Please welcome Sarah Lotz, author of The Three and other works.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Ideally, it would be one in which nothing horrible happens to anyone, but as this is impossible, I guess it would be one where I’ve just got my hands on a new Stephen King novel, I don’t have to get out of my PJs and the coffee is plentiful, hot and strong.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I stole RuPaul’s catch-phrase, ‘Don’t f**k it up’ years ago as it’s just as pertinent to writers as it is to drag queens. It’s scrawled on the wall of my attic writing room. Sadly I haven’t always been able to follow this advice.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Writing-wise, it would be Roald Dahl, Philip K Dick and Stephen King. I grew up reading their novels and short stories. They’re all masterful story-tellers, and I’m a believer in story being pretty much everything.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Sadly no. I wish I could, but if I do, I tend to drift off and start daydreaming that I’m Beyoncé.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
This is such a great (and wacky) question! I’ve had to phone a friend on this one, and we’ve decided it’s probably one of those chocolate bars with popping candy inside it. Not to everyone’s taste, sure, but (hopefully) fun to eat.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I’m flight phobic, and tend to write about what scares me, so I decided to tackle the issue head on. As I chose to open the book with a series of unthinkable events – four commercial airline disasters which occur on the same day – I had to do a huge amount of in-depth research into plane crashes, NTSB investigations and the effects such tragedies have on the family members left behind. It was quite emotionally scarring.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
My admittedly ridiculous fear of shopping malls and mannequins features quite a lot (!), but the latest novel looks at how the fallout of a major tragedy can impact on society and potentially change the course of global events. I’m fascinated with the concept of the unreliable narrator and how the media and conspiricists spin tragedy (as seen recently in the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines disaster). I also wanted to touch on how the individuals who either survive trauma or who have lost loved ones cope under the relentless glare of media scrutiny.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Elspeth Martins is a journalist who makes a living writing sensationalist click-bait articles and non-fiction books about hot-button topics. She has no clue that the latest book she’s compiled (which forms the book-within-a-book concept in The Three) will have far-reaching and potentially devastating consequences. She’s driven by ambition, but despite not thinking through her actions, she’s not entirely selfish. Like most of us, she only learns from her mistakes when it’s too late.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I picture her looking a little bit like Naomi Watts, with the ambition of Lady Gaga and – at the outset of the novel at least – the conscience of Donald Trump.
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
I’m a terrible cook, but if the following writers don’t mind pizza, then we’re good to go: Stephen King, Jane Austen, Elmore Leonard, Iain Banks, Beryl Bainbridge and Philip K Dick would be top of my dream dinner party list. I’d like to thank them all for writing novels that made my childhood weird and/or wonderful, and as they’re all (or were all) incredibly witty, it would mean I could sit back, drink wine and listen to them talk without having to say a word. I’d love to eavesdrop on a Jane Austen and PKD conversation. That would be weird.
What’s next for you?
As I’m writing this at 3 am, probably a nap. Lame attempts at humour aside, I’m currently finishing up the rewrites on my next solo novel Day 4. It’s going to be a crazy year. I’ll be writing the next S.L Grey book with my collaborator Louis Greenberg, and the third book in the YA zombie series, Deadlands, that I co-write with my daughter, Savannah, is about to be released in the U.K.
Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for the macabre and fake names. Among other things, she writes urban horror novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg; a YA pulp-fiction zombie series, Deadlands, with her daughter, Savannah, under the pseudonym Lily Herne; and quirky erotica novels with authors Helen Moffett and Paige Nick under the name Helena S. Paige.
Her latest solo novel, The Three, will be published in the U.K by Hodder in May 2014 and by Little, Brown in the U.S. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.