If you enjoy YA Fantasy or YA horror than Sarah Dalton is an author worth getting to know. Her YA Fantasy book is called White Hart and she has a series of YA horror books, Mary Hades.
Sarah Dalton grew up in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Derbyshire and as a result has an over-active imagination. She has been an avid reader for most of her life, taking inspiration from the stories she read as a child, and the novels she devoured as an adult. Sarah mainly writes speculative fiction for a Young Adult audience and has had pieces of short fiction published in the Medulla Literary Review,PANK magazine and the British Fantasy Society publication Dark Horizons. Her short story ‘Vampires Wear Chanel’ is featured in the Wyvern Publication Fangtales.
I recently read the first two stories in the Mary Hades series, My Daylight Monsters and Mary Hades. Both of those reviews can be found here at The Scary Reviews. I very much enjoyed them both and I thought it would be great to ask Sarah Dalton a few questions. Sarah was kind enough to tackle some questions I had for her and share a little bit about herself, talk about the Mary Hades series and what lies ahead. Before we hit the Q&A, thank you Sarah for spending some time with me. It was a pleasure to chat with you and to feature you in my Women in Horror series. Best to you and keep bringing us great characters like Mary Hades!
The Scary Reviews: Let’s start at the beginning: How did writing find you? Or did you find it?
Sarah Dalton: I think, like most writers, I came to writing as a reader. I loved stories when I was a child, and I liked writing stories at school. I didn’t take writing seriously until I was in my twenties and I started my first novel. I honestly thought I’d give up after a few chapters but I didn’t. Even when I had to rewrite the entire book I kept going and I finished it!
TSR: Can you talk about your writing process, how much of your stories if any are laid out or do they flow organically?
SD: I used to let the stories flow organically, but recently I tend to plot out the entire book first. I write each chapter out in bullet point form and then when I write the novel I’m fleshing the bones of the story. But when I’m writing a series, I usually keep an end point in mind but let the plot meander a little. Pulling everything together for the last book is always the hardest part.
TSR: Is there anything in your life that inspired you to write the Mary Hades series, or was this purely from your imagination?
SD: Mary Hades came from a love of Gothic literature. I wanted teenagers and young adults to feel the same spooky gloominess that I felt reading Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The very first novella, My Daylight Monsters, came from my dislike of hospitals. I worked as an administrator in a hospital and always found something unnerving about the smell and look of the place. A modern hospital can be as an intimidating building as Dracula’s castle.
TSR: Are any of the characters in your book based on people you know or have seen/talked to in real life?
SD: I can’t think of anyone like the characters in my books! I think my characters become a mash-up of characters from literature, TV and films rather than people I’ve met.
TSR: How much of yourself finds its way into your writing? Experiences, philosophies, personal views?
SD: I think every author puts a little of themselves in most of their characters. It’s very hard not to put in some of your own views into novels. For instance, The Blemished series delves into how quickly a governing body can turn evil if that attempt to control too much. White Hart has strong themes about nature and respecting the world around you. Mary Hades is mostly about friendship above all else. Though it’s a fine line between exploring themes and preaching, I do find my own philosophies and ideas about the world slipping into the books.
TSR: Do you read the kinds of books you like to write? Do you watch movies similar to or the same genre as your writing?
SD: Yes, and like my writing, I constantly skip genres! I read YA, literary books, fantasy, thrillers and mysteries, sometimes horror. I don’t watch many horror films though because they freak me out! I’m a wimp.
TSR: For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
SD: They’re all so different, I’m not sure which I can choose! I think my personal favourite is My Daylight Monsters, because it has such a strong theme, with strong characters, and a good dose of haunting mystery to it.
TSR: Can you tell us a little about your current/latest book?
SD: I’m currently sketching out ideas for a YA high fantasy series that involves dragons. It will be a little like my fantasy series White Hart, but with more of a traditional fantasy feel.
Also, under my pen name Sarah A. Denzil, I just released a psychological thriller about a woman confronting a dark history as she attempts to uncover her stalker.
TSR: What’s next on your agenda?
SD: Well, I’ve not been writing YA for a while so I want to write a few YA books. As well as the high fantasy series I want to finish the Mary Hades series. I think there are two more novels to write but I need to sit and plot them out.
TSR: If you could write anywhere in the world – in a fictional or nonfiction place – where would you write?
SD: I would love to spend more time in Cornwall. The place reminds me of Daphne Du Maurier novels. A little cottage on the coast overlooking the cliffs would be perfect.