I am very excited to be joined by the very talented Sharon Maas today. I am a huge fan of Sharon’s books and her next novel The Orphan Of India is published on 28 June 2017 by Bookouture. You can find out more about it later in the post. In the meantime I hand you over to Sharon to tell you about her author influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
The ubiquitous Enid Blyton, of course! I must have read every single thing she ever wrote, starting with Noddy and through the Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair, Naughtiest Girl, St Clare and Mallory Towers and the Famous Five, Five Find-Outers and The Adventure series and the Mystery series—she wrote it, I read it! As a young child I also adored Winnie the Pooh, though, and later, the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. Not to mention Just William.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
English was my best subject, and I loved it. I was almost always top of the class in composition. We also did a thing called precis, which is basically synopsis writing. I loved it! I don’t think English pupils do that any more. When I was about 14, at Harrogate College, we had to produce a little magazine in groups and I was editor of my group; our magazine was called Tally Ho and it was about ponies and riding, and it won first prize.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I like to read women’s fiction and historical fiction; stories fixed in reality. I also love John LeCarre’s writing. Books that deal with realistic themes and problems and dig a little beneath the surface; that make me reflect on different aspects of life and somehow change me, for the better.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
As far as fiction is concerned, I wouldn’t want to write in any other genre. If I had to, though, I’d probably write cosy mysteries. I might write children’s books, one day, as I have a granddaughter and more grands will probably come along.
Also, I’d like to move into non-fiction: self-help books on meditation, ageing, how to find happiness from within, and so on.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
When I was quite a little girl I used to try my hand at writing stories a la Enid Blyton; you know, several children and a dog and ponies, having adventures and catching thieves and all that. So I suppose she was the first influence.
But when I was about 12 or 13 I read the books of Mary O’Hara: My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. My Friend Flicka was the first book ever to reduce me to a blubbering heap of tears. I can still tell you the line that did that to me: “I wanted a little girl too, mother.”
That was the first time I knew the emotional power of storytelling, and I longed to be able to do the same some day.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
At the moment it’s Lucinda Riley with her Seven Sisters Trilogy. I’ve read three and can’t wait for number four to be published. At this rate it’s going to be at least three years before I’ve read them all, and that’s really harsh!
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
That happened with A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, at 1500 pages. I wanted to write a never-ending family saga. I actually think I’m doing that with my Quint series; it’s going to end up being several books which have connecting characters. It’s such a pleasure doing that.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Many times. The Quint series is based on the life of my grandmother, for instance, and I also wrote a novel set in the Jonestown tragedy of 1978. Fortunately, Jim Jones can’t sue me! Right now I’m writing a novel which has a whole character created around the life of a real person, an unsung hero of the 19th century who absolutely deserves more attention.
A huge thank you for taking part Sharon. I’m so glad to hear there are going to be more books in the Quint series!
The Orphan of India is published later this month and is available for pre-order here now. Look out for my review next week and here is the blurb:
A beautiful, unforgettable tale of a young girl torn between two lives…
Monika and Jack Kingsley are desperate for a child of their own. On a trip to India, they fall in love with Jyothi: a small, shy girl, whose family has been ruined by poverty.
Jyothi has been living on the streets of Bombay, seeking comfort in the music she hears around her. When her mother is involved in a tragic accident, Jack and Monika are determined to adopt the orphan child.
Eventually they return to England, but Jyothi finds it difficult to adapt to her new home. She feels more alone than ever and music becomes her solace once more. Even when Jyothi’s extraordinary musical talent transforms into a promising career, she still doesn’t feel like she belongs.
Then a turbulent love affair causes her to question everything. And Jyothi realises that before she can embrace her future, she must confront her past…
The Orphan of India is an utterly evocative and heart-wrenching novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies, Santa Montefiore and Diane Chamberlain.
You can read my reviews of The Lost Daughter of India and The Sugar Planter’s Daughter by clicking on the pictures.
About Sharon Maas
Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951 and educated in Guyana and England. After leaving school she worked as a staff journalist at the Guyana Graphic and the Sunday Chronicla in Georgetown.
Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America. In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.
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