British educator Sarah Bevan Fisher was down-sized in 2011; and set about trying to find another job. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities, she decided to do something different. Sarah had always wanted try her hand at writing the novel that had been stirring inside her soul for many years. With the support and understanding of her New Yorker husband, they decided to downsize their living arrangements, and relocate to Spain, so that Sarah could write.
In the midst of packing, the characters in her novel couldn’t wait. They began leaping onto the page, and her first book, Palmerstone, was born. Sarah continued writing furiously upon her arrival in Spain. Within seven months she’d completed the four books that comprise The Friendship Diaries. A prolific showing for a first-time novelist.
Palmerstone introduces us to Penny, Caitlin, Rebecca, and Suzanne; lifelong friends since their school days in the early seventies. Set against a backdrop of London, New York, Paris, Rome, and rural England, The Friendship Diaries follow the twists and turns of these women’s lives. Their strong bonds of friendship are evident as they strive for exciting careers; suffer broken hearts; bear and rear children; get divorced; and experience tragic losses. Through all their challenges we also become privy to the good times they share together.
Engaging and thought-provoking, the novels are an entertaining, page-turning read. As the cover of Palmerstone entices: “Take four girls, add one sexy Frenchman; one drop-dead gorgeous Italian; a bad boy; and the nearest thing to a human angel. Shake well; then sit back and watch the fireworks!”
What inspires you to write?
I loved writing the Friendship Diaries and I had high hopes that readers would love the characters as much as I had loved writing them. Caitlin, Rebecca, Suzanne and Penny have long been my imaginary friends. I always had the intention of continuing the stories with the younger characters to the fore. The warm and supportive feedback that I have received from many of you has inspired me to crack on with the next series of stories – Beyond Friendship. For those of you disaffected 🙁 by the story lines not always reaching a satisfactory conclusion at the end of each book, I can only apologise and thank you for sticking with it. The books each follow three or four main characters over a period of time. It would not be realistic for every book to be tied up neatly at the end. I promise I have tried to make the books as self-contained as possible.
To my American readers also an apology, I am well aware from my own experience – 10 (very happy) years of marriage to an American – that English and American is NOT the same language! I had to make a decision to write the book in English, the language of my birth and up bringing; hence you will come across a few foreign words and strange spelling. I have tried to keep the language in keeping with the setting so that the American scenes use American language (maybe not always successfully despite an expert on hand). I have also tried to use language appropriate for the years in which scenes are set, particularly for the dialogue.
Once again I give my sincere thanks to all of you who have persevered with reading my work. Particularly thanks to those of you who have taken the time and effort to give your very valuable feedback. Writing can be a lonely business, a word of praise or a constructive criticism are always welcome.
Lastly I have to assure you all that I’m working hard and fast to finish the rest of the series. The 2nd novel of the Beyond Friendship series – Making Out is part finished and should be available in June 2013. Making Out continues the stories of Charlotte, Emily and Poppy; Harriett makes a bigger appearance. It’s such fun I can’t wait to share it with you. Many thanks, Sarah. XOXO
Tell us about your writing process.
I miss my characters when I’m not writing about them, sad but true 🙁
The first thing that I think about most mornings is what my imaginary friends are going to get up to today!
I get stuck into writing and hours pass without much interruption – promoting my work as I am now doing I guess is the biggest distraction which I only get involved in because I want everyone to love my friends as much as I do!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters but when I’m writing I know instinctively if something feels wrong for them. Sometimes a plot line in the synopsis suddenly doesn’t feel right. I have to go with my gut instinct and do what the characters demand.
What advice would you give other writers?
I would not presume to.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I thought that it would be difficult to get a Literary Agent and/or a Publisher without a qualification in English Language/Literature and experience in Journalism, Teaching English or Publishing. Although I am well qualified and have written articles and a regular column in the past (fashion) my profile is not one that would be readily picked up by the traditional ‘gate-keepers’. I liked the idea of the opportunities that self-publishing has brought to authors.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Like any area that is experiencing massive turmoil anything can happen. Rather like the print media business (Newspapers and magazines in particular) the Internet has removed the necessity to purchase hard copy – or indeed purchase anything. This will have a knock on problem in the future as writers and journalists need to earn a living. All of our writing cannot be for free. But hey every opportunity brings a threat.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Chick Lit, Romance
What formats are your books in?