I was super excited and nervous when Sandra agreed to participate in answering some of my questions, so a very big THANK YOU to her for taking some time out to answer them.
Happy reading all!!!!
Questions & Answers:
Q. What made you become a writer and did you always want to be a writer?
“I suppose like most people, I scribbled away when I was a teenager, kept a diary, wrote short stories, but I never felt that being a writer was something that I could aspire to. I was an avid reader of books, but it never occurred to me that writing could be a ‘job’! I don’t ever remember being curious about the authors behind my favourite reads, so I never considered writing books as something that ‘ordinary’ people did.”
Q. Do you ever share your book ideas with members of your family or friends to see if it is worth writing? If not why?
“I only share my ideas with ‘booky’ friends, because if you choose to confide in people who don’t ‘get’ writing, it’s a bit of a confidence-crusher. My writing friends are awesome and give me valuable feedback. They’ll also suggest plot points and ways to progress, if I hit a block.”
Q. Do you have set times for writing and working on book ideas? or do you just go with the flow as they say.
I used to write in the early morning, which is my most creative time, but now I seem to be writing in the afternoon! Not sure how that’s happened, but it seems to be working. I always preferred to write at home, but I’ve found myself heading out to a quiet café quite a lot recently, and that’s been quite useful. It gets my head away from the domestic stuff.
Q. Do you try to be original in your books or do you just try to deliver what you think your readers want?
“I only ever think about the story I want to tell in the first draft. I write about the sort of things which I find intriguing – folklore, relationships, quirky landscapes and strange goings-on. It seems that readers enjoy these things too! Reader enjoyment comes with skilful editing. You’ve got to ramp up the tension and not give too much away. The reader’s imagination is the greatest tool in the writer’s toolbox.”
Q. Are you friends with any other authors? If so who and how do they help you with your writing?
“Some authors, such as Claire MacLeary (Cross Purpose & Burnout) I met through my studies (I did a creative writing Mlitt at the University of Dundee). Others, Noelle Harrison (The Gravity of Love) and Shelley Day (The Confession of Stella Moon) I’ve encountered through literary events. Writers tend to be a very supportive, so even if you aren’t in touch with them every week, or even every month, they still feel like old friends!”
Q. What did you do with your first advance?
“Probably paid my electricity bill! People will tell you there’s very little money in being an author, and sadly it’s true, unless you’re one of the tiny number who sell squillions of copies.”
Q. How do you come up with the names of characters in your books?
“They just sort of pop into my mind. Mouse, from Beneath the Skin, happened that way. I kept telling her that Mouse wasn’t an appropriate name for a grown woman, but she wouldn’t listen. Walt, also in BTS, was named after the narrator in Frankenstein, Robert Walton. A little nod to Mary Shelly. In Bone Deep, my protagonist Lucie Snowe is named after the main character in Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, although ‘Lucie’ with an ‘ie’ is the same as Lucie Westenra in Dracula. In the book I’m currently working on, I have an optician called Mark McTeer (as in ‘tear’!)”
Q. How many unpublished or half written books do you have? What do you think the reason for this is?
“I have one called World’s End which is silly and amateurish (that answers your second question!) and I have two books from a YA trilogy lurking on my computer, which may one day see the light of day. The problem with these is that I have too many viewpoints. Multiple viewpoints are tricky unless they are well-balanced and don’t repeat information – that’s why these haven’t been published.”
Q. What’s the best and worst book you’ve ever read?
“One of the best books I’ve read recently is White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht. It’s about the plight of Korean women who were captured by Japanese soldiers during the war, and one woman’s search to find her sister. It’s a hard read, but beautifully written. I don’t have a worst book, because good or bad, at least someone has had the courage to write it and put it out there!”
Q. What format do you prefer when it comes to reading physical books, e-books or audiobooks and why?
“I prefer a ‘proper’ book, but e-readers have revolutionised holiday reading, and I suppose all formats have their place. I tried audiobooks but my attention kept wandering.”
Q. Have you ever gotten reader’s block? If so how long did it last and how did you get out of it?
“That’s a good question. When my children were small, I couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything longer than a magazine. It was years before I started reading for pleasure again. My kids are grown up now so I can shut myself away with a book and not feel guilty!”
Q. If you weren’t a writer, what career would you have chosen and why?
“I’m a real history buff, so anything connected with old buildings. I worked for a while for the National Trust for Scotland as a guide at Barry Mill, Angus, and if I hadn’t taken to writing books, I would love to have had a career in the heritage sector.”
Q. If you could turn back time, what would you change and why?
“Nothing. Everything happens for a reason and the twists and turns in life lead you to where you need to be, and make you the person you’re supposed to be.”
Q. What’s the worst and best job you’ve ever had?
Worst job – working as a waitress. People are very moany about food, and I was really clumsy! I can’t carry two bowls of soup at once. I was a rubbish waitress, and I have no time for drunk people (unless I’m one of them). Best job- I used to have a café, and I loved that. It was brilliant meeting new people and I loved my regular customers. I suppose that’s a bit weird, given what I’ve just said about the waitressing! Maybe it’s different if it’s your own business.
Q. When being interviewed what question or questions do you absolutely hate being asked? Please be honest even if one of the questions is on here.
“Where do you get your ideas from?’ I always long to answer, ‘I buy them off the internet.’ At least that’s not on here!”
Q. Are you working on any new books?
“I’m working on Novel 4, and I’m about the embark on a non-fiction book about the folklore of the watermill, title: Grist! The Landscape and Lore of the Scottish Watermill.That will be published by Little Toller Books in 2019. Novel 3 is already with my publisher, Polygon, and we’re about to start the edits. It’s about abusive relationships, and what happens when home isn’t quite as you remember…”
Q. Is there anything you would like to add for your readers?
“Just that I hope they’ll enjoy reading Bone Deep as much as I enjoyed writing it! I love folklore, and when I came across the Border Ballad, ‘The Cruel Sister’, on which Bone Deep is based, I just thought it was a chilling but intriguing tale. The miller who wasn’t a miller really got my attention!”
That’s the end of my questions and answers with Sandra Ireland. Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and if you haven’t already read her book Bone Deep, then go and read it now quick!!
My review of Bone Deep can be found by clicking here.
Also if you would like to know more about Sandra you can connect with her using the following links