Meet Semifinalists Sarah Smothers & Jacob Turner

Thank you to everyone who participated in the James Patterson Co-Author Competition and congratulations to the semifinalists! Today, we’d like you to meet MasterClass students and semifinalists Sarah Smothers and Jacob Turner!

Sarah Smothers
LaGrange Park, Illinois

Sarah SmothersWhat drives you to write?
What drives me to write is my need for it. Writing is a way for me to understand the world and my place in it, simultaneously satisfying my need for creative expression.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since i was about 12. I remember I was in 6th grade and we had to write a 5-page story for class. I got so involved in mine that I filled up an entire spiral notebook. I decided to make it my career if I could right then.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’ class so far?
One of the most important things I’ve learned in James’ MasterClass is to keep going and push through with your writing. If you face rejection, especially from yourself, do not give up on your work.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in your story?
I plan on keeping my readers on the hook by bringing the characters to life and making them care about what happens to them, and of course having surprises all along the way.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
The person who has supported me most in my writing has got to be my friend Haley. Ironically we met in English class, and that was when I had started my series. She has read almost everything I’ve written and edited all 3 of my novels, currently working her way through the last one. She helps me by being my biggest fan.

Jacob Turner
Madison, Wisconsin

6. Jacob Turner-Headshot-James Patterson Co-Author ContestWhat drives you to write?
I love writing! I love spending time with characters and getting them into and (sometimes) out of hot water. Writing’s fun for me. Asking “what if” for jokes, twists, or touching moments keeps my mind in a constant state of possibility, and the practice of connecting seemingly unrelated ideas is a good reminder to pay attention to how everything does connect.

How long have you been writing?
The first novel I ever attempted lives in hopelessly smudged graphite between the pages of my 5th grade notebook.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’ class so far?
Outlines! I knew outlines were important, but before I took the class, they felt like the pragmatic opponent to free writing. But they’re not. Outlining is just writing out the story itself before deciding on the words best used for executing the story in prose. Understanding the importance of outlines makes me feel better about using them, and as a result, I write more efficiently.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in your story?
James says it best: hit your reader in the face with a pie, then while you have their attention, say something interesting. The 21st century presents so many new situations to explore in a story. By writing those stories in the context of the thriller genre, readers can expect an adventure that feels both familiar and fresh.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
My family’s been endlessly supportive and encouraging: My parents, who have worked so hard for me and my four older siblings and ask only that we make the most of our time here. My siblings, who are always there for practical help and personal guidance. My best friend, my non-biological brother, who gives the best feedback I could ask for. And my kitties, who are snuggly.

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