Sara Sheridan Quotes


Type: Writer

Born: 7 June 1968


Sara Sheridan is a Scottish writer who works in a variety of genres, though predominately in historical fiction. She is the creator of the "Mirabelle Bevan mysteries".

Sara Sheridan Quotes

At the end of the day, that's what a family is - a group of different people who accept each other.

He often came back ‘all thinky’ from work.

Everyone assumes writers spend their time lounging around, writing and occasionally striking a pose whilst having a think.

Crime writers, I've noticed, can be jumpy. They live in a world where there are murderers on the loose and they haven't been caught yet!

I remember calling the council's cemetery department to ask about body decomposition in different soil types. Once they had verified that I was a novelist and not a sicko, they were extremely helpful.

I am completely unflustered by whichever medium people choose to read my words. I'm just delighted they're reading them at all!

We are in the middle of the biggest revolution in reading and writing since the advent of the Gutenberg press.

Like good reading skills, good writing skills require immersion and imaginative engagement.

Readership is highly dependent upon format and distribution as much as it is on content.

Digital distribution has widened the reading world.

Like most little girls, I found the lure of grown-up accessories astonishing - lipstick, perfume, hats and gloves. When I write female characters in my historical novels, getting these details right is vital.

Writing historical fiction has many common traits with writing sci-fi or fantasy books. The past is another country - a very different world - and historical readers want to see, smell and touch what it was like living there.

I am more one for the story, I think, than the action.

I'm a novelist by trade and my job is to write a story rather than reconstruct actual events.

Writers of novels live in a strange world where what's made up is as important as what's real.

While what I write is always largely consistent with the records that remain I freely admit that where historical fact proves a barrier to invention, I simply move a detail a little one way or another.

Everyone was important during the war. Everyone. We worked together and we won.

One of Scotland's most important cultural exports - stories.

If we don't value the people who inspire us (and money is one mark of that) then what kind of culture are we building?

The financial value put on the job of the writer and the misconceptions around that make it extremely difficult to enter the profession.

History is full of blank spaces, but good stories, invariably, are not.

In crime books it's possible to chart forensic technology by how well it has to be explained to a reader. In mid-Victorian crime novels fingerprinting has to be explained because it's new. Nowadays it's part of our world and we can simply assume that knowledge if we write about it.

History makes my mouth water - and that is as much because of the voids in what documentation remains as what is set in stone.

Archive material is a fabulous starting point - individual documents are like signposted roads, heading to a variety of intriguing possibilities.

I have no problem in moving a date one way or another or coming up with a subplot that gets my characters in (or out) of a fix more rambunctiously than the extant records show.

Occasionally a particular word or phrase in a letter or diary has sparked an entire plot - like an echo from history, still very alive.

Small details are a vital part of allowing a reader to make an imaginative connection with long dead historical figures.

I am torn between the freedom of this adventure and the benefits of civilization despite its constraints.

I hope that, whatever happens within the publishing industry, because of the increased control writers have of their own careers, better sales information and the advent of the internet, that ultimately this change in our working environment will be a change for the better.

Our business is communication oftentimes through the medium of stories but our capacity has a far greater scope - to entertain certainly, but also to stimulate debate, to mark up changes and differences and that way, to maybe, just now and then, to change the world.

Most people do a good deal of whatever they do motivated by love. For me, few stories are truly complete without it.

Historical fiction of course is particularly research-heavy. The details of everyday life are there to trip you up. Things that we take for granted, indeed, hardly think about, can lead to tremendous mistakes.

Archive material is vital to the writer of historical fiction.

I know a lot of writers, and everyone works differently, but this is something that we truly have in common across all genres - the fiction has to be real inside your head.

I've always felt that good writing does not have to be literary.

Books have a vital place in our culture. They are the source of ideas, of stories that engage and stretch the imagination and most importantly, inspire.

Copywriters, journalists, mainstream authors, ghostwriters, bloggers and advertising creatives have as much right to think of themselves as good writers as academics, poets, or literary novelists.

A writer is like a stick of rock - the words go right through.

A word out of place or an interesting choice of vocabulary can spawn a whole character.

Edinburgh is alive with words.

When a chap is passionate, the readership can sense it.

I'm a professional writer and I consider it part of my job to publicise my work and these days part of that job is done online.

When you're depressed you retreat and you go into a smaller world. This is why Brighton worked well for the story, because it's a smaller world than London.

We can learn so much looking outside our core field of expertise.

I like you in green,’ he said. ‘You look as if you’re a very beautiful imp.’

Jack had been the love of her life and he was gone. It seemed now that there had never been bad times, though she knew that wasn’t true.

She curled sideways into the milky light of the bedside lamp and began to read.

Why, that means you’re just a … busybody. You could be anyone. You could be a journalist.’

A chap wouldn’t hole up in Occupied France just to get away from his wife, Vesta.

A chap’s impending death has a way of focusing the mind.

