Interview with author Zané Sachs

A few days ago, one of my favorite authors, Blake Crouch, retweeted a blurb he'd written for the novel Sadie The Sadist. Here's what it said:

You have never read anything like Sadie the Sadist — a pitch black satire that is not only deeply disturbing but funny as hell.
— Blake Crouch - Author of Wayward Pines Series

I was intrigued, to say the least. I snatched up the book on Amazon after reading the description, and once I started reading, I flew through it in a day. Ms. Sachs has written one TWISTED main character, and blended gruesome violence and laugh out loud humor perfectly. After finishing I immediately got in contact with the author and asked if she'd like to do an interview. She graciously agreed. 

Michael asks:

Sadie the Sadist is your first novel, and when I was reading the acknowledgments I noticed you said that Sadie originally started out as a short story that you were encouraged to lengthen? How did the original idea form, and what was the process like going back and making the story a full-length novel?

Zané says:

Well, Michael, truthfully, I’ve written and published other novels under another name. Zané Sachs is my evil twin; she allows me to express weird, dark stuff that sometimes shocks me. A work situation inspired Sadie. Last year, like Sadie, I spent the summer chopping corn in a supermarket amazingly similar to the one described in the novel. I told the store manager that I would go insane if I had to chop, shuck, wrap 10+ cases of corn a day. He didn’t listen. The short story was my way of dealing with extreme frustration. I sent it to several writer friends including Blake Crouch and Elizabeth Engstrom who encouraged me to develop it into a novel. Blake said it reminded him of American Psycho. As soon as I read that book, I saw the similarities—especially the black humor. I had a blast writing Sadie the Sadist,worked on it every morning before work. It provided great therapy ... and revenge!

Is writing something you've been doing for a while in your life, or is it a new endeavor? What made you give writing fiction a try?

When I was a kid, I knew that first I’d be a dancer, then an actress, then a writer ... and that’s pretty much what I’ve done. Although I’ve also maintained regular jobs in order to support my creative habits. I love fiction, because it allows me to tell the truth in a way I might be afraid to do if I were writing nonfiction.

The writing in Sadie is full of some pretty gross and detailed violence, not to mention some fairly irregular and explicit sex acts. They say you should write what you know... so.... Just kidding. Are those the kind of things you enjoy reading as well? I've heard often that writers try and tell a story they'd like to read themselves. What are your favorite genres?

Yes ... I’ve done all those things NOT! I shocked myself writing Sadie. To use a cliché, she made me write that crazy stuff. Really, every action of the book was driven by the character.

 I read eclectically, and I love thrillers. I’ve read most of Blake’s work, since we were in the same writing group ... and, until fairly recently, we lived in the same condominium complex. (A complex not unlike Sadie’s in the book.) Blake’s earlier work is so violent that I had to keep putting the book down, but, oddly enough, I had no trouble writing that kind of violence. Favorite genres ... that depends on my mood. I get on kicks and read all of a particular writer’s work. I’ve read tons of classics, English literature, Greek plays, Shakespeare. And I’ve read lots of mysteries and thrillers, a moderate amount of science fiction, fantasy, historical, literary fiction. I’m a constant student of psychology—always reading about the latest developments, and I listen to a lot of podcasts.  I guess my favorite genre is psychological suspense. I love Ruth Rendell, because she creates extremely quirky characters. And I loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

According to your Amazon bio, the next book you've got lined up is Jayne Just Watches. Jayne is Sadie's neighbor, and pops up a few times in Sadie the Sadist. Can you tell us anything about the book yet, and was she a character you originally included in Sadie? Or did you go back and add her later when you go the idea for the new novel?

Ohhh, I love Jayne. And, yes, I didn’t meet her until after I wrote Sadie ... so I added her to the story.

 Jayne’s got Cotard’s syndrome and believes she’s dead. She spends a lot of time sitting on her balcony, drawing pictures and watching people in the condominium complex—like that strange girl, Sadie, who drags heavy bags of trash down her steps to the dumpster. Jayne’s neighbor, Jonathan, is blind and suffers from 24/7 syndrome; he has no sense of time, consequently, he’s up at all times of the night playing a huge pipe organ in his sound-proofed apartment. Jayne drills a hole in their shared wall so she can watch Jonathan and listen to his music. They develop a close friendship. Jonathan wants to touch Jayne so he can “see” her, but Jayne let’s no one touch her—because she’s dead—until Jonathan’s life is threatened. To save him, Jayne must overcome her fear of touch and risk being fully alive.

 Usually, I just know key points of the story: first turning point, darkest moment, the end. But for this book, I’m working on an outline—something I’ve never done. Blake says I should, so I’m giving it a try. From what I know so far, the story won’t be anywhere near as violent as Sadie the Sadist. Ultimately, I’d like to do a series of stories about strange characters in the condominium complex. I’m fascinated by abnormal psychology.

Turning to the publishing world, what's your opinion of the state of the publishing industry? What led in your decision to publish Sadie the way that you did. Since you're apparently pals with Blake Crouch, I have a suspicion I know how this will be answered, but I'd love to know what you think.

For quite a while, I tried the traditional route, but the publishing industry only got tighter and more difficult to break into. I’ve had three agents, but none of them managed to sell my work. Generally, publishers are afraid of taking a risk on new a writer, and in my experience they have all kinds of preconceived ideas about genres, lengths of books, and what people want to read. After years of trying and getting discouraged,

Blake convinced me to self-publish. I’ve made more money than most newbie writers who go the traditional route. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t go with a publisher in the future, especially if that publisher were Amazon. It would be great to have that kind of backing and promotion. Going Indie made all the difference for Blake. And if I hadn’t gone Indie, right now I’d be submitting Sadie and crossing my fingers (for months) while waiting for rejection letters—possibly waiting for years if a publisher picked it up.

 Truthfully, I look forward to the publishing industry waking up. If you think Sadie’s scary, you should hear some of the horror stories I’ve been told about the publishing industry ripping off writers.

Finally, who are some authors you can't get enough of. Who do you read when you aren't busy writing?

These days I read a lot of Indie writers’ work. I’m interested to see what’s out there. And I read a lot of nonfiction, lately about psychopaths. Currently, I’m proofreading my friend Dinah Swan’s new mystery, I have Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes sitting on the floor by my bed, I’ve begun How to Discipline Your Vampire by Mina Vaughn, and I just downloaded Evangeline by E. A. Gottschalk.

Michael says:

I really want to thank Zané Sachs for taking the time to chat with me, and I encourage all fans of the genre to check out Sadie the Sadist. It's a ton of fun and I'm much looking forward to the next book!

Here's the description and link to buy from Amazon:

Like many people, Sadie feels undervalued and frustrated. Employed by a supermarket, she plots to murder coworkers—or lure them into the employee bathroom for a quickie. Sick of being treated like a robot, she taps into a powerful (and deranged) alter-ego and transforms into Sadie the Sadist. READER BEWARE: This book contains graphic violence, psycho/sexual incidents, and Sadie’s favorite recipes. X-tremely Black Humor.

For more info, check out http://zanesachs.com/