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Meet Sarah Elliott

Every Friday, we meet a member of the BFS and peer deep into their soul (or, at least, a form they filled out). Want to be featured? Email us: online@britishfantasysociety.org

Name, including preferred pronouns
Sarah Elliott (she/her)

Which region are you based in?
Nottingham, England

Genre you write 
Fantasy, Horror

Are you drawn to any specific SFFH sub-genres?

Wait, let me refer to my Spec Fic for Newbies book: 

  • Supernatural horror
  • Vampires 
  • Folk tales and fairy tales
  • Fantasy – more for films than reading, those books tend to be huge with tiny, tiny font!

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan. I think I must have been around nine or ten years old. It involved a body swap (think Buffy and Faith for those who love BtVS). I have read that book SO many times. I don’t have the original anymore, but I can still see the front cover. (My mum had a habit of giving things away to charity and denying it until I’d worn her down from asking ‘Where is my…?)

It was such a cool story and it set the question in my mind – imagine if? And you can imagine anything! It made life ‘more than’. I could daydream about how that story might have played out with characters in my life or if I was a character in the story what decisions I would have made. That’s what good stories do as far as I’m concerned. Blurring the lines and allowing you passage between two worlds.

How does that early influence show up in your work now?

I love to write stories that have a supernatural or magical element. It’s exciting and fun. There are no limits to the imagination. I wrote a story earlier this year which was ok, it wasn’t bad but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t put my finger on why. It wasn’t poorly written. Then I realised it didn’t have a supernatural element. That’s what I enjoy including in my writing (along with pop culture references sometimes).

In terms of reading, if it’s happening in the here and now as the world is, I’m not interested. I live that already. I’m all about the curiosity – going where no one has gone before (thanks Star Trek). The what ifs, what abouts, whereabouts and those get your foot on the red spot and hand on the green spot, twists!

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere! Sometimes sentences just pop into my head (I really should write them down – I can never remember them!) that could potentially kickstart a story. Or ideas slide in. Sometimes it’s a comment, line I’ve read or image I’ve seen. My long project is inspired by the images on the 78 cards in a tarot deck.

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

I feel like I’ve only recently come ‘out of the closet’ as a genre writer and only just realised that the spooky and supernatural is my jam! I haven’t read enough yet to name an author and the tv person I might have mentioned has fallen from grace…

Thinking about a hero being someone you look up to and someone who looks out for you, I’d say that would be a person who is knowledgeable about genre writing, goes out of their way to support others in their genre by sharing opportunities, cheerleading and just ‘getting’ you. Someone you feel safe to be your true self with and someone who is awesome to be around. Only one person fits the bill. Lauren McMenemy is my genre hero. Pretty sure she doesn’t even realise she’s a hero.

(Pictured left: Sarah and Lauren.)
(Note from Lauren: feels a bit weird to post this under my name! But thanks, Sarah!!)

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

78 cards in a tarot deck. Let’s go! I’m writing a collection of flash fiction, short stories, drabbles and poems inspired by the images and themes of the cards. It could be the watery emotions of the cups, mental angst of the swords, fiery creativity of the wands or solid groundedness of the pentacles. This project has kickstarted worldbuilding, internal exploration and presentations of what I observe in the world. Who knows where this might take me?

What are you working on right now?

An article around perfection that I just can’t seem to finish (!), some unfinished pieces of flash fiction and a set of poems, prose and flash fiction inspired by tarot cards (the big project).

Thinking about all of your stories/work you’ve done, which one sticks out most in your mind? Why?

Ooooh, I did a series of flash fiction pieces that link together. Ten stories all inspired by the swords suit in the tarot. I love it because it’s a body swap story. There are also some descriptions and sentences in there that I’m pretty proud of. I’d like to write more like that please!

Where and when do you create/are you at your most creative?

At my desk on my desktop computer, usually in the evening or at night. I’m definitely a night owl which is unfortunate because my ‘day job’ requires me to be up early. Help meeee…

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

No such thing as the perfect piece of writing. Put something together that feels good. You have to please yourself as the reader first.

What’s your writing soundtrack?

The sound of my shower. I get loads of inspiration when I’m in the shower or sometimes washing pots. I write in silence but sometimes have the sound of a shower playing from YouTube in the background.

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?

Certain subgenres of horror for me.

Quiet or loud?

Quiet.

Dark or light?

Dark.

Strict lines or genre blend?

Strict lines.

(Pictured right: Sarah flying her geek flag)

Awards or bestseller?

Awards.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction.

Poetry or prose?

Proetry? Ha ha! Ok for reading it’s prose, for writing poetry. No, actually it’s prose now. Prose.

Plotter or pantser?

Pantser. Or are they calling it a discovery writer or something like that now?

Reading or listening?

Reading. I cannot do the podcast thing. Listening to a conversation you can’t join in with? And you’re not able to see them so you can pick up cues? Nah. Audiobooks? I can read faster than they speak – frustrating. Why are you holding me back from the story? I like my voice in my head, thank you very much!

(Pictured left: Sarah’s current reading pile)

Notebook or computer?

Computer. But a notebook for journaling.

Favourite SFFH book of all time?

Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan.

Last book you read?

Our Own Unique Affliction by Scott J. Moses. Definitely worth checking out. I do enjoy a novella! 

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?

Hmmmm, not yet. I have a few books by Matt Micheli though.

Favourite podcast?

The two words don’t go together.

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being a SFFH writer/agent/publisher/reader/fan?

Getting to celebrate being my own brand of weird with others who do the same! But also, in terms of writing I’d say getting to have fun writing the unexpected. 

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

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