Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Author Interview: Sarah Dayan

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About the Author:
Sarah Dayan is a self published author with a focus on literary fiction. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where from an early age, found herself writing stories about the people and places in her diverse hometown. Sarah is an extensive traveler, having been to dozens of cities across the country and over 25 countries around the world.​  Sarah has blended her passions for writing and traveling at Toonari Post as a lead travel journalist. Various press trips have brought her to places such as Hawaii, New Orleans, Gettysburg, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Aside from traveling the country, Sarah has also covered events and restaurant openings in her hometown of New York City.

Greater Than the Still is Sarah's debut novel, inspired by the interconnections of people in New York City. A collection of short stories, with one overlapping story stretching the course of the novel, Greater Than the Still meshes the unique voices of people throughout the course of one day on the streets of New York.

Aside from traveling the world and writing about it, Sarah enjoys playing the piano and guitar, photography, and giving in to her natural sweet tooth.

What made you want to become a writer?
There wasn’t one moment that made want to become a writer, it is just something I have always done and what I feel the most comfortable doing. Writing has been a large part of my life, it was never an option to not write. I began writing full length novels when I was a teenager. During high school and college, I was involved in writing for my schools’ newspapers and magazines. It was after graduate school that I became to pursue writing more as a career than just a hobby. I spent some time doing travel journalism, which was an amazing opportunity. I was able to travel around the country to unique cities and write about my experiences. I am now more focused on writing novels and love the creative process of shaping my ideas into a full length book.

Where do you get your inspirations from?

 Music has been a huge inspiration for me. I almost always listen to music when I am writing. For Greater Than the Still, I listened to Sara Bareilles the most, her music was my main soundtrack that played while I wrote. I also find inspiration in all the bits and pieces of New York City. I try to take what I see throughout the city and use it for my personal drive to write. I think it’s so easy to find inspiration and passion in New York City, because of its pulse and its beauty.

Other than writing books, what else do you do in your free time?

I love to travel. I hardly ever pass up an opportunity to travel and discover a new place. I also enjoy photography. There’s something about capturing moments as they happen. Music has been a large part of my life since I was young, I play piano and am teaching myself guitar.

If you could work with another author, who would it be?

 I’d love to work with J.K. Rowling, just to tap into her imagination and learn from her creative writing process.

What are major themes of your work?

I’m fascinated with the idea that people may be quick to draw assumptions about others, without actually knowing them at all. In Greater Than the Still, I wanted to explore the idea that people are constantly trying to understand others, and often times misunderstand others. I drew from many of my experiences in New York City, where millions of people cross paths daily, but many keep to themselves and don’t always take the time to understand the people around them. I also explored the idea of following one’s true passions and goals. There’s nothing more fulfilling than truly doing what makes you happy, even if there are many struggles and hurdles to get over first.

What do you think people look for in a book?

I think people look for dynamic characters, who have their own unique characteristics and flaws. I tried to incorporate a variety of characters into Greater Than the Still, to show a wide range of personalities and emotions that readers can relate to. 

Are there any recent works you admire?
It’s not a recent work necessarily, but I just recently reread The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and fell in love with it all over again.

Questions About the Book (Greater Than the Still):

Which character in the book do you think you can relate to the most?

I put pieces of my own personality and experiences in Juliette. She is torn between staying with a stable career or following what she is most passionate about. I used my own personal experiences and incorporated those struggles into Juliette’s character.

How did you come up with the character's names?
 Many of the characters’ names represent friends and family members that hold a special place in my life. I never used their real names, but many times I used middle names, last names, or nicknames. It’s just my little dedication to them.

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

The idea behind Greater Than the Still came around while I was reading another book, The Scenic Route by Binnie Kirshenbaum. It only took this one quote that helped shaped the whole idea for my novel:
“When you keep to yourself, when you don’t reveal who you are, often people will invent a story for you and you can let that story become the whole of it because you can’t be bothered setting the record straight, of you can’t tell the truth because it’s too late for that, to offer up facts not in evidence is to risk something, the opening of a door to an uninvited guest.”

I couldn’t help but immediately think about taking the subway in New York City. I can’t count how many times I’ve been on the train going from Brooklyn to the city where I’ve looked around at people and wondered about their lives. For as much as I’ve wondered about other people’s lives, I began to think if they wonder about mine.

The book started to take shape almost immediately. I wrote an outline for it within minutes and it was all coming together quickly. I had just finished graduate school at the time, where I studied counseling. One thing that always stuck in my head from graduate school was the idea of never knowing what other people are going through, and how sometimes their emotions can be misplaced and directed at people who just got in the way. I played with that idea while I was writing the book and thought of how many people’s lives cross during the course of one day in New York City, and how people may strongly believe they understand others, without truly knowing them.

*The questions and answers of this author interview are only for Ethereal Book Reviews to use.  If you would like to get interviewed, please visit our "Contact Us" page and send us an e-mail.