The other characters just appeared in my head, fully formed, as if they had always been there, just waiting to be born. I literally just had to listen in on the conversations and write them down. The characters are all so real to me that after I finished writing Hunting Lila I went through a period I can only describe as like mourning. So about two weeks later, whilst on the beach in Goa, I picked up my laptop and started writing the sequel. I wrote 40,000 words in 10 days.
My first inspiration for actually writing came from Twilight. I was swimming one day and trying to figure out what I was going to do to earn money, having just that day resigned from my job. Having no discernable skills whatsoever I was feeling slightly anxious and started running through ideas in my head as I crawled up the slow lane with my goggles on. My thought process went something like:
Right must earn money, what can I do? I have no skills. I’m in trouble. Who is rich? Let’s see…The Queen. But I don’t think Prince William’s going to marry me. I’m not posh enough. Richard Branson, he’s rich. But he works really hard. Hmmmm who else? Stephenie Meyer, She’s rich and all from writing about vampires. I know! I’ll write a book too.And by the time I had swum another ten lengths (I swim slow) I had the beginning of my story. Every time I got stuck I’d just think ‘What if…’ and after four months of daily swimming and writing long into the night, I’d finished the first draft, which ended up being almost twice as long as the finished version. (luckily for me at that point I didn’t know that most writers can’t afford to give up the day job – unless they move to Bali of course, which is what I did).
My main inspiration for writing now though is my two best friends who were with me from the very first chapter of Hunting Lila, encouraging me and supporting me to keep writing, when getting published was a dream I didn’t dare talk about. Writing is an incredibly lonely process. I live in other worlds for months at a time and rarely lift my head above the parapet to notice the real world going on around me. But having my two best friends along with me for every journey, reading chapter by chapter, makes it that much easier.
This week I’ve started receiving emails from people who’ve read advance copies of Hunting Lila, and they’re saying such lovely things. That too is an inspiration to keep writing. I love making people happy, just by using by imagination and the power of words. I couldn’t dream up a more perfect job.
Except maybe being Alex Skarsgard’s personal stylist.
There is a fab Q&A over at the Simon & Schuster website with Sarah. My favourite is:
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. Perfect Chemistry (for, ahum, obvious reasons).
A girl after my own heart!