Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Book Birthday Blog with Sarah Baughman

Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog! 
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

Congratulations to Sarah Baughman on the release of her new book,  THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE!

Q#1: Congratulations on your debut middle grade book, The Light In the Lake! It sounds like a beautiful mix of family, fantasy, friendship, and conservation themes. What inspired you to write this particular story?
Thanks so much, Jodi! Several topics and elements that mean a great deal to me converge in The Light in the Lake. The story idea initially came to me when I was walking in the woods behind our house in Vermont, where we lived for six years. I was thinking about my favorite lake in our area: just how magical it felt, and how easy it was to imagine an ancient, secret creature lurking in its depths. At the same time, I was pondering an issue I'd been reading about in the news that had some personal relevance-- water pollution and the occasional connection to farms. Growing up in Michigan, I have always been very oriented towards water, and one of my favorite places was my grandparents' dairy farm. By the time I'd finished my walk, I had the first line and the bare bones of the story in place.

Q#2: You received wonderful reviews for your book, congrats! What do you hope kids (and adults!) take away from the story?

Reading positive responses to The Light in the Lake has been such an honor! I know it's a sad story, but its focus on family, place, and the enduring power of love is meant to be hopeful too, and I want readers to sense that. I also hope people leave the story both motivated to forge even deeper connections with their natural environment and open to finding touches of magic in the real world.

Q#3: What advice would you give to authors who are working towards their own debut book? Is there anything you wish you would have known during your writing journey?

Writing is deeply personal, but it's also vitally public. We want readers to connect with our books, and to that end, I think it's so important to remain open to critical feedback at every stage. I'm extremely grateful to everyone who, frankly, tore my book apart on its way to publication! Also: while it's nice to feel inspired to write, I often have to write or revise when I'm not particularly inspired. That's okay. Inspiration seems to arrive because I decide to show up when I don't feel like it, not the other way around.

Q#4: Who are your author idols? How have they inspired your work?

I have so many, but I'll just speak about a few for now. Growing up, I loved Madeleine L'Engle, who inspired me with her exploration of that intersection between science, faith, and fantasy. I also adore Mary Oliver, who always reminds me to seek solace in the natural world. Most recently I've been inspired by Jacqueline Woodson, who works so deftly in both prose and verse.

Q#5: What's next for you? Marketing, promotions, anything new?

In between revisions for my second book, I'm drafting my third. My goal is to always have a story I'm working on, plus a few ideas in my back pocket!

A little bit about the book: The Light in the Lake follows 12-year-old Addie, who finds herself caught between her love of science and her late twin brother’s belief in magic, when the mountain lake he drowned in shows signs of water pollution and reveals clues about a mysterious creature that might live in its depths.

A little bit about the author: Sarah R. Baughman is a children's author who taught middle and high school English in the United States, China, Bolivia, and Germany. After six years in rural Vermont, Sarah now lives with her husband and two children in her home state of Michigan, where she spends as much time as possible in the woods and water


  1. Great to learn about your book, Sarah! Mary Oliver was also an inspiration for my YA novel. I love your cover and I see you got a starred review from Kirkus - hooray!

  2. Looks fascinating. Putting it on my To-Read list!

  3. Congrats on your book, Sarah! I enjoyed learning more about your book and you.

  4. Congratulations! I look forward to reading your book!