Friday, August 05, 2011

Sarah Alderson talks to MFB about her inspirations and influences

MFB are exceedingly proud to host Hunting Lila's author, Sarah Alderson today.  We asked her to tell us about her inspirations and influences and not only do we love her a bit more than before, we love how our influences and tv show and movies do actually correspond.  She's a geeky girl at heart!


I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton and rated 18 movies. My mum let me watch Aliens and the Hitcher when I was eight. I fell in love with Luke Skywalker when I was five (then switched allegiance to Han Solo when I was six – fickle huh?). I loved Dirty Dancing, Breakfast Club, Lost Boys and Last of the Mohicans, I knew all the dance routines, all the words and would put on my leg warmers and cut off jeans and tell myself that nobody put me in the corner. I’d imagine Nathanial Hawkeye telling me to stay alive, that he’d find me no matter how far, no matter how long it took, before kissing me and then jumping off a waterfall. Basically, combine all that with Mallory Towers, a dangerous tween-years addiction to Dynasty, followed by teenage years watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks when I should have been doing my homework, and I was always going to have a vivid imagination. I still feed that imagination with a daily diet of books, movies and tv shows, (current addictions Game of Thrones, True Blood and Mad Men).

Alex Skarsgard
It’s no surprise then that my automatic reaction when asked what inspires me when I write, is to think of films and television shows rather than books. The character of Alex was inspired partly by the gorgeous Alex Skarsgard (Eric in True Blood) after I saw him in Generation Kill in which he, uhum, plays a Marine. He’s a little too old to be Alex but he’s hot. And um, well, he’s hot. I stole my husband’s eyes though and a few of his character traits to make up the character of Alex.

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!

1 comment:

Sarah Alderson said...

Thanks for having me on the blog! And for illustrating it with that Dirty Dancing pic - hahaha made my day!