Basketball, Fried Pickles and Deb: A Q&A With Sarah Dessen

BlogHer Original Post

Sarah Dessen, the author of What Happened to Goodbye and nine other young adult novels, answered some of our pressing questions about balancing writing time, fried pickles and whether or not we can expect to see more of Deb in the future.

One of our reviewers described Mclean as a teenaged chameleon. Have you ever tried out different personas?

I haven’t, but I WISHED I could, which is where the idea for the novel began. I grew up in a small college town and went to school with the same people from kindergarten until high school graduation. My prom date was in my second grade class (and now he cuts my hair!). So it was really hard to change, to become someone else. I always dreamed about it, though, and novels are where I get the chance to do everything I couldn’t and haven’t in real life.

sarah dessen Image Credit: KPO

You are a huge college basketball fan. Did you ever play? And where did you come up with Mclean's (or rather, her father's) signature shot?

I didn’t ever play on any organized team, although it was pretty much required in Chapel Hill, as a kid, that you have a hoop in your driveway and be able to make a few shots. The idea for Mclean’s dad having a signature shot came from all those games of H-O-R-S-E I played after school with my brother and friends. Plus, I really needed a way for Dave and Mclean to come together. Humor always works best.

Characters from your books sometimes make cameos in your other books but you don't really write sequels. I know we have some Deb fans out there that feel there's still a lot more to Deb’s story. Any chance of her popping up in the future... or perhaps even getting her own book?

I LOVE that Deb has such a following! It would have been very easy, really, for her to run away with the entire book. I originally had much more in there about her mom, her drumming proficiency, and a lot of other things, but it was distracting from the rest of the story, so I reluctantly took it out. But it’s all set aside in a file, so you never know. Maybe there is a book there!

You've been a blogger for years. You are active on Twitter. How do you balance your writing time so that you hit your writing goals and still maintain an active online presence?

It’s challenging, for sure. Twitter is a bit easier because it’s so quick, only 140 characters. I can knock a tweet out easily as I’m grabbing my daughter a juice box or stirring the pasta on the stove. Blogging I have to really carve out time for, and it’s harder when I’m writing a novel and don’t have a lot of creative energy left. My readers, though, are what keep me coming back and making time, somehow. The responses I get are so great. And when you’re writing novels, there’s a long period of time when people don’t hear much from you UNLESS you are online in some way. I see the blog and Twitter as my water cooler. They keep me company during the workday.

If you were at Luna Blu would you order the fried pickles or the rosemary rolls?

Honestly, I’d probably get both. I am shameless, and love fried anything and ALL carbs. Then again, who doesn’t?

Our thanks to Sarah for answering our questions! Sarah is the author of What Happened to Goodbye, now being discussed in BlogHer Book Club. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.


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