Monday, 10 August 2015


I am delighted that Sarah Jasmon is joining me on my blog today, as part of her Blog Tour. Sarah's book - The Summer of Secrets - is being published on 13 August 2015. 

What inspired you to write a novel?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I can’t actually remember not wanting to be a writer! I can still remember (with some levels of envy) how I used to write as a child: title, writing, done. No worries about voice or cliché or whether I was good enough! In my teens and twenties, I worried a lot about what voice I should use, and generally ended up sounding like whoever I’d been reading last. Then later, when I was busy being mum, I’d constantly be telling myself the story of what I was doing in my head as if it was a novel.

What gave you the idea for The Summer of Secrets?
For a long time, my father-in-law had the hull of a boat in his back garden. He always had plans for rebuilding it, but somehow it never happened. At some stage, he moved it into the garage, and he used to go and sit in it to have a beer in the evenings. When I started my MA, in one of the classes we had to write three sentences about the book we were writing. I wrote one sentence about that, and then two more about the book I wanted to write, about a man sitting in a boat. So I decided that probably that was the one I should go for.

Do your personal experiences influence your writing? If so, how?
See above! The rest of the book isn’t based on anything real, mind, but there’s a lot of me in Helen, and a lot of what I aspired to be in Victoria, I think. While I was writing The Summer of Secrets, I’d quite often notice something that was happening in the street, or a hear someone talking and realise it was exactly what I needed for one scene or another. But I think personal experiences are best when they’ve been filtered through a great deal of time. Having said that, you know they say you can’t dream a face you haven’t seen? I think writing is a bit like that. Everything is based on something that’s happened to you, or you’ve heard, or known, even if it’s warped beyond all recognition by the storytelling process.

Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Evocative and accessible.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
I don’t think so. I often have my best ideas when I’m walking the dogs and don’t have any paper with me. I end up repeating a phrase over and over as I walk home so I won’t forget it. I have an atrocious memory.

Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
I had no idea about plot when I started The Summer of Secrets. During the writing workshops on the MA, I’d sit down, usually the night before, and bang out 2000 words. After the third lot, my tutor said, ‘Don’t you think it’s about time something happened?’ Very good advice. My boyfriend, Graeme Shimmin, is a writer as well and, when I was about halfway through, he suggested I try his plotting theory (he has lots of good advice on his website, and that really helped me to focus where I needed to be going. Then I was lucky enough to have loads of help from my agent and my editor whilst I was working on the second draft. I’m much more prepared for novel #2: I’ve done a synopsis and everything.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
Getting started. I can take days building up to it, and it’s like waiting to be sick. Then I make a start and it’s all fine again.

You live on a canal boat. Is this as amazing as it sounds? What are the best and worst aspects of living on a boat?
I absolutely LOVE my boat. Living aboard really satisfies me on a deep level. There are so many ‘bests’ I couldn’t list them, but I love the space around me, the community along the bank and being able to say I live on a boat. Ten years now and I still get a kick out of that! Worst? It was pretty bad when we froze in for a month and had to trundle water along the towpath in 5 gallon drums. And the toilet froze.

How has your life changed since getting your publishing deal?
Confidence. There’s nothing like someone telling you that they love what you’ve done. I’ve met so many wonderful people as well. And this is what I’ve always wanted to do (see q.1). I’m a very happy bunny.

You regularly review books on your website. Who are your favourite authors?
So many! This was one of the questions I answered in a Q&A section in the back of the book, and it turned into an encyclopaedia of names! I’ve just finished Martine Bailey’s The Penny Heart, which is phenomenal, and have come across many other great books through the PrimeWriters group. If I had to narrow it down… No, I can’t do it!

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
'Understanding Backwards', from the Kierkegaard quote, ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Stop doing the washing up, and get on with the writing.

And lastly, why should people read The Summer of Secrets?
To be drawn into another time and place. It’s especially good, I’ve been told, if you like a book to live on after you’ve finished reading it. Book hangovers have been mentioned…

About Sarah Jasmon
Sarah Jasmon lives on a boat on the Leeds/Liverpool canal with two of her children plus two dogs and two cats. She's considering two mice to round things out. The Summer of Secrets is her debut novel.

Find Sarah Jasmon on her website and on Twitter - @sarahontheboat

The Summer of Secrets
Published by Black Swan (13 August 2015)
ISBN: 978-0552779975

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible…
Until something goes wrong.

Read my review here.

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