Today I have Sarah Naughton on my blog whose recent psychological thriller ‘The Mothers’ is an instant hit and I fell in love with the book nice and hard. If you haven’t read the book yet, I highly recommend you to do yourself a favor and get a copy ASAP. I’m sure it will keep you hooked during this lockdown period.
I was just very excited to ask Sarah about so many things about her book, her inspiration and her future plans and she was so kind to spend her time to do this interview with me. So here you go…
About Sarah J Naughton
Sarah worked as an advertising copywriter for ten years before her first book was published in 2013. A supernatural thriller for teens, The Hanged Man Rises was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards. A second thriller for teens, The Blood List came out the following year, after which Sarah moved onto psychological thrillers for adults. Tattletale was followed by Amazon bestseller, The Other Couple, and The Mothers is due out in 2020. She also writes ghost stories.
Sarah lives in London with her husband and two sons.
Click to read my review of ‘The Mothers’
A Conversation with Sarah J Naughton
Can you tell me something about you that your readers might not know?
I’m very boring, so there’s not much worth knowing really. Most of my life goes on in my head, which is a very exciting place, to me, but day to day I do a lot of sitting around my kitchen staring into space.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
My last book, The Other Couple, was set in a luxury Vietnam beach resort with villas on stilts over the sea, a spa, cocktails and Michelin starred catering. If that was my office I’d put up with the odd brutal murder.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Friends and acquaintances might be able to spot their own character and appearance traits, but I doubt it. I probably wouldn’t recognise a portrait of myself. A friend of mine was very surprised to learn a famous writer had based a character on her. She just couldn’t see it.
Picture this: You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
Sometimes I’ll come to a sticky plot point that I just can’t get to work. The best thing for me in these instances is to shut my laptop and go for a walk or, better, a swim. Whilst my body is on autopilot and my conscious brain is preoccupied with putting one foot in front of another, I find my creative mind tends to roam freer.
That said, I don’t believe in waiting for the muse to strike on some 3 month retreat at a cliff top cottage. It’s a job and a craft: grind out the word count until your writing flows freely again. You can always go back and rewrite the clunky bits.
Writing ‘The Mothers’
Where did you come up with the idea for ‘The Mothers’?
I wanted to write about women who find parenting hard. We’re all sold this idea of the saintly mother, sacrificing all for her children and loving every precious moment. If there’s any squeak of imperfection – resentment, selfishness, unhappiness, or simply a child that doesn’t grow into the dream offspring – mothers get the blame. I feel inadequate as a mother all the time, but mine are teens now so it’s not as acute as when they were babies.
How did your own experience of motherhood influence your book’s premise?
Looking back I think I suffered from mild postnatal depression. I put myself under so much pressure to do everything right and still felt guilty all the time. If I could go back in time I would put my arms around me and tell me I was doing a wonderful job. The experience of motherhood is the heart of the book, for me, not the crime, and the friendship between the women is the sort of fantasy support network I wish I’d had when mine were babies.
Which actresses would you wish to play the mothers in the book?
I never do this, and am always surprised when people tag me on Instagram posts with their idea of who should play my characters. In my head their faces are a sort of blur because I’m, looking out of their eyes all the time.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I found Electra’s story arc acutely painful.
Describe your book in three words.
I think I’m getting better at this. Mothers, friends, murderers…
What’s next for Sarah Naughton
I’m in the middle of the editing process for my next thriller for adults, and I’m also hoping to get another children’s book out sometime. I just love writing supernatural stories for kids, which is where I started. When it comes to reading for pleasure I mainly choose ghost stories (if you like them too try Dark Matter by Michelle Paver).
How are making use of your time now in lockdown?
For me the lockdown has been very peaceful. That sounds terrible given what others are suffering, but I guess all our experiences of it are going to be very personal. My gran used to say that the war years were the best of her life, but that’s because no one she cared about was hurt or killed. I like the fact that I wake up with zero pressure to achieve anything, either socially or professionally (except for writing, which I enjoy too much to feel as a stress). The hours just drift by until 6 when it’s time to open a bottle of wine.
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc?
It’s about a group of women, who’ve been friends since school but whose lives have followed very different trajectories, getting together to celebrate a fortieth birthday. But what should be a fun recapturing of their youth becomes increasingly claustrophobic and threatening and ends pretty badly for them. I’ve loved writing it and it’s set in my spiritual – and childhood – home of the West Country. Not sure when it will be out because we’ve just started the editing process, but hopefully it won’t be too long. As soon as I’ve finished one book I’m itching to get started on the next.