On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of authors – both debut and established – who I think you’ll love. Today, I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful SARAH PAINTER into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight…
Before writing books, Sarah Painter worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood). Sarah’s debut, The Language of Spells, became a Kindle bestseller as did the follow-up, The Secrets of Ghosts. Today, she launches her new book, In The Light of What We See. Sarah also podcasts about writing (and interviews other authors and creative-types) at www.worriedwriter.com
Welcome to Coffee and Roses, Sarah! When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
For as long as I can remember. I wrote my first 'novel' aged eight and it featured a cat called Miracle. I can't recall much about the story (thankfully), but I do have very vivid memories of the pastel-coloured A4 paper on which I wrote it. Yes, my stationery obsession began young, too!
What interests you as a writer?
Oh, what a great question. I love the excuse to learn new things and to follow my curiosity, but what really interests me is a good story. I want to take readers to another world (even if that world is very like our own) and give them an escapist, almost-magical experience, in the way that so many books have done for me.
Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
I am a complete creature of habit and I like nothing better than keeping to my daily routine. I write in bed first thing (ideally, as soon as I wake up) then, once my kids have left for school, I relocate to my garden office and write until I've got my word count or it's nearly lunchtime. Then I go for a walk, have lunch, and spend the afternoon on marketing, my podcast, email, and obsessively checking my Amazon rankings.
What inspires you as a writer?
Good storytelling in whatever form (television and film as well as books) and interesting non-fiction. I suffer from many short-lived obsessions, which can be very handy for research, and I love reading memoirs.
What are the best things about being a writer?
Oh, pretty much everything. It is my absolute dream and I am thankful every single day. Some highlights include working in bed, reading as part of my job, and tax-deductible books! More seriously, the very best thing is having connections with readers. I have to pinch myself that people read my books, and every time I get a message from a reader it makes me happier than I could ever have thought possible.
And the worst?
Dealing with my own self-doubt on a daily basis, and worrying about letting readers down.
In The Light of What We See.
It's a dual narrative story set in a hospital in Brighton in both 1938 and the present day. The present day story follows Mina Morgan as she recovers from a bad car accident, slowly piecing together her shattered memories. The past strand features Grace Kemp, a young woman who has escaped her family and is training to be a nurse. Both women see things which others do not, so it's a mix of thriller, historical and mystery, with a touch of the supernatural. It's a story I wanted to write for a very long time, but I didn't feel that I was good enough to do it justice. Then I realised I was never going to feel good enough, so I ought to just get on with it.
You're the host and creator of the brilliant podcast, The Worried Writer. What inspired you to start it?
Thanks for your kind words, Miranda, and for being on the show! Although I always wanted to be an author, I spent many years too frightened to actually try. I was crippled by my own self-doubt and a terrible fear of failure, and I thought these things meant I couldn't be a writer. Over the years, I've developed strategies for getting the work done despite my worries, and I wanted to share my experience with others. I thought that if I could make one anxious writer feel less alone then it would be worth doing. The podcast has had an amazing response, though, with so many people getting in touch to say that they struggle with the same issues, and that it really helps to know that other writers – at all stages of their careers – feel the same way!
What are your top three tips for writers?
The usual suspects: Read lots, write lots, and don't give up. Oh, and 'apply chocolate as needed'.
Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?
I love listening to podcasts and the radio, so I'd love to try writing a radio play one day.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just a big 'thank you' for having me on your site, and to all the readers, book bloggers and lovely authors in the writing community. Book people are the best!
Thanks so much to Sarah for such a wonderful interview! Her new book, In The Light of What We See is out today from Lake Union. You can hear her wonderful podcasts at www.worriedwriter.com, visit her website at www.sarah-painter.com, and follow her on Twitter @SarahRPainter.