Sara’s first novel is out now, the first in a trilogy of Jewish romances set in Georgian England. A law professor with several textbooks published under another name, Sara is not one to shy away from a challenge. Although she lives in a different era from her characters, many of the challenges faced by them reflect her own experience. They want to infiltrate the ton (high society in Georgian times), and they want to marry for love while maintaining their cultural heritage. Read on to hear about Sara’s motivation for writing and her key messages.
What took you from teaching law to writing novels?
I’ve always been drawn to writing. One of my favourite professors at law school set a paper on “Something that pisses you off”. I picked international environmental law and became so passionate about it that I later wrote articles and a 900-page textbook on the topic.
After I had my first baby, I realized my field wasn’t going to be lucrative, so I changed course. People tell me it’s also hard to make a living from writing, but unless someone tells me something is impossible, I don’t want to do it. That’s one thing I got from my Dad’s side of the family—we are known for banging our heads through the wall.
In law school, there was a great emphasis on writing in neat, clean, clear English. Novel writing has a different form, and it’s a big learning curve. Teachers told me I can’t write, so I took classes, and I’m working hard on it. If I don’t try, I’m not going to get better. Hopefully, by book six, I’ll go back to book one and improve it.
Can you please share the blurb for Margins of Love?
Elusive haute-couture jeweller, Fave Pearler, must put his beloved Greek mythology aside to face an arranged marriage suiting his family’s dynasty while all of London is on the quest for the biggest, rarest gems for the king’s jewellery competition. Meanwhile, his mother’s meddlesome frenemy threatens to reveal their secret and her blackmail is driving good-natured Fave mad. But when the evil gossip catches him with Rachel Newman, he has to fight for the love of his life and the family’s business…
Rachel Newman only wants one season before resigning herself to a wedding her father has arranged, and golden boy Fave is off-limits. When he rattles her principles, she’s determined to protect her family’s true identity—but she cannot resist Fave’s kisses. How can Rachel reconcile romance and family loyalty?
Jewish culture and religion are central to the story. What are some of the key messages?
One of my cousins got engaged to someone outside our faith. It wasn’t a good fit, and our family didn’t approve, but I was the only one to tell him, which caused a rift in the family. I started thinking about how to help my children stay true to their heritage but still find love, so I wrote a contemporary romance trilogy. These stories were too personal, so I didn’t publish them, but I started researching other ways to convey this message and landed on historical fiction.
Many think you must marry within the faith. That’s as wrong for Jews as for any other culture, yet without judging it, going outside is a change of heritage, and in doing so, you change the future. I hope young people the age of my characters at least consider it carefully because their decisions can create complications in life. I’ve seen this in my family.
People say I’m in a mixed marriage because I’m European and my husband is American, but I don’t see it this way. We are both Jewish and that gives us a common thread. In my books I want to show that it’s possible to marry for love within the Jewish community.
How did you choose your penname?
I grew up like my characters, not telling anyone that I was Jewish because we didn’t want to risk our status. That’s why I’m writing under a different name.
My father wanted to call me Sara, but my mother didn’t allow it because during the holocaust, the Nazis gave all Jewish women the name Sara. It was part of their dehumanising tactics like making all Jews wear the David Star. I wanted to reclaim the name, so I gave it to my alter ego.
If I had a third son, I’d call him Adrien, but as I’m not planning another child, I’m using that as my last name instead.
What drew you to the Georgian time period?
As a German Jew, the holocaust was always on the table. I don’t like how Jewish history is so defined by that, so I wanted to set my story in an era before it.
In the 1800s, people could live well if they had the financial means and were advanced in their thinking. I love that people dressed up, had clear etiquette and rules for how they lived. I’m all for sitting in bed in my PJs with my laptop, but there are certain guidelines that appeal to me. It’s more elegant.
I invented a family that was established and wealthy, different from the stereotype. I wanted them to be university educated, so I needed to show how Fave could go to school even though Jews weren’t admitted to universities at that time.
And why did you choose England?
When I was five and started to read, my mum arranged English lessons for me. In a small German town, it was hard to find native speakers, but every summer, university students travelled there, so my mum hired them.
When I was 14, one of these tutors, who I’m still friends with, gave me Pride and Prejudice to read, and we watched the movie together. She was from Nottingham, so it was very close to home for her. To get the accent, she also gave me Sense and Sensibility, Roald Dahl’s books, A Book of Nonsense, Shakespeare and more.
This was before Amazon, and we ran out of books, so when my parents took me to Cambridge, we went to a store and bought textbooks. Dad worked in England for 12 years, so I often visited and got to know the place.
I later went to college in Boston and did an English major, then focussed on Jewish fiction. It felt natural to set the book in England.
Do you have any tips for authors?
Enjoy writing as an art form. Understand the rules and know when to break them. It works like music.
If you are self-publishing, you will find incredible people to work with. Everyone who’s helping me—you (my editor) and my cover designer—are self-employed women working from home from all over the world.
I’ve written this trilogy about infiltrating the ton, which follows through to the conclusion of the jewellery competition. Then I’m writing a prequel to bridge to the second series about orthodox Jews who are not in hiding, so they need to overcome obstacles from a different direction.
You can follow Sara on:
Facebook: Sara Adrien
LinkedIn: Sara Adrien
Booksales link: Amazon
Next time: an interview with Raolee on Writing About Sickle Cell, and her debut picture book, Tanwa.
Next Sara Adrien interview: Sara Adrien on Falling in Love With Your Characters.