Her first novel was published in 1982, and since then she has written more than 20 books, including eight psychological thrillers, which have met with considerable acclaim, including the nomination to the long-list for the prestigious
Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year 2005 for Tower of Silence,
(originally published in 2003).
As well as being published in America and Australia, Sarah’s books have been translated into German, Dutch, Russian, and Turkish.
A I would love to say yes, and be able to relate a spooky story, but ghosts seem to pass me by. The nearest I can get is when I was writing House of the Lost, and describing a particular character’s appearance. It always matters to let readers know what people look like, of course, but he was a special case. The lady eyeing him with semi-suppressed ardour was doing so with some guilt, being a young nun for whom attraction to any man was forbidden. So I described him as being in his early thirties, with soft dark hair, slightly too long, and wearing a green corduroy jacket, brown knitted tie, and cotton shirt. I wrote the scene, then went off to collect some shopping. And there in the supermarket checkout, two customers ahead, was a man in his early thirties with soft dark hair a bit too long, a green corduroy jacket, brown knitted tie… By the time I reached the car park – which was awash with torrential rain – he had vanished. I do know that the sensible explanation was that I’d seen him in the supermarket on a previous occasion and subliminally absorbed his appearance and used it. But I would much rather believe I had conjured him up and that no one else in that supermarket saw him except me
Q Does a book come from something you have experienced or a place you have visited or do you sit at your desk and let your imagination take over?
A Ideas are everywhere. They’re in bits of TV news or overheard conversations in the cheese queue at the delicatessen. One of my favourite inspirations is from a TV documentary about conjoined twins. . Among the case histories was one of two teenage boys who had been successfully separated a few years previously But after the operation, they both had identical near-nightmares, in which the original 'Siamese twins - Chang and Eng Bunker - would stand at the foot of their beds and threaten to have them re-joined.‘We could never be separated,’ said these dream figures. ‘So why should you?’ The idea of two sets of conjoined twins – but a century apart – dropped straight into my mind, and by the time the programme’s credits were rolling, I was already scribbling notes. And from that, came A Dark Dividing. As for places providing inspirations – quite near to where I live is a large reservoir, and there’s an elusive but wonderfully eerie legend that says the reservoir’s creation drowned a number of buildings – perhaps even an entire hamlet. I wanted to use this concept of a drowned village in a plot. The trouble was that other writers had used it, in fact it’s almost a genre by itself, sometimes called reservoir noir. But I researched the tradition of lost villages – most of them lost to enclosure or coastal erosion or wiped out by disease. More recently, by-passes, of course. But some were the subject of strange experiments. One of the most famous of those is probably Gruinard Island – the ‘anthrax isle’ in Scotland, sealed off from the world for almost half a century.
The Sin Eater
Spider Light Changeling
The Burning altar