Our latest Author in the Zone is award-winning poet, Sarah James.
Sarah James is an award-winning poet, short fiction writer and journalist based in Worcestershire, UK. The mother-of-two also runs writing workshops and has been both poet and writer in residence at Oxfam Bookshop in Worcester. She is a member of the National Association of Writers in Education and the Poetry Society stanza representative for Worcester and Droitwich. Besides poetry and art, the 35 year old says she loves swimming, mulled wine and cookie dough ice-cream – but not all at the same time!
Hey Sarah, Welcome to Author in the Zone. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to make my own newspapers – all written by hand. My first poem was when I was six – about a flea that loved shopping!
Give us a little background to your writing work to date?
I was editor of the school magazine in sixth form, then got involved in student journalism at university. After graduating I did a post-graduate diploma in newspaper journalism. Since then I’ve worked in regional newspapers mainly but also some freelance work for writing magazines and I’ve had a few pieces in the national papers.It wasn't until about ten years ago that I had the time to also start writing fiction and poetry seriously. I have had both poems and short stories published in anthologies, literary journals and online, as well as placed in competitions. My first full-length poetry collection ‘Into the Yell’ was published by Circaidy Gregory Press in July.I did a certificate of higher education at Birmingham University seven years ago before having my two boys. I started my MA in creative writing (online poetry route) with Manchester Metropolitan University in September.Recently, I've also been doing a lot of poetry readings, recordings for Internet radio and making poem videos.
Who are your favourite writers?
I dip in and out of poetry collections and magazines – contemporary poets mainly. I like Michael Symmons Roberts, Judy Brown, Jean Sprackland, Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Gross, Catherine Smith, Angela France, Pascale Petit....So much depends on mood.
What's the last book you read?
Poetry-wise, I’m currently enjoying Hilary Menos’s Forward prize-winning first collection ‘Berg’ (she’s also on my MA course) and I’m part way through two novels: ‘The Language of Bees’ by Laurie R King and ‘The Secret Five and the Stunt Nun Legacy’ by John Lawrence.
How do you market your writing?
Readings, my website and blog (which I update regularly), and just generally being involved in the writing scene. Essentially, by doing what I enjoy doing - interacting with other writers and readers!I’ve also been experimenting recently with using art and photography to bring non-poetry readers to my poems ie using my poems/phrases from my poems with collage and paint in poetry canvases or displaying poems alongside photos that inspired or are connected with them. The feedback has been good. I think it’s another way of dispelling the unnecessary fear some people feel when they hear the word poetry!
What's your view on self publishing via traditional publishing?
I do think self-publishing is a legitimate and justifiable way of producing a book these days. But it wasn’t the right option for me. I needed the external approbation of a traditional publisher.
Where can book lovers find examples of your work?
Buy my collection 'Into the Yell' (Circaidy Gregory Press, ISBN 978-1906451240)! Or check out my website. I recently had a poem in Poetry News and have poems coming up in Magma magazine and the Bugged anthology (ISBN 978-1849140539).
What advice would you offer new writers?
Don’t forget to read as well as write, both for enjoyment and so you know what else is out there. Most of all have fun!
Sarah's website can be found here.