Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to visit your fabulous blog for an interview today. Thank you for this great opportunity! I loved your questions so let’s have a look at my answers… Here goes:
- Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing
I am a really chatty person with a very active imagination. I’ve always made up stories, for as long as I can remember. When I was little and couldn’t go to sleep, I used to amuse myself by making up long and complicated adventure stories (featuring, naturally, myself and my best friends!). I guess most of us do that! But as soon as I could write, I started to set these stories down on paper. I doubt they were elegant or even remotely eloquent narratives, but I do remember sitting on my window sill after lights-out and scribbling furiously on a small note-pad. A few years later, that enterprise turned into hacking things out on an ancient typewriter I’d been given. So that’s kind of where it all started… there was always this idea that I would write books. In fact, until half-way through secondary school, I would tell any adult who asked very earnestly that I would be a writer when I grew up!
Obviously years passed and this ambition never came to much. As a teenager, I had other things on my mind (rock music and rock musicians, mostly!) and then I had a boyfriend and then I started studying… Life kind of took over. But when I took a work sabbatical prior to the birth of my first child, I promised myself that I would, finally, write that book I’d been thinking of for some time. And so I did! I had the best time doing so, and I look forward to doing it all over again!
- How long did it take you to write Sophie’s Turn?
Well, I had four months in which to write (before birth of baby number 1) and so that’s how long it took! I spent about a month planning in meticulous detail my characters and my plot, and then I sat down and just…wrote! It was a fabulous experience. I write proliferate amounts very quickly, aided by the fact that I can touch type, and I would say I averaged probably 3000 to 4000 words a day, working probably five or six hours. Does that sound a lot? I don’t really know, I just get carried away. Every day, I would re-read the previous day’s work, do some rudimentary proofing and editing (and occasional re-writing) and then write some more. So the first draft seemed to go quite quickly. Then my first baby boy arrived and nothing much happened to the book. It wasn’t until a few years later that I got round to re-reading it and making some substantial changes, especially to the first half. Those changes took me another six months or so. So total working time on Sophie’s Turn was… 10 months, give or take. That’s probably a lot more detail than you wanted! x
- Tell us a bit about Sophie’s Turn and your inspiration for the book?
I’ve come to call Sophie’s Turn a ‘rock star romance’… not least because, you guessed it, one of the protagonists is a rock star. Sophie’s Turn tells the story of one young woman and her entanglement with a rock star, the man of her dreams. Unfortunately she is already engaged to somebody else when this romance finally enters her life, and it all gets a bit messy. Sophie is a fundamentally nice person and the presence of two men in her life gives her all manner of emotional nightmares. She sorts it all out eventually, although perhaps not in the way she expected!
The inspiration for the book has its roots in my residual soft spot for all things to do with rock musicians, in particular the long-haired variety with nice voices. There are quite a few of those about! Anyway, I was watching TV one night with my husband and some kind of long-haired male creature came on… I can’t recall who it was, might have been an actor or a rock musician. Anyway, I obviously liked that person because I said something like, “cor, now how would a girl ever turn him down?” My husband teased me about this all evening. And it got me thinking. What would a girl do if she was in a steady, happy relationship… and then suddenly met her teenage idol, and he proposed? There was the core conundrum, and it fascinated me enough to spin a story around it when I couldn’t sleep that night (on account of big baby belly!).
- What are your favourite books?
Generally speaking, I read almost anything but I can never resist a good chick lit book, a thriller or a good contemporary literary read. Favourite books of all time include Catherine Alliott’s “The Old-Girl Network,” Stephen Fry’s “Making History” and Katherine Neville’s “The Eight.” I also like books by David Baldacci and John Grisham. Actually, the list is pretty long….
- What do you like to do outside of writing?
You mean, when I’m not writing, looking after the kids, doing the housework, or volunteering as a teaching assistant…. That’s a tricky one! My life is so busy with all the above at the moment that there’s hardly any time to do anything else. When I do get the time, I like to read the paper in a coffee shop with a big latte or a pot of tea. I do like to sit on a rock on the beach just watching the waves come in, and listening to the surf (that’s probably one of my favourite pass-times!). I like travelling and exploring new places—Hamburg is on the agenda next for our family! And… actually one thing I do do even at the moment when things are so busy is… knitting. I do like knitting. I’m not a great knitter, I can just about manage my knits and purls but I find it very relaxing, especially when I’m stressed. Oh, and talking of stressed, I do have a Pilates routine that I like doing at least once a day, especially when I’ve been hunched over the laptop writing lots.
- What are you currently working on? Is a sequel to Sophie’s Turn planned?
Brilliant question, and I’m delighted to announce that the sequel to Sophie’s Turn is not just planned, but fully planned out and actually being written. In fact, I started writing properly just today as I’m answering the interview questions (10 October) and I’ve made a start, setting down a proud 12,000 words in total so far. That almost covers the first two of my 21 pages of plan (one page for each core sequence or event) so I guess you can expect a fairly hefty book again! What happens in the sequel, you want to know? Well, Sophie will obviously continue to feature, as will Dan and Rachel. There is also possibly someone else but I can’t give too much away here so as not to spoil Sophie’s Turn for those readers who haven’t finished it yet! There will be travel, and trauma, and weddings (yes, plural!) but who’s marrying whom… well, you’ll just have to wait! I’m hoping to bring the sequel to market within a year.