2017 Debut Authors Bash: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (Interview + Giveaway)

Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the 2017 Debut Authors Bash! I’m BEYOND excited to be hosting Sarah Henning, author of Sea Witch (July 31st 2018, Katherine Tegen Books). This book is my #1 most anticipated read of 2018, and has been for awhile. In fact, Facebook Memories even reminded me that I first put Sea Witch on my TBR on November 16, 2015 – back when it was still called Heartless. The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite Disney movie, and I’m a HUGE fan of retellings. So the fact that we’re FINALLY getting a Sea Witch origin story?? I’m just like

So anyway… I’m REALLY excited to share with you an interview with Sarah! First, here’s the awesome cover and synopsis:

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster.

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo

The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the interview! Enjoy!

Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
The sea witch’s shot at telling her tale.

What inspired you to write the Sea Witch’s origin story? How much did you pull from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” and how much (if any) was inspired by the Disney movie (or other sources)?
We all love a good villain, don’t we? But here’s the thing: In Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale, the sea witch isn’t a villain. She isn’t Ursula. She’s more of a neutral character—someone who really just wants to warn the little mermaid of all she’s giving up for a boy she’s never really met. Her family, her friends, her life under the sea. I wanted to explore how exactly Andersen’s sea witch came to be.

Please note: this next question was asked in September. Obviously we now have the cover and synopsis!)
Sea Witch was originally slated for Fall 2017 (and was originally titled Heartless), and will now be coming out in July of 2018. What has this meant for your writing/editing schedule? Do you know when we’ll get to see the cover and official synopsis? Can we have ANY hints??? *Makes giant puppy dog eyes*
Oh, it’s meant a lot of my own giant puppy dog eyes at the stupid calendar. We sold Sea Witch on proposal in 2015 and therefore a little padding was added into our schedule. Then other projects on my editor’s docket shifted, which meant shifting me around because all of these things are planned years and years in advance. As a writer, I literally have no control other than to turn my book in on time. In the end, the decision was that if we had to bump me back, we’d do it to the summer because mermaids are summery, even if they’re grim (insert devil-face emoji).

My official teaser for Sea Witch:

Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

After the Sea Witch, who’s your favorite villain? Would you want to write their origin story?
Oh, man. Well, honestly, I sort of want to know what the heck made the Big Bad Wolf so grumpy in the Three Little Pigs. I’m not looking to write a wolf but I do think he was more than hungry.

Have you read any retellings lately that you’ve loved? Any with mermaids/sirens/etc?
I haven’t read any retellings with mermaids and sirens, mostly because I’ve intentionally stayed away from them while working on Sea Witch. That said, I absolutely love Renée Ahdieh’s retelling of 1001 Nights (The Wrath & The Dawn and The Rose & The Dagger) and there’s a 2018 book I’m looking forward to reading called The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen that is inspired by an ancient Persian poem that became an opera called Turnadot.

Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Hmmm, well, I’ve looked up enough ways to kill people that I’m probably flagged by the NSA. It’s for art, PROMISE!

Biggest writing quirk?
I actually do the majority of my first drafts in the Notes app on my phone at the gym. I have small children and it’s the easiest way to take care of myself and get time to myself. I just get on an elliptical or exercise bike, read what I wrote the day before and go! I have several writer friends who’ve tried it and failed (they think I’m nuts) but it’s really worked for me. So much so that I feel weird writing fresh words on my laptop.

What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
At the gym: Water bottle, towel and phone.

At my laptop: La Croix (Pamplemousse FTW!), notebook (I have one per WIP) and either chocolate pretzels or green juice, depending on how hard the scene is torturing me.

Most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
I’m extremely good at plowing through and getting stuff done, but when I’m fatigued on a story and my brain is telling me to read or to play around with another project, I’m learning to listen. Usually, this means I’ve neglected my creative well and need to fill it up again. I find that if I listen to myself when I need to spend time away, that when I come back to my project, I’m more creative and at peace with what I write.

I know Sea Witch is still 8 months away from publication, but I have to ask… Are you working on anything new?!?
I DO have a couple of things in the pipeline. I can’t really talk about them but two are historical—one is a historical fantasy in the vein of Sea Witch, and the other revolves around a real historical event. I also have a fun contemporary that I’m playing with as well. I hope to be able to share all of them with you soon!


And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive sea witch-y swag! US only. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sarah Henning is an author with HarperCollins’ Katherine Tegen imprint. In addition, she has worked for The Palm Beach Post, The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press, among others. When she’s not hunkered down over her computer, she’s probably running ultramarathons, chasing her two adorable rugrats or pestering her husband to give beets a chance. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @shhenning and/or contact Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency to know all about her writing.

Website | Twitter

9 thoughts on “2017 Debut Authors Bash: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (Interview + Giveaway)

  1. The synopsis sounds so exciting to read. I love Little Mermaid and this has a twist on that story. The cover is stunning!

  2. Gaaahh, this book sounds and looks so good. I’ve been keeping an eye on it! It’s a standalone? I looooove standalones – less of a commitment and no waiting. That’s so cool that you write at the gym! I can’t imagine doing anything else besides gym-ing at the gym – that’s impressive!

    Lovely post, ladies! Thank you for the giveaway. Happy holidays!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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