Sarah Lotz is the author of many novels for both the YA and adult markets, some written under her own name and others co-written with fellow authors. She is probably best known for the amazing thriller-horror cross-overs The Three and Day Four, and her latest novel, Pompidou Posse, is published in the UK this month. To celebrate the book's release I had the opportunity to interview Sarah about all things writing.
Hi Sarah, thanks for joining me today for a Q&A on Page to Stage Reviews as part of the Pompidou Posse blog tour! The novel is a semi-autobiographical account of a time in your own life, can you tell me the differences in your writing approach between something so personal compared to writing books that are purely fictional?
Thank you! Lovely of you to invite me.
I’m not sure there is a great difference between writing a fictionalised memoir and a novel, as I tend to draw from real life when I do both.
Writing Pompidou was interesting as my memory of that time – living on the streets in Paris in the 1980s – was murky due to the fact that I was taking a lot of drugs back then (I know, too much information!), so I had to fill in the gaps.
Curiously, when I re-edited it a few months ago, I found that I couldn’t remember clearly which parts actually happened and which sections I’d fictionalised.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a strict schedule you adhere to, or any quirky habits that help you get into the zone?
I don’t have any quirks or tricks to get me in the zone, except for the writers’ stalwart, tons of coffee! If I’m not travelling or researching, then I write all day, every day. Sometimes I have to be forcibly removed from my laptop to eat and take the dogs for walk.
You have a tendency to move between genres and audiences, as other recent novels such as The Three and Day Four are thrillers aimed at a more adult market. Do you have a favourite genre to write in, or audience to write for? And how does your approach in writing novels differ between genres and audiences?
I’m naturally drawn to the horror genre, probably because I’m a life-long Stephen King constant reader. That said, I like to try out different genres to see how they fit. Apart from say, avoiding using hardcore curse words when writing YA for example, my approach is the same whatever genre it is – many months of panicking to make the story work! I never know if it will until the very end.
As to audiences, I have a group of lovely and very honest readers of all ages and proclivities who give me feedback when I’m done with the first draft. They usually let me know if I’ve screwed up audience-wise or not!
You've co-written books as well and I've always been curious as to how this works. For example do you each take turns writing a chapter or is it a completely collaborative process for every page? What has your experience been like?
When I write with Louis Greenberg, my co-author on the S.L Grey novels, we tend to write progressively, with each of us taking on a character and moving the narrative forward chapter by chapter. When we wrote The Mall, our first novel, we had great fun leaving each other’s characters in tricky situations, like a literary version of the game Exquisite Corpse.
When I write with my daughter, Savannah, the process is different as we have a very similar narrative voice, so we tend to take it in turns to write a section and then write over each other.
Last year I wrote a series of ‘choose your own adventure’-style erotica books with authors Paige Nick and Helen Moffett and the distribution of work in these was easy to sort out. They wrote all the sex scenes (I’m rubbish at writing sex) and I did the bits in between (clearly they got the short end of the stick as the books were 90% sex!)
Boringly, I’ve never had a bad collaborating experience – I can’t recall a single fight or hissy fit. All of the writers I work with are supremely talented and professional, and fortunately none of them are ego monsters.
Pompidou Posse has only just been published in the UK but can you tell me what you're working on now? And particularly, is there another title coming up to follow up the mind-blowing ending in Day Four? Because I need to know what was going on in those final chapters!
I can’t tell you what I’m working on now in case I jinx it! There will be a follow-up to Day Four, but it will also be a standalone novel that can be read out of sequence.
Thank you so much for your time and questions!
Thank you very much to Sarah for your insightful answers! Pompidou Posse is published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK and you can get your copy from Waterstones, Amazon or your own preferred retailer now.