I’m delighted to welcome Sarah Armstrong to the blog today. Her latest novel, The Devil in the Snow, is published by Sandstone Press on Thursday in paperback and as an e-book. You can order a copy online here The kindle edition will be reduced to just £1 from publication day.
Hi Sarah and thanks for joining me today. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi Joanne – I work from home, teaching creative writing with the Open University, which means that my four children think I watch TV all day. The rest of my time I use for writing and reading. I have a dog, two cats, am a terrible cook and I hate cleaning. Luckily, there is always another book to read…
What inspired you to start writing?
I have always written, but the birth of my third son was the point where I decided, if I was going to give this a proper go then I should start now. On reflection, starting to write consistently with three children under the age of five was brave (or stupid). Then I had another baby.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I wrote a novel that didn’t work, and then an interesting novel. I had some interest from agents for the second, but finally got the message that my main female character was too ‘difficult’. Personally, I like difficult women, and would always choose interesting characters over likeable ones. I kept writing and then, as I had almost finished my third novel, I took a break for Nanowrimo. I had always wanted to see what would happen if I tried to write a novel in a month, and in November 2012 I wrote half of one. I found that I couldn’t give it up to go back to my third, and continued with the fourth which would be my first published novel, The Insect Rosary. I decided to send it to a couple of publishers rather than agents, and Sandstone Press liked it. The third novel, which I did return to, turned into my second published novel, The Devil in the Snow.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Shona has a dysfunctional relationship with her husband, Maynard, and when their daughter goes missing she knows that he’s behind it. Gradually she grows to realise that there is a bigger truth behind everything that is going on, and she has the very thing her husband is after.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Painfully! It had to be changed at the last minute when I couldn’t get the rights to use a poem quotation I loved. But I do like the little nod to Antonia Hodgson’s The Devil in the Marshalsea, which was amazing.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
A nice cup of tea! I’m saving my energy for the book launch at Red Lion Books in Colchester, a few days later on the 22nd February.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
My work in progress is about a woman who is determined that her son is perfect, no matter what it costs.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – no contest!
What are you reading just now?
I am reading a lot of non-fiction on Russia at the moment, which I suspect may be turning into research for a later novel. I have just finished Red Notice by Bill Browder and am currently reading Memoirs of a British Agent by R H Bruce Lockhart.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
This is hard. I rarely re-read books as there are so many I haven’t read yet, but I’ll go for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller which I did have to read again, straight after I’d finished it.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m on Twitter @sarahsiobhana
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I think the books that I am drawn to are generally too dark for this question! I did love Todd and Viola in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, so I’ll choose either of them. They are both brave and flawed and determined, good examples of how to act when faced with terror and no easy choices.