15 Sep 2014

2014 Debut Authors Bash Tour with Code Red Lipstick author Sarah Sky

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Jessica Cole’s an ordinary teenage girl, except when she's modelling and strutting down the glamorous catwalks of Paris and appearing on magazine photoshoots. When her father, a former MI6 spy, mysteriously disappears in Paris, she takes matters into her own hands. Following his trail, Jessica's investigation leads her hot on the heels of an MI6 double agent as well as Allegra Knight, a deranged former supermodel who plans to attack an unsuspecting teenage population with the launch of her new miracle face cream, Teenosity.

What inspired you to write it?
I came across the diary a teenage supermodel wrote for a newspaper, detailing her days in Paris during Haute Couture Week. She was trying to juggle modelling for top designers with her schoolwork. It really fired my imagination. What adventures could a teenage model get up to when she was away from her family? Could she use it as cover for a secret life? Jessica Cole, a model spy was born.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I love spy thrillers and mysteries. I grew up reading Nancy Drew books and moved on to Agatha Christie and Stephen King as I got older. I still enjoy reading thrillers now. I like cliffhangers and trying to guess the red herrings and twists at the end.

What made you want to become an author?
I’ve always wanted to be an author, ever since I was a child, and wrote lots of stories at school and at home. When I was seven, I tried to get my first book published. It was called The Moondrop Family. I illustrated it myself too. I had a very nice rejection letter from a publisher, telling me not to give up. I didn’t.

How do you come up with character names?
The name, Jessica, had been at the back of my mind for some time - I thought if my husband and I ever had a daughter we’d call her Jessica. We ended up having two boys, but I still wanted to use the name! I also have a babies’ name book, which I flick through when I want to get some inspiration. Sometimes I see names I really like on TV and film credits or in newspapers.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I can read it again and again and never get tired of it.

Who, or what, inspires you?

In life, it’s my family. In writing, I find it pretty inspirational talking to other authors or reading interviews with them – finding out how they work and structure their novels. I get inspiration for stories from a range of things, particularly interesting articles in newspapers and magazines and eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations!

Where is your favourite place to write?
At home in my study. I also like writing notes for books in cafes, while having a coffee and cake.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

I can’t take any credit for that, I’m afraid. It was totally down to Scholastic. I think they did a great job. I love it!

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Maybe Bella Thorne for Jessica, Liam Neeson for her father, Jack Cole, Helen Mirren for her grandmother, Mattie, and Janice Dickinson or Elle Macpherson would make a great baddie as Allegra Knight.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
The Shawshank Redemption

Name two of your favourite authors.

I’ve struggled with this question. It’s really hard to narrow it down to just two as I read widely across a lot of different genres and have a long list of books I love. I like reading books with a twist like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, S J Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep and Rosamund Lupton’s Sister – but I haven’t read any of their other work apart from Lupton’s Afterwards which I enjoyed. In thrillers, I like David Baldacci and Tess Gerritsen among others. I always look out for the latest books from Kate Atkinson and Kate Mosse, which make them among my favourite authors. But there are so many more names I want to add – I haven’t got on to favourite classics from Jane Austen and Emily Bronte or young adult fiction which I read a lot of - and I’ve cheated already!

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?Stephen King and Agatha Christie. I’d want to hear about their lives first hand and how they get their ideas and write their books. Did they plan their books out from beginning to end or just start writing and get inspiration along the way? I’d particularly want to quiz Agatha Christie on the nuts and bolts of writing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I love martial arts. I’m a brown belt with one stripe at karate and training for black. I’m also a green belt in kick-boxing.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
photo credit: rocor via photopin cc
I flatter myself considerably by saying this, but I’ll opt for Jessica Chastain. I think she’s a really good actress, particularly in Zero Dark Thirty.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
Ealing in West London has the world famous Ealing Studios. It’s been a base for film-making since 1902 and is best known for old classics such as Kind Hearts and Coronets. In the past decade, films shot there include Shaun of the Dead, I Give It A Year, the revived St Trinians franchise as well as downstairs scenes for TV’s Downton Abbey. It also has Santa Maria, which is regularly voted one of the best pizzerias in London, and is a regular Saturday night haunt for us!

What are your (writing) plans for the future?I’ve written book two, Fashion Assassin, which is published by Scholastic in January 2015 and book three, which is published in June 2015.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
I’ve always wanted to visit Machu Picchu in Peru.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
Theseus and the minotaur. The thought of being stuck in a labyrinth with a monster tracking you down is horrifying, but gripping. I often think of trying to write a story around that myth.

Who did you want to be when you were a kid?
I always wanted to be a writer. I used to carry a notebook around with me, wherever I went, to jot down stories. I still do.

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