10 Questions With Sarah A. Denzil

Good afternoon folks, and this afternoon I’m delighted to welcome crime writer Sarah A. Denzil to my blog. 

Here, Sarah chats about self publishing her book, her inspiration for her novel The Silent Child and her views on strong female characters in crime fiction. 

Over to you Sarah! 

1) As a child, did you have a favourite author and do you have a favourite author now? 

I read a variety of different authors as a child, like the Worst Witch books, Enid Blyton mysteries, and Point Horror stories. I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on, which was usually second hand books from car boot sales and library rentals. I’ve never singled out one author as a favourite over others, but I do read everything by Donna Tartt and Gillian Flynn.

2) When did you start writing? Did you enjoy English in school? 
I did enjoy English, and I used to write stories as a child. But I didn’t come back to writing until I was an adult. Teachers would often get excited about the stories I used to write which I found overwhelming as a child.

3) Where did the inspiration for The Silent Child come from? What was the first draft like? How it did it differ to the book on Amazon KDP?

I was trying to think up a new storyline for a thriller and thought about a young teenager emerging from the woods having been missing for many years. Once I had that idea, I thought up logical reasons for this boy to be missing for so long, and to me this was the one reason a normal boy would be gone without someone looking for him. It was quite nerve wracking to write such a dark story, but I always kept in mind some light at the end of the tunnel.
The first draft was very similar to the final product, it was just tidied up a bit. I don’t tend to make a lot of developmental changes to my books anymore.

4) As a self-published author, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing?

The pros of self-publishing are that you can keep a higher percentage of your royalties, you have complete control over the final product, and you don’t have to work to someone else’s schedule. 

In terms of cons – creating a polished product can be harder. There are plenty of freelance editors who don’t cost the earth but chances are they’ll work on the book once and then you have to go over their work and do a final check. An author shouldn’t rely on an editor to catch everything. Also professional covers can cost money and are useless if you don’t know how to market a cover to your genre. It’s very competitive and it can be difficult to get reviews.

Self-publishing is a lot easier if you write in a popular genre, so if your book is a literary genre mash-up it might be amazingly well-written, but chances are it will be much harder to sell.

5) Do you have an agent, if so, is it nerve wracking, knowing that you now have someone to impress but also someone who will champion you and your writing?

I do have an agent, but I hadn’t actually considered it my job to impress her! No, I’m much more focused on what the readers will make of the book. It’s really useful for me to have someone who will work on translation rights, audio etc. so I can concentrate on writing the next book.

6) When you were an aspiring author, what was the best piece of advice you were given?

One piece of advice that always stood out was: You can’t expect to earn a full-time living if you aren’t working full time hours. Although I think it’s often more complicated than that, those words really inspired me to work harder. I realised that I was hoping for the best rather than preparing for success.
In terms of craft, reading is pretty much the best advice. Read books and practise writing.

7) What are your views on strong women in crime fiction? How do you think they’re different to men in crime fiction?

Women characters tend to drive grip-lit and domestic noir novels that focus on aspects of a woman’s life, such as their role as a wife, mother, daughter or sister. I must admit I do enjoy these books because I can relate to them and it’s fascinating to read women focussed fiction in a genre that has been predominantly male focussed. But apart from that I don’t think there’s much difference. I’d like to see a few more male main characters in grip-lit. It’d be interesting to read that suspense from the perspective of a husband or father. 

Other male focused crime books tend to be police procedural books with a detective as the main character. I’ve never loved police procedural books so I tend to gravitate more towards a dark domestic noir.

8) How do you work best – music or silence? Did you have a favourite genre of music growing up and has it changed? 

Silence or classical music for me. I quite like atmospheric film scores. 

9) What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? 

It was The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. I watched the film again recently so decided to finally get round to reading the book. I did enjoy it. It’s completely different to the film and possibly more frightening.

10) What was your first ever book about?

It’s a YA dystopian novel called The Blemished about conflict between genetically enhanced clones and normal people, labelled Blemished. It was the first book I published, back in 2012. 🙂

Thanks for your time, Sarah. 

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