Today’s blog guest is Sara Delaval who recently published her first novel Cicadas in Summer. Congratulations Sara and thank you for visiting today.
Where did you grow up Sara – and what brought you to Australia?
I was born and grew up in London, having survived a boarding school designed on Dickensian lines. What I remember most is being cold all the time. Summers were very short and heating everywhere was inadequate and I dreamed of living somewhere warm and sunny. So a girlfriend and I decided to join the ten pound poms and emigrate. After all, we could always come back and settle down later… I didn’t know then that you can never go back.
I’ve told some of that story in a mini-memoir for my family. It was great to have my memory jogged about the ‘old days’.
When did you first start writing?
As a young child I used to scribble stories in an exercise book at school, which I gave to my mother when I returned home on holidays. She would laugh indulgently and read them out loud, and even then, they sounded bad! But it didn’t stop me. My imagination was the happiest place in my life – only when lost in a book, or writing stories was I able to switch off from reality and create a world I’d like to live in. Typewriters helped later, but it was the word processing on computers which made it a whole lot easier, eventually.
What would you say are the main influences on your writing?
As a teenager I loved history and gobbled up historical novels, and books on travel – even cookery books. In fact, I just loved reading and all the books I have read during my life have influenced my writing in different ways. Now I lean more towards mysteries, detective novels and stories with adventure. I’d have to say that “life” in all its forms, has influenced my writing, things I have seen and done, my career, people I have met and of course, my own family.
How much does the story of Cicadas in Summer owe to your own experience?
Everything! Before I retired, my job was helping disadvantaged people and families. I managed a “social housing” service, and met all sorts of clients. It taught me a lot about how some people survive – just! The expression “how the other half live” was coined for these people, many of whom struggled all their lives. It was sometimes frustrating but I met many wonderful people and “Cicadas in Summer”, which isn’t a true story in any way, is based on my experiences. A sort of “What if?”
What is your writing process?
I’m ashamed to say – what process? I am not nearly disciplined enough and I know it. I’d like to be able to say that I shut myself in my office between the hours of X and Y – but I have never been able to do that. “Family” issues intervene, but I am trying…
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Refer above! Also, one of the main delights in my life is cooking, so a lot of time is spent shopping, preparing and cooking food, plus I have a house to look after, family, friends I need to keep in touch with, books to read, etc . etc.
What do you read for pleasure?
I’m one of those people who can read several books at once – depending on my mood. These days I love detective stories, political thrillers, adventure stories by writers like Clive Cussler, Dan Brown and Matthew Reilly, plus the odd romance for a change. I have a study full of books and can never get rid of any – only add to them; and I go to the library regularly to find new writers to read.
Do you have other writing projects in progress?
I thought you’d never ask! Of course I do. I am writing my second novel, as yet untitled, based on a theme of domestic violence (another experience learned in my job). A beautiful model marries a handsome man, but all is not as it seems and he gradually becomes more violent and controlling…
I have said how I love to cook, well I am also planning a “recipe memoir”, bringing together many of the lovely recipes I have kept through my life and sharing them, along with stories of people I have met. This is something I have wanted to do for years and I’m finally getting around to it.
Thank you Sara for telling us your story. I look forward to reading your next novel, and turning the pages of that personal recipe book.