2021 Debut Author Interview: Sarah Dass!


In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!

At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Sarah Dass and her novel WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Sarah on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Sarah Dass was born in Trinidad but has lived in Tobago since she was two years old. A graduate of University College London, she works as an office administrator by day and writes stories about the Caribbean by night. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or taking walks with her dachshund.

Keep up with Sarah: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Sarah:Thank you! Honestly, it feels like a dream. Even though I’ve held an advanced copy of Where the Rhythm Takes You in my hands, the fact that something I’ve written is being published still doesn’t feel real yet.
The Book Bratz:  In your opinion, what’s the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Sarah: The best part is the later revisions where the focus is on word choice, sentence construction, and clarification. Basically, I love polishing the prose. Making it sparkle. The worst part is starting a new project. I find a blank page incredibly intimidating.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU?
Sarah: From a phone conversation with my agent. She mentioned that the romance in another manuscript I’d written reminded her of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (one of my all-time favorite books!), and she asked if I’d ever considered writing retellings. I had, but not for Persuasion. Right after we hung up, I was struck by a flood of ideas. I knew I had to write this book!

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Sarah: My favorite characters to write were Fish and Reyna’s father. Fish because he provides a lot of the comedy, and Reyna’s father because I have a soft spot for parents who just want their kids to be happy. Most difficult to write could go to Reyna. We’re in her perspective, so naturally, she’s the most work, but I’d say Aiden was harder precisely because we’re not in his head. Like his counterpart in Persuasion, he can be reticent which meant I had to find other ways to show how he was feeling.

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?
Sarah: In this case, Austen’s Persuasion, of course! Apart from Jane, I’m constantly inspired by the amazing BIPOC writers – especially those writing YA – who’ve been brilliantly expanding the amount of representation in genres where we weren’t previously visible.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU?
Sarah: I want them to close the book with a feeling of having enjoyed their time with Reyna, her friends, and her family. I also hope it inspires them to try more books from Caribbean authors.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Sarah: No plans for a direct sequel at the moment. My second book does take place in the same fictional universe but it follows a different set of characters. It’s a Much Ado About Nothing YA retelling set in Trinidad. Please look out for it! 

Title: Where the Rhythm Takes You
Author: Sarah Dass
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running. And that's when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort. Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a romantic, mesmerizing novel of first love and second chances. 

Thank you so much to Sarah for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU and can't wait for it to be out in the world on May 11th

You can also check out Jessica's review of the book here!

We're also giving away a copy of the book on our Twitter account here

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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