Today I have an interview with Sara Townsend, Author of Suffer the Children. Her book is scheduled to be released April 19, 2010 and will also be reviewed on this blog.
Natasha: Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Sara: I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write, and even before I could do that, I was still telling stories. When I was a child I had a lot of dolls and stuffed toys, and I used to take a selection of them to bed with me every night. Every toy was a character, with a name, and a personality. I would pick one of them to be the main character in a story I made up to tell myself before I fell asleep. When I was about six or seven I started sharing a room with my sister and she became my audience, but even before that I was making up stories.
I always told people, when they asked me what I was going to do when I left school, that I was going to be a writer. Quite a lot of people said to me, “you can’t make a living doing that. You’re going to have to find a proper job”. But I never wanted to do anything else.
They were right, of course, and I don’t make a living writing. So for my day job I’m a personal assistant, but it wasn’t a career I chose, it was just the way things turned out. I still consider myself a writer first and foremost. The writing is my career; the day job is just the way I make a living.
I think most writers end up having to balance the writing with the day job, and you have to be quite disciplined to fit everything in. So my life ends up being rather busy and I don’t have that much free time! I love to travel, and my husband and I normally take three or four trips away every year.
But I am also a geeky girl, and I do a lot of table top role-playing such as Dungeons & Dragons, and the occasional live action game as well, where we run about in the woods with foam swords. I also like computer games. I spend rather too much time playing Resident Evil 4 on the Nintendo Wii when I should be writing.
Natasha: Your story, Suffer the Children, is going to be published by Lyrical Press on April 19th. How did it feel to be published?
Sara: My initial reaction to the email from Lyrical Press with the contract attached was disbelief, to be honest. The novel had had so many rejections in the past I opened the email expecting one more.
As we moved further along with the editing process it started to sink in that this was actually real. I think I only believed that it was actually going to happen when the cover was produced. When the final finished version dropped into my inbox, I allowed myself to start celebrating, and to a certain degree I’m still celebrating.
My life has changed in so many small ways since then. Before the publishing contract, no one really cared what I wrote or how long I took to write it. Suddenly I was a ‘proper’ writer, with deadlines and expectations of me. It used to be, when I was in the middle of an early draft and was getting discouraged about where it was going, I would go off and spend a Sunday afternoon playing computer games, instead of spending the time writing as I should have been. When I was doing my edits I couldn’t do that because I had deadlines.
Natasha: Can you tell us a little about Suffer the Children? How long did it take you to write the story?
Sara: SUFFER THE CHILDREN began life as a short story called KIDDIWINKS. Years ago I worked for a computer software distribution company, and I could walk to work in 20 minutes. My journey took me past this creepy-looking house. It was the end of a row of terraces, and it looked empty and neglected. I imagine the real story was quite prosaic – perhaps it belonged to an old person who died, and whoever inherited it lived far away and did nothing with it. But my imagination started working and I began to wonder what creepy things went on there. So I wrote KIDDIWINKS which was a sort of Hansel and Gretel story – old lady lives in creepy old house, and lures children there to kill them.
When my writing group, the T Party, critiqued it, they thought it should be a novel. The final version is very different from that original story, and took me 10 years to write, but that’s mostly because life got in the way and there were chunks of time, lasting years in some cases, where I wasn’t doing any work on it at all. I’ve learned a lot about the writing process since then, and subsequent novels don’t take nearly as long.
Natasha: What was your favourite scene to write? What was your least favourite scene?
Sara: My favourite scene was the one where my main characters break into the creepy old house. This is mostly because the creepy old house originally inspired the story, and I’ve always enjoyed haunted house stories, so I had a particular affection for that scene.
I didn’t like writing the sex scenes – I always find sex scenes difficult to write and I don’t think I’m very good at writing them. I only put them in a novel if I think they progress the story in some way. They were particularly difficult for SUFFER THE CHILDREN because Leanne is very passive, and they are meant to show that she has no respect for her body.
Natasha: Do you have any public events scheduled for your book?
Sara: Even though it’s an e-book I decided to have a ‘real space’ launch party, as I’ve fantasised about a launch party for years. I hope to be able to offer copies of the e-book on CD for sale, and limited-edition merchandise as raffle prizes. This is happening in
, on 28 April. London
I’ve got an interview at the blog radio show Pagereaders lined up for 30 March. The show is live, but it can be picked up and listened to after the fact from the web page (http://www.pagereaders.com/).
Natasha: Do you have any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Sara: Develop a thick skin. One of the best ways to do this is to join a writing group. It’s tough to hear people criticising your baby, but you don’t move very far towards publication if you are not prepared to change and improve your writing. You will get far more rejections than acceptances. You have to just accept this is the way things are, and when the rejection comes back, be ready to send the manuscript out to the next editor or agent on the list.
Natasha: What is the best way for readers to contact you? (e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)
Sara: My web address is http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/. I’ve got an ‘events’ page there, where people can follow my efforts at promoting SUFFER THE CHILREN.
I’ve also got a blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com, and I can be emailed at
I’ve started a Facebook group called SUFFER THE CHILDREN, which I am also using to keep people informed of all promotional events for the e-book, and that’s open to anyone who’s interested in joining.
The link to buy the book from Lyrical’s website is: http://www.lyricalpress.com/suffer_the_children