Friday 24 July 2015

Talking to Sarah Hilary, author of No Other Darkness

I'm delighted to welcome author Sarah Hilary to Random Things today. I reviewed Sarah's novel No Other Darkness back in April of this year. I raved about it, it's a fantastic story, here's just a taste of what I thought:
"No Other Darkness is intelligently written, it deals with some emotional issues. It also has a darkness to it, it made me feel a bit grubby when I was reading it, as though I'd stumbled upon some else's secrets that I really shouldn't know about.
I'd certainly recommend this book. Sarah Hilary's writing is impressive. I will be interested to read the next chapter in DI Marnie Rome's story."

No Other Darkness will be published in mass market paperback by Headline on 30 July 2015.

The judges of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015 certainly agreed with me about Sarah's writing. Her debut novel, Someone's Else's Skin was voted the winner at this year's Crime Festival, a huge achievement, especially as it was up against the likes of Peter May and Belinda Bauer.

“For a debut novel it was astounding,” said novelist and judge Ann Cleeves. “Although the subject matter is really quite bloody and violent, there are no gratuitous descriptions – instead she has this dreadful sense of horror, but it is done delicately and subtly. It always stops just as your imagination takes over.”

Welcome to Random Things Sarah, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions:

Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously?  
Yes I do read reviews. How seriously I take them depends on the nature of the review(er). Sometimes, a review says more about the reviewer than it does about my book (!) but I'm always interested in other people's views. The best reviews tell me things about my story or characters which I hadn't considered, or not consciously. The very best reviews spark ideas for future stories.

How long does it take to write a novel?    
A first draft? About four months. Then the hard work of rewrites and edits begins. All in all, the process takes about 10 or 12 months.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Nope. I just make sure I sit down and 'get black on white' as they say. I make sure I write every day during that first draft stage, for the momentum and pace if nothing else. I try to factor in lots of thinking time. The closest I have to a ritual is walking and 'seeing' the story unreeling in my head before returning to my desk to write it down.

What was your favourite childhood book? 
I had loads. I loved the Greek myths, and Sherlock Holmes, and ghost stories by MR James, and Edgar Allan Poe's stories. Anything that scared or excited me, or which taxed my brain in new ways. 

Name one book that made you laugh?

Name one book that made you cry?
The Purposes of Love by Mary Renault.

Which fictional character would you like to meet?
Joseph Stark from Matthew Frank's new series which started with If I Should Die. Oh and Milo Sturgis from Jonathan Kellerman's series. 

Which book would you give to your best friend as a present? 
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

Are you inspired by any particular author or book? 
Red Dragon, and Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris are the two crime novels that inspire me the most. I'm a big fan of Patricia Highsmith, too. And Lolita is one of my favourite books.

What is your guilty pleasure read?    
I don't feel guilty about reading, unless I have a deadline. But it nags at me that I'm not more widely read in my chosen genre. I'd like a year off just to read. Actually, scratch that. I'd go mad if I wasn't writing Marnie and Noah.

Who are your favourite authors? 
As well as Harris and Highsmith, I love Helen Dunmore, Fred Vargas, Jonathan Kellerman, Alex Marwood, Muriel Spark...

What book have you re-read? 
One of my favourites is Sex Crimes by Jenefer Shute.

What book have you given up on?
The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg. I absolutely loved Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, but couldn't get into The Quiet Girl at all. I would love him to write more about Miss Smilla, but of course he must write the book he wants to write. All writers must do that.

Sarah Hilary lives in Bath with her daughter, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. 

She's also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN was her first novel, NO OTHER DARKNESS is her second.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary  Check out her Blog 


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