Today's Roving Eye interview is with critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author, Sarah Pinborough. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
Her current novel, the highly acclaimed, The Death House, is out now.
1 - When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself a writer?
I didn't call myself a writer until my first book was published, and even then, because it was published in the US and not over here, I still called myself a teacher. For someone who is pretty open in many ways, I've always been oddly private about writing. Although it's now obviously my full-time job, and I have to pimp books on the internet etc, the actual act of writing is still a very private thing for me. I'll never post sections of works in progress on Facebook or anything like that.
2 - Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Absolutely a plotter. Even with a book like The Death House which isn't a thriller and so could be more fluid, I still had to plot it out quite a lot. I always have my ending in place when I start, and tend to have key points jotted down, and then I plot in 10,000 word or so chunks as I go along. I start with brainstorms and then start figuring out structure etc. Things obviously change as I go along and nothing is set in stone, but I could just start writing. I know some crime writers who do it and that totally baffles me, but it works for them. It wouldn't work for me. But neither do I do a lot of drafts. I think because I plan quite heavily, then often write in rough and then type up in neat so it's getting three goes before it hits the page.
3 - If you weren’t a writer, what else could you see yourself doing?
I think I'd have liked to be an actress but I'm too lazy. Same with film director. You can't do either of those jobs long term in your pj's.
4 - Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Of course Stephen King. I think where his skill was with young people who would grow up to be writers was creating such vivid characters and worlds that we all thought 'god, I want to write a book like that!' I read very widely as a child - much moreso than I do as an adult I'm ashamed to say - and did a full gamut of genres, but I think King is definitely the main influence in my formative years.
5 - Do you have any kind of rituals you follow when you write?
No, not really. I do only use Uni-ball fine line black pens in my notebooks though;-) And I have to buy fresh pens for fresh projects.
6 - Music or silence when writing?
Silence sadly. It's the one thing I wish I could change. When I was a teacher I used to love listening to the radio on the way into and back from work and obviously got lots of new music that way. For the past seven years I've been full-time writing and so my iTunes is getting old and tired. I really wish I could write with the radio on. Music is good for the soul.
7 - If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go?
Ooh, good question. Maybe to the court of the Plantagenets or the Tudors. Or ancient Rome. Wherever I went I'd want to be rich though, and take a stash of anti-biotics and toilet paper. And tea bags. Definitely tea bags.
God there's too many I think. So many books. But one character who's stayed in my head since I was about thirteen is The King from James Clavell's King Rat. I don't know why, I just loved that character. I should probably read the book again.
9 - Coffee and Parkin or Tea and Biscuits?
Tea and biscuits. Every time.
10 - What five words best describe your average day?
Tea, work, movies, books, wine.