Local librarian promotes first book, years in the making

NEW PALESTINE — For as long as she can remember, Sarah Schmitt had a dream to become an author. Her vision became reality with the recent release of her first novel, “It’s a Wonderful Death.”

The book is considered to be paranormal, but it has a contemporary feel to it, Schmitt said.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of ‘what-if-you-only-had-one-day’ kind of thing, and while I originally wanted to write a ghost story, this turned out so far from that,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt, 41, works at the Hancock County Public Library’s Sugar Creek Branch as the youth services professional. That’s where she helps to promote literacy among teens. She said she wrote the book for the young adult and teen audience.

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The novel is about R.J., a 17-year-old girl who always gets what she wants. Schmitt describes this main character as snarky and mean, but things change for R.J. once her soul leaves her body.

R.J.’s soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, and somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. However, the angels tell her she hasn’t exactly lived her life in a way that would allow her to go back.

“The characters in the book are really colorful, and death himself is actually a surfer,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt dedicated the book to her grandmother and a relative, Becca, both of whom have passed away but were unlike the characters in the book, Schmitt said.

“Becca was my 17-year-old cousin who died unexpectedly from the flu,” Schmitt said. “The book is about a person who needs redemption, and these two people got life right the first time.”

Schmitt said she wrote two other books prior to this one catching the eye of her publisher — Sky Pony Press. The book’s official release date was Tuesday. She’s having a book signing party from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at 210 Center St., Greenfield.

Schmitt wrote the book in 23 days in November 2012 during national novel writing month. However, it took a few years to find the right publisher to make the book a reality.

“I had an outline, and I had a character, and I knew where I was going to go with it,” Schmitt said. “But, the process to get published is long and full of potholes.”

Schmitt will head out on an eight-week promotional tour following the signing in Greenfield.

Schmitt said she knows the title “It’s a Wonderful Death,” a play on the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” might take many by surprise. However, she said once people read the book, the title will make perfect sense.

“This was the 270th title that we talked about using,” Schmitt said.

While she admits she wasn’t too sure how she felt about the title, the book takes place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 — on Halloween, drawing parallels to the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which took place on one night, Christmas Eve.

“It’s kind of like ‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Schmitt said. “There really is a deep moral core to this story.”

If you go

Sarah Schmitt, book signing for “It’s a Wonderful Death.”

When: Saturday, Oct. 10

What time: 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: 210 Center Street, Greenfield

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.