Happy Halloween!

Last year's pumpkin

Last year’s pumpkin

Halloween is one of my very favourite times of the year. The fact it comes just before my birthday is irrelevant – honest! I can’t help that I love all things creepy and spooky, and I’ve always been drawn to the supernatural – books, films, legends –anything paranormal really.

When Halloween comes around, I want to carve a pumpkin, decorate the house, watch scary films – and eat chocolate! Bliss.

One of my favourite Halloween films has to be Hocus Pocus, and if you haven’t ever seen it – shame on you! Released in 1993, it starred Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters, a family of witches burned at the stake in 1693, in (where else) but Salem. Inadvertently resurrected by the teenage Max Dennison on Halloween 1993, the three witches set off in search of small children to kill in order to restore their youth. In spite of the storyline, it is a children’s film, creepy but very funny! My son loved it and watched it all year round – a lot.

So what is my favourite supernatural being? To anyone who knows me, that’s easy – it is, of course, the vampire. Ever since I first read Dracula when I was fourteen, I’ve read anything I could find with a vampire in. I do also have a soft spot for witches, werewolves and ghosts, although I’m not so keen on zombies! (Apart from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.)

One of my favourite urban legends, The Highgate Vampire, fascinated me so much that I set my own book,

The entrance to the West Cemetery, Highgate. (Official tours only sadly.) http://highgatecemetery.org/

The entrance to the West Cemetery, Highgate. (Official tours only sadly.) http://highgatecemetery.org/

Dance Until Dawn, in North London’s Highgate, so I could feature the famous Gothic cemetery and its legend. It’s not hard to imagine vampires are real when walking around the West Cemetery. The Victorian Gothic mausoleums and tombs were said to be responsible for Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula, and it’s easy to see why.

The Highgate Vampire first made the news in 1968, with alleged sightings of a ‘ghost’ and various attacks reported. But on the 27th February 1970, the vampire made the front page of the Hampstead and Highgate Express, and ultimately the tabloids. A photograph of a young man scaling the wall of the West Cemetery armed with a wooden cross and several pointy stakes appeared in the national press later the same year. Several witnesses claimed to have seen a ‘tall man wearing a top hat and cloak,’ others said a woman in white had been seen staring through the bars of the gate, and one witness even claimed to have been bitten on the neck whilst sleepwalking along Swains Lane in the early hours of the morning. (Bear in mind we’re talking late sixties, early seventies here!)

If you look on YouTube you’ll find a clip of a programme presented by Anthony Head of Buffy fame. He walks around Highgate Cemetery, talking about the Highgate Vampire – and vampires in general.

According to legend, the vampire was eventually tracked to the Circle of Lebanon in the West Cemetery, where he was staked in his coffin and the tomb resealed with cement mixed with garlic.  Another ending has a body exhumed, staked and burned at a derelict house close to the Cemetery. (To my knowledge, neither has ever been officially substantiated.)

The story changes depending which book or website you read, just like any legend. Although most agree the main protagonists at the time were Sean Manchester and David Farrant. Both have written books on the subject, and Farrant was actually jailed in 1974 for damaging memorials in the Cemetery. At one point, the men were going to have an ‘exorcism dual’ on Parliament Hill, scheduled for Friday 13th, 1973 – it never happened.

I first read about The Highgate Vampire in a book called The Vampire’s Bedside Companion by Peter Underwood. The book comes complete with photos, including one of Elizabeth Wojdyla, the young Polish girl who claimed to have been bitten by the vampire.

Whether The Highgate Vampire is ‘faction’ or pure hokum – it’s a great story for Halloween.

Available in April 2014!

Available in April 2014!

Sarah Tranter – What am I working on now … and a tip or two

I consider myself to be a very lucky girl at the mo. I’m spending rather a lot of time with Nate. Anyone who has read No Such Thing as Immortality will know exactly who I mean. Nathaniel Gray, the former Earl of Ridings, but now a two-hundred year old vampire.

copy-of-nstai_packshotI’m working on book 2 of the No Such Thing series. As this book continues Nate’s story, and is written from his perspective, the two of us are finding ourselves engaged in an awful lot of one-to-one time. It’s at times like these I ask myself why I ever became a writer. It’s such a very very hard life :)

He’s intense, too. Seriously intense. And has been leading me astray no end. All he has to do is look at me with those eyes of his and raise a brow. Plot line? There was one once upon a time, but now I have not a clue where he’s leading me. I know where I want him to end up, but he’s presently got other ideas. But it’s his prerogative. It’s his story after all. And I am so enjoying the ride.

I’ve yet to decide on a title for this second book. No such thing as […..]? There are currently four possible blank-fillers, although the count is growing daily rather than shrinking. We will see.

