Today I’m pleased to welcome Sarah Jasmon to the blog. Sarah’s debut novel, The Summer of Secrets was published by Black Swan on 13th August 2015. Sarah kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions
1. Tell us a little about The Summer of Secrets.
It’s a coming of age novel set along the banks of the canal. In the present day, Helen is living an isolated life in Manchester when she comes across an art exhibition featuring the work of a long lost friend, Victoria Dover. In the summer of 1983, when they were both 16, Helen and Victoria were inseparable. The narrative takes us back through the events of that summer as Helen faces up to what happened, and her role in its tragic end.
2. Where did the inspiration come from for the book?
It very much started from the image of the boat sitting in the garage, which did come from an actual happening. It’s a kind of metaphor for the possibilities of life, but also of the weight of unfulfilled dreams.
3. The Summer of Secrets is your debut novel. What has surprised you most about the publishing process?
The length of the process, really. I did a lot of editing after the book was picked up, and that stretched things out, but people would ask me if I was onto book two or three, and I’d have to say that book one wasn’t out yet! Being published has also opened a new door in contacts. I’ve met so many wonderful authors over the past couple of years. It’s been so much fun (and my tbr pile is now immense!)
4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
For The Summer of Secrets, it was very much a case of sit and write and see what happens. I’ve earned a lot about planning over the process though, and I’m excited to be working on my second book with a bit more structure. I also wrote at a leisurely pace first time round, so it took around two years to finish the first draft (and that only because I had a deadline for my MA), and then a year of working on the edits. It’ll be interesting to see how long #2 takes…
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Read, although I do sometimes feel guilty if I’m not working through my official tbr pile. I have two dogs, so they get me out walking. And I love yoga, especially when I’ve been sitting at my desk for a long stretch.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
No, that’s impossible! I’ll tell you what, though: in The Summer of Secrets, Helen and Victoria have a reading list of books that are impossible to finish. That started because, when I was at college, a friend and I had a running joke that nobody would ever finish Ulysses unless they were on a world trip and didn’t have anything else to read. So maybe it would be the one to keep me going.
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Who is Larry? This guy has slipped completely under the radar so far, but I’m very fond of him. He’s a completely minor character, and is dead by the time the story begins, so I can understand why he’s not the one readers remember. He fits into the time between the summer itself and the present day sections. When Helen runs away from home (another happening that is inferred rather than spelled out), she lands by chance on Larry’s doorstep. There are so many bad things that could have happened to her, but he’s an unlikely saviour is the reason she’s still around to go to Victoria’s exhibition in the first place.
Thanks very much for answering my questions and for appearing on my blog.
About the book
‘A wonderfully atmospheric first novel’ Claire Fuller
‘An evocative and atmospheric coming-of-age story’ Carys Bray
The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .
Until something goes wrong.
A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about how one simple action on a summer’s day can echo through the years. Perfect for fans of Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret and Helen Dunmore’s The Lie.