Today the lovely Sara Jayne Townsend is visiting me in Yorkshire. Everyone knows the cliché that all we Brits ever do when we get together is talk about the weather, but ever since Christmas we’ve had good reason. Rain, rain and more rain. Sara and I are just commiserating with each other as the rain lashes down on my windows again.
It’s been raining for so long, not even a nice cup of tea is going to help. Let’s pour ourselves a large rum and coke, Sara, and imagine we’re in Barbados. Have some ice and a slice. Oh, and let’s turn the heating up. Cheers!
Where do you live, Sara? In South East England, within the boundaries of the M25. I live with my husband and two cats in a 100-year-old semi detached house that we bought 18 months ago. The house needs a bit of work, as all old houses do, but I’m impressed with how solidly houses were built in those days. It was built the year the Titanic sank, and survived bombing during the Blitz. We’ve also just had the wettest UK winter since records began and several gale force winds, and it’s still standing as solid as ever.
The bandmaster from the Titanic was from Yorkshire. I used to live in a Victorian terraced house, on the street next to his. I passed the blue plaque every day. Always made me sad to think of him once walking down the same road.
Where is your favourite place in the world? Probably New York City. I love the bustle and the vibe. If I was rich I’d buy a second home there.
And I’d definitely come and visit!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The concept of having no income coming in terrifies me, and it’s kept me in some bad jobs a lot longer than I should have stayed in them. It’s also why I am still a writer with a day job. The income from the writing is too uncertain – I need the security of a regular salary.
I worked over three years for one small business, where the boss and I would frequently have screaming matches across the office. He would accuse me of being an idiot; I would accuse him of being a sexist bully. He also told me I should stop wasting my time pretending to be a writer and focus on the job I was being paid for. I should have left long before I did, but I’ve never felt comfortable leaving a job without having another one to go to.
I have since found closure on this episode of my life by basing a character in a novel on this particular boss and killing him off. I found that scene particularly satisfying to write. At least writers have that outlet, without having to resort to real-life violence.
Oh, what a great idea! There are a few bosses I could quite cheerfully kill off, too!
What book do you wish you’d written? Most of Stephen King’s I wish I’d written, since he’s always been a big inspiration and I’ve spent much of my writing career aspiring to write like him. Probably IT. The concept of a monster that can appear to people in the form of whatever scares them the most is the perfect horror story.
What’s your favourite song? This is a difficult question, as the song I consider my favourite changes often, depending on what sort of mood I’m in. At the moment it’s probably Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”, from his final album. It’s a song full of pain. Sometimes I’m in the mood to wallow in misery, and on such occasions I lose myself in this song.
That’s a great song, especially for a miserable rainy day.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? I’d like to meet Douglas Adams, and tell him he shouldn’t go to the gym – it clearly proved to be bad for his health. I’d also like to ask him about the way he ended MOSTLY HARMLESS. I thought it was a rather disappointing end to the funniest series of books in history, and it gave me the impression that he was so sick of writing about these characters he wanted to end in such a way that there was no way he could be coerced into writing about them ever again. I’d like to ask him where he thought the series should have ended.
That would be a really interesting conversation. Would love to know the answer.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? Up to the age of 10 I grew up in Lancashire, and we used to go to Blackpool for our summer holidays. I just loved the Pleasure Beach, which was Blackpool’s amusement park – full of cheesy rides and ramshackle roller coasters. We’d also walk along the promenade and spend money in the amusement arcades, which had primitive video games (it was the 70s) and those side shows where you feed pennies down a cascade in the hope of dislodging the towering piles of coins teetering on the moving platform and winning a pile of cash (but they never fell).
Forty years on, Blackpool has the reputation of being a bit cheesy and downmarket. So much so I don’t want to go back there and shatter my childhood illusions.
Oh, I used to love Blackpool as a child! Fond memories of those towers of coppers :) And I have a whole scene in my present WIP set in Blackpool Pleasure Beach :)
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Sam Beckett – Scott Bakula’s character in Quantum Leap, a science fiction show from a few years back. Sam was a scientist who invented the Quantum Accelerator which allowed him to travel in time throughout his own lifetime, and he leaped about in the last 50-odd years of time putting right past injustices. As well as being a towering intellect, he was also a man with a keen sense of equality – he hated people being treated badly because of gender, race, sexual orientation, whatever. He was particularly incensed by women being treated badly. So he was a geek, a brain, an egalitarian and a feminist – the perfect man, in my opinion. What can I say? I have a thing for geeks.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? Always be yourself, and don’t worry about what people think of you.
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
The first two books of my contemporary amateur sleuth series are being released by MuseItUp Publishing this year. My amateur sleuth, Shara Summers, is a Canadian actress. In the first book, DEATH SCENE (a re-release), Shara is summoned back to her family in England, because her sister is suffering from a mysterious illness. When an elderly aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, Shara suspects that it was not an accident. She begins to poke about in family closets, and unleashes a few skeletons.
In the second book, DEAD COOL, Shara has settled back in England and is very surprised when her ex-boyfriend from Toronto, David, turns up on her doorstep. David is in England to begin a European tour with his band, but they’ve lost one of their backing singers at the last minute. After some pressure from David, Shara decides to accept the job. But on the night of the tour’s launch party, the band’s charismatic front man is killed in a fall from his hotel room window. Did he fall or was he pushed? Shara is on the case.
