Today, it is the turn of the delightful Sasha Wagstaff to take to the stage (or blog) and tell us all about herself. Over to you, Sasha.
My name is Sasha Wagstaff and I’ve lived in Essex all my life, apart from brief stints in Wolverhampton and France.
Who is your favourite author of all time and which book do you wish you had written?
Have you a writing routine? Do you write a la Cartland, dictating to a minion whilst lying on a chaise longe sipping champagne? Or, is the reality a garden shed or a corner of the living room?
I always joke to my friends that I reckon they imagine me swanning around in a negligee quaffing champagne, but in reality, I’m usually wearing trackie bottoms and a big jumper, huddled over my lap top. I do now have a rather beautiful new office, however, as we have moved house recently.
When were you first gripped by the writing bug – was it a gradual realisation or always a burning ambition? Which authors, if any, were influential in fuelling this desire?
I think my writing bug was a gradual one that quickly developed into a burning ambition. The authors I was reading around this time would probably have been Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry, Marian Keyes.
When did you make your first serious foray into writing? What did you write? Has your style of writing changed significantly since then? If you could go back, would you do anything differently?
My first serious foray into writing was when I started writing my first novel as I commuted into my banking job in London. It was a chick-lit style novel called ‘Multiple Vodkas’ or something equally ridiculous and luckily, my writing style has totally changed since then. Writing is a craft, after all and it’s easy to assume that anyone can do it but it takes hard work and practise. I wouldn’t do anything differently as I think experiences (even bad ones) shape the way we develop.
We all know the world of traditional publishing can be brutal in its rejection and fragile egos are routinely shattered. Have you ever experienced this? How did it make you feel? How did you cope with it?
I have definitely experienced the rejection – several times over! It made me feel really upset and fragile…My ego took a serious battering and there have been many times when I have been close to giving up. Thankfully, with the help of my lovely husband and a few glasses of red wine to commiserate, I got back myself back on track.
Ebook platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords are playing a major role in changing the face of publishing. Is this a good thing and do you feel that traditional publishers and agents have had it their own way for far too long?
I think ebooks are a great new development and they have certainly changed the face of publishing. I’m not sure if agents and publishers have had it their own way for far too long, but maybe I have been lucky with mine. My agent is fantastic and she works really hard to get my books out there and to develop my writing ideas. My publishers have also been instrumental in making my books stronger…As much as I struggle with the fiddly, time-consuming process of editing, I know my books are better as a result of it.
Do you feel ebooks will continue to escalate in popularity?
I think they probably will for a while, but who knows if it’s a trend that will last.
What books have you written? Have you a particular favourite? What/who inspired it?
So far, I have written Changing Grooms, Wicked Games, Heaven Scent and Recipe for Love. My favourite is probably Heaven Scent as it is set in France and it reminds me of childhood holidays. It’s also about the perfume, a particular love of mine. But Recipe for Love has a passionate love story in it and it was great writing about Italian food and Sorrento…as you can see, I loved writing them all!
Do you feel the best is yet to come? What inspires your writing in general?
I do actually. I guess I’m inspired by challenges that people face and how lives are shaped by these kinds of events. Dramatic accidents….Emotive issues such as IVF, adultery. These are actually issues I have touched on previously in my novels but they have taken more of a back seat to the main will they-won’t they aspect of the story and to the ‘theme’ of the novel.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on something more serious at the moment, a more issues-focused novel. There’s still humour and warmth and there’s still a love story at the core, but it’s emotional and hopefully, moving.
What do you like/dislike most about writing?
I love losing myself in the writing and being excited about the story unfolding. I get seriously involved in my characters, as if they are real people and I become deeply entrenched in the new world I‘m creating. I love the flexibility of being an author and the fact that I don’t have to commute to get to my desk. I think I only really dislike it when it’s going badly and I’m having a slow day and maybe when it gets to the nitty gritty of the editing stage.
Anything you would like to crow about?
Ha! No, not really. I think it’s best to stay grounded and remember how lucky we all are to do a job we love.
When I was an aspiring author, I longed to know ‘the secrets’ of other authors. What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Did anyone ever share a particularly valuable insight or piece of advice with you and, if so, can you share it with us?
Oh me too….I really wanted to know what other authors did to get a book deal, what secret info they had access to that I didn’t. I was certain there must be a winning formula, but I soon learnt that it doesn’t work that way. I get asked for advice a lot and I am honestly not hoarding any mystical data that will get any aspiring author an agent or a book deal. I will simply say: stay current. Keep reading the books you love and note the trends. That said, don’t write an erotic novel just because Fifty Shades happens to have rocked the world. Tomorrow, it might be something else but it makes sense to just keep an eye on this ever evolving market. Also, keep writing. However hard it is, find time to write and don’t get too bogged down in the detail…Just work on getting a story formed, one with a beginning, a middle and an end. I was lucky; the lovely Fiona Walker read some of my chapters and she gave me detailed feedback. I also met Adele Parks and she was incredibly encouraging (see my website for full details!) and her support came at a time when I was feeling really low about my writing career.
So aspiring authors out there – keep going. Don’t focus on all the reasons why it shouldn’t happen for you, focus on all the reasons why it will. Other people have cracked it, so why shouldn’t you?
Sasha, thank you very much for a wonderful interview.
To find out more about Sasha’s most excellent books visit her website on http://www.sashawagstaff.com and visit her author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sasha-Wagstaff/e/B0034P0U1M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1