The Monday Morning Hot Spot belongs to Sarah Belle, author of Hindsight, featuring the time-travelling Juliette! Hailing from Australia, Sarah started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry and the Department of Defence, where she met and married the man of her dreams: a dashing, Army Blackhawk pilot (swoon!). They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram Yoga devotee and the only woman in a house of five males.
Here’s the cover of Hindsight, find out all about it and what inspired Sarah to write it. Also read an hilarious excerpt – pubic hair down to the ground? Told ya it was hilarious!
Tell us a little bit about Hindsight – I hear it features the swinging 60’s!
It sure does! Hindsight is set in both the modern day and 1961 when the protagonist, Juliette, time travels after a collision with a bottle of Vodka and a marriage meltdown.
Juliette’s career is on fire, her marriage and family are in melt-down, and a red-hot goddess wants her husband. But those are the least of her worries when she wakes up on her lounge room floor in the year 1961.
Without any of her modern conveniences — nanny, housekeeper, surgically attached mobile phone, designer wardrobe, and intravenous lattes — Juliette is just over fifty years out of her comfort zone. But as she takes on the role of a 1961 housewife, with gritted liberated teeth, she discovers an unexpected truth: slower doesn’t mean boring, at home doesn’t mean dull, and priorities don’t mean sacrifices.
As she finds unexpected friendships, a resuscitated love life, tragedy and triumph, Juliette begins to wonder if she really wants to return home after all.
And your journey towards publication, was it a smooth or a rocky one?
It was sort of in between, I think! This is my first novel, so there was loads of learning involved, zillions of mistakes made and endless hours spent hunched over my laptop. I sent it to quite a few publishing houses before Escape Publishing accepted it – which was a very happy, if not surreal, day for me!
Who or what inspires you to write?
I just love writing and couldn’t imagine not being able to do it. It’s a great outlet as I had to give up full time work when I had baby number 4, and really missed the sense of accomplishment and social activity involved with working. Now I socialise with fictional characters and feel happy if I have managed to avoid all distractions and get some good chunks of writing done! Writing itself is my inspiration.
Location is very important for me in a novel, I love writing about places I know and, in turn, if a book is set in a place I love, I’m sold. How important is location to you?
Hindsight is set in my gorgeous home town of Melbourne, Australia. I haven’t lived there for a number of years, but it holds so many memories and all of my family history. For that reason, it’s very special to me – my spiritual home perhaps. I love reading about other places (especially your gorgeous UK countryside) – it’s a way to travel without leaving home!
Do you outline your plot meticulously before writing or do you fly by the seat of your pants, allowing your characters to get your from A to B?
I am a plotter, definitely. I need to know the beginning, middle and end and what I need to achieve in each scene, otherwise I flail around too much.
Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favourite and why?
I would have to say Gran Leticia in Hindsight. She’s courageous, loving, protective and is the one everyone turns to in a time of crises. She lived in a tough time – both World Wars and the Depression, so I find her very inspiring. She’s based on my own Great Gran Leticia, so there’s an emotional bond too.
What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you need coffee to survive?
I need Bikram Yoga to defragment my brain and English Breakfast tea to kick start it again! I write every day, even when there is a 4 year old sitting on my lap. Like most other writers, I write in my head as well. Consequently, my hubby gets a bit miffed when I don’t pay attention to him because some fictional character is demanding my time!
What advice do you have for people aspiring to be published? What would you have done differently?
My advice is keep going, no matter what. Write every day. Be committed to getting it finished, edited and polished. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take every opportunity you get to learn the craft. Make friends with other writers, either in person or over social media, because no one will understand the hurdles you face better than another writer.
I wouldn’t have done anything differently – everything happened just the way it was meant to.
Self-doubt is the curse of every writer – ours is a subjective trade – what do you do when a case of the hee bee gee bees attacks?
