I've invited my friend and co-writer Sadie Miller, who has written a story for both anthologies, to kick things off...
Growing up, reading was always a big part of my life. My parents would read to me often and even my colouring paper was on the back of their old scripts so words were everywhere. It wasn't long before I started writing my own stories as my imagination spilled over. My first proper story was about a girl living with lions but I also wrote adventures about a trio of unlikely friend’s; Worm, Sausage and Spider.
In many ways, I find the idea of writing for a job a tough concept to come to terms with. Most of it is about commercial appeal and viability. I recently had a novel rejected because despite a positive reception, it wasn't deemed to be ‘commercial’ enough. I feel art in all forms should have a broad audience as there is something out there for everyone and closing that off seems to go against what I believe in. Or it could be sour grapes, however one chooses to see it.
I think I was influence by a lot of the great writers for children which many of my generation would also agree with. I loved Enid Blyton, particularly Naughty Amelia Jane, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers along with E Nesbit’s Five Children and It and
I think my parent’s creativity is also a huge part of my love of storytelling and I recall watching The Nightmare before Christmas in Chicago with my dad one afternoon whilst my mum was doing a convention. Even though the people in the cinema behind us were talking all the way through, I was captivated by the world unfolding in front of my eyes. It was strange and wonderful and further ignited a passion in me for dark, twisted tales which manage to blend together elegant story telling with irreverence and gothic charm.
I studied English at University and there I was introduced to Old English literature. I really enjoyed Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales delighted me with their sauciness and hilariously accurate reflection of human nature. I also had the opportunity to delve further into the plays and mythology of Greek and Roman legends which blend family sagas, romantic drama and unflinching violence. It was here too that I found more cinematic influences; John Ford, Fellini and Billy Wilder, all fantastic storytellers in very individual ways.
People often ask a writer to name their favourite book and I have to admit I don't have one - I have several! Carter Beats the Devil, Our Man in Beijing, Gone with the Wind and Jurassic Park are definitely my current top few. Scarlett O’Hara has endured as
one of the greatest female heroines of all time but in many ways, she is an anti-heroine. Margaret Mitchell writes women as they are - jealous, vain and often more into the idea of something than the reality of it! Her relationship with Ashley is complex and fascinating, as relevant today as it ever was. I think it just goes to show that human nature has changed very little in the generations that have passed and it is such stories that join our past and future selves together.
However, as for the biggest influence on my work, I would have name Federico Garcia Lorca. His writing is unflinching in its beauty and emotional integrity. He writes that he was not afraid to be born and therefore why should he be afraid to die? I find this statement alone to be amazing in the way that it simply sums up how we should live to gain the most out of our human experience. He has taught me so much about life and that seizing the moment is vital - don't wait, just write! Most importantly, his gypsy poetry introduced me to the concept of ‘el duende'. There is no English word equivalent, but the meaning behind el duende is 'the ghost between words,' the emotion that inhabits the spaces in language that gives it meaning and vibrancy. I remember reading Bodas de Sangre as a teenager and for the first time being able to taste the words in my mouth. He is a wonderful writer who died bravely and I encourage you if you haven't already to seek out his work and devour it! Although I would say I studied him in Spanish to begin with, and have since enjoyed reading foreign writers in editions where there is the original and translation side by side, as a translator can often manipulate the work which detracts from the source material.
Drama school brought me back to writing. I recall an assignment where we had to write a short story to perform. Afterwards, I sent it out and was very chuffed when it
got published by an online journal. It was about a group of boys looking to make extra cash so they gate crash funerals where old ladies take pity on them. It isn't particularly good, in fact it's a bit morbid noting what was happening at the time with my mum, who had asked me not to tell anyone about her illness. Perhaps that was my way of letting it all out. She always enjoyed my writing, and often I write for her, imagining I can connect with her again through my keyboard.
Reading is my escapism and writing is my home base. Things haven't changed that much since becoming a mother, except perhaps better time management and less time spent procrastinating - if anything, I would say it has helped!
As a writer, I have undeniably been influenced by a huge library of others and it is my greatest wish that something I write might touch someone else and make them see the world through a pair of ‘Sadie Specs’, even just for a moment. Telling stories is a vital part of human nature and we should cherish any opportunity we have to pass a tale or two on to others.
Sadie is currently co-writing a science fiction novel called Scavengers with Scott Harrison.
Her latest novel, Moon Blink, was published in April this year and is the 5th book in Candy Jar Books's Lethbridge-Stewart novel range - a spin-off of Doctor Who.