FacebookGoogle PlusInstagramLinkedInTwitter
Presented by State Library Victoria

Interview With Sarah Epstein, Author of Deep Water

Hello Fellow Readerholics,

Todays (second) post is going to be a little different from what I normally do. I recently reached out to Sarah Epstein and asked if she was interested in doing an interview with me about her newest release, Deep Water (which actually came out today, Happy Birthday!) and for some reason she agreed. We got to talk all about her two (wonderful) YA novels, writing and anything in between.



Sarah Epstein is an award-winning Australian author, illustrator and designer who grew up in suburban Sydney and now lives in Melbourne with her husband, two sons and a rescued dog called Luna. After achieving a design degree and enjoying a 25-year graphic design career, Sarah returned to her first loves of writing and illustrating. Her debut novel Small Spaces is a CBCA Honour Book, winner of the Young Adult Fiction Award in the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, winner of the Davitt Award for Best YA Crime Novel, and was shortlisted for another seven awards including the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the Queensland Literary Awards and the Australian Book Industry Awards. Her suspenseful new YA crime novel, Deep Water, will be released on 1 April 2020.

*bio taken from her website Sarah Epstein Books



Was there anything in particular that inspired Deep Water?

I’ve always loved small-town mysteries in books, TV shows and movies, and I particularly enjoy Australian small-town stories with secrets and complicated family dynamics at the core. The very first draft of Deep Water was started over 13 years ago, not long after I’d finished reading Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road. I loved the mystery and Aussie bush setting in that book, and found myself wanting to craft something similar.


Was there any strange or obscure research you had to do for Deep Water?

The first thing that comes to mind was researching the size and interiors of graveyard mausoleums. Also how microbursts work in a thunderstorm, and the names for the moon’s different phases in a lunar cycle.


What do you like most about your characters in Deep Water?

I like how they all have their flaws, and every single one of them has a secret in the story. Intriguing and imperfect characters are always so much more interesting to me to read about and to write.


Deep Water is so much more than just a typical YA crime novel. Why did you feel it was so important to write about the relationship between Henry, Mason and their mother?

The more the story and characters grew in my head, the more I realised I needed readers to understand the circumstances of the Weaver family and where they fit into the town of The Shallows. Without showing their complicated family dynamic, the mystery of Henry going missing felt like only half a story.


Why do you choose to write thriller and crime stories for teenagers as opposed to an adult audience?

When I first tried my hand at writing fiction as an adult, it was a teenager’s voice that came through in my writing, and I think it’s because the last time I’d done a lot of fiction writing was when I was a teenager. So it’s like my brain picked up where I left off, and I found that a teenage protagonist’s voice came through very easily. But I do have some ideas for adult fiction too, so I don’t think I’ll always exclusively write YA.


What do you want teenagers to take away from your book? 

I never write books with themes or messages in mind, so it’s always fascinating for me to read in reviews what readers have taken away from it. My only goal is to entertain and have readers so enthralled they don’t want to put the book down, and if my characters or the story leave a lasting impression, that’s a fabulous bonus.


Which of your books did you find the most enjoyable to write and why?

They have all been equally enjoyable and also a nightmare to write at times. I definitely agree with other authors when they say their favourite book is the one they are currently working on, because you are living and breathing that world and those characters, and it’s hard to compare it to your other writing experiences because you’re so immersed in what you’re doing. I have favourite scenes I’ve written, and they are scattered throughout all my different manuscripts, including new ones I’m working on right now.


What is the most important thing you have learnt as an author?

To always listen to my gut, because it’s rarely wrong. Also to put work aside and come back to it with fresh eyes, because it’s amazing how you can see what needs fixing straight away after giving yourself a bit of a break from it.


And finally, what would you like to see more of in YA?

Thrillers, crime and mysteries of course! Especially Australian ones. And from what teen readers have told me, they are definitely hungry for more of them.


That was the interview, I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it! I would just like to give a huge thank you to Sarah for agreeing to do the interview and taking the time to answer my questions. I encourage you to all read Deep Water (and Small Spaces) they’re both amazing! If I haven’t already sold you on this book, feel free to read my review of Deep Water here.


Your Favourite Bookworm


inky State Library Victoria

Great questions! Well done!

2nd Apr, 20

Thanks Inky :)

2nd Apr, 20

In the past week, I've been getting into mystery again, and after the review and this interview, I know this is definitely something I want to read.

2nd Apr, 20

You definitely should- it’s so good

2nd Apr, 20

Awesome interview!

3rd Apr, 20

Thank you!

3rd Apr, 20