Writerly Questions with Sarah Alderson

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It may not be a Monday, but as a little something extra for all y’all wonderful book-lovers, I am posting a second interview this week! I was asked by Simon and Schuster to be part of the Canadian blogger tour for a debut author from the UK. Here is Sarah Alderson talking about writing and her brand new novel, Hunting Lila. You can also check out my review on this book here

Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her family on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months travelling the world, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Hunting Lila took about three and a half months to write, but I was working full time also, so I wrote it in the evenings after work and edited it on the train in the mornings. It was a real labour of love. I wrote Fated in about 2 months (I was no longer working then), and then I wrote the sequel to Fated in 30 days just because I wanted to see if I could. It was exhausting. I wouldn’t do that again. Nowadays it takes me about 6-8 weeks to finish a book. But then I tinker with it over the twelve months or so it takes for it to reach publication. A book is never finished!

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I write all day most days, from about 7am until about 10pm (if I’m not out with friends in the evening). I take breaks obviously, for Pilates and to dance, for the odd lunch date, and I take a few hours out every afternoon to pick my daughter up from school and to hang out with her being a mummy… but at the moment I put in at least 10 hours a day.  I am really lucky because I live in Bali and I have someone who comes to my house every day to do all the housekeeping and she makes me coffee, too, so yeah, I don’t have much to do other than write.

I’m writing several books at once, editing others, I guest blog on several blogs and have my own blog, I also do lots of travel writing and am addicted to social media so yeah, I write a lot. I’m at my best depending on when I’ve had my coffee.

That is a long day! Where is your favorite place to write?
I can write anywhere, on trains, buses, planes. Nowadays I tend to write at my desk which overlooks the rice paddies in Bali. But my all-time favourite writing spot was here. This is the beach in India where I wrote most of Losing Lila. I would sit at a chair right here, drink chai, eat a fruit salad and tap away…it was HEAVEN.

 Okay, I am in envy. I would love to be able to work on the beach… Well, maybe not. I doubt I would get anything done! What is your preferred method of writing, by typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Laptop always. I can’t remember how to write with a pen anymore. Plus my handwriting is terrible and I can type about 90wpm. My hand can’t keep up with my flyaway brain.

You also wouldn’t have to worry about fly-away papers landing in the ocean either *wince* It seems to be the latest thing to listen to music while writing, do you and, if so, what kind?
Always. Right this second I’m listening to Noah and the Whale. I create playlists for all my books and when I’m writing that book I spend most of the time listening to that playlist on repeat. All my soundtracks are on my website www.sarahalderson.com

Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?
Every book I write I send to my two best friends as I go. They get it chapter by chapter and that’s the way I will always do it. I love writing for them. After I’m done I send a copy to my dad and to my agent! Although, I just wrote a very steamy adult book and haven’t told my dad about it as I’m way too embarrassed to have him read it, especially as he always refers to my protagonists as ‘you’ when he’s talking to me about them. Once my agent has given me her edits I work on those and then submit to my publisher.

Um, yeah, I can totally understand not mentioning the steamy novel to your dad *LoL* Since your besties and your father are the first ones to see your works-in-progress, are they also the first people you called when you were signed? Please tell us about what you did after hearing you were being published for the very first time!
I burst into tears. It was a long-time of waiting to hear and the relief was so great. Then I opened a bottle of champagne. It was very sweet actually because we had some friends over for a party that night and I got the text half-way through the evening. I was upstairs on our balcony with my husband, and our daughter was playing with her friend right by us. They looked up when they saw me burst into tears and then I was hugging my husband and we were laughing and the children started throwing bits of torn up paper over us like confetti.

What a wonderful way to celebrate getting your first book published, it sounds like perfect timing to me! I’m sure other writers had a similar reaction, so let me ask you about some of the authors you like. What is on your nightstand right now?
I read mostly on my Kindle these days. I just read Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest, which I loved. And also The sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

You have mentioned travelling a lot with your family in search of a perfect place to call home. What’s your favourite city in the world?
Oh crikey, I was born and bred in London and that will always be my city – the place I know like the back of my hand and on practically every corner I’m assaulted by memories (places I worked, places I got fired from, first kisses, break ups, first meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, childhood adventures with my grandmother…I find it quite overwhelming visiting). But I love New York and San Francisco, too. I also used to live in Italy so I have a soft spot for Florence and Naples, and obviously for Paris because I used to go there every year with my husband who was born there. I also love the wide blue skies and stunning waterfront of Perth. I love the food and chaos of Asian cities – Bangkok is crazy. Wow. I can’t decide. I love cities – the pace, the vibe and energy, the shopping and culture. I’m a city girl at heart.

One last question, for all the aspiring authors out there: What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
I can’t speak for other writers but for me it would be peace, quiet, great music and chocolate. Also Tequila. 

 Previous Interviews: JLA Interview,  Avery Olive InterviewPeter Lukes Interview,  Janis Flores Interview

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Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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