It's that time of the week again, Friday is upon us all in the blink of an eye!
I'm feeling a tad disappointed with myself this week as I don't appear to have achieved much, but I'm not too worried! I'll get over it! I need to start doing lists of jobs and ticking each chore off as it's done! It usually works and it's nice to see on a chart what I have done rather than focussing on what I haven't! I'll report back next week with something more positive I hope!
Now it's time to read all about today's author, Sarah McMahon!
Eva: Welcome Sarah. Thank you for taking part in this series of interviews. So please, tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Sarah: Hi Eva and thank you very much for including me in this series of interviews. Although I am originally from the northeast, I have lived in Leeds since I was a small child. I started writing as a youngster. A friend and I would write surreal poetry together. I never thought I was any good at it,
but I enjoyed the random wordplay I managed to create. I have always had a love of books and have been an avid reader from a very young age. I imagined myself becoming a novelist in adulthood, but only properly picked up writing again in my current stage of life.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What
genre are they?
To date I have self-published two novels (Here She Comes Now and the Sins of Atticus Hawkshaw). Both
are adult urban fiction with Here She Comes Now being based around the red-light district of a large city.
The Sins of Atticus Hawkshaw has an added historical layer to it and focuses on the issue of homelessness.
I did consider the variety of publishing routes and had discussions with a couple of small independent publishers in respect of my current novel. But I ended up self-publishing and love the freedom it gives me. Maybe I’m something of a control freak, but I like being able to make all the decisions when it comes to publishing my work. Not that I have been totally alone in this, as I have excellent editors and readers who all keep me in check! At present I am actively working on two more adult fiction novels.
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and
why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to
do it justice?
Although I try to get a flavour of romance into my stories, it’s very much an element of character
relationships and is not a main focal point and I think I would struggle to write a full romance novel.
I think it’s because I tend to focus on much darker topics for my work. Although I guess romance
can have flawed and scary sides, so that’s now got me thinking…
I would love to be able to write magic realism and folklore tales. I feel that whilst I’m edging
towards that, I am still honing my abilities in that respect.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books?
What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they
Not as such, but as I have written urban fiction there does tend to be a generous smattering of swear
words in my novels. I do however try not to overuse them and to ensure they are used for the
appropriate emphasis. I can’t think of any written words that really irritate me. They all have their
place in whatever is being said, I guess.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have
or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics
been used at all?
Probably badly, but I do like to sing along to songs. I play a little bit of guitar but haven’t written any
song lyrics. I do however seem to have the skill of being able to remember a vast number and variety
of song lyrics, much to the surprise and amusement of my partner!
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author),
which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
My question would be, do you ever feel like a story is complete or could you go on editing forever?
That’s certainly something I feel is in question about my own work.
I love so many that I have a huge ever changing list of authors that I read. If I can be cheeky and
have two, then the authors that stay with me throughout are Lewis Carroll and Angela Carter. If I
could write anything remotely as amazing as either of them in their genres, I would be one happy
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do
you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an
illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
I am a truly terrible artist so I would seek someone else to illustrate them for me! I have a few very
talented artistic friends so would probably call on their services to help me out. I do however have
two unfinished children’s stories that I really should pick up again.
As mentioned in an earlier answer I do play guitar and have both an acoustic and two electric guitars.
I don’t play in a band or publicly and it is very much for my own amusement at home.
I also really love photography and have taken classes in this to improve my abilities. My focus is
buildings and unusual places or objects, rather than people.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
My favourite character is Mitch in The Sins of Atticus Hawkshaw. Mitch has a warmth to him that I
really like and whilst he’s not a direct representation, he is a homage to someone I used to know. I
hope I have done that person a fitting tribute, via the echoes of him that are within Mitch.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it
because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character
and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest
option to have that person die?
Yes, in my first novel Here She Comes Now, there is a series of murders. They were all required for
the storyline and the victims were dispatched quickly, as was befitting the circumstances of their
deaths! My current novel, The Sins of Atticus Hawkshaw, also has ‘necessary’ murders as key
elements of one of the plotlines.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their
characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they
possessed in real life?
