Sarah Wray is the acclaimed author of the thrillers Her Best Friend and Reported Missing. I had a chance to ask her a few questions.
Which was easier to write, Her Best Friend or Reported Missing?
They were both torturous in their own ways. Reported Missing was my first attempt at fiction so I was totally fumbling along in the dark and I didn’t know if I could finish the book. Having said that, nobody really had any expectations and the setting and the characters came quite easily to me for that book. Other decisions – and the sheer number of them, such as structure, point of view, tense etc. were hard.
Her Best Friend brought with it a healthy dose of ‘second book’ syndrome – a lot of anxiety and questioning what I was doing. The deadline was also very short and I had to share the draft much earlier, which was terrifying. It did have some benefits though – I knew deep down that if I pushed myself enough I could complete it because I had once before.
On balance, I would say Her Best Friend was harder and I expect book three will be harder again in some ways.
I should also add that despite how the above sounds, I do actually love writing!
How does your freelance writing on Internet of Things influence your writing?
On a basic level, it helps me practice writing, shaping ideas and being precise with words every day. Although I am new to fiction, writing features etc. for years has given me some good strategies for blasting through a blank page, trusting my gut and shaping ideas.
More broadly, in both types of writing, I am interested first and foremost in people and I try to use this to keep me on track. I am not that interested in gizmos and gadgets in and of themselves but because of the impact they have on people and how we live. Similarly with fiction, I am interested in why people do certain things and what it’s like to be in a particular situation.
With Reported Missing, for example, I kept thinking about what it’s like to be left behind when someone is missing and how you deal with loving someone who is accused of something unthinkable. For Her Best Friend, I was interested in how the way we curate and frame the past can create many different versions of the same event.
I probably find plot the most difficult aspect of writing at the moment so I try to push through by knowing my characters well enough to understand how they would react and to make it relatable.
Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins?
Oof! That is a tough one. I admire both writers but I don’t really think they are that similar.
I like the lyrical quality to Paula Hawkins’ books and I thought Rachel in The Girl on the Train was a great and sympathetic character. I love Gillian Flynn’s plots and the sharpness and dark humor that runs through her books.
It’s boring if I don’t choose isn’t it? I am going to go Gillian Flynn – it’s easy to forget now because so much followed it but Gone Girl felt very refreshing to me at the time and I read it with glee. I can’t wait for her next book.
Do you ever get confused with the other Sarah Wray author?
Before I was a fiction writer, I occasionally used to get emails meant for the other Sarah Wray asking her to speak at a school or complimenting her work. In some ways that taunted me because I really wanted to write something but I didn’t know how to get started. It spurred me on too though because I was so near yet so far.
What do you have planned for 2018?
I have the ideas and anxiety bubbling up for a third book so I definitely want to make serious headway with that. I suppose I want to prove that I can do it again – a game I expect I’ll be playing with myself for a long time.
I also want to write some short stories. I love to read them and would like to try another new challenge.
For my day job I really hope to continue to land interesting commissions and projects which allow me to research into the weird and wonderful ways technology is developing and how it affects us.
|When Sarah Wray is not sitting in her back bedroom plotting and typing out books, you’ll find her…still sitting in her back bedroom typing.
“For my ‘day job’ I work as a freelance technology writer and editor, and I love it.”
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