Interviews I’ve done recently.

An interview with Sarah Dobbs: friendship, violence and the writing of Killing Daniel

Let’s start with some background.  How did the idea of the book come about and what was your process for writing it?  And why Japan?

“It started with a real fresh and excited need and desire to write.  I got onto this programme (Lancaster University PhD.)  I was really excited about what I was doing and I was encouraged to experiment. I was repeatedly asked the question, ‘Why Japan?’ At first I answered that it was an interesting place but when I started to think about it, it was much deeper.  My Grandfather was Chinese and I had to admit to myself that I wanted to write about him or that culture that I didn’t know anything about… that led to questions about different cultures. What would my life be like if I lived over there?  What if I’d looked like my cousins who look very Chinese?  Would people respond to me differently?  Would my experience of life be different?  Can culture change you in any way?  I tried to explore the different principles that govern people’s lives.  If we live in different cultures are we driven by the same things?  Also I think in some ways Fleur and Chinatsu acted as each other.  I’m not saying that either is me but it’s an interesting question.  If you’d been taken out of England at 12 and lived somewhere else would you have been a different man?”


Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first novel published. Have you had other things published first?

 The path to publication doesn’t have an end point, I don’t think. There’s always something else you want to do or another point you want to reach. That could sound frustrating but it’s a good point, I think. Otherwise, you’ll just lose your drive and peter out. I’ve had a curious path, so far.

I know, I know, two interviews in a month. But don’t worry, the sky’s not about to fall or anything. It’s just that this month has seen the launch of Killing Daniel, a rather fine book by a rather fine author, Sarah Dobbs. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, so maybe a review will have to wait for a while, but what I can say is that I can’t think of too many books that are set in Manchester and Japan, nor can I think of too many books that open with a murder so distinctively (and unsettlingly) described. Got your interest yet? Good. I can also add that this is far from vanilla crime fiction – it is contemporary, literary fiction, struck through with Sarah’s memorable descriptions and beguiling prose style.

So you get the picture? This is a book that needs to be read. Want to know more about the author first? Well then, you’re in the right place, as Sarah was kind enough to give me this interview between launches…

Pip: As an introduction, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sarah: I’m a writer – I think I’m just about allowed to say that without a little flutter of not-really-but-I’ll-pretend-until-it’s-true! My novel, Killing Daniel, was published by Unthank Books on 5 November. I also write short stories, some scripts. I also teach, paint, take photographs, stroke cats, lust after dogs, not in a weird way. Get drunk on two glasses of wine (as that poor lady I wobbled into at the recent launch might testify!) This be my public apology.

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