Sarah Davies is a writer, poet, storyteller and performer who lives and works in Newport, South Wales. She has self-published a collection of short stories and an historic novella to date. Sarah will be self-publishing a second collection of short stories later this month, 14th November 2020. ASP caught up with her in September during the interminable lockdown and conducted an interview via email:
ASP: How did you get started in writing? Were you writing articles first, before getting into fiction etc?
SD: I started writing fiction seriously in 2017, before that I hadn't really written any since school. I had been writing magazine articles for a range of national print publications since 2005.
ASP: What did you do before you became a full-time writer? I know from ages past the best advice from writers in the '80's was always saying you need to live life, before you can write about life.
SD: I've had lots of jobs before and whilst working as a writer. I've worked in retails, arts administration, education (working from nursery right through to university level, in different roles), in housing and as a virtual assistant, doing social media, audio transcription and administration. I've certainly used lots of my work and life experiences in my writing, as well as observation of customers and clients.
ASP: Are there any customers/clients that stood out as perfect material for a character for you? Without giving identities away, of course.
SD: I have used things from real people as inspiration for characters in the past, not necessarily whole people, but quirks or things I've noticed. There was one customer I had who was always doodling on napkins in the cafe where I worked, that became part of a character. There are also particular phrases people say that have gone into stories along with fictionalised accounts of actual events that have happened to me.
One thing I often do when thinking about characters is find a picture of what I think the character looks like on the internet, or I imagine what they sound like (in my historical novella two of the main characters sounded like Phillip Madoc and Jason Isaacs. Knowing what they sounded like really helped me to be able to get their speech patterns right).
ASP: Did you decide to self-publish because of a lack of acceptances from submissions? Trying to get a publisher to take on a new writer is always immensely difficult, especially if they're unknown.
SD: I took the decision to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers. With my first collection of short stories I wanted to get it out by a particular date (my 50th birthday), and I knew that wouldn't happen if I went down the traditional route. With my second book, a historical novella, I guess I could have sent it to agents and publishers, but I chose not to. I think having done the self-publishing thing once, I knew I could do it and I knew it would give me a good product, so I just went with what I knew.
ASP: Now that you have two self-published books out, would you be tempted to present yourself to a publisher or agent?
SD: I'm planning to self-publish my next book, but I'd never say never when it comes to submitting to agents/publishers. I think when I have the right book, I'd completely give it a shot, but for now, I'm happy staying in the indie realm.
ASP: Did you research the available Print on Demand self-publishers? Or did you just plump for Lulu? Ian Duncan, who is my second interviewee for ASP, tried Lulu and found them useful to a degree, but ultimately too expensive for what he was trying to achieve.
SD: I had used Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing to format and create books for clients in the past, and both were fine, but when I was looking for somewhere to publish my first book, I'd heard good things about Lulu and decided to have a closer look at what they offered. Their process looked reasonably straight forward and they give you the opportunity to have your books available through a range of other sellers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more), so it seemed like a good service. I found the process really easy in terms of formatting, uploading, cover design, etc, and the quality of books produced is good.
ASP: What has your experience with Lulu been like?
SD: I've been very pleased with my experience with Lulu. I'm currently working on producing a second collection of short stories, and I'm planning to use Lulu again as I've had no problems with them in the past.
I don't discount submitting work to traditional publishers in the future, it's just not something I've felt the need to do yet. I like the fact that I can publish my work without having to jump through the hoops of submitting work to traditional publishers, not that I don't ask myself all the questions that submission forms ask, it's just that I like the freedom Print on Demand gives me at the moment, so I'm happy to stick with it.
ASP: Thank you.
If you would like to know more about Sarah, you can find her through:
Her second collection of short stories, ‘The Second Time: Contemporary Short Stories’, will be published Saturday 14th November 2020 at 1 pm GMT: https://youtu.be/ck4HLu2uqsY.
Paperback available from: