I’m excited to introduce a new series, “Before They Were Authors.” My first guest is Sara Jayne Townsend, a UK-based writer of crime and horror fiction, and author of the Shara Summers amateur sleuth series (DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL available now; book 3 will be released in 2017). Her latest release is the supernatural horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN, from MuseItUp Publishing.
Judy: What was the worst job you ever had, and how has it influenced your writing?
Sara: I once spent three years working as Office Manager for a very small company owned by a man who was a complete bully. He was also the youngest child in a rather large family and I think was too used to getting his own way. He used to yell at people all the time, including me, if things didn’t go the way he wanted them to. I used to yell back and then go storming back to my desk, which in retrospect wasn’t the best way to handle things – especially since most of the time it was just the two of us in the office. I stayed in that job far longer than I should have done, because I didn’t want to leave until I had another job lined up, but my confidence took such a beating working there it took me a while to find something else. After I left the company I got my revenge, though. I turned that bullying boss into a character in the next novel, and I made a point of killing him off. It was most cathartic.
Judy: What made you decide to become a writer?
Sara: I didn’t so much decide, it was decided for me. I was writing stories from being quite young – pretty much from the time I learned how to write, and it was the only thing, from childhood, that I was any good at. I was hopeless at sports, I struggled with maths, but writing stories – that I seemed to be able to do, with ease. I was ten years old when I decided that the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a published novelist. To me it seemed like destiny, rather than a conscious choice. It took me thirty years to achieve it, mind.
Judy: Do you have any writing advice for aspiring authors?
As per the above, don’t give up. The path to success is paved with a hell of a lot of rejections. And keep on writing. No one is born a best-selling novelist. Like any craft, the only way to get better at writing is to keep on doing it.
I would also add to this, don’t be in a hurry to give up the day job if you want to be able to afford to eat. Contrary to popular myth, most writers are not raking in the money, and quite a lot of us find it necessary to work around the day job if we want to be able to pay the mortgage.