So there you go. What I am presently working on. If you can of course, call it work. And to all those who have contacted me to find out when book two is out ― soon I hope  :)

Edits also loom for Romancing the Soul, due out in January 2014. This one is ratherrts_small different – not a vampire or faerie in sight. Mainstream but with perhaps a twist as two soul mates deal with the consequences of meeting during a past life regresssion.  I adore the cover for this one, too – thank you so much Berni Stevens and Choc Lit!

And a couple of writing tips for those that way inclined. I’m not at all sure I’m qualified to give them. I kind of make things up as I go along. And no doubt I will not be asked to provide them again. But on the basis of recent weeks, I would suggest:

Not letting your characters go into a kitchen when you are on a diet (see – I so won’t be asked again). You might think you have your cravings under control, but your characters will likely prove otherwise. You will end up with a scene incorporating all of your favourite comfort foods. In my case, quite an accomplishment with so many of the cast being vampires, not at all interested in hot toasted bagels with marmite or macaroni cheese. You may be able to make use of some of it. You may not. But it’s safe to say it can rather take you off course.

The second ― I’m actually chuffed to bits with. In my case, it has allowed me dedicated early morning romps with Nate. The advice? If you seem to be struggling to get words down on the page, try making a dramatic change to your writing routine. I’m not a morning person at all. No Such Thing as Immortality was written very late at night and right through it on occasions. But with my boys’ bedtime getting later and later and with that, the point at which I can recommence writing (I am knackered at 9.30pm) I’ve had to take desperate measures. I’ve been setting my alarm clock to go off at 5am. And for me, sitting in front of my laptop in a freezing cold kitchen at 5.10am, kitted out in extreme weather gear, has proved an amazing incentive to write. I am only out of my warm cosy bed to write. If I don’t write, I’ve wasted that huge effort that was getting up. Previously, that pre-feeding the boys 5―7am slot was spent asleep so I now only associate that time with writing. I find I don’t get distracted with washing and cleaning because I simply wouldn’t climb out of my bed at that time in the morning to do that stuff. It may not work for everyone. In fact, it may only work for me (generally work ― kids!) ― but it’s a great sensation to know you’ve words under your belt before the day starts proper. In my case, that sensation, obviously, has absolutely nothing to do with having a bit of extra time with Nate :)

marmite

Sarah Tranter – We have lift off!


If I was clever, I'd have added fire-spouting rocket boosters under this.

If I was clever, I'd have added fire-spouting rocket boosters under this.

No such thing as Immortality is officially launched today. You will be very pleased to hear, that I am not going to attempt to describe what I am currently feeling. There isn’t a chance I could do it justice in any event. Furthermore, I am going to have a crack at being professional. Unlike my earlier posts, there will be no squealing. There will be no over abundance of emotion. I am determined to be professional here.

So I should perhaps tell you a little about the book. The blurb. Think Twilight Saga for adults, but with 200 year old British vampires who apologise for making a scene, endeavour to dine on black pudding rather than people, and struggle with varying degrees of success to fit into the confusing conventions of contemporary life, such as wooing human females.

I thank the lovely Luke for that little summary. A bit of a change so as not to repeat what’s on the back cover.

Mmmm. Yes. So far so good. Professional … So … Right. Yes. And …

You know? There’s not a hope here! It’s publication day! My debut novel is officially out there! I’m officially out there! I am a published author! And this feels so beyond AMAZING! Thank you Choc Lit! Oh dear! Look at all the exclamation marks! And not everyone likes- ! It’s most definitely best I leave now. Right now because I can feel the unmentionable coming on.

Thank you everyone for all of your support. You know who you are. You are unbelievably incredible and I love you to bits. And― I’m so gone.

No such thing as Immortality spotted at WHSmith, London Victoria

No such thing as Immortality at WHSmith, London Victoria

*Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal*

Sarah’s Wednesday W – W is for Wild

It’s pretty wild in our house at the moment. Not unusual ― but with two boys who both still believe in Father Christmas, things are getting wilder by the millisecond. I know from years gone by, there’s no hope of effective taming until they’ve unleashed their full feral forces on parcels and wrapping on the big day itself.

The build-up starts early with my two. On the first day back to school after the summer holidays, I was informed that winter would soon be here. Followed by the question that has sounded each morning school-run since: ‘How many days until Christmas, mummy?’ It’s not therefore surprising, that by the time they reach December, they have driven themselves into a wild frenzy of excitement.

Everything is that much more extreme with my two in December. Domestication goes out the window. They seem to have lost any taming I may have managed. It is back to basics. They seem to be driven by their raw child. By base instinct. And the same goes for their maleness. My boys are boy-boys year round. Nothing I have attempted to do or instil has helped on that front. Probably quite the opposite. But when it comes to December, they reach whole new levels of innate boy-boyness. There are more and more pranks. More and more dares and daring activities. More and more … stupidity. And of course, more and more fights. And the ferocity of those fights reaches whole new levels.

