Today I’m happy to welcome Sarah England to the blog. Sarah is an author of dark occult horror books that send a chill down your spine. She is currently busy putting the finishing touches to the third book in her trilogy, Magda, which will be available at Halloween – spooky! If you haven’t read Sarah’s previous books, Father of Lies and Tanner’s Dell, then I highly recommend them. Lets find out some more about Sarah:
Hi Mark! Thank you for inviting me onto your blog – I really appreciate it.
What were your favourite childhood books?
I was introduced to reading at a very young age by my mother, who was an English teacher – I can remember reading her cast-off Victoria Holts and Georgette Heyers in the back of our Cortina on rainy English holidays… I actually loved them…guess I started off being unusual way back then. My very first books were the Miffy books – so much so my nickname was Miffy. I also loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Sevens series…showing my age here, whoops!
Was there any interest in the supernatural when you were younger?
I got freaked out so easily and so badly my dad was a bit worried about me. I saw a film on Christmas Eve at the age of five where one of the presents under the tree was a doll, and as the family switched off the light for bed and closed the door, the doll’s eyes snapped open and its head span round on its stem. I hated dolls after that and wouldn’t have them in my room. Also, I was convinced the wardrobe door would open and would watch it on full alert until my parents came to bed in the next room. However, what really tipped me over the edge was my first ever boyfriend taking me to see the Exorcist age 17. I’ve been terrified of the supernatural ever since.
During your career in nursing did you experience anything occult in nature?
There were a lot of stories around in hospitals – mostly when we were staffing a ward at night …great when you had to go into a side ward with a terminally ill patient in the small hours…but the most common was that patients who were about to die would miraculously seem to get better the day before, and then deteriorate rapidly after that. This happened so many times it almost became an omen. But the other thing was – again when someone was about to die – they visibly brightened and stared at a far point no one else could see. Some said the man in the black hat had been to visit. All common stories and personally witnessed. I never saw a ghost though! That came later – a lot later.
How did your writing career begin and what made you decide to leave nursing?
I had never wanted to be a nurse. That was decided for me. I loved English and got a grade A at O’ Level age 14; but as there was no 6th form that was that! I would love to have gone to University to do English but did not get the chance. Anyway, life took over – I left nursing after 5 years to be a diabetes adviser and then a medical rep – a career which lasted about 18 years. Age 40 I finally got the chance to do what I had always wanted to do, though, and started writing – at first short stories for magazines and then serials, and then novels.
All authors have to do some research for their books. What has been the most disturbing or frightening thing you’ve learnt whilst researching yours?
By far and away the most scary research I did was for Father of Lies. I had met a lady with DID and her story shocked me to the core, inspiring me to start the project. With a background in psychiatry I understood what had happened to her but still needed to explore the satanic connection; so I read books on demonology and exorcisms, the latter written by a priest. At the time a lot of supernatural things were happening to me and I can honestly say the air chilled during the reading of this material. In the end I could only read a chapter at a time in daylight and couldn’t keep the books on my bookshelves afterwards. I gave them to a friend who burnt them because they freaked her out so badly. I was profoundly affected by what I read and scared myself badly!
There have been times when my characters have told me what’s going to happen to next. Have you ever had a character take a story in a different direction to what you originally intended?
I don’t really know what happens, Mark. I start writing and suddenly the keys are pounding and the story opens up in a new direction. I’ll be left thinking about it and suddenly – usually in the small hours – I know what I want to do next and it will be very different to the premise I originally had – it’s happening the most with my current project. All very odd. If anyone says they predicted the outcome of any of these books then they are clairvoyant because even I don’t know what will happen.
Are there any other genres you’d consider writing in or are you going to continue with horror and suspense/thrillers?
I have found a home with occult horror/thrillers. I love it. I don’t want to write anything gratuitous or gory – but definitely spine-chilling. I have written comedy though, too. My first novel was anti-chicklit and I may expand on that at some point. What I do have my eye on next is gothic horror….
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Oh I’m obsessive. I get all the stuff I have to do out of the way and then try to find the time to write. If I ever get spare time I read, listen to music, watch films (am a real film buff) and take long country walks; and if I ever have any spare cash (starving author) then I wouldn’t mind seeing some old European cities and exploring their histories; oh and shopping – did I mention online shopping? What kind of crazy invention is that for a frustrated shopaholic? Now that gets me into trouble.
Please could you tell us about your work-in-progress, what it’s about and when to expect its publication?
The WIP is book 3 to the occult horror trilogy. It’s cover is ready to share and hopefully by Halloween the book will be out. ‘Father of Lies’ is the first book, ‘Tanners Dell’ is the sequel, and this one – Magda – will be the final one in the series. If anyone would like to be first to know then my very infrequent newsletter (yet to do one) will inform them directly if they sign up via my blog – as below…I try to keep the blog up to date with any new information.
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Mark. It is hugely appreciated.
You’re welcome, Sarah.
If you’d like to find out more about Sarah you can find her across social media. You can also check out her books on Amazon using the links below.
All the best,