Monday 14 May 2012

Interview with Sara Grant author of Dark Parties

by Julienne Durber

Sara Grant, author of Dark Parties, a compelling thriller about identity, trust and freedom in which sixteen-year-old Neva plots to escape a world where everyone looks the same and no one is allowed to leave, senior commissioning editor at Working Partners and SCBWI member has been kind enough to agree to an interview.  

Sara Grant
Thanks for inviting me on Demention!

Firstly, congratulation on winning the UK/Europe Crystal Kite Award for Dark Parties. You must be very pleased.
I was thrilled and honoured to receive the Crystal Kite Award. I’ve been a member of SCBWI for nearly twenty years. I wouldn’t be published if not for the connections, friendships and knowledge I’ve gained from SCBWI. 

Click here for the SCBWI International site 
Click here for the SCBWI British site

Dark Parties UK Cover
Dark Parties features some classic dystopian elements - a controlling faceless government, increasingly prohibitive rules purporting to be for the good of the populous. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
The idea for Dark Parties came shortly after I moved from Indianapolis, Indiana, to London, England. Debates on immigration were raging on both sides of the Atlantic – and still are. How ‘open’ should a country’s borders be? What does it mean to be American or British? I wanted to explore issues of diversity and national and personal identity so I created a country that had literally closed itself off from the rest of the world.

You use these classic elements to address extremely contemporary issues - fear of cultural differences and individuality, loss of national identity, a perceived threat of terror activity. Was it a conscious decision to focus on such current issues, and do you think that it is valuable for dystopian literature to reflect society's fears?
The books that I love, books that stay with me long after I’ve finished the final page are books that not only have a compelling story but also change the way that I look at the world. They show the reader the beautiful shades of grey of an issue. All kinds of books – including dystopian – have the chance to ask important questions and serve as conversation starters for readers. I enjoy writing and reading books that entertain and explore interesting and timely issues.

Without giving too much away to anyone who hasn't yet read Dark Parties, the parallels between the government's secrets and the growing number of things that Neva, the central character, has to keep hidden is a central theme in the story. Did you find it a challenge to maintain a balance between the ‘big picture’ secrets and Neva’s personal challenges?
Writing a novel for teens is challenging – full stop. Dark Parties was one of those projects that seemed to have a life of its own. Neva’s personal journey and the ‘big picture’ really developed together so the balance came quite naturally. 

The German imprint of
Dark Parties retitled Neva
I love the German trailer that’s available to view on your website. It has a much darker feel than the UK ‘snowflake’ trailer. Which do you think captures your view of Dark Parties best?
I think both capture different aspects of my novel. Dark Parties is dark and sinister as represented by the German trailer and hopeful as reflected in the tone of the UK trailer. It was one of the unexpected joys of the publication process to have my publishers translate Dark Parties into video. 

Can you tell me anything about your next project?
I’m in the middle of revising my second book, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2013. It’s another stand-alone futuristic novel. Its working title is Half Lives.

Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely heroes – Icie and Beckett. Both struggle to keep themselves alive and protect future generations from the terrible fate that awaits any who dare to climb the mountain. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked.

Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive.

How can people keep up to date with future releases and appearances and get in touch?
There’s a Facebook fan page for Dark Parties. I also keep readers updated at my web site – – and on Twitter or @authorsaragrant. I blog regularly as part of the EDGE.

Julienne's review of Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Sara Grant’s debut novel Dark Parties is a dark, coming-of-age thriller that tells the story of Neva and her life inside the Protectosphere, an all-enclosing dome that separates a dwindling population of virtual clones from the threat posed by the rest of the world.

Familiar themes of a faceless, controlling government in times of austerity, and extreme restrictions on personal freedom and individuality are given a fresh perspective when seen through the eyes of the teenage heroine, where they chime with everyday issues of friendship, romance and approaching adulthood.

The main female characters are excellently realised, rounded and believable and Sara’s prose style is accessible, leading the reader through a grippingly twisting plot while deftly maintaining the balance between thrills and emotional content.

A very enjoyable read, ideal for teenage girls and with appeal for both boys and adult readers.


  1. Sara, I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Parties - will there be a sequel one day?
    Julienne, this is a wonderfully intelligent interview - not only did I learn more about Sara and her book but I also gained an insight into the dystopian genre.

  2. Great interview. Another one for the reading list! Thanks, Julienne and Sara.

    1. Definitely worth a read - and I predict you won't want to put it down once you've started it.