Thank you, Glynis.
What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
Well strangely enough it seems to be humour. I only put it like that because, if a few years ago someone had told me that was the genre I’d write in, I’d have thought they were mad. I didn’t know I was funny. But, I’d joined a writing class and once a month we had ‘read back and feed back.’ Whenever it came to my turn, everyone would laugh.
I would say it chose me. Why do I like it? Many situations are hilarious. It’s just that the people living in those moments, aren’t aware of it.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Well I’ve had to. I was asked to make changes to Dougal’s Diary, while still attempting to write the next. Being a hopeless multi-tasker, I found it terribly difficult. Some people can write twenty short stories, while finishing their novel. Not me. In fact, I can’t write short stories at all.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
Yes I do. I joined The Write Place, a writing school run by the Saga writer Elaine Everest, exactly three years ago. And it’s been a fantastic experience. I can’t recommend it enough.
Can you remember your first reading book?
Yes, it was called, ‘Carrots Is Just A Little Boy’ by Mrs Molesworth, an Edwardian writer of 101 books. I was brought up by an elderly great aunt. So that would have been her, influence.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
I am not usually a nibbler. However hours working on a laptop demands, treats. Since I don’t like chocolate, I usually stick to nuts; brazil or walnut. Sometimes I have a bowl of cheese, apple and nuts. The problem with this is, my hands get sticky and I keep having to leave my laptop, to wash them.
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Definitely a bombsite. I do tidy it from time to time. The trouble there is, no sooner have I done it, the chaos is back. Don’t ask me, how.
I have an old-fashioned desk with legs, three drawers and a flap that folds down for writing on. A printer and paper sit on top. A small bookcase hanging on the wall above, is surrounded by family photos and paintings. Beside the desk, is a long chest of drawers. Its top is covered with notebooks, novels, a thesaurus , the house phone, my mobile phone, a plant and an old magnifying glass that’s lost its wooden handle, plus pages and pages of printed out script, covered in corrections.
That’s today’s mess, tomorrow is another story.
Are you published in the traditional manner or self published? Share your journey.
The traditional manner.
I was told Dougal’s Diary would be difficult to place, being neither a fictional children’s book nor a sad true story about a dog helping a homeless man, kind of thing. I visited the London Book Fair, to see if I could meet any small publishers who might take my genre. I found it fascinating and listened to some great talks but failed to spot anyone who might be interested in my book, so came home feeling rather despondent .
Then Elaine Everest at the Write Place suggested Crooked Cat. They are a young, up and coming publishing company. Once I’d submitted the first 50 pages, they asked to see it all. This was when I panicked. I wanted to change the end. So I pretended I was away in a hot steamy place with no internet access.
When a couple of week later, I heard they wanted to publish it, I was cooking for a family party (not mine). I screamed so loudly with excitement, the guests ran into the kitchen, fearing I’d burnt myself.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Shakespeare, Sue Townsend and Janet Evanovich.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
To make sure they edit it properly. Send it to a professional. Yes it’ll cost but it’s vital. I did this, then re-wrote at least half of it, but never returned it for a final check. I should have. I so regret it.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
I have already been asked this question in another interview , would you mind giving me another question, instead please.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I was in Oxford Street (the Marble Arch end), hanging about outside M&S, cursing myself for forgetting about the Sunday opening hours, when the large front doors slid back and a huge Rolls Royce with blackened windows drove out, flanked by a fleet of motor bikes. The top windows of the store flew opened, long tubular objects poked through. Rifles?
Where could I run for cover, the pavements were blocked with pedestrians too busy with thoughts of shopping, to look up? Next the Red Arrows shot overhead, followed a fanfare of trumpets, their screechy notes blasting from the upper windows? This wasn’t any old Sunday.
‘What’s happening?’ I asked a tourist at my side.
‘It’s a magnificent celebration.’
‘Yes, the Queen has just bought her millionth pair of knickers.’
(you didn’t say whether the tale was to be real or fantasy)
BY SARAH STEPHENSON
Genre: a dog tale/ humour
Release Date: 14th Jan 2016
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?
ABOUT SARAH STEPHENSON
Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of mess. She’s had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor. As an actor she worked mostly in the theatre: plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy.
Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.
Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.
Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.
These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.
Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.
Facebook: Sarah www.facebook.com/Sarah Stephenson798
Twitter: Sarah: @SvsStephenson
Dougal : @DougalDiary
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