Sascha Rothchild is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter, who has written and produced lauded shows such as “GLOW,” “The Bold Type,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,” and “The Carrie Diaries.” In 2015, she was named one of Variety's “10 TV Writers to Watch.” Rothchild has written for LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Elle, and the Miami Herald, and adapted her article, "How to Get Divorced by 30" into both a memoir and a screenplay for Universal Studios.
In this post, Sascha discusses how her late-night mind wandering led her to the premise of her new suspense novel, Blood Sugar, why it’s important to keep the recipe of your idea intact, and more!
Name: Sascha Rothchild
Literary agent: Jess Regel
Book title: Blood Sugar
Publisher: Putnam - Penguin Books
Release date: April 19, 2022
Genre/category: Suspense & Thriller / Crime Mysteries
Previous titles: How To Get Divorced By 30
Elevator pitch for the book: A twisty stay up all night to finish thriller about a murderess accused of killing her husband—ironically, perhaps the only murder she didn’t commit.
What prompted you to write this book?
My husband is a type one diabetic, which means he can die in the middle of the night of low blood sugar. It’s a real thing; it’s so common it has a name: dead in bed. So one night I’m awake, can’t sleep, he is sound asleep of course, and I start wondering … If he died, and I frantically called 911, would police arrive and think I killed him?
This might seem like a weird leap, but my mind always wanders when I can’t sleep, and I imagine what if this or what if that. I am also a big fan of true crime and I know the spouse is often the first suspect.
Then I started thinking about my day, my week, my movements. Would meaningless things like the fact that I texted our dog walker 20 times that day add up to motive like an affair?
And then I thought, wait, what if I actually HAD killed other people before, in my past, and gotten away with it. But now I’m being investigated by the police, for my husband’s murder, no stone left unturned! And in that moment, in my bed at 3:00 a.m., the plot for my novel Blood Sugar was born. My husband is totally fine by the way!
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
The idea for this novel had been banging around in my head, and five years ago I had a hiatus in between TV writing jobs, so I had the time to sit down and write it. I made a playlist of moody instrumental music and started typing. It took me four months to complete a first draft. I then got an exciting job writing and producing the Netflix series GLOW, so the novel manuscript sat in my laptop for a while.
The idea for the novel never changed, but I did wrestle with structure. Whenever I had time, I would dive back in and rewrite. I then signed with a new manager who believed in me wholeheartedly and helped me get the manuscript to book agents. Then things moved very fast.
My agent sent it out to publishers and within a month I signed a deal with Putnam. I spent another year working with my fantastic editor. So from a kernel of an idea to a printed hardcopy, six years.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
I spoke to many of my lawyer friends about the ins and outs of indictments and arrests. When I called them, they all said, “Please tell me this is for something you are writing! And you don’t need an attorney.” After speaking with them, I was very surprised to learn about grand juries and how one-sided they are.
As for my antiheroine Ruby Simon’s profession, I have been in therapy for half my life, so being on that side of the couch helped me delve into the therapy sessions, and I interviewed a few psychologists to ask about schooling, techniques, rules, and regulations. Of course, I then fictionalized all of this, but I learned a lot in the process.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I went into this needing to be certain that I was not Ruby Simon. I had no idea how I was going to start the book, but I am very pale and sensitive to sunlight and rarely go to the beach or swim in the ocean. So I put Ruby in that setting immediately. So I knew as I wrote, that Ruby was Ruby. And not me.
The words just came from there, and by starting her happily in the ocean in the bright Miami Beach sun, I was able to take a step back and write from her perspective without my own getting in the way. I was happily surprised by how effective this approach worked.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I have always been an avid reader, book reports at school never seemed like homework. More like a hobby. I enjoy discussing books with family and friends and book clubs. The books we all do not agree on make for the most compelling conversations.
I hope Blood Sugar is debated. Perhaps it will not be liked by all readers, but if I can start some conversations about guilt and moral codes, and what it means to be a victim, and get readers riled up, either because they loved it or hated it, I will feel I’ve accomplished something special.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
In television writing, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Studios, producers, directors, actors. And it goes very well if everyone understands what meal they are making. If all agree on flavor, which is tone, quality shows are created.
As a writer, if I am writing what I know wants to be pesto sauce, and someone is giving me notes to make it a marinara, I need to stick to my gut and say no to those notes. And keep making the pesto.
However, I feel as a writer it’s important to surround myself with people who can give me notes, who get my voice, and can be additive. People like agents and editors and even friends who also want me to make pesto, but they can help me make it even better. Writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. But it is not changing your recipe.