Can I fetch you something, madam? A cup of tea?’
In the old days she’d have been ‘miss’ and he’d have offered her a cocktail.

The good thing about the aristocracy – German or English – was that they were easily traced, Mirabelle thought.

I knew that I was talented. I was positive about that. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was talented at, but I was ambitious enough to wait it out and see what turned up.

Sometimes you don’t even have to have sex at all, and for that kind of sicko, you charge double.

The devil was always in the detail. And here the detail was certainly devilish.

Only a man with nothing to hide could make that kind of racket.

It is one of the benchmarks of a culture I always think – the page at which it operates. A good way to measure it is to order a taxi and see how irate local people get if it is late.

He finds himself bored by the shenanigans of highly spirited young men. Their concerns reside somewhere between balder and dash.

He didn’t look as if he’d been through a whirlwind exactly but he’d certainly endured a stiff breeze.

He’s more a shape in a drape than a hep cat

I was fired ignominiously from the Junior School Choir for being so off tune that the choir mistress declared she couldn't even bear to have me mime.

It may take a village to raise a baby, but hell! it takes an army to produce a book.

When the first book out my sister-in-law read it and we were chatting at 5 o'clock in the afternoon and she said, "Oh my God, chapter six, sex and a murder," and her five year old wandered into the kitchen and said, "Sixty hamburgers?

If peace came it would have to do so when there had been time to allow the hatred to grow out of people’s thinking.

I'm not sure how much easier it is for a mother to balance her life now - have we simply swapped one set of restrictions for another?

If you've been hurt and you've grieved and you've been through the mill, it takes a long time to get over it.

When you think about the period in which Agatha Christie's crime novels were written, they are actually quite edgy for the time.

In the 1950s at least less was expected of women. Now we're supposed to build a career, build a home, be the supermum that every child deserves, the perfect wife, meet the demands of elderly parents, and still stay sane.

Change occurs slowly. Very often a legal change might take place but the cultural shift required to really accept its spirit lingers in the wings for decades.

Molly Bloom is simply the most sensuous woman in literature.

Those who have not been stung will hardly fear a bee the same as those who have.

The mass communications that could enable our politics for good have instead turned it into a bland conglomeration of stinted opinion cloaked in the occasional media frenzy of blame or denial.

To me, reading through old letters and journals is like treasure hunting. Somewhere in those faded, handwritten lines there is a story that has been packed away in a dusty old box for years.

I love stories that suck you in, that you can't stop reading because you are quite simply there.

History was my favourite subject at school and in my spare time I read historical novels voraciously from Heidi to the Scarlet Pimpernel and from Georgette Heyer to Agatha Christie.

We have more choice than ever before about where and how we buy and read books.

I have a really vivid imagination and I find it difficult to read scenes of complete graphic violence. That's not to say that graphic violence does not exist. It's just that I find it quite harrowing and I much prefer if it isn't completely outlined for me because my imagination can do that.

He tasted of whisky and his skin was rough where he hadn’t shaved, but Mirabelle kissed him back.

Kissing her is like drinking salted water, he thinks. His thirst only increases.

Such a night cannot be shaken from a woman’s memory. Such a night changes your life forever.

It occurred to me that as a man I could do anything, everything I wanted.

We had laid down the law : no chocolate, no sex.

All those kisses. There must have been a thousand. They engulfed me like some kind of all consuming dream where I became very alive and very relaxed at the same time.

What was it that marked me as a woman and was I prepared to let it go?

His heart is pounding and when he kisses her it is as if the whole of Riyadh disappears – the wide sky, the hard surface of the roof, the date palms and the water wells.

She wishes her grandmother had not been so protective, and that she understood better what passes between a man and woman. As it is, she simply enjoys the feelings and wonders if they are what lightning is made of, for everything comes back to the weather. Tears like rain. Smiles like the sun. Hair as dry as sand and fear like the dark ocean.

Most fellas like the races, though, Miss. It’s only human nature

When you fake emotion for a living, when you make your money providing fantasies for other people, tuning into their worlds and indulging them, you don’t invite someone into your world very easily.

It was clearly a lot more difficult in the field than in the office, where you could keep your distance and maintain a calculated composure. Being faced with real people was a far tougher call on one’s judgement.

I am a storyteller, not a historian, and it's my ambition to create something compelling - something unputdownable and riveting - that chimes with the real history but is, in fact, fiction.

Food in wartime Britain, she had to admit, was hardly inspiring.

It was nearly ten years since the peace though her memories of the war still felt fresh.

Escapers were the cream of the crop.

Didn’t young people care what the generation before them had achieved? And if not, why had everyone gone through those grim difficult wartime years?

During the war some of the country’s sharpest minds had looked as if they had been dragged through a hedge backwards.

Mirabelle always ate her lunch on Brighton beach if the weather was in any way passable, but out of sheer principle she never paid tuppence for a chair. We did not win the war to have to pay to sit down, she frequently found herself thinking.