DEATH SCENE will be released in Summer this year, and DEAD COOL will follow in Autumn. In the meantime, check out my earlier books by visiting my website at http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com and my blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com.
Thanks so much for coming up north, Sara. I’m looking forward to release of your mysteries, and can’t wait to see what your cover designers come up with!
If you have any questions or comments for Sara, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
20 thoughts on “Good to meet you…author Sara Jayne Townsend”
Thanks Helena and Sara for a lovely post. I do agree that killing off characters based on people who have hurt you must be extremely satisfying! Don’t people say you must never upset a writer? Your detective novels sound really great and I am looking forward to reading them when they are released. Good luck with them!
The killing off of annoying people sounds very therapeutic. What a great idea. Maybe do it all in one story, and have a thoroughly satisfying bloodbath :)
Thank you for commenting Marie! Must confess people at work are a bit more cautious about annoying me now, since they’ve all heard this story!
Great interview, Sara and Helena. I totally agree with you, Sara, a second home in NYC sounds wonderful.
I write mysteries also and the premise of yours sounds great. Best wishes on your books.
Oh, and, your boss sounded horrible. Good way to deal with him in your writing.
Hi Susan, I think one day we should all get together and have a massive NYC party! Thanks for coming, and for your lovely comment
What a lovely interview, ladies. I really enjoyed getting to know more about you Sara. Best of luck with your releases. They sound quite intriguing.
Thanks for coming by out of your book tour, Mary!
Really enjoyed that interview, ladies. Sara – I remember Quantum Leap (I’m in Scotland)! Love the sound of your crime series.
I’ll have to look into Quantum Leap! Another great series to check out. Thanks for your comment, Ros!
Our children bought a mug for my wife and co-author, Anne Rothman-Hicks, that warns people that they better be nice to the writer or she will put them in a novel and kill them off. Nice to see you carried it off. No witnesses except us fellow authors who won’t tell.
Mum’s the word, Ken! Thanks for your comment! :)
Helena sure knows how to get authors to open up and you certainly did, Sara. Lovely to meet you…I’ll be nice since otherwise you’ll kill me off in the next book! After hearing about your boss, yes, indeed you DO stay at a job too long. Now you’re older and wiser and won’t take that kind of treatment anymore I’m sure. I would love to visit you at your home. I’m curious as to what a semi-detached house is. And this dumb American wants to know if M25 is a highway that borders your area where you live. NYC, a place I like to visit, but would never want to live there. I’m a small town gal and all my mysteries take place in small town settings. Looking forward to reading your new mysteries. Your Muse Sister, J
Hi JQ, a semi-detached is a house that’s attached to one other house. A detached house is a house that stands alone, and a terrace is what you might call a row house. And the M25 is the motorway (highway) that loops in a massive circle around the outskirts of London. If you can imagine hell, that’s being stuck on the M25 in a jam on a boiling hot day. And the people on it drive like maniacs – but we northerners always say that of Londoners!
I’m a small town girl at heart, too, JQ :) Thanks very much for coming by, and your great comment!
Hi JQ – older and wiser indeed I am. With age comes confidence! And I will correct Helena one one point about the M25. Generally it’s not possible to drive like a maniac because it is so busy, all the traffic moves at a slow crawl. But it’s the ring road around London and fairly well known in the UK.
Thanks for the explanations, Ladies.So much fun learning about these things. M25…now I get it. That’s why I stick to small town life! I’m a wimp when it comes to driving in traffic!!LOL..
Hey, Helena and Sara. Glad to hear y’all are above water. We had a spate of queries on the MIU Loop about a month ago regarding your ghastly weather. At that time, everyone seemed to be okay, but now I’ve read in the paper again and heard on the TV that the water is rising! So to all our British friends, stay safe.
Helena, you have some of my favorite questions of any interviews I read. You illicit such interesting info about your guests. Sara, I so love that your killed off the dreadful boss. I know it must have felt wonderful. I did something like that in one of my earlier books (which will likely not ever become published), but a person selling a house to one of my children when the sale was almost concluded said, “Oh, btw, we want the mineral rights!” Grrr! It was past time for that, but ultimately, my kids let the woman keep the rights because they really wanted the house. Oh, yes, I made much of that situation in my second book! LOL You’re right, Sara, such a safer way to express your feelings.
I love the concept for your two books. Look forward to hearing when they are released.
Hi Marsha, sorry to hear that about the house sale. I’m not sure what’s meant by keeping the mineral rights, though. I don’t think that’s anything anyone would ever ask about in the UK. I’d think it pretty odd if they did, anyway. But how to add even more to the stress of buying a house! Good for you for whacking the guy. :) Writing is very cathartic!
Sara, I, too, killed off a character as therapy. I combined the personalities and names of three former detestable male supervisors and created a villan. It was a cathartic moment when he/they died at the hands of the hero as he defended the heroine. Isn’t it great to be a writer? lol
Your mysteries sound intriguing… off to check them out. ;-)
Hi Kaye, three-in-one – that must have been some really vile villain! I bet it was great writing that scene! Writing is such brilliant therapy. Thanks for coming by, and for your comment. That made me laugh!