Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Sarah Pinborough Interview
Interview conducted by Steve Jensen
TBG: Which of your novels in particular has a special, personal meaning for you?
SP: The Language of Dying, my novella just out from PS Publishing is the only one that has any real personal meaning for me. It's not a horror story at all - if I had to classify it in any genre it would be magical realism, and it's the story of the last week of a man's life and told from the perspective of the middle child of five who is caring for him. As the family gathers round she gives us insights into her past and theirs and how they all came to be the people they are. It was a very cathartic process for me as a few years ago a friend of mine, (my ex-father in law as it goes) came to stay with me for the last few months of his life when he had terminal cancer. A lot of the experiences I went through then are in the book, and even in the various characters I've weaved fact and fiction together including some other elements of my own life. I think it's a very brutally honest book, and from the reviews I've had thus far, that seems to be coming through, so I'm pleased.
TBG: In writing Feeding Ground, did you consciously strive to pay homage to the masters of creature-based horror, or did you focus on creating a new angle to this type of story?
SP: Feeding Ground is a story set in the same world as Breeding Ground (although not a sequel). When I wrote Breeding Ground I thought I was writing a science fiction story rather than a horror novel, and it's very much a homage to John Wyndham, and especially Day of the Triffids. Wyndham even gets a mention at some point, although I think the character refer to The Kraken Wakes. In Feeding Ground, however, I have gone for a more creature-based horror tone and there are a couple of mildly tongue-in-cheek scenes that pay homage to James Herbert's Rats. I loved that book as a kid, just like I loved Shaun Hutson's Slugs (didn't eat lettuce for the entirety of my 13th year...), and as this was going to be my last outright horror novel for a while I did want to give some credit to those horror books that didn't set out to be clever as such, but just to do exactly what they say on the tin as it were - deliver good pulp horror.
TBG: The Taken features all manner of ghosts. Is the elegance of the idea of ghosts - the romance of spirits being trapped in time, so to speak - more attractive to you as a writer than more run-of-the-mill horrors?
SP: I think I'm more fascinated by the idea that we're all haunted by ourselves to a certain extent. Our pasts are always there - the good and the bad. In The Taken I've gone with ghosts to illustrate that need to learn to be comfortable with who we are and what fate dishes out to us, or we're in danger of being destroyed by ourselves. In The Reckoning there are ghosts too, just less obvious ones. I think if there's a theme running through my horror novels it's probably more to do with how our childhoods form us in some way, and how different characters react as they grow up and change.
TBG: What, for you, has been the most interesting and unexpected facet of success?
SP: I wouldn't say I've really had enough success to be able to answer that! However, since writing full-time, I can no longer answer 'teacher' when people ask me what I do. I'm really uncomfortable talking to strangers about writing or being a writer (I don't know why..) and so I've had to get used to that, although I still hate it. The plus side is that I no longer have to go to school and can just concentrate on writing related things, which is great.
TBG: Please name one book which really inspired you to become a writer?
SP: Stephen King's IT or The Stand (that's two, I know...). Brilliant, brilliant books.
TBG: What are your views on the much-vaunted 'future of publishing' - e-Books, Kindle etc? Is progress necessarily a good thing when its impetus stems from publishers and not writers?
SP: I'm a bit ignorant about the whole e-book and Kindle thing. Some people love it, others hate it. I'm just sitting back and waiting to see what happens. And to be fair, the publishing industry is as much about publishers as writers. I'm not a business person, I just make up stories. Publishers want to make money, for sure, but they can't do it without the writers so I'm sure it will all settle into some kind of happy balance at some point. Personally, I like a proper book in my hands, but I can see how having 10 books stored in an e-reader when going on holiday would be more convenient than lugging them around in a suitcase.
TBG: Please tell us a little about your next writing project.
SP: I'm currently just starting the second book in my Dog-Faced Gods thriller trilogy for Gollancz. The first, A Matter of Blood, is due out in March. Then I'll be starting the second book in my YA trilogy for Gollancz also. The first book of that, The Double Edged Sword will be out next July.
Visit Sarah Pinborough's website
(The Black Glove thanks Sarah Pinborough for her time and efforts)