Brainerd & Fraser: Today we are joined by fellow MuseItUp author Sara Jayne Townsend, who traveled all the way from the UK to New York for our visit. Welcome, Sara!
Sara Jayne Townsend: Thank you for having me and it’s great to be in New York. I just love New York City – I’ve visited many times. And Central Park holds special memories for my husband and me – we got engaged there.
B&F: Tell us a bit about your upcoming release, Death Scene.
SJT: DEATH SCENE is the first in my series about actress and amateur sleuth Shara Summers. At the beginning of this book, Shara is living in Canada, but she comes back to the UK, her country of birth, because her sister is suffering a mysterious illness. Then when an elderly aunt is found dead, having apparently fallen down the stairs, Shara starts to poke around in a few family closets and uncovers some skeletons.
B&F: What inspired this book?
SJT: I’m a big fan of Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski and I was inspired by this character to create a kick-ass female sleuth. I was a bit nervous about writing a police procedural, though – it requires far too much research and you’ve got to get the procedures right. So I decided to create an amateur sleuth instead. I drew on my own background for the character, having lived in both Canada and the UK, deciding to make her Canada-based and bring her to the UK, making observations on the way about the differences of life in the two countries. I also liked the idea of making her an actress, so that she could don disguises and get into ‘acting’ mode as she goes about her investigations, in order to gain access to places she wouldn’t ordinarily get into.
B&F: We understand you’ve lived in both the UK and Canada. What’s the best thing about each?
SJT: London has attitude, vibrancy, and a history. London has been a city for nearly 2000 years and I love the diversity that has developed as it has grown organically. I also like the fact that I can buy wine in the supermarket along with my groceries – something you can’t do in Canada. And then there are scones with jam and clotted cream – yum. And the chocolate is far nicer than it is in North America.
Canada, though, I visit often and it always feels welcoming. The people are laid back and friendly, and Toronto is a great city. I also have a great fondness for Canadian muffins. Especially those from Mmmmuffins…
B&F: Like us, you enjoy a good old-fashioned tabletop roleplaying game. Tell us about your all-time favorite RPG character.
SJT: My all-time favourite character is a rogue called Kaylia, who was great at opening locks and finding traps, and was also pretty good with a sword. But there’s a character I’m playing in a current game who I’m growing equally fond of – a female warrior called Hylla. She’s got a strength of 22, she favours a double-bladed sword and she’s seriously kick-ass. She just wades through the beasties felling them left, right and centre. Her intelligence and wisdom stats are in single digits, but who needs brains when you’ve got that much brawn?
B&F: Ha! She sounds awesome! What is your current favorite song?
SJT: “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse. It’s so dramatic!
Time for the rapid-fire round!
Coffee or tea? Tea, naturally. I’m British.
Sweets or savories? Sweets. I have an incurably sweet tooth. If I ran the world, everybody would get to eat dessert first.
Poe or Stephen King? Stephen King. Although, strangely, for my dissertation when I did my English degree I wrote about both of them and how they both used personal fears to create horror.
London or Toronto? London. For me, it’s home.
The Cure or Guns ‘n’ Roses? Guns ‘n’ Roses. If I was into bad boys, my first choice for a bit of rough would be Axl Rose. Tattoos and all.
Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.
The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2014. DEATH SCENE, the first book (and a re-release) will be available in Summer, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, following in Autumn.