one I’m not entirely fond of, it would have to be Paige for reasons that I think are obvious to the readers.

MH: I have to agree with you on that one! If you could cast any actress and actor for your leading characters who would they be? 
SB: I’ve actually thought long and hard about this one a few times, and I have to say the actors always seem to change as the story evolves. When I write, I play a movie in my head (something I believe a lot of writers do). Right now, if I were to cast anyone, I would go with Natalie Portman for Celaine Stevens, Robert Pattinson for Ian Grant, Josh Radnor for Chase Matthews, Edward Norton for President Brooks, John Cusack for Victor, Hugh Jackman for Blake, and Amanda Seyfried for Paige.

MH: I love seeing my book in my head like a movie. Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?
SB: All the freakin’ time. For me, it has to do with self-confidence (lack thereof) and overthinking things. In times such as those, I make myself sit down and write anything and everything. Only then, when I don’t have any expectations or constraints to abide by, do the words flow.

MH: Are you working on anything new right now? If so, are you able to give us any details as to what it’s about, when we can expect it etc?
SB: Always. Right now, I’m working on Redemption, the final book in the Enigma Black trilogy. Redemption will pick up right where Vendetta Nation ended things and will move along the same lines as Enigma Black and Vendetta Nation, except with an obvious resolution at its conclusion. I’m also outlining/writing a romantic comedy/ chick lit novel.

MH: I can't wait for to read Redemption! Is there a book you haven't written yet that you're dying to? What genre?
SB: I have a million ideas swimming around in my head at any given time. The dystopian genre is my absolute favorite, and I see myself doing more work in that area. However, I also have a strong love of the young adult and romance genres and would like to explore them in more depth.

MH: They just seem to accumulate don't they? :) What is your process for writing? Do you plan the whole novel or just let the words flow?
SB: Enigma Black was done completely by the seat of my pants (with some research into how adrenaline works and its effect on the human body). Vendetta Nation was a combination of outlining and letting the words flow. Redemption has required a lot of outlining as there are numerous loose ends to tie up.

MH: What’s one of the first things you remember writing? Do you still have it?
SB: When I was in grade school, I wrote a “novel” about five friends who won a trip to Hawaii. It was all handwritten on notebook paper, and I even illustrated it. In all, I believe it ended up being 90-something pages. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep that masterpiece and am pretty sure it made its way to the dumpster.

MH: What do you find is the best way for authors to promote their work? Any tips?
SB: If anyone knows a fool proof way to promote their work, I ask that they please contact me. :) Promotion is trial and error. You have to go down a lot of avenues before you find something that works for you and your work, and not everyone is going to arrive at the same destination. For my books, I’ve found blog tours, asking for reviews (because readers are more apt to buy books with several reviews), and participation in the KDP Select program through Amazon to be quite beneficial. I also routinely support other authors on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog and take advantage of whatever other opportunities are presented to me.

MH: Couldn't agree more, I'm stilling learning as I go along. At what point did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?
SB: The second complete strangers started buying my books on Amazon and leaving reviews.

MH: Haha that was the same for me. It was a great feeling! What is the best piece of advice you received from someone?
SB: You can’t please everyone. No matter how perfect your work is, no matter how polished you make it, there will always be someone who finds something wrong with it. The kicker is not to let that get you down and know that even the best authors have their critics.

MH: What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 
SB: Never give up, never take a negative review personally (or let one break your spirit), and never let anyone tell you that you can’t obtain your dreams.

Oh, and the money you spend on proper editing and formatting is WORTH it.

Who are your favourite authors/books?
SB: Ayn Rand-The Fountainhead
Emily Giffin-Something Blue
Suzanne Collins-The Hunger Games Trilogy
Veronica Roth-The Divergent Trilogy
Amanda Hocking-The Trylle Trilogy
I guess you could say I’m a fan of trilogies. :-)

MH: I love Hunger Games and Divergent too (haven't read the others yet)! What genres do you like to read and do the books you read influence your writing decisions in anyway, for example genre?
SB: I’ll read almost anything, but prefer the dystopian/romance genres. I would agree that the books I read do influence my writing decisions, as of course I’m going to write books I like to read. However, I’m also a big fan of mixing up genres a little. I hate it when something becomes a trend and it’s all you see on the bookshelves. I’ve always been a firm believer that writers should define their chosen genre, and not let the genre define them.

