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Friday, 22 May 2015

Blog Tour - Elspeth Hart and the School For Show Offs by Sarah Forbes

Today I am pleased to welcome Sarah Forbes to my blog. Sarah has, in the past, worked on magazines, interviewing pop stars, and is also an editor. She can now add author to this list, as her debut children's novel, Elspeth Hart and the school for show offs, hits the shelves this month.

Sarah joins me today to tell me about her writing influences.

My writing influences 

I find it hard to pick out my exact writing influences, but it’s something I like thinking about, because it lets me daydream my way back into the books I loved as a child. My first book, Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs, is set in a very odd boarding school. Inspiration for that setting must have come from the piles of school stories I devoured as a kid: Mallory Towers, Chalet School, St Clare’s, Trebizon, Dimsie Goes to School…most of these were in my local library and I can still remember how their yellow pages felt between my fingers. The world of Mallory Towers is a long way from Aberdeenshire in the 1980s, but like so many kids I found myself immersed in a world of lacrosse and tuck-boxes and prep. I was fascinated by it all.

Other writers I adored: Anne Fine, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl (of course). The atmospheric mystery of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. But also the dark, intriguing, Rats of Nimh books, Stig of the Dump, and the Choose Your Own Adventure stories I used to swap with friends.

We studied some great books at school as well; The Monster Garden by Vivian Alcock sticks in my mind, as does Carrie’s War and Joan Lingard’s Across the Barricades. So that’s quite a mash-up of different styles I was reading as a child!

I suspect anyone who writes is influenced by so many things: TV, movies, music, art, overheard conversations… you name it! I sometimes laugh quite hard at childish slapstick humour (people falling over or slipping on things, for example) and so a fair bit of that creeps into the books. I’m also constantly peckish, so it’s no surprise that Elspeth’s story features a top-secret-sticky-toffee-sauce recipe.

Ultimately I think the best inspiration is time, having space to think, but this is in short supply for most of us. One good thing about having started my career as a journalist is that I got used to coming up with a constant stream of ideas under pressure… so maybe my days writing quizzes about Girls Aloud were all good practice for writing books!

Thanks very much for featuring me, Sarah 

Thank you Sarah for visiting today and tells myself and my readers about your writing influences. I too enjoyed Malory Towers, Trebizon and St Clares when I was younger and I must confess that I have read Malory Towers recently and now I want to re-read St Clares too. Unfortunately my daughter does not share my love of these books but I still have copies on my bookshelves just for me!

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