Author Sharon Bolton Answers all our Questions
- Latest Book: The Pact
- Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
A dare goes badly wrong and people are killed. One friend takes the blame, on the condition that when she comes out of prison her five friends each owe her a favour: anything she asks, whenever she asks it.
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
I’m a witch.
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
Silence: music is far too distracting. I sometimes, though, use music to get me into the right frame of mind for a scene.
- Are you a plotter or pantser?
I aspire to be the former, all too often end up being the latter.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off-script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
The buggers are always doing it; often at the end of a book, leaving me with a shed-load of problems when I start the sequel.
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
My favourite of the six friends, and this does surprise people, became Felix. To the extent that the book has a villain, in the early stages at least, Felix is that villain. He is the most arrogant in an overly-privileged group, the disastrous dare was his idea and his influence pushed the others to keep doing it. He has a violent, unforgiving nature. And yet, as the story unfolds, we see his courage, intelligence and leadership.What would Felix and I do in our time together? Well, we wouldn’t go on a road trip, that’s for sure. Maybe we’d leap from the tall bridges into the Isis (Thames) at Port Meadow, swim in the lazy stretches of the river, before a long boozy lunch at The Perch. It would be nice, in the company of Felix, to be young and foolish again, with that unshakeable belief that the world belongs to me.
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
Megan would scare the hell out of me.
- Do you read your reviews?
I read the reviews of the professional critics in newspapers and magazines, and those of the more influential bloggers. If they’ve taken the time to read, consider and write about my book, the least I can do is read what they’ve written. I gave up obsessing about Amazon and Goodreads reviews some time ago, although I do sometimes trade the more outrageous one star reviews with writer friends.
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
Being told I’d got my facts wrong during a live radio interview.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
A young woman in Sweden told me once that reading one of my books had saved her life. I still find it hard to get my head around that, but I certainly can’t imagine a greater compliment.
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
I’m a wife, mum, dog-walker, cook, house-keeper and gardener. In a parallel universe I’m a florist.
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
CS Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
My characters visit the ‘Pooh Sticks’ bridge where they played as children; they’re looking for their friend’s body. The bridge is a real place, where my friends and I brought our children every week to play ‘pooh sticks’ when they were small. Now, some of my sweetest memories have been stained by my dark imaginings.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
I have several author friends, although we don’t see each other much, especially in lockdown. Elly Griffiths, Jane Casey, Sophie Hannah, Sarah Hilary, Mick Heron, to name but a few. My BFF though, is Belinda Bauer (latest book: Exit) who once told me I had to be able to describe my book in one sentence, or how would I know what it was about?
For Bonus Points – Answer five fabulous frivolous questions!
- What is your biggest fear?
That sudden twist of fate that turns a perfect life upside down. And big butterflies.
- If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
I’d like to do proper, instantaneous, effortless magic.
- If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
Are you sure I’m dead?
- If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t even think about dating the boy next door.
- Finally – Who are your latest Cover Crushes?
The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins (that gorgeous green beetle!)
The Essex Serpent by Sara Perry (I’m a sucker for covers embossed with gold)