Friday 22 March 2013



Sarah's new book "Father of Lies" is out today as an eBook on Amazon and will be available as a paperback shortly. It's the horror story she's always wanted to tell! Get it at....   or the equivalent .com site in the States.

Join her at the Facebook launch NOW at

My guest tonight is a freelance writer and has written more than 140 short stories for women's magazines such as Woman's weekly, while her first serial is due out in March - a murder mystery. Sarah has also written a  comedy novel called Expected  and a collection of horror stories and really wants to concentrate more on psychological thriller novels.
Originally from Sheffield, where she studied nursing, as did my daughter (though not at the same time!), Sarah now lives and works in Sheffield again.

Sarah, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I know you’re from Sheffield, where all the best nurses come from, or so my daughter tells me, but did you start writing up there, or after you moved down to Dorset?

Well my nursing days were back in the dark ages. I qualified in 1984. After that I worked as a drug rep for nearly 20 years. I never had time to do any writing but always wanted to. When my husband was transferred  to the south coast for his job, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in life. That was 8 years ago now and I’ve been writing ever since.  However, I really am a Northern girl and most of my stories and ideas emanate from my upbringing.

That certainly comes through. Many of your works seem to have a medical, or mental health theme. How much did your background influence you and indeed help?
A huge amount. I guess you could say it’s my USP. During my time as a drug rep I specialised in mental health – working in hospitals mostly – and when you spend as much time as I have in psychiatric units, and you realise that many of the staff are as bonkers as the patients, the well of ideas never dries up. Human nature is fascinating. Couple this with what you learn about psychiatric conditions and how really, none of us are precisely normal, and you have an endless source of material. I would also say that dispelling myths about mental illness and exposing the way the most vulnerable people in society are often treated, is something of a mission. Mental illness is very frightening and it can happen to any one of us at any time.

That's very true, Sarah. Whether it’s a short story, or novel how do you approach writing a new story from the point of view of plot and characters?

This is interesting. Mostly a short story will come to me with a beginning and an end, i.e. I will have the idea as if from nowhere, but it will likely be sparked by a memory or something someone said, or from a line in a book or film. This idea will then be jotted down and maybe used there and then, or saved until later. Once I start to work on an idea then I visualise the characters, how they look, the situation, how they speak…and do a rough draft so that the outline is down. Then I type it up, edit, print out, edit again, sleep on it, edit again. I ask myself what I am trying to say – why do I want to tell this story? What is the message? Then I go back and inject more humour, more thrills, clues or surprises – whatever is needed to increase reader enjoyment, because reader enjoyment is the primary aim. I do not write to please myself. I write to tell stories and to entertain.   

140 stories is an incredible number. How do you come up with such great plots? Does personal and past experience play a part every time, or do you just have a great imagination?

Memories and experiences play a major part. I seem to have travelled a particularly rocky road, and I’m one of those people who never forgets - not a single nuance, expression, slight or bizarre incident. Add to this the ability to kind of get into people’s heads. I can imagine being them – whether male or female, good or bad. I often think I should have been an actress – except I prefer to be in the shadows – lurking!

Persoally, I can't imagine you in the shadows, Sarah. You’ve now written a novel called Expected? It’s a comedy, that I know, but what’s it about?

I love ‘Expected’  Why do I love it? Well because my heroine, Sam Sweet, is a hapless, funny working class girl who has the worst luck in the world. There is no safety net – aka Bridget Jones with her parents in the country – she’s from a tough sink estate, and so when she gets into a massive personal, financial and career-driven mess, she really is in trouble. However, there is a ticket to get out of trouble if she plays by the rules – rules that most women would give their eye teeth for. All she has to do is have a baby with her fiancĂ© – the revolting, slimy surgeon, Simon. Do what is expected, you could say! But boy did she pick the wrong bloke! Simon may be a surgeon but he is also a game-playing psychopath. And now Sam’s grandchild-obsessed mother has booked the wedding.
 With her career injecting facial fillers in jeopardy, and her best friend turning into a sexually jealous fiend, Sam tries to persuade herself to marry Simon and give him what he wants. All her problems would be solved. However, not only does she loathe slimy Simon, she is terrified of giving birth. Still, it seems the only way. But then she falls in love. Wham! With the new director of the failing company – sexy American, Joel Madison - who holds her heart and her job in the palm of his hand. And then drops her. Of course he does. Cue a last ditch/nightmare attempt at salvaging her relationship with Simon.
This is about survival for ordinary girls who have to make tough choices, not always based on what they want, but what they have to do. Breaking point follows for Sam. So can she find her voice in time to get out of this mess? I hope, by this point, we’re all rooting for her….  Oh, and yes – it’s a happy ending!

