Some of you might not know that our newest Teen Services Assistant, Sarah Allen, is also an author! We're super excited that the cover for her third book, The Nightmare House, has just been released. Learn more about Sarah and the book below.
Tell us about your role here at the library and how long you’ve been here for!
I’m fairly new at the library, and just started in May! I work in our new amazing Teen Center and love saying hi to all the teens as they come in after school, and recommending amazing YA books!
Can you tell us a bit about your two already-published novels?
What Stars Are Made Of is about a young girl named Libby who has a genetic disorder. When her big sister announces she’s pregnant, Libby makes a deal with the universe to make sure her sister’s baby will be born perfect and healthy, without any of the complications Libby herself faces.
Breathing Underwater is about two sisters on a cross-country road trip, back to a place where they buried a time capsule years ago. Olivia watches her older sister Ruth fall deeper and deeper into depression—what she calls The Pit. So Olivia sets up a cross-country treasure hunt to try and remind her big sister of all the good things, and learning that being there for her sister, not fixing her, is all she can do, and maybe that’s enough.
What is the premise of your new book, The Nightmare House?
This one is a bit of a departure from the other two—we’re getting spooky here! Here’s the fancy official publishers description:
Penny Hope used to be brave, but that was before she met the Fear Maker. Years later, he still haunts her nightmares—a tall, thin man with red eyes, in a haunted house in the woods, who devours human souls and leaves their eyes hollow and empty. Penny’s beloved grandma tells her to write down these nightmares as poems in her notebook. But then Penny starts seeing blank-eyed people in the waking world, too. She’s the only one who notices.
As more people around her fall prey to the Fear Maker, Penny must gather her courage once and for all to save the souls of those she loves. With the help of a magic garden and a new friend, she ventures to the Fear Maker’s house. But the house is a labyrinth of shadows and tricks—and the Fear Maker’s fun is just beginning. Can a pocketful of sunflower seeds and a notebook filled with poems be enough to defeat a master of nightmares? And if Penny sets foot in the Fear Maker’s house, will she ever leave?
The amazing cover just got revealed. How are you feeling?
So so excited! I am blown away by how absolutely perfect it is (and totally digging the Coraline vibes!) This is always a fun part of the process, because this is just when I get to be purely excited about someone else’s incredible work!
Who was the cover designer and what can you tell us about the cover creation process?
This was done by the incredible Angie Hewitt (@angi.hewitt on Instagram). Me and my whole team absolutely adored the covers of my previous books, done by the amazing Alisa Coburn, but since this book goes in such a different direction, we agreed it would work best to have different art to match. My editor found and forwarded Angie’s portfolio to see what I thought. Not only was Angie’s vibe perfect, she even had art with blank-eyed characters. It couldn’t have been a more perfect match!
When will readers be able to get their hands on The Nightmare House?
It comes out August 8th, 2023! You can keep an eye on the publishing page to track when it will be up for preorder!
This is your first horror book. What drew you to that genre?
Great question! I feel like there’s always been sort of two sides to the things I love. I grew up reading authors like Beverly Cleary and Gary Schmidt and Sharon Creech, and my first two books definitely fall into that camp. But my other favorite author growing up was Roald Dahl, and I must have read The Witches a hundred times. Now other authors like Neil Gaiman and Katherine Arden have joined that shelf of touchstone spooky books and I am so thrilled to be exploring in that kind of world.
What are some books that you’re currently raving about you’d highly recommend?
Let’s talk middle grade spooky books, which I have been devouring lately. Some of my forever favorites are A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, and The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand. Some new favorites are the Small Spaces series by Katherine Arden, The Ash House by Angharad Walker, Mine by Delilah Dawson, and I just finished reading the graphic novel, Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter and loved it!
Where can people connect with you (outside of saying hello to you at our Teen Desk, of course!)?
I’m on all the socials! My handle for them all is @SarahAllenBooks and you can track me down on my website too!
Is there anything you’d want to add that hasn’t already been covered?
I am so grateful for all the support and all the readers that have found my books so far! It’s been quite the experience having my first two books come out during the pandemic, and I’m so excited to hopefully have a more normal author experience with this one. To The Nightmare House we go!