Interview with Sarah Naughton – Author of The Hanged Man Rises

I am delighted to welcome Sarah Naughton to Bookbabblers today. Here is our interview with Sarah…

Please tell us a little about yourself
I live in London with my husband and two sons. I came here at the age of 17 to study English and then went on to write adverts for ten years, which was a lot of fun. Like most authors I’ve been writing for years but it took having children to make me knuckle down and get on with it seriously; when they were babies I’d cram in an hour or so after they’d gone to bed. Apparently it’s illegal to leave them in the house while you go to the pub.

Please tell us about The Hanged Man Rises and your inspiration for the book
London is my inspiration, although I must admit we’ve had our ups and downs. There are aspects of the city that I’m madly in love with, and other aspects that make me want to run screaming back to Dorset. I’ve tried to capture something of this dichotomy in the book: London’s intoxicating atmosphere and vibrancy versus its violence and squalor. Victorian London vividly illustrates the extremes of these highs and lows: these days we can rely on the welfare state to help us when we fall on hard times, then there was the workhouse or starvation. Setting Titus’s story in those harsh, unforgiving days added a sense of urgency to his plight.

I loved your description of Victorian London. How did you research this period?
I tended to do my research as I went along, reading up on things like spiritualism, the workhouse and the police when I was writing the passages that dealt with those subjects. Victorian London is a pretty popular topic and it seems as if most authors have tackled it at some time or other, so there was lots of material to immerse myself in (although I have to confess I’ve never got through an entire Dickens…). And for accuracy of costume and props you can usually rely on the BBC.

What are you working on now?
I’ve got a lot of ideas buzzing around my head at the moment. They’ve mostly got either supernatural or historical elements or both. I’ve recently finished a grisly horror story that I hope will get your flesh crawling, and have begun something for slightly older teens, featuring a time-jump romance (with all the difficulties that entails…). I’m a sucker for romance, as long as it’s tortured, bloody and preferably doomed.

Where is your favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write would be a tumbledown bothy overlooking a storm-tossed sea with my trusty wolfhound dozing by the fire. Unfortunately I have to make do with my kitchen table, accompanied by chocolate hobnobs and gallons of green tea.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I have loads of advice for aspiring writers. Most importantly of all: write every day, even when you’d rather be bleaching the toilet seat. Write in a genre you like (I thought I could make a fast buck writing Mills and Boons but my heroes were too tortured and effeminate). Avoid using verbs like ‘persuaded’, ‘cajoled’, etc – ‘said’ is far less clunky and the rest should be communicated by the dialogue itself. Some advice I’ve chosen to ignore is write for your readers not yourself. I write for me: I couldn’t do it any other way. My final tip is: choose very carefully whose advice you listen to. My friend Dave is always telling me to ‘put a dragon in it.’ Come to think of it, maybe he’s right.

Thanks Sarah! The Hanged Man Rises is available to buy now. Scroll down to read my review.