Lauren Sabel Talks Second Novels

The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the second obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.


Today's guest is Lauren Sabel, author of VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD. Lauren learned to mind dig while getting her MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado. Before Naropa, Lauren studied film in Rome, where she developed her love of crypts and other beautiful creepy things. She also worked in the film industry in New York and San Francisco, focusing mainly on film festivals, as she can never pass up a good party. In San Francisco she worked for Chronicle Books, where she was inducted into the fascinating world of book publishing. Most recently, Lauren lived in London, where she helped plan social events for the London Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s International’s UK Branch.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

My second novel came pouring out of me in a few months. It was like a fever. I was reading about this group of psychics who worked for the government during the Cold War, and the main character just appeared; poof! After several years of working on Vivian Divine, I was happy to move on at that point.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

I actually didn’t do much promoting of my debut. I was so caught up in writing my second book that I completely forgot my debut book was coming out. My husband organized a book release party for me, and when I showed up, I had forgotten to even choose a passage to read from the book. When I get obsessed with a writing project, it’s all I can think about – and I could only think about OUT OF MY MIND (out in 2015). I’m just now doing the promoting of VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD with any real seriousness. Wish me luck.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

Definitely for me. I wrote most of the book without showing it to anyone, so I had no idea if anyone would even like it.  But now that I’m getting a lot of positive responses to VIVIAN, I can’t wait to see what people think about OUT OF MY MIND. I think they’ll like it even more!

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Yes. I have to learn how to wear two hats at once: I can do writer, and I can do promoter, but I have trouble doing both.  But in our current society, I need to push the book that is out in the world already into people’s attention, and, at the same time, also write the one in my head into being.  I suppose it’s like having a baby and taking care of a toddler all at once.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I wrote an outline and tried to follow it. I came up with a solid writing schedule, and stuck to it. I saw revision as a chance to improve the manuscript, not a criticism of how badly written it was. I almost woke up to reality, but luckily, I caught myself just in time.