YA Shot is a Young Adult and Middle Grade festival run by authors, raising money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events. The aim is to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. I’m really pleased to have been invited to host this stop on the tour featuring debut author Sarah Baker! AND.. if you check out my Twitter account (@bookactivist1) you’ll see there’s a fantastic giveaway to win one of FIVE signed copies of Sarah’s debut novel, Through the Mirror Door. Simply follow and RT to win! (UK only). Thank you to Catnip/Bounce for supporting this giveaway.
Through the Mirror Door by Sarah Baker is a fantastic adventure story with a time-slip twist; it reminded me of some the classic tales I enjoyed as a child, but with a modern edge (full review on the Bookshelf). The story weaves a brilliant picture of the complexity of family life and relationships centred on the young heroine Angela, with a time-travelling adventure alongside it.
Sarah has worked in film as a story editor and written features for vintage fashion magazines. She’s read and reviewed lots of books throughout her career, but now is writing her own. Through the Mirror Door is her debut novel and I’m sure it will be the first of many!
For this stop on the tour, Sarah shares some of her inspirations for her work, advice for aspiring writers and fashion and baking tips!
How has your reading as a child shaped you as a writer? I’m really writing books for me, aged 10, or thereabouts. I loved adventures and truly believe that reading so much, while it often got me into trouble (I may have been reading under my desk during math classes), it also gave me access to a thousand worlds. I lost myself in books, racing through them, endless cups of tea going cold by my side. My goal now is really to make you forget your tea…
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read. Read anything and everything you can, all sorts of genres and styles. Write too. Write anything. Write and write and keep on writing. It’s all about practice and finding your voice.
You’re Instagram is filled with delicious cakes, what are some of your favourite fictional meals? I was a big fan of The Famous Five picnics; all that lemonade, pineapple chunks and chocolate (alongside the rather less exciting sardines and sandwiches, of course). I also agreed to go to boarding school on the basis of the midnight feasts I’d read about in Blyton’s Malory Towers series. I imagined heaps of boiled sweets, chocolates and biscuits, but this never happened because we always fell asleep. One of my favourite books of all time is The Box of Delights by John Masefield and in it the children have what they call a Robber Tea with bread, butter, jam and dripping. I’m still a big fan of toast and jam, and thoroughly recommend it as an accompaniment to a good book.
You were a vintage fashion magazine writer, how has fashion featured in Through the Mirror Door? What everyone’s wearing in the book will give you a clue as to what sort of person they are. Aunt Cece is a spiky character and wears rather formal clothes she likes to keep spotless. On the other hand, Uncle Vaughn has shirts that are a little worse for wear and straining at the buttons. When it comes to the girls, the clothes divide them. Although Angela, my lead character, dismisses Fliss’s love of pink and Kitty’s slavish following of fashions, her cousins are dressed with care and attention. Angela wears vintage, partly because she doesn’t have a choice, there isn’t anyone to buy her anything new, pink or otherwise. Her sewing skills help her stitch the past with the present though, and I’ll say no more (spoilers!)
If you could spend time with any character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day? I’d really love to sit in the library of Maison de Noyer with Herman. I think there’d be some really good hot chocolate involved and lots and lots of books for me to read.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? Ah, now. The house is actually a real house, though it’s not called Maison de Noyer. And it’s absolutely true that my real life aunt and uncle and two cousins took me there on holiday one summer, when I was nine. But I promise you that they are lovely people and nothing (nothing!) like the characters in the book. So the characters are completely, absolutely and definitely from my imagination, though my settings are almost always based on real places.
Quick fire round:
Narnia or Neverland?
Write with music or prefer silence?
Series or standalone?
Computer or longhand?
Roald Dahl or J.K Rowling?
Roald Dahl. No, J.K Rowling. Wait, Roald Dahl. Hang on… *head explodes*
How can readers discover more about you and your work? I have a website and you can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I use Pinterest to make mood boards for the books I’m working on. Eloise’s Secret (working title), is a prequel to Through the Mirror Door that’s set in the same house during WW2 and will be out in 2017.
Questions by Marwa Najah for YA Shot 2016.
Website: www.bysarahbaker.com Twitter: @bysarahbaker
Instagram: bysarahbaker Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bysarahbaker/