Sara Donovan – Why I Write

Sara and I met a couple of years ago when she enrolled in my Intro to Chick-lit course at The Australian Writers’ Centre and we have been friends ever since. I love Sara’s easy, humorous writing style and was thrilled when her novel, Love By Numbers was picked up and published by Harper Collins.

As my blog goes online, Sara’s novel is on What’s Hot in Romance on iBooks and is on Best Reads of the Month in Kobo. 

Sara, congratulations on your debut success!

First up, why do you write?

Sara: Years ago a US screenwriting mentor told me (after rejecting my tenth romantic comedy logline), that the reason I write is the reason all writers write – ‘because you’re a beta,’ he said. ‘You weren’t the Prom Queen in high school and you’re still pissed off about it, so you write stories about beta people coming out on top.’
Fortunately we were on the phone so he couldn’t see the look on my face.

Which was?

Sara: Amused dismay. He really went on and on about it.
‘No female protagonists either if you’re trying to break into the movie business,’ he also said, instantly killing everything I found interesting to write about. His best advice was to write horror or a thriller.
Unbelievably, I persevered for a few weeks, but then stopped because I discovered the real reason I write – I write because I’m fascinated by a topic and have something to say about it. As it turned out, I had nothing to say that interested me about sci-fi monsters. Not one thing.

Agree. If I had to write about sci-fi monsters, my stories would be a couple of sentences. Tops.
So, what happened next?

Sara: I gave up trying to write for a few years after that experience, until I fortunately found my way to the warm, creative cocoon in Milson’s Point that is Lisa’s How to Write a Chick Lit Novel course. With your help, I discovered the right medium (novels, not screenplays), the right genre (chick lit for sure), as well as absolutely the right teacher.

Oh, shucks. (I promise Sara is not getting paid for this blog!)

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Sara: Despite how intense my desire was to write, if there’d been no Lisa, there’d be no book! And if there’d been no book, I would have really missed out on one of the most personally fulfilling experiences out there – as well as the wonderful experience of getting to know you!
I knew that writing would be rewarding, but it was far more enlightening than I was expecting.

Every character I wrote had some aspect of me or was some opposite of me. Writing a novel turned out to be a self-discovery experience like no other.

So why not keep a journal then, if writing is about self-discovery?

Sara: I’ve really wondered about why we need to share our stories so much, (especially after reading the first scathing review of my book), but I think it’s because most writers want their books to not just entertain, but also help someone. Creating and sharing stories is in our DNA, as critical to helping us interpret life now as it was when we lived in tribes.

What inspired you to write Love By Numbers?

Sara: My fascination with the psychology of why we love who we do and the science of the “brain in love” inspired me to write my book. It’s about a borderline obsessive heroine who uses neuroscience and psychology to try and change her hard wiring so she can choose who she gets attracted to.

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You also wanted to explore the issue of sexual polarity, didn’t you?

Sara: Yes. Being a woman with a lot of drive and energy when I was growing up, it was really confusing to be attracted to men just because they out-masculinised me.
A lot of these men were dominating, resilient, non-emotional types and many of them I judged pretty harshly, which is another idea I wanted to explore in the book. In my experience, some guys like that are players and other guys like that aren’t at all. I often put them into the same bucket I wanted to write a story that was compassionate to the alpha guy that loves women, as well as to the beta guy – of course, being a beta female myself…..

Sara, thanks for stopping by. Congratulations again. I loved Love By Numbers and can’t wait to read your second novel.
You can buy Sara’s book here: iTunes Amazon Kobo

And visit Sara’s website at

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