Author Chat with Sarah Fine (Uncanny)!
Today we're excited to chat with Sarah Fine, author of Uncanny.
Read on for more about Sarah and her book!
Meet Sarah Fine!
Sarah Fine is the author of Beneath the Shine and several popular YA series, including Of Metal and Wishes, The Impostor Queen, and Guards of the Shadowlands. Her adult series include Servants of Fate and Reliquary. Sarah has lived on the West Coast and in the Midwest, but she currently calls the East Coast home. She confesses to having the music tastes of an adolescent boy and an adventurous spirit when it comes to food (especially if it’s fried). To learn more about the author and her work, visit www.sarahfinebooks.com.
Two sisters. One death. No memories.
Cora should remember every detail about the night her stepsister, Hannah, fell down a flight of stairs to her death, especially since her Cerepin—a sophisticated brain-computer interface—may have recorded each horrifying moment. But when she awakens after that night, her memories gone, Cora is left with only questions—and dread of what the answers might mean.
When a downward spiral of self-destruction forces Cora to work with an AI counselor, she finds an unexpected ally, even as others around her grow increasingly convinced that Hannah’s death was no accident. As Cora’s dark past swirls chaotically with the versions of Hannah’s life and death that her family and friends want to believe, Cora discovers the disturbing depths of what some people may do—including herself.
With her very sanity in question, Cora is forced to face her greatest fear. She will live or die by what she discovers.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I initially wanted to explore in more detail some of the concepts I touched on in Beneath the Shine, which is a loose retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel and the companion novel to Uncanny (which isn’t a retelling at all!) In that book, also set fifty years in the future, the protagonist, Marguerite, is profoundly uncomfortable with “cannies,” what society has taken to calling autonomous AI beings. I gave them that slang name for a few reasons, the primary one being the concept of the uncanny valley, where humans feel revulsion for beings that look almost—but not quite—human. And that’s how Marguerite feels—revolted by the human-like robots around her and highly suspicious of them. I wanted to write a story where one of those cannies had a more central role, and where we even got a peek into his head at some point. Given where our own society is headed, I think YA is the perfect place to explore the concept of artificial intelligence and how we use and interact with it.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Uncanny was always the working title of the book, and my publisher agreed that it fit the story perfectly! That’s pretty rare for me—this will be my seventeenth published novel, and I think maybe three kept my original working title through publication.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Probably the final scene, because it’s the culmination of Cora’s psychological journey. I’m proud of it because I think it’s earned, and that I built the story to that point in a pretty watertight way. But honestly, I’m prouder of this entire book than any I’ve written before. It’s my first psychological thriller, and I think it turned out well! I *really* hope readers agree.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
“There are more words where these came from.” That’s my mantra, and that’s the advice I give to any aspiring writer who asks. After I finished my first book (a novel that will never see the light of day), I was worried that I’d never be able to do it again, and therefore I was terrified at first to move on, even as I became aware that it wasn’t good enough to get me an agent or publisher. Sometimes you have to accept that something you’ve written, even something you love, isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, or isn’t going to get you where you want to go. The only way to move on is to believe you’ve got more words and stories inside you, just waiting for their chance to take the stage.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The July 4th scene on the roof. I knew my main character was in emotional agony, and I had to describe it in a clinical, almost cold way, because the scene is part of a video analysis of the past, from another character’s point of view. Uncanny is like that—a few of the most painful or emotional moments are presented in that clinical fashion (I drew heavily on my background as a psychologist, and on some of the research I worked on in graduate school involving coding emotion expressions), to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about what might be in the characters’ heads and in the gaps between videos. It was tremendous fun to build that mystery, but at times it was also emotionally wrenching.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing Uncanny?
Probably Cora. As soon as I started getting a feel for her voice and deepening her character, I realized she was going to think and act and speak in ways that would be tough to relate to at times. Of course, that’s part of Cora’s pain—she’s aware that she’s different, that she can’t make sense of the world the same way everyone else does. My job as a writer wasn’t to soften her or make her more “likeable”—readers are perfectly capable of deciding how they feel about her. Rather, my job was to be faithful to who she was and what she’d been through, but at times I had to resist the urge to pull my punches and give her a break.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2016?
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, who I pretty much idolize. Among other things, I love the way she can use just a few words, just a single, small action by a character, to paint a complete picture of an emotional moment—one that more words would render ponderous and overdone (yesssss, I am so jealous). The Raven Cycle was an amazing series full of those moments, and The Raven King was a thoroughly worthy conclusion.
Author: Sarah Fine
Publisher: Skyscape Publishing
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017