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!