A Quickie with Sarah Wray

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

Reported Missing follows Rebecca, whose husband has gone missing on the same day as a local teenage girl. Just a coincidence? Rebecca wants to believe so. But as the police and locals start to draw parallels between Chris and Kayleigh, it’s getting harder for her to trust his innocence.
Most thrillers start with a “What if?” question and follow what happened next. Reported Missing does too but the louder question to me was “What is it like to be that person?” What is it like when your loved one is missing for a long time and what is it like to love someone accused of something awful? Maybe you’ll enjoy this slightly different way into the story.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

Ummmm….that’s hard! Let’s say “The Dark Fantastic”.

People say my writing is quite dark and that I always watch and read dark things. This is true but in real life I am also drawn to all things bright and brash. I am a fan of kitsch and karaoke, am often seen wearing loud prints and I love escapist TV such as Revenge and Riviera.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

I am a newbie author so nothing too weird yet. I am very open to strange requests though!

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

I’d like to learn from someone with experience in TV/film – I think novelists can learn a lot from the structure and approach of screen drama and after books, film and TV are a major love for me.

On one hand I would love to work with someone like Lynne Ramsey or Shane Meadows because I find their work very inspiring. I’d also like to work with writers from soaps such as Eastenders or Coronation Street. The pace and skill of keeping hold of all the historic threads is fascinating and I also think soaps have a fairly unique opportunity to tackle contemporary issues in a very timely way. Writing for a soap opera would be one of my dream jobs.

Tell me something nobody knows about you (yet!)

I used to be an Irish dancer and won a ‘Most Promising Dancer’ award two years in a row. While I was rather disappointed at my failure to really launch, I have always thought Most Promising Dancer has a nice ring to it and I hope I can use and remember it in a short story or something one day.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

• First Love – Gwendoline Riley has a beautiful prose style that is quite cold but clear and compelling. She does not present ‘likeable’ characters or always neatly explain why people are the way they are or do what they do. I admire that and I am always interested in the people we follow in her books. This one does not have a particularly driving plot but I couldn’t put it down.
• Distress Signals – I remember reading the article that Catherine Ryan Howard says inspired this book and finding it fascinating. It was about people who go missing on cruise ships. This book is an excellent mix of dark themes of disappearance and death balanced with the lightness of visiting the Fizz bar on board the cruise ship and stopping off in sunny Nice. The resolution of this book is also enviably done. Looking forward to Catherine’s new book!
Treats – I am trying to read more short stories to study the form and for a break between writing. This book of (mostly very) short stories by Lara Williams presents contemporary, relatable things, people and situations in a vivid and fresh way. I don’t often re-read books but I can imagine dipping back into this for a long time to come – to enjoy the observations again and to push me to make my own writing better because this book makes you want to do that.

Who is Sarah Wray?

Sarah has always loved to read and worked with words, starting her career in academic publishing before moving into writing. She was always interested in writing a novel but it just seemed such a huge, unknown complicated thing. In the end, she decided to just go for it and see what happened. It was a personal challenge. The early draft of the book promptly won the Northern Writers’ Award (Arvon Award) in 2015 and was taken on by agent Laura Longrigg.

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