Pleased to welcome Sarah Adlakha to The Spotlight to chat about her novel, Midnight on the Marne
Author Name: Sarah Adlakha
Book Title: Midnight on the Marne
Book Genre: Historical Fiction/Speculative Fiction
Release Date: 8/9/2022
Publisher: Forge Books
Welcome, Sarah! Please tell us a little about Midnight on the Marne.
The Man in the High Castle meets The Nightingale in a WWI alternate timeline tale where love is threaded through a world of espionage, betrayal, and sacrifice.
Great pitch! What sparked the idea?
Midnight on the Marne is told from two points of view. One of the protagonists, George, is a soldier in the American Expeditionary Forces and had a very small role in my first novel, She Wouldn’t Change a Thing. He made a brief appearance in only one chapter of that book as a ninety-four-year-old WWI veteran, and he turned out to be a crowd favorite. I was very excited to tell his story.
How long did it take for you to write it? Did you do any research?
I am a plotter through and through, so by the time I started writing the novel I had already completed about six months of research, a detailed outline, and an in-depth chapter summary. The actual writing part probably took me about 3-4 months before the first round of edits.
What drew you to writing historical fiction?
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, so it was only natural for me to write it. And I love doing research, which is an absolute must for an historical fiction author. There’s something about playing with time, even if you’re not writing a time travel or alternate history novel, that is so appealing to historical fiction – taking an era that is long gone and creating a character or a story or an event that could have happened. I’m a sucker for a mind-bending story. The kind that ties real life people and events into a fictionalized version of the world they lived in and making the reader wonder…what if?
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
This might sound silly, but my favorite part about being an author is the writing. I love hearing from readers who connect with my stories on a deeply personal level, and I really strive to tap into those emotions that make people feel something that maybe they don’t often feel, maybe even something uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Before I became an author, I naively thought that an author was simply a writer. But what I’ve come to realize, and what I find the most challenging, is that there is rarely enough time to write. As an author – at least one who wants to sell books – much of my time is spent promoting my books and marketing myself. And those are definitely two of my least favorite things to do. I don’t particularly enjoy social media, nor am I very good at it, but I’m slowly learning the ins and outs and I certainly respect the importance of it.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Midnight on the Marne?
I like to try new things – pretty much in all aspects of my life – and writing is no different. One of the things that made my first novel a bit difficult to sell was that it was different. It didn’t fit tidily into one genre. I thinks that’s what new readers can expect from me: the unexpected. I don’t like to be restricted by rules or modern conventions of what is selling or what is popular. I want to give readers who pick up my books a completely unique experience.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope they take away a memorable and emotional experience. I hope my characters live inside their minds forever as real people, even though most of them are fictional, and that they revisit them on occasion. That certain jokes or foods or situations pull up the memories of the characters from Soissons and they might find themselves saying something like: Marcelle would have loved that dress or George wouldn’t have laughed at that joke.
Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?
It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Everything in publishing goes at a snail’s pace – even getting your name out there. It’s about persistence and diligence and patience. VERY rarely does an author become an overnight sensation, but if you keep at it – and listen to the advice of your agents and editors and those in the know – you’ll get there. And don’t forget that writing takes practice. Natural talent will only take you so far in life, and just like everything else you want to be good at, you must practice.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Speaking of marathons, I’m a runner. And a biker. And a swimmer. My husband and I are both Ironman triathletes and when I’m not writing or wrangling kids or working at my day job, I can often be found hitting the pavement or the pool.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I’m currently working on a new historical fiction novel set during WWII in the Pacific. This will be a bit of a deviation from my typical speculative twist novels as there is no sci-fi element to it, but I’m really excited to bring these characters to life. It follows the story of a nurse from the American Nurse Corp who is stationed in Manila before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the secrets she’s carried with her to the Philippines.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc)?
SarahAdlakha.com is my website and I do my best to keep it up-to-date with any big news or promotions that are happening, as well as upcoming events and recorded events (podcasts and such). You can also contact me through this site or reach out to my publicist or agent if need be.
My social handles are all pretty much the same (the advantage of not sharing my name with anyone):
Thank you, Sarah! Midnight on the Marne is out NOW.
Set during the heroism and heartbreak of World War I, and in an occupied France in an alternative timeline, Sarah Adlakha’s Midnight on the Marne explores the responsibilities love lays on us and the rippling impact of our choices.
France, 1918. Nurse Marcelle Marchand has important secrets to keep. Her role as a spy has made her both feared and revered, but it has also put her in extreme danger from the approaching German army.
American soldier George Mountcastle feels an instant connection to the young nurse. But in times of war, love must wait. Soon, George and his best friend Philip are fighting for their lives during the Second Battle of the Marne, where George prevents Philip from a daring act that might have won the battle at the cost of his own life.
On the run from a victorious Germany, George and Marcelle begin a new life with Philip and Marcelle’s twin sister, Rosalie, in a brutally occupied France. Together, this self-made family navigates oppression, near starvation, and unfathomable loss, finding love and joy in unexpected moments.
Years pass, and tragedy strikes, sending George on a course that could change the past and rewrite history. Playing with time is a tricky thing. If he chooses to alter history, he will surely change his own future—and perhaps not for the better.