As I suggested in an earlier answer referencing Mitch, there are certainly elements of people I have
known in my characters, but none are directly based on those people, or on people currently in my
life. I try to take glimpses of people, a nuance, a mannerism or an experience and weave that into a
character, rather than making it very obviously someone I know, or have known. As my novels thus
far has been urban fiction there has not really been an opportunity to introduce special traits, but my
current two works in progress may allow me to stretch myself in this direction and let my
imagination run a little on such bonus character elements.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
I’m not one for regrets as such, but I would have liked to start writing fiction earlier. It is okay to
start at any age of course, but I feel I could have put so many stories I daydreamed about and then
lost, down on paper over the years. I would also have liked to pursue a career in writing or books.
When I was young I wanted to be a journalist or a librarian and whilst I have had a very good
professional career, it wasn’t in either of these dreamed of jobs. Regardless, I have a rich and varied
job history, which is all good fodder for storytelling.
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR
did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
Is it trite for an author to say books and reading? If so, then I am unashamed living proof of that
cliché. I was the sort of child that would read a book from start to finish in one day. I created my own
library at home from my own books, with handmade book stamps and a cataloguing system. Yes, I
was that nerdy and I don’t care! Books have been a constant. They have entertained, educated and
mentally nurtured me for my entire life. I can’t imagine being without them. The feelings of not
wanting a story to end because you are so enjoying being immersed within it and the equal ache to
discover the truth of it all and reach that final page, make stories simply magical.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
English Literature was absolutely my favourite. I disliked Physical Education though, regardless of
what type of sport it was we were doing. I’m not a terribly competitive person, which may be the
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had?
Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind,
This was my English teacher. She encouraged me to use my imagination and introduced me to
novels I probably would not have tracked down myself at that age.
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of
your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
My Dad wrote but on practical subjects. My Mum was an actress when she was young and they both
understood and encouraged creativity in me and my siblings. I felt very much that when I had a
creative idea to explore they usually backed me up.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or
I very much want to carry on writing, to learn and improve my skills. I am in a life position at
present where I have more time and energy to give to it, which is great. The two novels I am currently
working on have very different tales to tell. They seem to be competing for my attention at present, but I am
sure one will push ahead of the other soon.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and
if so, how did you do it?
I guess I have fears, as we all do, but I wouldn’t call any of them full-on phobias. I’m very much of
the opinion that fears are to be addressed head-on if you are ever to get a grip of them.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body
etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to
I get bored easily, which means my patience with situations isn’t always the best. It is something I
am aware of though and I do try to hold myself to account for it. I also (like pretty much all the
creatives I know) suffer from imposter syndrome. Giving it a name helps, so say hello to Edna before
I push her back into her box!
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
Chocolate! Simple as that. For drinks, I love an assam tea. A good straightforward gin and tonic is
my favoured tipple.
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
I love them both. I find it hard to understand how people can like some animals but not others. I grew
up in a house with a wide array of different species of pets, many of them rescued. At present we are
about to adopt some rescue cats after the sad (separate) deaths of our two long dwelling girl cats. I
have yet to introduce any pets into my books, but there’s time yet!
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and
social media profiles?
My Amazon profile is here. Amazon.co.uk: SJ McMahon: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks,
My new novel The Sins of Atticus Hawkshaw can be found here. The Sins of Atticus
Hawkshaw eBook : McMahon, SJ: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
My Novel Here She Comes Now can be found here. Here She Comes Now eBook : McMahon,
SJ: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
My Facebook Author page can be found here. (3) SJ McMahon | Facebook
I have several short stories published on the Armley Press website here. Short Stories (armleypress.com)
Thank you so much Sarah for being a part of this journey with me!
Next week's authors coming under scrutiny are:
Tuesday: Tanith Davenport
Friday: John Clewarth
Love to you all,