Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. 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.
She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.
Her latest horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, about a group of live action roleplayers who unwittingly release an ancient evil during a game, has recently been released by Kensington Gore Publishing.
Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend) or join her Facebook Group, “Imaginary Friends” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/301037281383).
When a group of live action role-players perform a ritual as part of a game, they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil that tears their world apart. The reanimated corpse of a long-dead magic user, corrupted by powerful dark magic, offers a promise of unlimited power, but at a terrible price. Having helped open this Pandora’s box, Mark and Elizabeth must race against time to close it again – before it’s too late.
By Sara Jayne Townsend
Like many writers, I have always loved reading. I don’t remember a time I wasn’t reading, like I don’t remember a time I wasn’t making up stories. Growing up in the North of England in the 1970s, our family did not buy many books, but we took frequent trips to the local library. I remember the children’s library being a smaller room off the main library. My mother used to park us in that room and go off to choose her own books, returning for us later when it was time to check out our choices.
Books were not categorised by age back then quite as rigidly as they are now. I have a memory that the picture books, for very young children, were in a bin at the front of the room. The other books may have been vaguely ordered in age, with the books for older children at the back of the room. But I’m trying to reach back nearly 40 years for that memory, and if they were I didn’t pay much attention, because I used to browse all the books and pick out anything that looked interesting.
As a child having a story read to me before bed was part of the nightly ritual, and my mother used to read my library choices to me. If I’d picked a book that was rather too old for me, and she decided the content was rather violent, she used to skip sections. But I was following along, and if she did that I’d pick up on it and point out that she’d missed a bit. Eventually we agreed that if the section of the book was so nasty she refused to read it aloud, I’d read it silently to myself and when I was done she could pick up the story again.
We’d be at the library every two or three weeks, returning the books we’d read and checking out new ones. It was always a thrill for me to discover new books, but for the first twenty or so years of my life my reading experience was generally library books – both through my school and through the local library. I was happy with that, because I could devour far more books that way than I could ever afford to buy.
The situation changed when I got a full time job in a book shop. Suddenly buying books became far more appealing – not only was I surrounded by books all day, but I was earning money with which to buy them, and on top of that, I got a staff discount.
That was the point at which I started buying books instead of borrowing them. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to give them back, I could keep these treasures and surround myself with them at home. Second hand books have also always had an appeal – not only are they cheaper than new books, there’s a mystery about their history that is attractive. Who else has read this book other than you? Did they enjoy it just as much?
For the last 30 years or so, I have been collecting books. So has my husband, which for much of our life together has caused a storage problem. In every home we’ve owned together, we’ve had to build book shelves, double stack our books on them and still stow quite a lot of them in the attic because there’s not enough space and neither of us can bear letting books go. When we moved into our current home – a four bedroomed house – three years ago, for the first time we had enough space to create a library and we had enough room to display all of our books. Well, mostly. They are still double stacked.
The advent of the e-reader changed my reading habits again. Since I do most of my reading on the train to and from work, I find that my Kindle is invaluable. It saves space, and if I finish a book on the journey to work, I can start the next one without having to lug an extra book around with me. And buying Kindle books is so easy. I browse the Kindle store as I used to browse book stores, often giving new authors a try because I like the sound of the blurb, or the cover catches my eye. And the big bonus is that no storage space is necessary, since all of my books are in cyber-space.
This doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped buying paper books. But generally I buy them at conventions and launches these days, and I find I browse book stores a lot less than I used to, which in some ways makes me sad. On the other hand, the books I do buy are often from small presses, which are often not available in chain book stores and reflect another way in which the publishing world is changing.
Throughout the evolution of my reading habits, one thing has not changed – I still devour books and get through at least one a week. As a child I was never bored as long as I had a book to read, and that’s still the same as an adult. Wherever I go, I always have a book or my Kindle with me. You never know when you might have five minutes’ spare to bury your nose in a book.