The Writing Life of: Rachel Sargeant
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Rachel Sargeant. Rachel will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘The Good Teacher‘, which was released on 14th December 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Rachel Sargeant is the author of Kindle Top Ten bestseller The Perfect Neighbours. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize.
Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
For a while I thought I would be an archivist , then maybe a physiotherapist but finally I opted for librarian and I’ve had some great jobs in that field. (I get to buy books for a living!)
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
It wasn’t until I reached eleven that I found a book I liked. I discovered Judith M. Beresford books in WHSmith and read several of her Jackie and The Pony Club series.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
When a palm reader at a party suggested it to me in 1999.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I like to get to my desk by 9.30am and usually mess about on the internet for an hour before I do more focused reading of social media. I particularly like Twitter where I see what bloggers and authors I follow are recommending to read.
I get down to writing late morning and then I’ll work for several hours. Most of the time I’m editing on screen. I write first drafts long hand and try to time them for the summer so I can sit in the garden. I don’t have a daily word count but I like to complete one or two chapters.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I have written eight books. Three are published and another one comes out in November. Two need editing and two are with my agent.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot everything I do – in life as well as writing. Sadly I can’t do spontaneity very well.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Killer Reads
Pages – 221
Release Date – 14th December 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-0008327231
Format – ebook, paperback
Even the good have to die.
A beloved teacher is murdered and left in a ditch beside a country lane. His wife is found beaten and gagged in their suburban home.
Even the best schools have secrets.
New detective Pippa Adams learns that the teacher ran a homework club for vulnerable pupils. But what did he really teach them?
Even the perfect family has something to hide.
When Pippa scratches the surface of the school community, she meets families who’ve learned a shattering lesson. And finally uncovers the good teacher’s darkest secrets…
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
There were two themes that I had to research. (I can’t say what they were without giving a spoiler.) I watched TV documentaries and used the internet.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Seventeen years. The book started life as a five-minute exercise at a creative writing workshop in 2001. I sent back the final copy edited version of The Good Teacher to my editor on 23 August this year.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
My editor, Finn Cotton, came up with The Good Teacher. He homed in on the core of the book and found a title that followed on well from my previous novel, The Perfect Neighbours.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Rookie detective Pippa Adams is clumsy and talkative, but also good at getting people to reveal things relevant to her enquiries. Her colleagues have her down as a bit of a lightweight but behind her jolly façade is a deeply buried trauma. An incident in her past caused her to abandon her career as a professional dancer and rush headlong into the police.
Her supervisor is DS Mike Matthews, a gruff grafter with a first class brain. He has his own reasons for being wary of Pippa.
They are joined by forensic scientist Steve “Clockwise” Chisholm, the station’s resident anorak with the hots for Pippa; by DI Liz Bagley, a Rottweiler in Cher’s clothing; and by dazzling DS Danny Johnson, a man with more girlfriends than Penbury has villains. Their Detective Chief Inspector is James Hendersen, a bear of a man who misses army life. And reigning over all of them is Superintendent Naomi Chattan, a political powerhouse passing through Penbury on her way to the top.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
It went from 5-minute workshop exercise, via Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story winner, to a novel published in 2010. I returned to it last year to update it using the skills I learnt on my MA in Creative Writing. I sent the updated version to my agent Marilia, hoping she could find a small opening for it somewhere. I was delighted when she sent it to my editor Finn at HarperCollins and I was thrilled when he took it on the Killer Reads list. Even though I’d already done a lot of work on it, Finn helped me do more and give it a contemporary feel.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
The plan is to spend the next few months finishing off my current work in progress, a serial killer thriller. Then I hope we get some sunny days in the summer so I can spend them in the garden on the first draft of the next novel. This will lead into the autumn when I embark on the promotional tour for The Roommates, my psychological thriller set at a university during freshers’ week.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
The ability to speak every language in the world.
2) Do you have any pets?
A hippo sits on my desk. Does that count?
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
I’d never write one. I’d bore myself to tears.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I think I could be Trish, the school secretary. Like her, I’d struggle with the sound system and wouldn’t be able to see the dials without my reading glasses.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I love the British seaside.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘When is your husband going to tidy up his stuff?’ (He’s too busy proofreading and promoting my work to tidy up.)
I would like to say a big thank you to Rachel Sargeant for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.