Friday 9 February 2018

Interview: Sarah Bennett

It's my stop on the blog tour for Spring at Lavender Bay by Sarah Bennett, and to celebrate the occasion, I sat down for a chat and catch up with the author herself.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I am a military spouse who grew up in a military family. I have moved around pretty much all my life and had a variety of different jobs from working for a financial investment house to providing health and safety support for a construction company. I started writing full time about two years ago.
How did you first become interested in writing?
It started as a hobby, something to keep me occupied whilst my husband was on deployment and grew from there. I’ve always loved reading and getting lost in new worlds and series so I suppose my very first foray into writing was around the turn of the century when I used to write fanfiction based in the fantasy series The Wheel of Time.
spring-at-lavender-bay, sarah-bennett, book

Tell me about Spring at Lavender Bay.
It’s the story of two people who find themselves returning to their hometown for different reasons. Beth inherits an old emporium on the sea front at Lavender Bay and Sam comes home to help in the pub next door after his father becomes ill. They’ve known each other for years but for the first time they really notice each other and like what they see. I think we all have points in our lives when we reach a crossroads and I love exploring the emotions and conflicts when characters face life-changing choices.
How do you get inspiration?
I think everything in life is inspiring in one way or another. I try to ground my stories in the everyday realities we all face, but I always look for the hope behind the pain, the strength a character finds when they seize control of their destiny. Also, Pinterest!
Why did you decide to write chick-lit?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. I had a story to tell and if that’s the box it fits in, then so be it. I think chick-lit has something of an unfair and invalid reputation. Reading stories which make you happy, that uplift your spirit and take you away from everything to a beautiful new location is about the best thing in the world. I cannot understand why people would ever sneer at that.
What is the single biggest influence on your own creative writing?
Wow, that’s tough. I read A LOT. I mean constantly. I try very hard to steer clear of the genre I am writing because I don’t want to unconsciously ‘lift’ something from another story. I do stick to romance though because I love a happy ending.
What’s your writing process?
*laughs* Watching a lot of box sets, trying not to eat too much and panicking about how many words I’m not writing on any given day. I use an online word count tracker to try and keep myself focused and to give me a manageable goal to chase. I also use music to help me concentrate and write with a group of other writers online. The shame of having to admit you’ve not done any work that day is very motivating!
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
The beginning, the middle and the end. Seriously, the physical act of generating a full- length story is exhausting. Ask any writer and their dream would be an invention which could suck the words from our brain and throw it straight on the page. Typing hurts – your hands, your back, your eyes, your brain. And when you do it day after day it can be a real grind, just like any other job.
What do you love most about writing?
I am my own boss. I will succeed or fail by my own efforts. There’s a huge team behind me at my publisher, but there’s no safety net if I don’t create the product for them to edit, market and sell. It’s kind of exhilarating, and also terrifying!
sarah-bennett, author

Which authors inspire you?
So many. Nora Roberts is the absolute queen of romance. Her ability to craft exciting, readable stories, again and again, is incredible. I love lots of paranormal romance authors because their world-building is amazing – Nalini Singh, Thea Harrison, Kresley Cole, Patricia Briggs. They’ve all created places I want to go back to again and again.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Finish the damn book! The craft of writing is a learned skill, and editors and publishers are there to help teach you, but you have to be able to deliver a complete work. If you’re polishing your first three chapters over and over seeking perfection, just stop and write the rest of the book. This is a job, the same as every other and you have to be able to produce a product on time.
My other tip would be to ignore all those bloody ‘real writers do this’ advice memes! Your process is exactly that, your process. There is no correct way to write a book as long as you get to the end of it.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
No fair! At the moment it’s not a single book – The entire Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh is one I can escape into again and again.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To meet my deadlines, grow my audience and have a sustainable income. The first book from my Butterfly Cove series is being released in paperback this year, which is something new and exciting for me. My publisher is also releasing my stories as audio books which I’m thrilled about because it’s a growing market and one I love as a reader/listener.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing Summer at Lavender Bay which is Eliza’s story.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading an ARC of The Things We Need to Say by Rachel Burton, which is a beautiful story about a married couple facing a crossroads in their relationship. I am a huge fan of audiobooks too, so I’m also listening to The Promise in a Kiss by Stephanie Laurens which is a great historical romance romp.
Spring at Lavender Bay is available to buy now. For more about Sarah, her writing and her books, you can keep up to date on Facebook or Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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