Whilst my attempts at taming are generally unsuccessful, it doesn’t stop me trying. Although I can say with conviction, that to see a true wild boy-boy child ― shout up the chimney to tell Father Christmas that said wild boy-boy child should be added to the naughty list. The reaction that unleashed had me thinking of tranquillizer darts.

But do you know? I will treasure the wildness this year. This is most probably the last December I will experience in which both my boys believe in Father Christmas. The last year they will write their letters to him and then jump up and down in excitement as they watch mummy and daddy post them up the chimney to magically wing there way to the North Pole ― or heaven. According to my boys, Father Christmas divides his time between those two locations. The last year, that on Christmas morning, they will stare in awe at the snowy footprints Father Christmas has left upon the hearth. Next year, I will no doubt find myself answering my eldest’s questions and explaining all about the ledge inside the chimney that accommodates letters so well. And about the sprinkled icing sugar around a pair of daddy’s wellington boots.

When you look at it that way, there’s a lot to be said for wildness. In fact ― bring it on! Happy December everyone. May it be wild and magical!

I leave you with a picture of the man himself. Don’t you think Father Christmas is just everywhere this time of year?  And he does have a beard … and eyes. And I could say something about base instincts here and the ability to turn one wild. But won’t :)

It IS a Wednesday :)

It IS a Wednesday :)

Sarah Tranter – Ten Days

When sitting down to write a post, I normally have to think about what to write. This time around, it’s more ― what NOT to write. And that’s all down to the past ten days. It has been one amazing happening after another. Just as I recover from one ― another hits me between the eyes. Although, to be honest, it’s my heart that they kind of connect with.

As a debut author, I was expecting many firsts. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the past ten days.

· NSTAI went live on kindle. A very good moment

· I held my book in my hands for the first time

· Attended my first function as a published author, rather than as an aspiring one

· Stood beside fellow ChocLiteers as I sold and signed my first book

· I received my first review

· I received messages from readers as they read NSTAI ― and they were positive ones at that.

· Oh ― and my husband, who never read the MS, actually started reading NSTAI. The most shocking of all occurrences. But pretty momentous.

The above is of course a list. It doesn’t touch on the emotions associated with each event. The feeling of exhilaration when you realise your book is available for people to read ― followed immediately by terror. What if they hate it? Is that just me? Does that feeling go away after you’ve the first one under your belt? I am hoping the nervous-wreck moments are down to going through this process for the first time ― and the fact I am cr*p. But I have a horrid suspicion it’s not.

I LOVE the highs. Seriously high highs. I’ve not stopped cradling and stroking my book since it arrived. And receiving positive feedback? It makes it all worthwhile. I dread the moment the negative comes in. But that’s clearly part of the emotional rollercoaster of being an author. I had NO idea what an author goes through. Hats off to you all. I bow to you. Because you seem to have got through the process intact. Emotionally, mentally … Well perhaps some of you, LOL. I think, perhaps, the secret is in the support we receive from our friends and fellow writers. It has been phenomenal ― and humbling. Thank you one and all. And on that note ― thank you ChocLiteers for all your support. And of course Choc Lit! I LOVE the finished product. Well the outside. I can’t bring myself to read the inside. And congratulations go again to Choc Lit for that ‘Publisher of the Year’ win and to Pia for best historical. You see ― all within the past ten days. What a ten days :)

Sarah reveals her unofficial covers

max-master-22

arun-master-1

Visual 1. Arun age 8

I thought I would share with you my visuals for No Such Thing…as immortality? Okay, they are unofficial. The official one is currently in the pipeline which is very exciting.

But these are the visuals I currently use (at home) ― produced by my two children. Up until a couple of days ago they would argue constantly, normally on the school-run amidst their constant bickering of who was speaking first, who was interrupting who, who punched who first etc ― about which of them would produce the cover for my book. So I thought, let’s give them a shot at this.

Of course, when it came to coming up with the goods, they weren’t quite so keen. It was so much more preferable to simply argue about it.

The brief didn’t particularly help:

  • A love story (Eurghhh) They are boys
  • With vampires (Yay! ‘But I can’t draw vampires’ my 8yr old advised and then insisted on a £5 fee for his services)
  • Humans (shrugs)
  • And possibly faeries (eurghggh, spit, fingers down throats, raspberries you name it and probably lots you couldn’t). Faeries can be bad, I said cunningly (‘Nah, still not a chance,’ from he who is 8. ‘Can they have horns, mummy?’ from my 5 yr old)
  • There’s a pretty cool scene on a boat ― me at my most persuasive (thoughtful pause from my 5 yr old followed by, ‘Are there sharks in your book, mummy?’ A dismissive shrug said it all from he who is 8 ― you’ve paid for a vampire and not a boat.

