Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Sara: Everything I write usually starts with something that relates back to Disney or fairy tales in some form. I knew I wanted to write a novel inspired by The Little Mermaid, but I hoped to go about it in a new and fresh way that didn’t involve a girl giving up everything for a boy she’d just met.
I started to do some research, and I listened to The Disney Story Origins Podcast (Episodes 06a and b). I’d only recently heard the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen at a Marissa Meyer book event. The story is tragically heartbreaking. I was most inspired by the line, “But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.” It took some time, but as I neared the end of the first draft I realized the heart behind the novel was missing. It was then I knew the novel was about so much more than I was allowing it to be. When I finally recognized the story needed to focus on mental health, that’s when Coral came to life in a way I never expected.
What character do you most relate to and why?
Each character in Coral has a piece of my heart, and I think most authors would say that’s true of their stories. Brooke’s anxiety, Coral’s battle to understand her own emotions, and Merrick’s desire to fix everything and then blame himself all stem from chapters of my personal journey. In the end, I would probably say I relate to Brooke the most.
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I think it’s because these types of characters give a voice to those who don’t feel they have one. I have always believed the best stories help us cope and give us hope when we can’t find it anywhere else. While many times we may simply want to escape into a book, I think reading provides us more than an escape—books with powerful and relatable characters inspire us to keep going, even amidst our struggles and pain.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Coral is a twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid. The novel explores mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and suicide from multiple perspectives. Of course, readers can expect some allusions to the Disney version but be warned, this is not a traditional happily ever after tale.
The book opens with a very personal trigger warning note from me. Readers who struggle with the issues addressed in Coral should take care and consideration before reading. Those who do choose to dive in can expect a story of love and loss, pain and hope. Always hope. My desire is for readers who struggle with mental health issues—or know someone who does—to come away feeling understood and seen. Coral relays the message that “you are not nothing. And you are not alone.”
What’s next for you in the book world?
This feels like a loaded question, haha. I can honestly say I have no idea and that feels great! I’m taking some time to focus on my family right now. Of course, I’m still writing. I may or may not be exploring a work-in-progress that involves white rabbits and the other side of the looking glass.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Must I choose just one?! I will always and forever adore Kiera Cass, Marissa Meyer, and Kasie West for many reasons (because swoony boys, fairy tales, and sweet romances will always be on my reading playlist).
Current favorites include Nadine Brandes, Mary Weber, and Lindsay A. Franklin. The reason I love these authors is because they address dark topics beautifully, and they always give their readers a reason to hope (and also cliffhangers!).
About the Author:
Sara Ella is the award-winning author of the Unblemished series and Coral, the upcoming reimagining of The Little Mermaid. She spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses, raising her little prince to be a king, and conquering realms of her own imaginings with her swoony husband by her side. She may or may not be obsessed with #Bookstagram, which feeds her current addiction to bookish tea and candles. A lover of fairy tales, she believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”