Q & A with Sarah Bailey

Melbourne based writer Sarah Bailey is best known for her taut and suspenseful storytelling style which has won her both the Ned Kelly Award and the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award for a debut crime novel.

FOCUS caught up with Sarah ahead of her upcoming author talk at Castle Hill Library on August 8 to discuss everything from writers block to her latest thriller Where the Dead Go.

Q: What do you hope attendees take home from your author talk?

A: I hope they enjoy a fun night talking about books and writing. I’m very happy to answer any questions people have and for any budding authors that attend hopefully they can see that if I can do it, anyone can!

Q: How did you get involved in writing thrillers?

A: By accident really. All of the ideas I have for books tend to stray into pretty dark territory so by default they are in the crime/thriller genre. Luckily it’s a genre I love; I enjoy both the escapism and the structure. It is always so satisfying to attempt solving a mystery, and now that I write, I really revel in unpacking the structure of a thriller novel once I’ve finished it.

Q: How do you come up with your stories?

A: I think it’s a mix of real life inspiration and subconscious thought. Sometimes ideas just drift in front of me and I’m instantly off and running with a full-blown narrative and other times a concept is sparked by a podcast or a news story. I have a lot of ideas but most of them are fairly flimsy. Only a few of them have enough weight to support an entire novel.

Q: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

A: Get the words down. Unless you employ a ghost writer, writing a book is the only way you will ever end up with a book.

Q: What advice do you have for up-and-coming writers?

A: Obviously it is different for everyone but for me goal-setting really helps. Not necessarily word count chasing, but breaking the book down into scenes makes it feel somewhat manageable.

Q: What do you do to overcome writers block?

A: I just do something else. I think writers block is just a sign that my brain has some more thinking it needs to do without me so I step away from the computer and watch TV, read, or go out with friends. Inevitably when I come back to my story my subconscious has figured out a scene or a plot point and I can get on with writing again.

Q: What’s next?

A: I am currently working on a standalone book. It’s about a journalist investigating a cold case that she reported on a decade earlier. It’s set in Melbourne and is very dark and gritty. It’s similar to the Gemma Woodstood series in some ways but the main character Oli is very different to Gemma. I’m really enjoying creating a whole new cast of interesting characters.

Q: Anything else that you would like to add?

A: Just that I’m looking forward to chatting more about Where The Dead Go.

Catch Sarah at Castle Hill Library on Thursday, August 8, at 6.30pm.

Book now at www.thehills.nsw.gov.au.

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