Sasha Alsberg never thought she could be an author. Now, at age 25, she has a social media presence across several platforms with over 500,000 followers and is a New York Times bestselling author. Her newest book, “Breaking Time,” follows 18-year-old Klara as she discovers myth, magic, and love in rainy Scotland. “Breaking Time” is a fantasy adventure-romance novel, with an important and personal message of overcoming self-doubt, and finding community in grief. Ms. Alsberg spoke with the Monitor recently.
What drew you to reading growing up, and how did that inform your writing of “Breaking Time”?
Growing up, I struggled to read; words would float off the page, and I didn’t think I would ever become somebody who reads for fun. My mom really helped me, though. We would read books together like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” and gradually I became better at reading and learned to love it. When I got older I read “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon and that helped me see the possibilities within the romance genre for having a romantic book that was also full of adventure and fantasy. That was one of the experiences that inspired me to write “Breaking Time.”
What led you to make the transition from reader to writer?
I became friends with a few authors. That was what got me to start seeing that maybe it was something I was capable of, too, but I never made the leap until my friend Lindsay Cummings called me one day and said, “Let’s write a book together.” We co-wrote “Zenith” and “Nexus” and through that experience I realized this was something I could do. I learned some valuable lessons from other authors that have helped, too, like don’t read your reviews. You should have a trusted source go through them and pick out what they think is actually valid. I learned that there’s a difference between hate reviews and the actual critical reviews that I respect.
Grief is a central theme in “Breaking Time.” What led you to write that in your story?
I didn’t plan on it when I was writing it. But I also did not plan on my dad dying last year. Or my mom dying when I was 15, and losing both parents. That’s why this book means so much to me, because so many of us have known people who have passed, and we need to know that there is a time for grief, and [it] doesn’t go away overnight. It doesn’t subside because you’re having a good day. It will always be present. You’ll never “get over it.”
Wow, I feel like that just got really deep, but my point is that I want [readers] to know that I am here for them and I understand them. And there’s so many people around that will be there for them.
How does your life as an online content creator mesh with your life as an author?
I learned not to create for others, because it can sometimes inhibit me from loving it. I used to be a people pleaser, and being a content creator can lead to inauthenticity.
What does the future hold?
I’m going to finish my mom’s novel that I found in our family photo albums. I plan on publishing it. That’s the next project in my mind, but right now I’m excited about the next book in the “Breaking Time” saga. I would love to start my own publishing house one day in the future. I think I know what it takes to be a great writer and that anybody has that within them. And it’s about people … having someone to listen to help create their dreams and I really want to be that person. Publishing still needs to catch up a bit with advocating for inclusivity and diversity, and I would love to be part of that.