That's a relief! You also have a collection of horror stories due out soon? Tell me more!

Yes. Very excited. ‘3am and Wide Awake’ is a collection of 25 horrors, thrillers and on-the-edge stories. Most have previously been published, but about a quarter of them are new. The collection will be out on in the next couple of months, I hope.
After reading, ‘3am and Wide Awake’ my best friend didn’t sleep for 3 nights, and the funny thing is – since writing this story I have done a lot of research into demonology for my next book, and most of what I wrote really does happen. I guess that makes it scarier! Several of the stories are based on mental illness and many on the supernatural. Not all of them are horror-filled, though – some, such as ‘Different Colours’ or ‘Rough Love’ are about the darker, tougher side of life, and will hopefully give the reader a spectrum of subjects from which to choose. ‘3am,’ ‘Retribution’ and ‘Out of The Woods’ though – yes, very scary! 

Hide behind the sofa stuff! Do you intend concentrating on book writing in the future, or will you mix it with your short story writing?

Both. I currently have a 3 part murder-mystery serial in Woman’s Weekly, and several short stories to come in their Fiction Specials. I’ve worked very hard to ensure good relationships with many of the editors and really enjoy seeing my stories in print. So I don’t want to lose that.  However, my ambition has always been to be a novelist and now that 'Expected' is being published soon by Crooked Cat Books, I've actually achieved that, but I do now intend to concentrate on supernatural and psychological thrillers. I think that’s where I’m heading!

Sounds like it. So who, as a writer, has influenced you most, Sarah?

It started with Thomas Hardy in school. But there are so many I love, right across the spectrum – Susan Hill, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Minette Walters, Sarah Waters, James Herbert, Ian McEwen. If I had to say who had influenced me the most I’d say Stephen King because he is such a raconteur! It’s that ability to grip and hold the reader, that fascinating story on a dark night… age old talent we never tire of.

Do you have a set routine as a writer and a special place where you work?

Be Quiet!I get ideas while out walking or deeply engrossed in a book or film. Or out watching and listening to people. For the long-hand drafts I sit downstairs in the ‘snug’ – a small room lined with bookcases where I have a comfy sofa. Typing up is always done on my laptop in the study. I have to have total quiet. I cannot work if my husband is home banging and crashing around.  


What is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer?

Take critiques. Forget your ego – chuck it right out! Be ruthless and objective and take all the advice you can get.

One last question, Sarah. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?

To have a psychological thriller published - and selling well because people enjoy it!

Sarah, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and congratulations on publishing such a consistently excellent and readable catalogue of stories. 

Sarah’s book-form short stories are available from her Amazon author page on

Sarah’s website as well as her blog is at


  1. Just to clarify - the publication of Expected is hoped for!! I hope it will be soon....LOL

  2. Great interview mate, looking forward to the horror collection with Alfiedog :)

  3. Sarah - you are an inspiration and Richard - thanks for making space for authors to express themselves.

  4. Stop Press - Expected will be published in June - digital and print on demand - it's official. I have a contract. Once countersigned I will provide excited...on the ceiling...

    1. That's great news, Sarah. Well done.... and perfect timing!

  5. Richard - yours is the blog to come to...

  6. Great post - interesting how you manage to use your immense charm to attract so many female authors onto your blog (self included!)

    Sarah - we are FB friends, so it's great to get to know you a bit more! What an impressive literary output!

  7. Sarah,
    fantastic news on that 'Expected' has been accepted by Crooked Cat Books. Looking forward to its launch in the summer.

  8. A great interview Sarah. I really enjoyed reading it.

    1. Hi,
      On behalf of Sarah, Many Thanks!
      Please pop back soon and thanks for reading my blog!

  9. Great interview, Richard. Good luck Sarah! x

  10. Lovely interview Richard. Good luck Sarah! x

  11. Hi,
    Many thanks for all your support. It means a lot.

  12. An interesting interview. Expected sounds a great read!

  13. yaaaaaaay Good on you, fellow-Kitten! Really looking forward to your launch party. Would love to do magazine stories but I've done it the other way around, novels first. Care to swap?

  14. Great news, fellow-Kitten! So looking forward to your launch party and would love to do magazine stories but I did the reverse, novels first. Care to swap?