Sarah Ettritch writes stories featuring strong female characters. Her protagonists are often (but not always) lesbian. She’s the author of The Missing Comatose Woman, The Atheist, the Rymellan Series, The Salbine Sisters, and Threaded Through Time.
Sarah lives in Toronto, Ontario with her lovely partner and their four cats. In addition to writing, Sarah enjoys reading, playing computer games, and following publishing news.
Sarah’s Writing Journey
I’d love to say that when my mother handed me my first piece of paper and a crayon, I scrawled a story in lime green, but it didn’t happen that way. I probably scribbled something unrecognizable (I can’t draw to save my life!).
Maybe I should have clued in when the teachers in school assigned 1-page stories, and I turned in 10 pages. But I didn’t.
In high school, an English teacher pulled me aside and told me that “I had something special” as far as writing went. Still clueless. What can I say? I was a dense straight-A student who’d already decided she wanted a career in science.
After completing the first year of a Master’s degree in Human Genetics, I took a computer programming course. I’d sworn off programming when a Fortran course I’d taken in CEGEP failed to impress. But when faced with a short list of courses that all sounded like snoozers, I chose a Pascal course. So there I was writing code again, but this time I was hooked; it helped that I no longer had to use a keypunch! I switched to a part-time computer science undergraduate degree and completed it three years later.
For the next twenty years, I worked as a software developer. As part of my job, I sometimes wrote technical specifications and instructions. “You write really well!” was a common refrain. Yeah, still clueless.
When I was in my early thirties, writing hadn’t been on my radar since the last time I’d handed in a creative writing assignment in high school. To entertain myself during work meetings, I’d tell myself stories about people who live in a strict society that chooses mates for its citizens. I can’t remember why, but I wrote down a couple of those stories. I produced two Rymellan novels that will never see the light of day, though I did extract and rewrite parts of them for the Rymellan series.
By the time I was 35, I’d stopped writing. Maybe life got busy. Maybe other interests took over. It wasn’t a monumental event, so I don’t remember why I put the pen down (back then, I wrote longhand!).
When I turned 40, I sat down to take stock of my life. I felt like I was drifting. I had no goals. I was enjoying life, but I wasn’t challenging myself. What to do, what to do?
Why not go into the basement and find those wacky novels I wrote back in my early thirties? Maybe they’d spark something. I read them over, cringed, and thought, “I like the world. I like the characters. But the stories suck. Let’s try again.”
I’d like to say that I got right to it, but I didn’t. I was almost 44 when I finally sat down to write The Dance, the first story in the Rymellan series. This time, writing grabbed me by the throat and hasn’t let go.
When I was laid off from my last job in late 2009, I decided to enjoy my severance pay by taking a break and focusing on writing for a while. I’m grateful that my partner supported, and continues to support, that decision. I couldn’t do it without her. I’m writing this in April 2012, and I’m still “planning to go back to work next year,” or at least to say the same thing next year, anyway.
I’m a young writer–not in the biological sense (obviously!), but in the sense that I haven’t been writing for long. I’m still figuring out what types of stories are my stories.
What have I learned so far? I like to write stories…
- with strong female characters
- that are character-focused
- that fall into the science fiction and fantasy genres
- in which worldviews play an important role
Will every story I write have these characteristics? No. But I won’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, the majority of my stories have the first three.