Wordy Wednesday with Sarah E Smith

Welcome back to Wordy Wednesday. This week I would like you to meet Sarah Smith, author of several mystery books. I asked her to introduce herself, so grab a cup of tea and settle down for a chat.

Hello, my name is Sarah. I'm nearly 50 on the outside and almost 18 on the inside! I love rugby, Doctor Who, and history.
I've had four books published so far. Three time travel, mystery books for YA (16-90ish) The Secret of Aldwych Strand; and my first crime fiction book set at the turn of the 20th century – A Cowardice of Crows, which introduces Symington Earl Byrd, Gentleman. Playboy. Detective. My books are as historically accurate as I can make them; and - I hope – a little witty, mixing as they do first and third person perspective.

The Secret of Aldwych Strand revolves around Canvey teenagers Mark and Lucy who go to Southend Pier in the October half term of 2013; travel in time, and never come home. Well why would you when you are trying to stop someone destroying the whole of time itself?
In a Cowardice of Crows Symington, Earl Byrd is called in to investigate the murder of a woman who's pushed from a train. A murder that draws the Prince of Wales' best friend in to a world so seductive he is in danger of losing his soul.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
Oh, I only wish I was a spy, or anything that exciting! I'm not. I don't even write full time. Though I can dream. That's got to wait for retirement. Or a VERY large lottery win. No, I'm a teacher of hormones in an 11-19 school in North Essex. I'm not sure if I'd say I like it, but I've been doing it for 28 years, so I can't really dislike it that much, can I?

Why did you start writing?
Because I couldn't draw and had to be creative some how. But it wasn't serious. Not until I ended up as a history teacher doing a maternity cover as a Head of English in the school I'm currently at, and suddenly there were these voices in my head screaming to have their story told, so I decided I'd better do what they wanted.

Which 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
The Goon Show
A dog running in the great out doors (I totally misread this as 'a dog running into a door, and thought it funny if a little cruel!)
A student finally 'getting' something that they've really struggled to understand

Do you have any pets?
I wouldn't say I have pets, I'd say they have staff.(haha Princess Fizz, my border terrier feels the same about us!)
Until last year there were 6 cats: the infamous Rover Blofeld of Twitter, Agent Z(orro); Bomma and Alistair, the Bombays, Callie and CleoKatra; and of course there was Clwyed-dog Dog, a scatty Labrador. Clwyed and Rover went over the rainbow bridge last year, forcing Zorro to step up to the role of chief cat. I'd love to get another dog, one with an expressive face. But that's a decision for a few years down the line. Dogs shouldn't be rushed.
The bombays are so self centred that they hinder the writing process. They have no understanding of computers. Or keyboards. Or that the delete key is not for dancing on! Everything is fuss me fuss me now, with pedigree cats.
The girls ignore me. They exist to sleep in sun-puddles. No, it's Zorro -a white and black bruiser - who's the real critic. He's the cleverest cat I've ever been owned by. An engineer in previous life, he sits and watches you write. Then when you read it back, he listens. If it's good he walks off. If it's not good he shakes his head and stares. So you delete and start again.

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
As a child, I wouldn't say I had a favourite author. I devoured books like a true book vampire. But looking back - although I love Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, and Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett - my favourite writer has to be Terrance Dicks. I have so many of his Doctor Who novelisations on my shelf at Mum and Dad's that I would be a fool to argue otherwise. He has such an easy reading style and a way of writing. Whether you're in the mood to devour or dip in and out. His style fits all moments. I suppose as my first three books were scifi he has to have had some influence on me, hasn't he?

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
This is a bit of a cheat of an answer. I'm back teaching English – due to a couple of maternity covers – so I'm currently reading:
Much Ado About Nothing with my year 10s
The Woman in Black with Year 9
And Great Expectations with Year 8
And I've been reading a lot of history coursework, but I don't suppose this really counts does it?
I've also had to re-read Cowardice because we've just moved and my context notes are in a box somewhere in storage. Rooky error!

Where do you do most of your writing?
We've just been camping for the first half of this half term, so I've been writing outside the tent, or inside when it was raining. But if I'm honest, I do my best writing in hotel lounges! My favourite hotels for writing are the Haycock in Wansted, Cambs; the Travelodge in Bishops Stortford (our current home whilst the boat is being built) and The Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate. They're all used to me sitting with a laptop, drafting and cursing away. At the Walpole the staff know me so well that sometime after 2pm a bottle of chilled prosecco arrives! One day, I'm going to wear pink and change my name to Barbara Cartland.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
Toughy! I enjoyed Valentin from the Aldwych Strand Trilogy, he was complex and mercurial and I was drawn to him. But whilst Symington CC, Sampson and CC are all great, there's something about the Pawnbroker from A Cowardice of Crows that captured my imagination the moment he appeared. Mordecai Gold is a very black and white individual. Very moral in an immoral kind of way. He's ruthless and at times very violent, but he inspires such loyalty from those who work for him that you just have to love him. Even if he is soulless.

What is your favourite biscuit?
Until I found out I was wheat intolerant, I would have said Nice biscuits. They were my Nana's favourite and our little secret. She would sneak them to me when Mum wasn't looking. Mum didn't hold with me eating biscuits. Something to do with not eating my dinner. Now any biscuit that I shouldn't eat, is my favourite!

In the film of your life who would play you? (why)
Alec Guinness. Or possibly David Tennant. Obviously in drag. Why? As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm eccentric, so why go for an obvious casting?

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
I quite like the idea of crossing a dragon with an aubergine. You'd end up with a dragon's head, tail and legs sandwiched between a smooth slightly bulbous purple body. He'd have to be careful where he breathed. Otherwise you'd have a bit of a crispy dragon! But it would be fun to watch him take off! A bit like a flying dachshund me thinks!

Find her here Sarah E Smith Author page

Here on her Blog

and of course on Twitter here

Big thanks to Sarah for answering my silly questions - now dear reader, do pop off and check out her books and say hello to her on Twitter.