MH: I agree, I've stopped reading vampire fiction as the market is saturated and I like what you said about a writer defining their genre. What is one interesting/silly thing people would be surprised to know about you?
SB: I am seriously the most boring person ever.

In my spare time, I’m a novice ghost hunter. And by novice I mean that I explore various spooky buildings with friends, ask “Are there any ghosts in here”; scare myself silly and get the hell out of dodge. I’ve never seen anything yet, but I have had a video camera go crazy on me in that it went from being fully charged to completely dead in a matter of minutes. 

MH: I wouldn't have the guts do go near the building let alone ask if something was there! I'm a wimp with things like that. 

Quick Fire Questions:
Night or day? Night. I’ve always been somewhat of a night owl, and prefer starlight to sunlight.
Summer or winter? Oh, most definitely summer. I despise being cold.
Cats or dogs? This is hard one as I have both. When I was younger, it would have been cats hands down, but the older I get, the more dogs are growing on me.
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate? Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate by a warm fire.
Favourite colour? Purple
Who’s your book boyfriend? Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. He’s a man who knows exactly who he is and doesn’t let anyone tell him differently. I also liked Ethan from Something Blue.
What superpower would you have? Yikes, there are so many to choose from. If I had to narrow it down to three, I would say either flying, invisibility, or the ability to see into the future. Can I have all three?
What superhero would you be? Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of female superheroes to choose from. For some reason, I always liked Rogue from the X-Men.
Favourite writing snack? Chips, chocolate, Mountain Dew…anything that’s terrible for you.
Pirates or ninjas? If the pirate is Johnny Depp, then pirate. If not, then ninja.
A book that’s made you laugh the most? I don’t read a whole lot of humorous books, mainly dark ones. However, I do appreciate puns and found Growing Disenchantments by K.D. Berry to be brilliant.
A book that’s made you cry? Where the Red Fern Grows. Gets me every time.
Favourite chocolate? Caramello bars. I should own stock in the company for as many of them as I’ve eaten throughout my life.

Thanks for answering my questions Sara and best of luck with your writing! I look forward to reading Redemption.

Vendetta Nation (Enigma Black, #2)About the Book
Vendetta Nation (Enigma Black 2)

What if you gave up everything you knew and loved for a lie?

Nearly one year ago, Celaine Stevens made the choice to leave her life behind to join The Epicenter, an organization charged with bringing down The Man in Black - a terrorist and the one responsible for the murder of her entire family. Battling conflicting emotions and the pain her decision caused, Celaine tells herself that her sacrifices will all have been worth it when The Man in Black is finally apprehended.

But, instead of hunting the elusive entity, Celaine and her partner Ian Grant find themselves preparing for a war looming on the horizon. Angered by President Brook’s ever-tightening restrictions, a rebellion has formed, leading the charge against the President and anyone who stands in their way. Caught in the middle, Celaine and Ian are forced to choose sides, having to decide whether to align themselves with the rebellion, whose motives they question, or obey the orders given to them by an organization they are steadily growing to distrust.

A war is sparked by deceit, new alliances are formed, an unexpected love begins to blossom, and true identities are revealed in Vendetta Nation, the second installment of the Enigma Black trilogy.

About the Author
Sara "Furlong" Burr was born on February 1, 1982, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At an early age, when it became apparent she wouldn't have the luxury of skating through life on her looks or athletic prowess, Sara found her true passion in writing. While in fifth grade, she wrote her first "novel"(whose name escapes her at the moment) about five friends who win a trip to Hawaii. At ninety-something pages, it was her crowning achievement during her childhood (you may now begin drawing your own conclusions on how sad a childhood Sara actually had).

After focusing much of her adult life on her family and career as a paralegal, Sara found the voices in her head becoming unrelenting and she returned to her true passion.

Currently, she's working on the third book in the Enigma Black trilogy due out in 2014. She's also tossing around ideas for a chick-lit book about two ill-fated lovers (Lord, help her).

When she's not writing, Sara enjoys reading, attempting to garden, shopping, camping, and spending time with her family and friends, who somehow manage to tolerate her numerous disappearances propagated by bouts of inspiration.







  1. Thank you, Mia! I'm honored to have been featured on your blog. If anyone is interested in checking out Enigma Black, it will be free tomorrow, December 4, on Amazon.

  2. No problem Sara! It was a pleasure hosting you.


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