reader Q&a with sharna jackson
1. Do you have a favourite place to be, when you are writing or trying to think of ideas for a book?
I’m always thinking about plots, people and the places where those stories could happen.
I reckon I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m either in the shower or on a long morning walk. I live near two nice bridges, and when I cross them, I hope the ideas will flow like the river beneath them!
2. Did you get any inspiration from real people, for any of the characters in The Good Turn?
I often use real people – or, memories of how they made me feel – as a starting point for new characters. But then, as I start writing, I really begin to understand who they are, what they want – that’s when they begin changing into the characters you meet in the book. In The Good Turn, I would say Josephine, Margot and Wesley were a mix of friends I had at primary and secondary school.
3. Do you ever experience writer's block? And what would you do to overcome this?
I definitely find it difficult to write sometimes. I might be tired, hungry or a bit scared of what I’m writing. Sometimes I want my writing to be so good, I get nervous about getting the words out of my brain and onto the page. At times like this, I’ll do a quick crossword and come back to it with a cup of tea. Then, I’ll write something that might not be great, and remember that that’s okay – I can always go back and change it. That’s the best bit about writing.
4. I had never heard of Josephine Holloway, until I read your book, and I googled her. How did you come across Josephine?
Also through Google, just like Josephine Williams! I used to be a Girl Guide myself, and I wish I had heard of her in those days. She’s very inspiring to me.
5. The character Josephine in The Good Turn loves the internet. Was there anything you really liked or was interested in when you were a child?
When I was a child, I loved doing a little bit of everything – which really annoyed my Mum and Dad! One week I was into photography, the next I was a fashion designer. The one thing that always stayed with me was reading. I read anything and everything. One of my favourite books was an old medical encyclopaedia. I loved looking up diseases and thinking about how to cure them. I was very… weird.
6. There were no illustrations in the book (which didn’t make a difference to me). Did you decide straight away that you didn’t want any illustrations?
Ah, there are some small illustrations in the final book – there’s a wonderful map of the street where the characters live, and each chapter has a beautifully-designed badge. But you’re right – apart from that, there aren’t any other illustrations in The Good Turn. I love books with illustrations, but for this one I wanted to focus on the words, and let your mind create the pictures.
7. What is your favourite thing about living on a boat?
My favourite thing about living on a boat is being close to the water, and close to the wildlife. I don’t do this often (because the boat is long and I’m a wimp), but I really like the idea of being able to remove the ropes and sail away. I like that my house moves, and every time it does, it feels really different.
8. What is your favourite book that you have written?
Ava! That is such a hard question! They’re all my babies and I love them all. I really, really loved writing The Good Turn, though. I really love the characters, I think they're all very brave and I hope their actions inspire others.
9. Please tell me there will be another book featuring the characters from The Good Turn. Do you have any ideas in the pipeline?
I don’t know if I can say that yet… but yes! I want Josephine, Wesley and Margot to be the main characters of their own books.
10. If you could meet the characters in your book, what would you say to them?
This is an incredibly good question…hmmm. Okay. I would ask Josephine about her future career plans, and see where she’s up to with that. I know she’ll have a five point plan or something. I’d like to knock on Wesley’s door and just hang out with him and his family – make sure his Mum’s all right. Then I’d love to talk to Margot about her writing, and ask her what she’s working on now, but I’m sure she wouldn’t show me!