Sarah Dessen, Carrie Ryan talk writing at BookExpo America


On the last day of BookExpo America, in a secluded section room far from the noise, Penguin Random House hosted a small luncheon with Sarah Dessen and Carrie Ryan to talk about their new books and their careers as writers.

Dessen’s latest is Saint Anything, a contemporary novel about a girl who feels invisible and resents it. Dessen, who describes herself as a “hot mess” as a teenager, said that the darkness seen in Saint Anything comes from her own darkness as a teenager.

With Saint Anything, Dessen started writing another book that didn’t work before starting what would become Saint Anything. She has abandoned a total of 13 books throughout her career.

Ryan’s newest novel is Daughter of Deep Silence, about a girl who is determined to avenge the murders of those she loved.

Before she started writing Daughter of Deep Silence, Ryan said a friend made her watch the TV shows Revenge and Arrow. Carrie tried to figure out what made those shows work and realized it was the aspect of revenge in both that drew her in. The idea of hidden identity also interested Carrie when she started writing the book.

Both writers agreed that there’s never a sense of a book releasing being boring. Ryan noted that the release of a new book is always somewhat terrifying until she sees the outpouring of love on Twitter.  Sarah described it as “this big secret you’ve been holding onto for a long time.”

Near the end of the lunch, both authors were asked about their writing processes and if they change from book to book. Both agreed that their process doesn’t really change between books.

Dessen explained that she needs a skeleton of a story and a first line before she can even start working on a new story.

Ryan, however, said that she tends to write about 20,000 words of her new story, goes out to buy crafting supplies, outlines the plot using the supplies, then panics when nothing goes right and the plot outline turns out to be wrong, but somehow manages to push through to the end.

Would you rather read Saint Anything or Daughter of Deep Silence? Sound off in the comments below.

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About Author

Lindsay Paige

Lindsay lives in Brooklyn and is better at describing fictional people than herself. She spends her days as a reporter, but dreams of the day she can use her Creative Writing degree a bit more than her Journalism degree.

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