Thursday 4 July 2013

Twenty Questions with... Sarah Painter

I am delighted to welcome Sarah Painter onto my blog today, author of The Language of Spells, recently released by Carina UK.

Another fellow Carina UK author, I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past month or so, with the aid of social media, but now it's time to get the lowdown on Sarah and get stuck in with a round of twenty questions.

ACT ONE – all about you…

Sarah Painter has worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor for the last thirteen years, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood). Sarah lives in rural Scotland with her children, husband, and two enormous cats. She drinks too much tea, loves the work of Joss Whedon, and is the proud owner of a writing shed.

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I've always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time I was too scared to try. I went into magazine journalism as that was a kind of writing and it felt more achievable. For years, I put off writing fiction in case I discovered I couldn't do it.

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

When I'm drafting a book, I try to write every day. Otherwise I lose my nerve and start to get really freaked out about opening the WIP. Sad, but true. It also helps to keep the story and characters fresh in my mind, though, so it's not all bad.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Loads, I'm sure! I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and am also midly obsessed with reading about authors and the craft of writing. I've definitely been inspired by my writing friends, too, (their persistence and productivity).

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

People always say that you need to persevere and this is definitely true, but I'd also say that it's okay to take a break from writing (or from whatever else in your life is draining you/is no longer fulfilling). Sometimes you need to 'refill the creative well' or, sometimes, just have a rest.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Um... I met my husband during my first week of university and we got together on his 19th birthday. I also had a (short-lived) career as a club night reviewer, but I often fell asleep before the headline DJ came on… Thirdly, I can't stand polystyrene. I hate the feel of it, and the sound it makes when it's snapped makes the hairs stand up on my neck and my shoulders hunch. Argh. Now I'm thinking about polystyrene. Shudder.

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My netbook (for writing), my PC (for writing without totally knackering my back), pain killers (for when I've totally knackered my back), wine (needs no explanation), and, of course, my Kindle.

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

When you are ready, seek, and you shall find. It is your gift. Gwen Harper left Pendleford thirteen years ago and hasn’t looked back. Until an inheritance throws her into the mystical world she thought she’d escaped. Confronted with her great-aunt’s legacy Gwen must finally face up to her past. The magic she has long tried to suppress is back with a vengeance but gift or burden, for Gwen, it always spells trouble. She has to stay – she has nowhere else to go – but how can she find her place in the town that drove her out after branding her a witch…?

7) Congratulations on your recent release of The Language of Spells, what was your inspiration for writing Gwen's story?

Thank you! I always start with a character chatting away in my mind and Gwen's voice was irresistible. I've always loved books which combine the real world with magical elements, so I was delighted when I realised Gwen had an uncanny ability to find lost things.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

I wouldn't say a story has ever flowed from my finger tips, but I usually find that if I force myself to write a steady 1000 words every day, eventually I have a rubbish draft which I can work on.

9) I see The Language of Spells is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

It took about a year to write, then six months to get my agent, then a few months of revisions for her, before it was ready to be submitted to publishers, then a few more months of final revisions and so on, before publication day. I was offered a deal by Carina in January and the book came out at the end of May, which is incredibly fast in publishing, and one of the bonuses of a 'digital first' deal.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

It’s too tricky to choose a favourite, so I’ll just go with the opening…

Gwen Harper had been brought up in the sure knowledge that everything in life came as a pair. Every coin had two sides, every person had an angel and a devil lurking inside, and every living thing was busy dying. Gwen couldn’t imagine a good side to returning to Pendleford but, since she had no choice in the matter, she hoped that Gloria had been right about all that ‘light and dark’ business. 

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about The Language of Spells, to make us rush out and buy it?

It’s a funny, romantic read with plenty of mystery and magic.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

I’m working on the follow up. It’s a stand-alone title, but set in the same place, seven years after the events of The Language of Spells.

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?


14) Secret Seven or Famous Five? (please tell me you know them!?)

Famous Five.

15) Digital books or print books?


16) Tea or coffee?

Tea. Tea. Tea.

17) Cats or dogs?

Cats. Although my mum just got an adorable Jackadoodle puppy which I'm rather fond of.

18) Extrovert or introvert?


19) Save or spend?


20) Facebook or Twitter?


And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Sarah, I wish you every success with your new release and have already added The Language of Spells to my TBR list.

To discover even more about Sarah Painter, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Buy it now…

Add to Goodreads

When you are ready, seek, and you shall find. It is your gift.



  1. Hi Aurelia, Hi Sarah, great to see you over here. Hope the book is doing well for you!

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