By Sara Jayne Townsend
I’ve never been a fan of romance novels. Even as a youngster I had a streak that could be described as practical or cynical, depending on how you look at it. I was the girl that all the boys left alone in high school. I think they either saw me as too weird or too geeky. So while my peers were reading Sweet Valley High romances and fantasising about the perfect partner, I was discovering Stephen King and fantasising about having telekinetic powers like Carrie, able to kill off all the classmates who were mean to me by the power of my mind. Well, I said people found me weird. Fortunately for all concerned I was also writing horror at that point, and able to channel my preoccupation for violence onto the page.
From being a teen I’ve had a leaning towards crime and horror and not romance. I totally get why romance is popular – people like the idea of the ‘happy ever after’. But somehow I’d rather write about murder and mayhem than ‘happy ever after’.
However, when I created my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, I had to give some thought to the relationships she would have. My character is a straight, single, 29-year old actress. It seemed logical to assume there would be men in her life. However, it was a conscious decision on my part to give her something of a disastrous track record. Flawed characters are just more interesting. And although in real life we all strive to find The One – that soul mate that we can share our lives with and live happily ever after, in a series there has to be something beyond the ‘happy ever after’. Conflict makes for more interesting stories. And the fictional heroines which inspired me to write a mystery series – Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski; Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone; Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan – are all perpetually single. Lovers come and go throughout these series, but these women always seem to end up alone.
A sub-plot of DEATH SCENE is a rather uneven relationship that Shara starts up with a fellow actor, and I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but her romantic future is destined to be somewhat rocky. And I do somewhat sympathise with the men in her life – I can’t imagine this character I created would be an easy person to live with.
Will Shara end up with her Happy Ever After? I can honestly say I don’t know. Characters sometimes have a habit of insisting in going in directions the author hasn’t envisaged, so who knows what might happen?
They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…
Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with. Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window. It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed. His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?
DEATH SCENE BLURB
British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.
After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.
SJT Bio 2014
Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.
The first book in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers, DEATH SCENE, is now available, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, released on 25 November and available for pre-order. Visit the MuseItUp Publishing book store to buy both: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend