Sarah Waters and the joy of book-talks

Sarah Waters and Carole Beu
Sarah Waters and Carole Beu, Flickr 2015-09-07-IMG_9220

In an earlier post before I went to see author Sarah Waters speak as part of Shifting Points of View, I admitted that I’m often wrong about how I think her stories are going to play out – and I now know why Sarah’s novels always have such agonising twists!

She is even more intelligent than I expected.  Amazingly well read and educated. So she will always be one step ahead of me. Damn.

The whole book-talk thing was not what I expected, as there was a lot of dancing around what actually takes place in the novel, as some attendees haven’t read it yet. But I got a fascinating insight into how Sarah puts together her novels. She starts with around two months of research, although she said her latest book is taking a lot longer, perhaps up to four months.

Sarah Waters' books - UBS bookstand
Sarah Waters’ books – UBS bookstand, Flickr, 2015-09-07-IMG_9212

The first half of the book was a “bit of a bugger to write” with a lot writing, rewriting and editing. But the second part was easier, as she enjoyed seeing her characters grow.  It was interesting hearing her speak of characters in her latest novel The Paying Guests, Lillian, Leonard, and Frances as though they are real people, just showing how much thought is put into each one.

My favourite quote from the night was when she described The Paying Guest as “a love story complicated by a crime”. That sums up the novel perfectly.

I definitely recommend attending an author talk if you get the chance. I am looking forward to my next one.

Tania
Outreach Library Assistant

Sarah Waters at Shifting Points of View

Sarah Waters and Carole Beu at Shifting Points of ViewIt takes a lot to get me to go out after I’ve come home from work, but the chance to listen to Sarah Waters at Shifting Points of View definitely qualifies. The Paying Guests is one of my favourite books of the year – history, love, crime, and dilapidated houses – totally my jam! Here are some highlights.

Awards

Waters’ favourite was the Children of the Night Award by the Dracula Society, each trophy being a mini gravestone personalised to the winning book – check them out  (Fingersmith won in 2002).

The Paying Guests

“A bit of a bugger to write!” Epiphany came when agent described the novel as a crime story complicated by love, and Waters realised what she actually wanted was a love story complicated by a crime. She was initially inspired by reading about the trial of Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters and wondered what would happen if the affair was with a woman. It’s not all flappers and gaiety in the 1920s!

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters Flickr 2015-09-07-IMG_9225

New book?

Currently in the research stages, probably set in the 1950s. Probably won’t be out for a while so if you want to read some other books in the same period I thoroughly recommend Eva Rice, particularly The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, which as a bonus deals with a similar ‘genteel house falling into disrepair’ theme as Waters’ The Little Stranger and The Paying Guests. Decaying splendour, anyone?

Recommended reads

Jeanette Winterson, Emma Donoghue and Mary Renault. I already love the last two (and we’ve been getting some lovely new editions of Renault recently in the library) so Winterson will probably be my next read while I wait for Waters to finish writing.

Sarah Waters clarified that she won’t be writing about known historical personages anytime soon – “The thought makes me feel squeamish!” – so if you’d like to read about a fascinating real 19th century Yorkshire landowner who happened to have multiple lesbian affairs, place a reserve on The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister.

Cover of The Paying GuestsCover of The Little StrangerCover of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne ListerCover of The Sealed Letter

Read more of our Shifting Points of View posts.

Sarah Waters: Mistress of the agonising twist

I was so excited when I heard the highly acclaimed UK author Sarah Waters, author of such novels as Tipping the Velvet, The Fingersmith and The Night Watch, was going to attend WORD Christchurch’s Shifting Points of View “mini-festival” during the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Cover of The Paying Guest Cover of Fingersmith Cover of The night watch Cover of Tipping the velvet

I had just finished her latest novel The Paying Guests, and have also read most of her other novels.

I decided to try a talking book version of The Paying Guests for a change and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  Except that I found myself sitting in my car; thinking, just another minute, another minute, aggghhhh, damn I have to go, but I desperately want to know what happens next.

I haven’t decided if listening to the talking book is the best idea or not? I know usually I would have been up to the wee small hours reading, but instead was stuck waiting for my next chance to get in the car and hear what was happening.

If you enjoy amazing attention to historical accuracy, multi layered characters you love, loath,  are distressed by and empathise with, some love and captivating storylines I would recommend trying a novel by Sarah Waters. But beware the always agonising twist, just when I think “huh,” with an air of authority, “I know what’s going to happen next!” I am always wrong.

Oh those twists.

I am lucky enough to be attending Sarah’s talk Crimes of Passion session on Monday 7 September and looking forward to blogging about it after. Stay tuned!

Tania
Outreach Library Assistant