Undiscovered Voices 2012 winner, Sharon Jones, has been writing since childhood. While studying for a degree in politics and then a Masters in theology, she worked in two independent bookshops where she developed a love of young adult fiction. Sharon gained a doctorate in the theology of story whilst being den mother to 500 undergraduates and has taught courses on everything from the philosophy of education to the history of Neo-Paganism. Having lived in Liverpool, Cambridge, Warwick and Colchester, she now lives back in her native Lancashire with a giant white poodle, Harvey.
Interview with Sharon Jones
Why did you want to write Dead Jealous?
I was having a hard time writing an urban fantasy – the plot and the characters were driving me crazy and I was losing the will to live… and more importantly, losing the will to write! I needed something to jolt me out of the rut I was in. So I thought, hey, why not try and write the kind of book you read all the time – a murder mystery! Thus, Dead Jealous was born!
Is it easier plotting a series then a standalone book?
Each of the Poppy books are discreet stories, but obviously there are certain plotlines that continue through the series. I think the open-endedness of a series is both a joy and a headache. It’s great to be able to develop themes and relationships, but at the same time I’m not quite sure how many books there will be so it’s hard to plot character arcs.
Dead Jealous, p.95: Tariq to Poppy:
“So- where do you come from?”
Poppy snorted. “Blackpool?!”
“Yeah – what’s wrong with that?”
You must have known I wouldn’t ignore this. I promise not to harm you. Much. 😉
What is wrong with Blackpool?
I have nothing against Blackpool. It’s those naughty characters… they have no taste! I will tell you a funny story about the last time I actually went to Blackpool though.
Way back in the distant past I worked as a youth and community worker. That particular week we were taking two groups of people on a daytrip to Blackpool. The first group was a coach load of pensioners. They had a lovely time… eating fish and chips… playing bingo… until it was almost time to come home when one of them promptly died. I wish I was joking. Someone actually died.
Two days later I was back in Blackpool, this time with a group of inner city 15-18 year-olds. By early evening all was going swimmingly. There had been no fatalities for a start, and for that I was very grateful. A colleague and I decided we’d take a quick walk through Pleasureland to see how they were all doing when one of the 16 year-old guys flew by us with a shopkeeper hot on his heels. Needless to say, when the very sweet, but very naughty guy presented me with a gift, I had a question or two for him.
Y’see. Blackpool hasn’t always been kind to me.
Apart from me threating you, what’s the scariest thing about being a writer?
Actually, you are pretty scary. (Luna: *mwah haha*)
Seriously? I think the scariest thing for me is committing to certain words in a certain order. It’s the thing that’s easiest to get wrong, and yet when you don’t do it at all… well, no good comes of that. The scariest moment in the editing process is when someone says, OK that’s it. Stop. It’s done. No more rewriting. No more adding or taking away. Stop. That moment is terrifying.
And the best?
When someone reads those words and likes them. Heck, they don’t have to like them… I’ll settle for people not hating them!
Apart from writing what do you love doing?
I love watching good drama (I suspect Aaron Sorkin and Joss Wheedon of having made a pact with the devil, such is their brilliance…) I love walking in the woods with my giant poodle, Harvey. And I love meeting up with friends, who all live too far away.
What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
I’ve heard it said that the difference is that US writers don’t hold back, and for some reason, UK writers do… characters who are the product of American writers are always a little more extreme and plots always a little more full on. And I can kind of see how that could be perceived to be the case but I’m not sure it’s true.
May I be so bold as to suggest that UK writers tend to be drawn to writing stories where there are no easy solutions… where characters aren’t easily redeemed and about lives that aren’t filled with roses and puppies nor are nice endings guaranteed? There are of course lots of American writers dealing with those things too, but if we’re talking trends…
What the heck do I know?! What do you think?
Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
ALL THE TIME! I’m sorry, but some titles do not need to be faced forward… and anything written by my friends do! One time Liz De Jager (@LizUK) and I got caught rearranging the shelves in a Waterstones. Luckily we’re very fast talkers…
Luna: I need lessons please because I normally leave very very quickly.
If you could, what would you want to ask your readers?
Eeek! Umm… Do you think that what happened was real (you really have to have read the book to have a hope in hell of understanding this question…) or was it all in Poppy’s head?
Tell us a little about Dead Silent?
Will the cover copy do? It’s brand new…
When Poppy Sinclair and her boyfriend visit snowy Cambridge, she doesn’t expect to discover the body of a student – arms outstretched in the act of smearing bloody angel wings on the chapel’s floor.
Suddenly, Poppy is faced with the possibility that the one closest to her heart might be the one committing the most malicious of crimes.
Dodging porters and police, dreading what she might find, Poppy follows the clues left by a murderer bent on revenge…
Long-hidden secrets are chillingly revealed, an avenging angel seeks forgiveness and red-hot vengeance must be quelled in the amazing new Poppy Sinclair thriller.
Luna: Sounds so good!
Tea or coffee?
What would be your superpower?
To never have to sleep.
One thing you couldn’t write without? My Mac!
Can Dawkins be my dog?
No. (Luna: *sniff* why not?)
What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Walking my dog. No, you can’t have him either!
You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
What word describes you best?
The last book you read?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. (See above.)
How can you be bribed? (I’m noting this for future reference).
With technology. I do love a good piece of tech.
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
How did you get to be so darned brilliant?
People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she’s also Death…Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn’t been so lucky. As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise – too late – that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time.
My review of Dead Jealous here