Our Writer of the Week is debut author Sara Partington. Sara’s story, “Spark Of Inspiration”, appears in Special 218, which is on sale now.
Where did the idea come from for “Spark Of Inspiration”?
Believe it or not, it’s based on a true story. My mother is very talented with her hands. But it must have skipped a generation because, as any of my friends will tell you, I don’t have a “craftsy” bone in my body. I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to construct a costume from scratch. It proved to be worth the effort, though, as I’m pleased to say the costume went down an absolute storm at the party.
Is humour important in your storylines?
Humour – whether I’m aiming for a belly laugh or a gentle, wry smile – often plays a part in my work. The fun, as a writer, is setting up the character or storyline such that the reader doesn’t necessarily see it coming, but receives either a warm feeling in recognition or a hearty chuckle at the sheer ridiculousness of what has befallen my hapless character.
This is your first success for the “Friend”. What are your writing hopes for the future?
As well as, hopefully, lots more short stories appearing in future “Friend” issues, my first novel is with a literary agent at the moment, so please keep your fingers crossed for me.
What do you like to read in your spare time?
I’m pretty omnivorous. I like travel books and stories based in exotic places; the book I wish I had written is Jill Paton Walsh’s exquisite “Knowledge Of Angels”, which I’d definitely take to my desert island. I also enjoy Jane Harper for her clever but entirely unforced use of the Australian countryside and elements to drive the narrative.
Talking of belly laughs, I love Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb or Zoe Boehm series. But there’s usually a bookmark left somewhere in “Persuasion”, “Martin Chuzzlewit” or “The Buccaneers”, to which I’ll escape for comfort reading.
What’s the most difficult part of writing for you and why – ideas stage, the actual writing or editing?
I’m a planner, so I usually have a fair idea where my work (whether novel, serial or short story) is going and how we’re getting from A to Z. Occasionally, a character will surprise me and I’ll realise that there’s no way that he or she would rationally behave as the plot “demands”, and then something has got to give!
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Usually my laptop, although I do dictate into e-mails on my phone if a thought strikes me. These days, I keep a notebook by the bedside, too. I’ve lost count of how often I’ve drifted off to sleep with an idea forming in my mind, which I was quite certain was utter genius and equally sure I’d remember it in the morning. But, guess what, I’ve always woken with the knowledge that I had an idea but no notion of what it was!
P.S., What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
The best advice I’ve ever had is that everything around you can be a starting point. The secret is two little words: “Just imagine…” or “What if…?”
Sitting on the bus, strolling in the park or slogging around the supermarket, look around and ask yourself who everyone else might be; where they’re from, why they might be travelling – whether it’s to feed the ducks or buy fish-fingers.
The world is then your oyster to imagine. Get into the habit of keeping a list of events or characteristics that make an impression, so that they might serve as reminders or prompts. And don’t ignore your senses – a smell or sound can be an evocative way to take your readers to a place you want them to feel.
Find out more about our Writers Of The Week.