The siren call of social media is too distracting, she explained, and writing is so intense.
“I don’t write well with other things happening in the background – it’s more about finding those moments for me to write. I’ve had to rely on my beautiful family, my husband in particular, and friends with child minding. It’s been great, but it’s been full on.”
Don’t expect her to get too distracted, though. Sara already has the bones of her fourth book in her head and she’s keen to get started. But, as she says, it’s a matter of first things first.
“I’m doing the edit of Shallow Breath now and I have to tie those loose ends up. Beneath the Shadows comes out in America next month – it’s been lovely watching the build up for that. I’m having that semi-frustrating time where I really want to get started (on the next book) as soon as I can, but I have to tie up the other things first,” she said.
“I set aside writing time each day. If I get the chance I just sit down and get started. I have ideas in my head; they’re like annoying little insects that just won’t go away. I’m constantly thinking about them and developing them even when I’m not writing. The book is pretty vivid for me and it gets more so as it goes on.”
“It looks so deceptively simple, but all those nuts and bolts…people just don’t realise….”
Sara is speaking from the experience of someone who has worked in the Harper Collins fiction department in London, before turning her hand to freelance editing, working with bestselling authors and first-timers on books across a broad range of genres.
It’s this experience, as well as her publishing journey, that leads to her opinion about the rising popularity of eBooks.
“I think the eBooks are a fantastic means for opening doors and increasing accessibility,” she said. “My only concern is that you can’t rush quality. You need to take the time to do it properly and edit well. When it’s rushed it’s sometimes plainly apparent. There’s got to be some filter. Books are frustrating in that fact that they will not be rushed. It takes as long as it takes. But if people put the effort in, it’s wonderful for opening up opportunities for them.”
Her main concern for eBook writers was the possibility that eBooks could just ‘disappear’ into cyberspace. She used the analogy of having to back up photos on her hard drive at the weekend because she did not have hard copies of photos; losing them would be losing part of her history.
“It’s a funny adjustment period – a new door for people to try. It will settle again once people get used to the different formats,” she said.
“I don’t have an e-reader – I’ve just got an iPad – but I do have books on my iPhone,” she said, adding that she could easily dispose of eBooks she did not want to keep, leaving her bookshelf for those she planned to read again.
And this author, who cites Maggie O’Farrell, Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf and Nicci French as influences, has plenty of books she plans to read again. Maybe.
“Your bookshelves are your reading history – it is important to have it sitting there. (But) If you could see my house right now…there are two tubs of books I’ve finally decided to part with and two more that I’m talking myself into getting rid of,” she laughed.
There’s one book she simply won’t part with.
“Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I adore her and it’s signed,” she said before rushing off to pick up her three-year-old.