To be honest, I don’t let myself get the hee bee gee bees. If I surrender to that kind of thinking, no matter if it is related to writing, cooking, mothering, or life in general, I will allow fear and doubt to rule. I can’t do that. I’m not a naturally confident person, I have to really work at it. When I take my last breath, the only regret I want to have is not drinking more Champagne!
Aside from writing (and reading!) what other hobbies do you have?
I do lots of Bikram Yoga. With sons aged 4,6,8 and 10, there isn’t much time for anything else!
Your favourite book?
Ooooh, hard one. I’d say, The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Your favourite song?
Soul Sister by Train.
Your favourite film?
Steel Magnolias or Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Your favourite colour?
And last but not least, what’s coming next from Sarah Belle?
I’ve got five more plots ready to go, but not enough hours in the day and too many distractions. My next is about a woman who casts a spell that goes horribly wrong and she has to get her life back on track.
Sounds great Sarah, but first, an excerpt from Hindsight!
Setting the Scene: Juliette has just woken up in a hospital bed. She knows she has time travelled back to 1961 but is unaware that her cosmetic enhancements have not travelled back with her…
I find the toilet and remove the beige undies that clearly belong to someone’s grandmother. Pulling my undies down, a gasp of horror, followed by a scream thunders out of me.
Oh. My. God. As if the undies weren’t bad enough, I trip and stagger in the tiny bathroom, trying to outrun the small, furry creature that has crawled onto my lap and decided to live there. But there’s no escaping because it’s part of me, a bikini line gone wild. This garden hasn’t been tended to since the onset of puberty. I haven’t seen that amount of pubic hair since…ever.
“Mrs Taylor?” The nurse knocks on the door. “We heard a scream, are you alright?”
No, definitely not! Holy mother of God! There’s so much pubic hair that it could be braided into dreadlocks. I could shear it like a sheep and make a jumper out of it. Where’s my lovely, neat, clean Brazilian?
“Mrs Taylor? Mrs Taylor, are you alright dear?”
“Umm… yes, thanks. I just…um…tripped.”
“You tripped? On what?”
On my pubic hair, which is almost touching the ground. “Just on a…a…thing. Everything’s fine, thank you.”
“Mrs Taylor?” the nurse asks again from the other side of the door.
My eyes are glued to the image before me. They’re not even capable of blinking. Oh. My. God. There’s a mop of mousy brown hair that has not been cut, styled or highlighted. Mousy brown! My eyebrows are not professionally shaped, my skin is not glowing or rejuvenated and my lips are decidedly less pouty than normal.
“Mrs Taylor?” She is more insistent this time.
“Yes, all good thanks, Nurse. I just…umm…” Saw myself in the mirror without all my chemical and cosmetic enhancements and was horrified at my own plainness. My eyes and labourer’s hands explore my face, looking at all the little wrinkles, the blackish bags under my eyes, the open pores of my cheeks and forehead, the thinness of my lips in comparison to the real me, the few blackheads on my chin as well as the grayness of my skin, I feel the beginnings of depression take over.
Oh no! Please no! Not the girls! As I open my top, my eyes are greeted by the sight of two size-seven feet on the cold lino floor. There’s nothing in-between the two most polar points of my body. Out of gasps and screams, nothing escapes other than a small, pathetic whine. They’re gone, my perfect D-cup breasts are gone. My pride and joys, the things that stop me dead in my tracks every time I walk past a mirror naked. My beautiful, perfectly shaped, nubile, pert breasts are gone. Chris wasn’t in favour of my boob job originally, but he soon changed his mind when he saw them; this kind of fakeness he doesn’t mind at all. Hypocrite. But they are gone and in their place are my real breasts, which look like the ears of a golden retriever, only hairless.
Want to find out more about Sarah or buy the book? Here’s the links:
Twitter link https://twitter.com/SarahBelle44
Website : http://www.lovesarahbelle.com/
Buy Link (publisher): http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857990587