Britain wouldn’t have won the war without its eccentric geniuses.

There is something particularly fascinating about seeing places you know in a piece of art - be that in a film, or a photograph, or a painting.

Nothing is long ago in an archive, my dear. In the records we treat the dead as same as the living.
that’s the whole point of keeping papers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hundred years or only a few weeks. It’s all filed away, fresh as the day it went under the covers.

The 1950s is a key decade in the 20th Century. Each year has a distinctive flavour.

I'm drawn to the 1950s for lots of reasons - everything from the fashion to the increasing sense of freedom and modernity that builds throughout the decade.

I have a very strong sense that we only know where we are by looking clearly at where we've come from.

My fascination with history is as much about the present as it is about the past.

History at its best is a gritty, dirty business.

Social and cultural history is often comprised of whatever diaries and letters remain and that is down to chance and wide open to interpretation.

Our archives are treasure troves - a testament to many lives lived and the complexity of the way we move forward. They contain clues to the real concerns of day-to-day life that bring the past alive.

Without archives many stories of real people would be lost, and along with those stories, vital clues that allow us to reflect and interpret our lives today.

I'm accustomed to reading Georgian and Victorian letters and sometimes you simply know in your gut that a blithe sentence is covering up a deeper emotion.

Looking at my life through the lens of history has made me increasingly grateful to standout women who pushed those boundaries to make the changes from which I have benefited.

As a novelist it is my job to tell stories that inspire and entertain but I am increasingly mindful that many of these historical tales (which of themselves are fascinating) relate directly to our issues in society today.

I've always had a keen sense of history. My father was an antiques dealer and he used to bring home boxes full of treasures, and each item always had a tale attached.

An important part of deciding where we want to go, as a society and culture, is knowing where we have come from, and indeed, how far we have come.

I would rather be a spinster than sold off, traded in, whatever they may call it.

Kindness was too painful. It had been a long time since he had had to endure it.

Our children make us so vulnerable. Our parents too, I suppose.

The bonds between a family are strange indeed.

My father could talk about the Romany way of life and its culture. He could talk about freedom and the Scottish spirit. But that was all he could talk about. I was desperate for someone to talk to but there was just nobody there.

An aunt is a safe haven for a child. Someone who will keep your secrets and is always on your side.

Aunts offer kids an opportunity to try out ideas that don't chime with their parents and they also demonstrate that people can get on, love each other and live together without necessarily being carbon copies.

It is through our extended family that we first learn to compromise and come to an understanding that even if we don't always agree about things we can still love and look out for each other.

Women the world over suffer restrictions.

I care about a lot of issues. I care about libraries, I care about healthcare, I care about homelessness and unemployment. I care about net neutrality and the steady erosion of our liberties both online and off. I care about the rich/poor divide and the rise of corporate business.

The library is a symbol of freedom.

The atmosphere felt unexpectedly intense and the music was frantic. The beat made it both difficult to think straight and pleasant to move – like swimming almost.

Once you’re on the pleasure express, it’s hard to get off and switch to another, slower service.

I was asked the other day in which era I would choose to live. As a historical novelist, it comes up sometimes. As a woman I'd have to say I'd like to live in the future - I want to see where these centuries of change are leading us.

The fifties is a decade when every year is markedly different from the one before and after. That doesn't happen every decade. 1983 isn't that much different from 1986. But 1953 is very different from 1956.

It seemed to me that these months of watching and listening, second-guessing words and phrases, seeking so much that was new, had somehow changed me.

You couldn’t see the soldiers as people. They were icons.

People who inspire such contradictory emotions must be worthwhile, I reasoned.

People see what they expect to see.

If the universe was scientific and just left to itself, then we’d have statistical probabilities to rely on. But once people are involved it sometimes becomes much more problematic because they’re erratic. People do crazy things that don’t make sense.

You couldn’t predict what was going to happen for one simple reason: people.

People are so different in wartime. No one gets to be ordinary. Not really.

I decided to coin the term 'cosy crime noir' for Brighton Belle. That is 'cosy crime' for today's sensibilities because there is that slightly edgy element to it.

The best historical stories capture the modern imagination because they are, in many senses, still current - part of a continuum.

People make interesting assumptions about the profession. The writer is a mysterious figure, wandering lonely as a cloud, fired by inspiration, or perhaps a cocktail or two.

You can’t trust anyone you have to pay, and really, they can’t trust you.

I didn’t want to give up my job and join the ranks of the Doing Fuck All brigade no matter how much money I had in the bank.

I found out pretty quickly that there is a lot of money to be made if you can become the kind of woman who doesn’t look like the kind of woman she is.

Cases fired by emotion rather than money were dangerous.

I can't bear literary snobbery.

Often we don't notice the stringent rules to which our culture subjects us.

You have no future when the past rules you.

They march into the future to the rhythm of the past.

In a heartbeat, he understands why religions are born on the sands – there is nothing here for a man but his own mind.

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