YEM Author Interview: Sara Bennet Wealer chats about writing a character with anxiety in her book Grave Things Like Love

Sara Bennet Wealer is the author of Grave Things Like Love. Grave Things Like Love follows Elaine who lives in her family-run 1800’s funeral home and Xander, the new boy in town with a passion for ghost hunting. The book explores setting healthy boundaries, learning to find your own voice, and managing anxiety. YEM was able to speak with Sara about if ghost hunting is that something that she has always been interested in, if anything from her book is inspired by her real life, and how long the writing process of Grave Things Like Love was.

Young Entertainment Mag: Was there a specific moment or time in your life that you remember as when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?

Sara Bennet Wealer: My mom was an English teacher, so I had a lot of encouragement from a young age. I always knew writing was something I could do well, and I loved to fill up notebooks with stories. I officially became a “writer” when I decided to major in journalism in college, but I didn’t decide I wanted to be an author of novels until I’d been working a few years and needed a creative outlet that belonged only to me.

YEM: What is it like to have your book Grave Things Like Love out?

Sara: It feels great! Grave Things is my first sort of “spooky season” book, which has been fun. And in general, I just love the story. I had such a great time writing it, and I hope others enjoy reading it!

YEM: Grave Things Like Love explores many things such as healthy boundaries, learning to find your own voice, and managing anxiety. Was that something that just happened or did you go into writing your book with that intention?

Sara: I didn’t start out to write a character with anxiety – it just felt natural that Elaine (my MC) would be living with it. (Fun fact: I live with anxiety, too – and Elaine feels the most ME of all the characters I’ve written.) My editors picked up on the anxiety angle and liked that it wasn’t Elaine’s sole focus or story arc, just something she’s managing day by day. They asked me to lean into it a little more, which I was happy to do, because so many people I know these days are living with and working to manage anxiety. We really need to normalize it!

YEM: Your main character has anxiety, what made you decide to write a character with anxiety?

Sara: Oops! I think I answered that question just above! 🙂

YEM: Did you do any specific research into anxiety before writing your book?

Sara: I didn’t need to research, because I live it, and so do several of my close loved ones. We all experience and deal with anxiety differently, but I feel like I’ve had exposure to a pretty big spectrum of the ways in which anxiety can impact someone’s life. I’ve also seen many ways to manage it and definitely know it’s not one size fits all!

YEM: Grave Things Like Love also has ghost hunting, is that something that you have been interested in?

Sara: I always say I’d like to see a ghost, but if I ever did, I’d be too terrified to look. My husband and I loved ghost hunting shows when they first became a thing on TV. Watching them was a big date night activity for us. Now there are a ton of those kinds of shows, but I still love the vibe.

Sara Bennet Wealer

YEM: Was anything from your book inspired by your real life?

Sara: While working my first job as a newspaper reporter, I got to know a family that owned and lived in a funeral home. They let me spend time with them, and I planned to write a feature story about their business, lifestyle, etc. I moved jobs before I could do that but always kept the fascination with what it would be like being a teen in that setting.

YEM: What is the best part about writing for a young adult audience?

Sara: There are just so many different types of stories to tell, and so many ways to try, succeed and fail, pick yourself up and start again or go in a new direction. In many ways, the world is sort of wide open at that age – I like exploring how someone might approach taking their first steps into that bigger universe.

YEM: What are some other book genres that you hope to write in the future?

Sara: I’m trying my hand at a mystery/puzzle box-type story. Not sure yet if it will be YA. It’s definitely intimidating!

YEM: How long was the writing process of Grave Things Like Love?

Sara: A few years start to finish. I write pretty slowly, so the first draft took a couple of years, then it needed a lot of revision. That happened more quickly – probably over the span of a year. During that time I had other books I was prepping for publication, so my attention was a little divided.

YEM: Do you prefer the moments of writing the book more or is it nice to see the final copy out and being read by others?

Sara: Seeing a book I’ve written out in the world will never get old. It’s exciting and a huge honor. Though I do love the process of putting a story together. Both have aspects that I find fun and satisfying.

YEM: What are three words that you would use to describe Grave Things Like Love?

Sara: Sweet, Slightly Spooky

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