Hi Sonja and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Yes- first of all thank you for inviting me over. I live in Somerset with my family and dog and love living out in the country. When I’m not writing, I’m usually hopping on and off planes to teach in Germany.
When did you decide to become a writer and how did you begin that journey?
Once I’d secured a position at university in Germany by getting a PhD in English Lit, I decided to write whatever I wanted. It just kind of took off from there so that I now spend most of my time writing.
Are you a plotter or do you have a general outline of your story and begin writing to see where it takes you?
I would always advise newbies to plot if they can, but do I practice what I preach? No, it’s simply never happened, but there’s always hope. You have to mine your creative vein in any way possible and I happen write in the most time-consuming of ways. When a newspaper article, or some incident inspires me, I sit down and wait for the rest to come, which often involves staring at a blank screen for ages. I wish it were otherwise, but even though I despair at times, it’s is the only way that works for me.
Where do you go for inspiration? Are you someone who sits in cafes watching the world go by or do you get a buzz from wide open spaces?
I work at home in my study overlooking a field of sheep. They haven’t played a major role in my stories, though! Rather, I let my imagination travel to unfamiliar terrain. My first book THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN was set in Kashmir and BLACK SNAKE, which I’m now finishing takes place in the Canadian Wilds. I’ve never been to either place and the news inspired both stories. GIANTS is about a young girl’s struggle to become a medic against all odds which I started after I heard a report about the Great Earthquake that hit the Vale of Kashmir in 2005. I wanted to find out more about the region, which is surrounded by the highest mountains on this planet and contains a string of beautiful lakes. BLACK SNAKE tells the story of a widow’s quest to solve the mystery of her husband’s death out in the Canadian Wilds against the background of the conflict surrounding the construction of pipeline across Indigenous Canadian burial grounds.
If you had unlimited funds, where in the world would you choose to go for a holiday?
Having written about Kashmir in such detail, I would love to go there. In fact, India would be high up on my list anyway as it is the most colourful and interesting of places.
What one good piece of advice would you give to new writers?
Don’t put yourself down. So many would-be writers, especially women, talk about their work as if it’s a dirty secret, saying things like ‘I’ve written this but it’s no good.’ Believe in yourself and if you want to get published, hone your art and persevere.
And finally, you’re planning a celebrity dinner party. Which four individuals (either dead or alive) would you invite and why?
Does everyone say Barrack Obama? He’s wise, capable and charming.
Patricia Highsmith – what a talent, what a character.
Stephen Fry – I’m sure he could answer any question I had and he’s so funny to boot.
Banksy – I want to get to know person behind the thought-provoking art.
More about Sonja:
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and her short stories have appeared in Stories For Homes, the Shelter Anthology of Short Stories and In these Tangles, Beauty Lies, an anthology in aid of the Beanstalk Trust for children with reading difficulties. Her debut novel The Giants Look Down came out in 2016 and made her a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award.
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