by Joni Astrup
After a long process filled with ups and downs, Sara Biren has prevailed and had her first novel published.
“The Last Thing You Said” is a young adult contemporary romance that Biren describes as a quiet love story.
It is set in a fictional town in the Brainerd lakes area and follows the story of Ben and Lucy, who are struggling to come to grips with the death of Ben’s sister, Trixie, who also is Lucy’s best friend.
They don’t handle their grief well, and it is tearing them apart.
“The book is about how they deal with their grief and whether or not they can repair their relationship,” Biren said.
She dedicated the book to Nicole Zehringer, her friend who died at age 16 in a car crash when they were both students at Elk River High School.
“The book is not about that,” Biren explained. “It’s a completely different story. However, a lot of the feelings that I experienced while writing it went back to that time in my life, as well as other deaths that I have dealt with throughout my life. A lot of the raw emotion in the book, dealing with the passing of a loved one, comes from my experience over the years.”
Biren grew up in Fletcher, attended Rogers Elementary and VandenBerge Junior High before graduating from Elk River High School. She is married to Troy Adams, who manages Elk River Municipal Utilities. She and Adams and their two kids live in Hanover.
Biren has been writing since elementary school and earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In addition to writing fiction, she works as a copywriter for a marketing and advertising firm and owns a freelance editing company.
Biren spoke April 27 at the Elk River Rotary Club, where Adams is a member.
Biren said she began writing the book in 2011 and it took about a year and a half to get a first draft done.
“Writing about grief is not an easy thing to do,” she said.
Getting the book published wasn’t easy, either.
One of the many bumps in the road involved her agent, who quit the business in the middle of handling Biren’s book. Three months later, Biren was able to find another agent.
Then the novel was on submission to publishing houses for 15 months.
It was such a long time that Biren and her agent had just decided to put the project on hold and move on to another book when they heard from a publisher who was interested.
In May 2015, Biren signed a contract for the book deal. At her editor’s request, she revised the book about six times. The book was published on April 4 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.
Biren said the reception for the book has been even better than she hoped.
Adams said at the Rotary meeting that it was awesome to watch his wife overcome all the barriers to publishing a book.
“I’ve watched time and time again where you’ve had a setback, and yet you stick to your dream and I’m very proud of you,” Adams told Biren as the Rotarians applauded.
“The Last Thing You Said” is available in bookstores and online, including at Barnes and Noble and www.target.com.