Visual 2. Max age 5

Visual 2. Max age 5

Okay….

Visual number 1. From Arun who is 8 (and a half).arun-master-2

A vampire. He has thrown in a full moon, a couple of bats and eight stars for free, which impressed me. I have to say, I actually think he has drawn a VERY cool vampire. I didn’t give Arun a physical description, feeling Will’s finer points would not be suitably appreciated. But he got the tall and dark right…

Visual number 2. From Max who is 5.

We have vampires, faeries, a boat and bats (one hanging upside down, just as they do). To the left are three vampires. To the right are two faeries…with horns. He advises me they are demon faeries which I must say is providing me with food for thought. They are all above the safety railings on a boat. Max it would appear has gone for a cruise liner style of boat rather than a yacht (my fault, I said boat in the brief!). The boat is complete with potholes. In fact they are portholes (in yellow) but as he was drawing them he confused me for a while by referring to them as potholes. The faerie with the red all over its face has been attacked by a vampire and apparently there are two dead faeries that have gone into the sea out of the picture.

These covers might not be quite right. But I would say, I love them to bits. In fact, I fully intend to put them behind glass alongside my actual cover!

In a post sometime soon, I  hope to reveal the ‘official’ cover of No Such Thing…as immortality?

Thank you for humouring me :)


Sarah Tranter – my first post!

I cannot believe I am doing this. That I am actually in a position to be writing a post on this blog in order to introduce myself as the newest Choc Lit author. Wow. Truly wow. Yet even now it doesn’t feel real. Ever since Choc Lit said yes to my book, reality has remained the preserve of moments. Seriously incredible moments. Seriously squealy moments. And I’m not a squealy person (and I know spellchecker is telling me squealy is not a word but it should be). But I now squeal. And normally at the most inappropriate times because I have no control over when these moments of reality might hit. But anyway ― sorry! This is not meant to be a blog about squealing. So….

A pretty pic of Wiltshire

A pretty pic of Wiltshire

Hello. My name is Sarah Tranter and I am the latest addition to the Choc Lit author family. And what do you know ― I just squealed! Right. Professional. I believe I need to tell you a little about myself and my book. I’m not used to talking about myself so my advice is to skip the next couple of paragraphs in order to get to the interesting stuff about the book.

I live in Wiltshire with my long suffering husband (nobody likes being woken up at 3am as a reality moment hits their bed buddy) and our two beautiful boys. So, yes, I am a proud mum and I also write. Obviously. Not that I can possibly imagine you are interested, but before the mum and the writing bit, I worked in London in public relations although I initially started out in

2 Wiltshire boys who may or may not be related to me

2 Wiltshire boys who may or may not be related to me

politics. Still can’t quite believe that fact but yep. I did a degree in politics at Leicester,

some voluntary work for the Labour Party in Yorkshire and then a stint as a constituency researcher for a Labour MP. I loved it too.

Yet writing has always been there. If it hadn’t been for a boy (my now manly husband) changing my plans, I was all set to study English Literature and creative writing. It’s something I knew, even then, I wanted to do. It took the passing of far too many years before I got back onto the creative writing track. And then it simply happened. I still don’t know how. I was at home with my boys and at my lowest after a car accident and found myself writing a scene ― about a car accident. That first scene grew into a chapter and then more scenes, more chapters written during stolen moments and before I knew it I had a book. In fact I had the ingredients for a trilogy.

So the book! ‘No such thing as… immortality?’ is the first book in the ‘No such thing…’ paranormal romance trilogy and will be published in January 2013!

A vampire.  NOT Will but I needed a visual

A vampire. NOT Will but I needed a visual

It is Choc Lit’s first book to be written entirely from the hero’s perspective. It obviously includes a car accident but to give you some blurb, this opening book is about a community of five vampires in residence at a remote house in Derbyshire. Their community and relatively peaceful existence is shattered by the discovery that despite the fact they don’t believe in faeries, it seems that fate may have thrust one into their midst.

It’s essentially Will’s story. And he’s a vampire. Not only does he not believe in faeries but he has taken great comfort over the years in both his physical and emotional invulnerability. So from my perspective, he was long overdue a shake-up :) So as not to give too much away, I will say no more. Except that I am very much hoping it is as enjoyable to read as it was to write.

So there you go. My hello and an introduction to the book. And if you are still reading this, thank you! And thank you Choc Lit and its wonderful authors for such an incredible welcome into the family ― and to my writerly (spellchecker can go and jump) friends for their support. You know who you are. Thank you!