Sara Gaines

While growing up in Kentucky, I could never find books I could really identify with and get lost in. So rather than just keep hoping for them to appear, I eventually decided to start writing them. I graduated from Oberlin College in 2012. After a brief stint working and trying new food in China, I currently live near Cleveland with my girlfriend. You know those kids in your elementary school who were just ridiculously obsessed with something? The kid who refused to buy a binder unless it was absolutely covered in their favorite animal that also covered everything else they owned? Well, I wasn't really that kid. But I was the kid who came into school covered in bruises thanks to the sword fighting (read: beating with sticks) I had done with my friends the previous night. Unsurprisingly, my love of medieval weaponry and history in general expanded as I got older. Historical fiction books began to pile up around my room, the majority of which centered around the women I was rarely exposed to in school. I used the stories of their lives as a mean to escape my own. Not that my life was bad, but Eleanor of Aquitaine was much more interesting to me than "Sara the jock". Of course, there were plenty of other books on my shelves and stacked on my nightstand I escaped to, but for several years, the majority of the books I read were based in history. If they weren't, they were some sort of medieval fantasy. As I aged, I ran into a problem as I stuck my nose into book after book. You see, even the characters I absolutely loved stopped feeling so comfortable right about the time Mr. Perfect showed up. It wasn't so much a "ew, gross, there's a boy" as a "crap, why can't *I* be the one to sweep this character off her feet?" In case you couldn't guess, that sent up some huge red flags for me about my sexuality (and the fact that there was a girl who lived down the street who was really, really cute). So, fast-forward a few years -- I wish I could say it didn't take me that long to accept the fact that I actually was attracted to women -- and I began searching for books with characters I could actually identify with romantically. It was a painful search. On the rare occasion I was able to find something on the shelves of a local bookstore, it was almost always about a girl figuring out her sexuality by flirting with her best friend at their lockers before third period. That wasn't the story I wanted. I was living that story, and as I've said, I used books as a way to teleport into different worlds. So I still wanted my knights and castles and occasional mystical animal if that's what it took for me to be immersed in a medieval-esque world. That kind of story was practically impossible to find, even when I bit the bullet and started ordering books online despite the fact that my mom might get to them first*. After a certain number of failed attempts to find what I wanted to read, I realized I probably wasn't the only young woman in my situation. When that idea sunk in, I thought back over all the ideas I'd had during my search for books and decided that I would actually begin writing them down. fast-forward again to right after I graduated college and my first YA novel was published. Now I'm working on my current series, but I have many, many more ideas I hope to bring to fruition once I've shared the rest of Aleana's story. And don't worry, if medieval settings aren't your thing, I've branched out and have started a few projects that involve significantly fewer swords and castles. *After a rocky phase once I outed myself, my mom has been great about the whole "my daughter is a lesbian" thing and actually loves my girlfriend to the point where she's asking why I haven't proposed yet.

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