Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Sarah Arthur & Once a Queen

Posted January 25, 2024 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, fantasy, giveaway, Sarah Arthur, YA / 19 Comments

Sarah Arthur interview

I am delighted to introduce you today to Sarah Arthur! I listened to her speak at The Christy Award gala a few years ago and was so impressed with her, so when I heard about her fiction debut, Once a Queen, I had to invite her here!

Sarah Arthur

Sarah Arthur is a fun-loving speaker and the author of a dozen books for teens and adults, including the bestselling Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through The Lord of the Rings. Among other nerdy adventures, she has served as preliminary fiction judge for Christianity Today’s Book Awards, was a founding board member of the annual C. S. Lewis Festival in northern Michigan, and co-directs the Madeleine L’Engle Writing Retreats. She lives in Lansing, Michigan with her husband and tween/teen sons. 

Sarah is represented by the Joy Harris Literary Agency. Once a Queen is her long-awaited debut YA novel, the first in a series from WaterBrook/Penguin Random House. You can connect with Sarah on her website.

Once a Queen by Sarah ArthurONCE A QUEEN by Sarah Arthur
Ternival #1

GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy (Christian)
RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2024
PAGES: 376

A mysterious manor house hides the keys to shocking family secrets—and rapidly fading portals to other worlds—in the richly woven opener to bestselling author Sarah Arthur’s young adult fantasy series.

“A fresh, delightful new tale for our wonder-hungry era.”—National Book Award nominee Mitali Perkins

When fourteen-year-old American Eva Joyce unexpectedly finds herself spending the summer at the mysterious manor house of the English grandmother she’s never met, she soon discovers that her family, the manor staff, and even the house itself are hiding secrets.

With odd things happening in the gardens at night, Eva embarks on a search for answers. Astonishingly, she learns that the Hall’s staff believe portals to other worlds exist—though hidden and steadily disappearing—and that Eva’s grandmother was once a queen in one of those worlds. But her grandmother’s heart is closed to the beauty and pain of the past. Now it’s up to Eva to discover what really happened—and to decide if it’s possible that her favorite childhood fairy tales are true. As she starts unraveling the dangerous secrets around the grandmother who is more than she appears, Eva begins to wonder if she, too, is more than she understood herself to be.


affiliate links used

Hi Sarah! Welcome to the blog!

Sarah: So honored by this invitation! I love your interview questions 😀

Carrie: Oh yay! Thank you!

Sarah: This Michigan gal loves curling up by a fireplace with a good book. So, winter–as long as it stays in its seasonal lane. No snow in May, thanks!

Carrie: haha My birthday is in late October and my brother’s is in early May. Growing up in Northern Illinois it was not unheard of for both of us to have snow on our birthdays. I love winter! 😀

Sarah: Coffee, 100%! Tea is lovely, but it makes me sleepy.

Carrie: Tea does have that calming quality while coffee definitely wakes you up!

Sarah: Music (no lyrics) when I’m writing; audiobooks for chores.

Carrie: best of both worlds 🙂

Sarah: Print, most of the time! But when I’m judging or reviewing fiction, I’ll read it in ebook format so I can take notes.

Carrie: i love highlighting and taking notes in my kindle for reviews/judging too!

Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Sarah: Wrangling middle schoolers! Not only do I have two of them in my house (both boys), but I’ve worked with tweens and teens in church settings for over 25 years. Lately I’ve been substitute-teaching for our urban public schools—in fact, today was 6th and 7th grade math for a teacher-friend of mine. I couldn’t even remember what an integer was, but the kids and I sure had a great time playing “Would You Rather?”!

Carrie: oh boy – wrangling middle schoolers is not for the faint of heart! You are my hero!

Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?

Sarah: The Middle Grade and Young Adult sections, right away. Some of that’s because I’m shopping for my tween sons, who love graphic novels and epic series like Wings of Fire—and some is because I just love books for that audience. I agree with author C.S. Lewis, who said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty…The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.”

Carrie: that is one of my favorite quotes!

Q: Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks? Any snacks/beverages that are a must when you sit down to write?

Sarah: This is more of an editing habit, but once I’ve drafted a chapter or section, I’ll send it to my e-reader and then read it aloud to myself (or to my sons!) in a British accent. It helps that my current YA series is set in England—so, of course, I have tons of fun with all the character accents. But also, I find it helps me notice those moments when the writing is clunky, or where it bumps listeners out of the story. Plus, for some reason a British accent makes me sound smarter than I really am!

As for snacks/beverages, I’m a coffee gal, all the way. Once I’ve poured that first hot cup and plop myself down somewhere, I’m not likely to get up again for awhile. I don’t want my coffee to get cold!

Carrie: haha i love that you read it in a British accent – so fun!

Q: Which character in Once a Queen was the most difficult to write?

Sarah: In the opening chapter, my American teenaged narrator (Eva) finally meets her British grandmother for the first time. There’s some mystery as to why Eva’s mom and grandmother are estranged, and even more mystery as to why the grandmother—who is strikingly beautiful—lives alone in a country manor house, cut off from everything and everyone.

The grandmother is partly based on my late maternal grandma, a tall, long-legged widow who always struck me as rather glamorous. I tried to capture her image, complete with the silvery-gray swoop to her hair and a perpetual cigarette. But then my writing group was like, “She reminds us of Cruella De Vil!” So, I dropped the cigarette, and tried again. And again. I went back to the drawing board I don’t know how many times, until Eva’s grandmother emerged as her own person.

Carrie: i can’t wait to meet these characters!

Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from Once a Queen & why do you love it?

Sarah: Within a few chapters, it becomes clear that Eva’s grandmother has suffered some terrible losses—the deaths of people close to her—which makes it hard for her to love Eva’s mother and even Eva herself. Why be vulnerable if life will only break your heart? But at night, the grandmother seems to slip into a kind of dreamworld, almost like dementia, where her past losses are very real, very current, and she’s expressing real emotions. At one point, Eva overhears the housekeeper matter-of-factly comforting the grandmother in words that I’ve since found healing myself. Our loved ones are “not lost. Merely hidden, like stars that’ve set below the hills.” It’s a motif I carried forward into the closing pages.

Carrie: oh i love that!

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

Sarah: Once a Queen comes out Jan. 30, 2024, so I’m pulling together a local Teen Launch Team to help get the word out—we’ve got some super fun things planned, including a British Accent Contest during the virtual launch party that night, plus lots of book giveaways. Meanwhile, I’m also writing the sequel, Once a Castle, which comes out in 2025, followed by a third book, Once a Crown. So I’m trying to carve out time for dreaming and world-building and writing as fast as I can!

Once a Queen giveaway

WaterBrook is offering a print copy of Once a Queen by Sarah Arthur to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What about you? What makes you want to read Once a Queen by Sarah Arthur?

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 responses to “Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Sarah Arthur & Once a Queen

  1. marti

    Looks amazing! This is exactly the sort of young adult books that I like to read, review, and recommend.

  2. Kasi Walas

    I’m drawn to ‘Once a Queen’ by Sarah Arthur because of its intriguing blend of historical depth and engaging storytelling. Arthur’s ability to bring historical figures to life with rich detail and emotional depth always captivates me. The promise of a story that combines royal intrigue, personal struggle, and an exploration of power and responsibility makes it a must-read. It sounds like a book that not only entertains but also offers insights into the complexities of leadership and legacy. 📚👑💭

Leave a Reply