Career

Sarah’s new chapter: ‘I’ve found my voice!’

She never thought she’d be a published author, but the Wairarapa writer now gets mobbed by fans
Pictures: Lucia Zanmonti

She struggled to read as a child, but that didn’t stop Kiwi writer Sarah A Parker from becoming one of the world’s best-selling authors.

Sarah, 34, has won millions of fans across the globe with her latest fantasy-romance, When The Moon Hatched, which created such a sensation that around 15 publishers in the US and UK were bidding for the rights at one stage.

Not only that, but the hashtag #WhenTheMoonHatched also had two million views on TikTok in just two days. It’s not bad for someone who had to attend reading-recovery classes as a child!

“Once I learned how to read, all these worlds opened up for me,” tells Sarah. She particularly fell in love with the fantasy and folklore books her grandmother introduced her to.

“For as long as I can remember, I’d lie in bed at night imagining different worlds and making up fantasy stories. It was my favourite thing to do.”

Growing up in rural Wairarapa, Sarah had an idyllic childhood.

“I had a pony and spent my days getting lost among the rolling pasture, building forts and climbing trees.”

Always creative, Sarah originally aimed for a career in fashion. After training in design, she did a three-month stint in Italy, working at a fashion house in Milan.

That inspired a move to Australia’s Gold Coast, where she met her Aussie husband, lawyer Josh Savill. While raising the couple’s three children, now aged seven to 10, in the Queensland suburbs, Sarah started a children’s clothing business.

“I made boutique, hand-made kids’ clothes, which I loved,” she says. “But I was working really long hours as I was doing every part of the production process myself, as well as raising three kids, which was exhausting.

“I’d always fiddled with stories, writing them for myself, not for publication, but I said to Josh, ‘I really want to become a full-time writer.’”

Sarah had no formal training, but as a dedicated reader who often gets through up to nine books a week, she understood how to structure a story.

“I just had to learn how to find my own voice.”

Which she eventually did, self-publishing three “dark, sexy” novels and three fantasy-romance books under a pen name.

“I taught myself how to self-publish and really enjoyed the process,” she tells. “My audience kept growing, but I didn’t think that I would ever get picked up by a traditional publisher.”

Like most busy mothers, Sarah struggled to find time to balance work and family, but when her books started to earn her a living, Josh stepped in to help.

“He said, ‘Writing is your dream and I want to help you achieve that dream.’ He liked his job as a lawyer, but it was just that – a job, rather than a dream – so Josh very generously quit his job to become a house-husband and saved me by giving me the creative space to become a full-time writer.”

Sarah started work on When The Moon Hatched in May last year, writing the first draft of the 172,000-word fantasy saga about dragons and a female assassin in just six weeks.

She was returning from a family holiday in Japan when her agent called to inform her that the book had reached number one on the Amazon bestseller list within a day of release.

“As soon as the book went live, my agent was inundated with emails from traditional publishers,” Sarah recalls.

It helped that other writers started posting about the book on social media. One of which was an author who raved about it to millions of her followers.

Time for a cuppa and a story with her mum Christine and nine-year-old daughter Indiana.

Fans mob Sarah regularly due to the books popularity.

“I’ve just got back from ApollyCon, a huge book fair in New York, where I had three book signing sessions and still couldn’t get through the queues of fans wanting to take selfies!”

Sarah puts her success down to the increasingly popular fantasy-romance genre and people’s love of dragons.

“Dragons are definitely having a moment, especially as this is the Year of the Dragon!” she laughs. “But I also think this book resonated with readers because, with everything happening in the world right now, people want to escape. My whole life has been about escaping to different worlds via books, so I’m honoured that I now get to do that for readers.”

Sarah happily lives on the Gold Coast. However, she’s a frequent visitor to the Wairarapa, where her mother Christine, also a writer, lives.

“Mum published her first children’s book five years ago. We give each other first drafts to read and I’m so glad for her support. Once the kids are a bit older, we’d love to buy either a lifestyle block or a bach in the Wairarapa to give them the kind of upbringing that I had.”

When The Moon Hatched ($38, HarperCollins NZ) is on shelves now.

Photographer: @luciazanmonti_photography

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