Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Interview Two with Sara Sheridan

Today we welcome back author Sara Sheridan, whom I interviewed last year. Sara has a new book out, and she's here today to talk about it.

Welcome back, Sara! Tell us about your new book BRIGHTON BELLE.
It's lovely to see you again. Brighton Belle is the story of an ex-Secret Service agent, Mirabelle Bevan. At the end of the war Mirabelle feels her useful life is over – her skills are no longer required. Her boyfriend is dead and she moves down to Brighton to retire. Then she gets a job working for a debt collection agency run by the charismatic Big Ben McGuigan and before she knows it she finds her skills are useful because a mysterious case comes in…. It's been interesting to write a crime novel, for a change. I had to learn some new skills.

How did the idea of the story come to you, and how much research went into writing the book?
The book had its genesis in a boozy lunch with my parents. My father was brought up in Brighton and London during the 1950s and he has some great stories. It prompted me to look at setting a story there – I had a couple of months on my hands initially and once I’d started writing I didn’t stop. The research was very different from the kind of historical research I’ve done before but there is fabulous material available from the era – film footage, photos, eyewitness accounts etc. I delved right in! Austerity Britain is a fascinating era for me as a writer, in contrast to the eras I've covered before. It was the end of the Empire, you see, and the earlier novels I've written are largely about the Empire taking off. 

Without giving too much away, what's your favorite part of the book?

I like the interplay between Mirabelle and the secretary down the hall, Vesta. Mirabelle has been through the war and she's lost everything. She's lonely and grieving and Vesta is jolly - she's the antidote but she has no idea about life. 

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I'm a bit of both. The main thing, when I start, is to know what the book feels like. That sounds odd, but with Brighton Belle I wanted it to be  a whizz of a read, reminiscent of the cosy crime heyday of Agatha Christie but slightly more noir for the modern reader. So I knew that. I also knew the character of Mirabelle somehow. But plot twists, well, I think if I planned those too much, I'd be writing anticipating it and I'd rather the reveals were blind. It's more difficult to write that way, but it means you experience the book like a reader and I love that.

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

How quickly a body decomposes in different soil types. Actually, that wasn't for this book, it was for Ma Polinski's Pockets. I ended up having to ring the local cemetery authority. Once they had established I wasn't a weirdo with a plan, they were fine about it.

That's hysterical. I'm sure all writers could be potentially locked up due to our search words. Let's tell everyone where they can find BRIGHTON BELLE online?

Ooh yes please!
At the moment it's only available online because the hardback was a library issue and it isn't going into bookshops. So, on amazon:
And the paperback will be in the shops, online and off, in July (just in time for the summer.)

Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us again, Sara. It's always great talking with you. Best of luck with your new book!

1 comment:

jenny milchman said...

Your book sounds like it combines some great elements--best of luck with it!