Monday, May 29, 2023

Interview With Author Sarah K. Balstrup


1. What inspired you to write this book?

After publishing my first (academic) book on mystical experience and film I wanted to try my hand at fiction, incorporating all the strange things I learnt during my Religious Studies degree.  

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for?

The Way of Unity is an intimate yet epic fantasy about an oppressive religious society controlled by psychic priests. Following her family’s murder, Sybilla Ladain seeks to destroy the priesthood, but in doing so, she severs the psychic connections that had bound her people as a spiritual community. A dark and lyrical tale of grief and redemption, The Way of Unity will appeal to readers craving something fresh and unusual in the fantasy genre.  

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

 The Way of Unity is a book best read slowly as its layered symbolism gives the reader a lot to think about. I hope that readers enjoy inhabiting both sides of a religious conflict and finding their own answer to the questions the novel presents.  

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?

I worked with illustrator Andy Paciorek to design the cover. I always imagined my main character, Sybilla Ladain, to look like Dreyer’s Joan of Arc and I love the way he captured her essence in the final portrait.  

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?

Allow yourself to be adventurous and exploratory in your writing. In the final stages you can think about marketing, but don’t start the creative process with your tagline in mind. There has to be a secret place of discovery where it is just you and the world you are creating. That is where the magic happens.  

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? 

The publishing industry is still preoccupied with politics and activism. Consumers identify themselves in political terms on social media, marketing takes up this kind of language, and products are tagged accordingly. Sometimes I see a book being marketed to appeal to activist talking points, but when I read it, the book has no political focus whatsoever. I think authors and publishers need to be careful that they are not becoming oversensitive to potential trigger points so that it does not lead to self-censorship and the narrowing of creative expression. There is still a great variety of stories being written, but the way they are marketed can make them seem like more of the same. It’s the algorithms – they need to latch onto recognizable data in order to keep the money flowing, and it is difficult to see how politics can be uncoupled from publishing at this stage.  

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? 

Several scenes are taken from a dream diary I kept in my teens. The subconscious can be a wonderful storyteller.  

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?

Lyrical and layered, with an air of dark romanticism. Similar to: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, Christopher Buehlman’s Between Two Fires and Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Thone 

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?

During lockdown I ‘attended’ two funerals sitting alone in front of my computer, straining to see the people on the screen, feeling completely disconnected and slightly numb. I thought of other funerals I had been to where it seemed that all barriers were gone. Where the spirit of the person was tangible in the room and people who had not spoken in years embraced with tears in their eyes. Writing The Way of Unity, I explored these extremes of intimacy and alienation, and it helped me to handle the challenges of that difficult time.  

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

The Way of Unity will immerse you in a unique fantasy world of vision and ritual, grief and longing, where it is not the tragedy that is the focus but the rolling tides of its aftermath. For the poetically inclined. 

About The Author: Sarah K. Balstrup is an Australian author of dark fantasy and former Religious Studies academic. For more info, please see:


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  




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