Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.
She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.
She is the author of several horror novels, and a series of mysteries featuring contemporary actress and amateur sleuth Shara Summers.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I spent the first ten years of my life in Lancashire, the next eight in Canada, and then at age 18 I moved back to England and I’ve been living in the London area ever since. That was thirty years ago and people can still detect the Northern accent. I live with my husband and two cats in a Surrey suburb.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I have a day job, so between that and the writing there’s not a lot of free time. But I like playing video games (I’m particularly fond of the Resident Evil series) and playing my electric bass guitar.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
Probably CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl. That’s the one I read most often.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I know a lot of writers write to music but I don’t; I find it too distracting. My current favourite album is From Where We Stand, the debut album from Ward Thomas – a pair of North London twin sisters who write country songs and perform amazing harmonies together.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
Not really, I just have favourite horror movies. Maybe I watch too many horror movies, but not many of them manage to scare me. There’s a difference between being creeped out and being grossed out by a horror movie. The ones that creep you out are the best but very few manage to master it. The best one ever is probably the original 1963 The Haunting. I also like the three films in The Conjuring series.
KR: What are you reading now?
I’m re-reading the Discworld series and I’m currently on JINGO. I always turn to these books when I am in need of light entertainment and distraction from the real world, because they make me laugh.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Stephen King has been my biggest inspiration in my horror writing. I love the way he writes about ordinary, flawed people in extraordinary situations.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I started out just seeing where the idea would go, but after abandoning too many novels halfway through because I didn’t know what would happen next, I started plotting. Now I am meticulous about plotting, and work through the plot outline from beginning to end before I even start writing, and I haven’t had writer’s block since. Every time I sit down to write, I know where I’m going.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research has never been a favourite part of the process, but the internet makes it easier. I start off looking up what I need to know. For the most recent novel, OUTPOST H311, which is set on a Nazi base in the Arctic, I had to do some research into Nazi-era weapons and what sort of plane they might have on an Arctic base where they would have to take off from water. I got a lot of help from my husband on that, because what he doesn’t know about aeroplanes isn’t worth knowing.
Then when I start writing, I will usually encounter some point where I don’t know enough about something that’s going to feature. But I now I can just Google it.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Since I have to write around the day job, I usually make an early start and write in a coffee shop for an hour before going to work. I find I can get a lot done in that hour. Fortified with tea and a sugary breakfast treat (muffin or cinnamon bun, for instance) I am writing before the ‘internal editor’ wakes up – that voice that says, “that sentence is rubbish”. I can tap directly into my psyche and just write, and I can be quite productive, especially if I’m working on a first draft. I tend not to do any writing after work – I’m usually too tired, and I save that time for working on emails or promotional posts or whatever. I do try and get some writing done on weekends, if I can. Writing time is short, so I have to be disciplined.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I think my favourite short story is TRIO, which has been published in a few places, and is currently available in my short story collection SOUL SCREAMS. It was inspired by two friends I used to hang out with as a teenager, and although the real-life individuals have happier endings that the characters (the story is rather melancholy) I wrote it a point when my life was changing and these friends were further away from me than I would have preferred. It’s a story in which I explore the bond of friendship and the things that test it.
I will say, though, that I am still friends with both the people concerned, and although they both live in Canada and I still don’t see them as often as I would like, the internet makes the world a smaller place.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Yes. I haven’t had many up to now, but those that I have had have been largely positive. I suppose I am lucky that up to now I’ve never had a truly bad review, but maybe I’m tempting fate by saying that.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Firstly, make time to write. We all have the same number of hours in a day, and it’s never enough, so you have to get into a routine and protect your writing time.
Second, develop a thick skin. There will be rejections, and no matter how often you get them, they are always heartbreaking. You just have to pick yourself up again, dust off the manuscript and send it out to someone else.
Thirdly, never, ever, give up. I was ten years old when I decided I was going to be a published novelist. The first book contract arrived shortly before my fortieth birthday. In the meantime there were thirty years, many novels written and abandoned, and more rejections than I could ever count. But patience and persistence eventually pay off.
KR: What scares you?
Most of my fears are abstract, and they are recurring themes that keep coming up in my writing. Fear of loneliness, of isolation, of loss of identity are common themes in my writing because I am most afraid of them, and I think it helps to exorcise your fears by writing about them.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
E-book. I love my Kindle. It’s much more convenient for travelling and commuting and I don’t have to worry about finding space for more books in my overfull book cases. I hate having to get rid of books, and with e-books I don’t have to, because they don’t take up any physical space.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
The latest book is a horror novel called OUTPOST H311. It’s about an oil exploration team that crash-land on a remote Arctic island. With no way of calling for help and no way off the island, they look for shelter and discover an abandoned base which they soon learn was built by the Nazis and was used for supernatural research during the second world war. They discover something malevolent was summoned and still lurks on the island. It features Nazi zombies!
KR: What are you working on now?
Without wanting to give away any spoilers, OUTPOST H311 ends in a way that lends itself to a sequel. I am trying to work out the plot for that, and that’s going to be my next project.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
I would choose Jake from OUTPOST H311 as my own fictional character, because he’s a marine and would be useful in a survival situations.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
I would also choose Kinsey Millhone, the private eye from Sue Grafton’s series because she’s tough and resourceful, although I really can’t image her getting on very well with Jake.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
And for a real-life person, retired Formula One driver Jenson Button. He always comes across as being a really nice guy, and well, he’s so easy on the eye…
KR: Thank you very much Sara.
You can also follow her on Twitter @sarajtownsend
Visit Sara’s Amazon author page here
Outpost H311 was a top-secret base used by the Nazis in World War II conducting experiments into paranormal activity, on a desolate island in the Arctic circle.
An oil exploration team are plunged into a nightmare when their plane crashes on the remote island. The survivors soon discover that they are not alone, and a supernatural evil released by the Nazis’ experiments inhabits the island.
With no way of calling for help, no chance of escape and zombie Nazis on the rampage, the team find themselves locked in a desperate race for survival.
This scary, atmospheric, ice-cold supernatural thriller by Sara Jayne Townsend will chill you to the bone.
Soul Screams – a collection of thirteen horror stories by horror and crime novelist Sara Jayne Townsend.
These stories are angsty, dealing with negative emotions and darkness of the soul.
These stories are about that inner scream that no one can hear but you.
These stories will haunt you.
British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.
After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.
Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne’s life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.
But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?