Friday, 24 October 2008

Sarah Harris

What inspired you to write A Present for St Nicolas?

St Nicolas is like Father Christmas here in Belgium - he comes down the chimney on the 6th December bringing presents and you write him a letter and leave it in your shoe the night before. My husband is Flemish and we've three daughters so we have always celebrated St Nicolas. I think children and adults all want to believe in the magic of these moments and I hope this story reflects something of that.

What other material do you normally write?

I have written a number of children's books, some of which have been translated into Dutch and French. You can find out more about my series of sheep stories on Last year the National Theatre of Scotland made a stage production of one of the books. I recently started writing articles for magazines and newspapers and am working on an adult novel.

What made you become a writer?

I've always loved books and have written poems and stories ever since I can remember. In between I've done a lot of different jobs but it's something I've always come back to. After my mum died I wanted to concentrate more on writing and have since set up my own business together with my husband, producing our own books and educational material and running writing workshops in schools and adult educational centres. People have such interesting stories inside them and they can be very inspirational. I love finding stories that really speak to you.

Which writers do you admire?

John Berger, Carol Ann Duffy, Rose Tremain, Helen Dunmore, William Trevor, Penelope Lively, Maggie Gee, Sebastian Faulks, Helen Simpson, Jackie Kay and many others. I also love discovering new contemporary authors.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

Ideally I write in the mornings and do everything else in the afternoon but it doesn't always work like that! There's usually a lot of administrative work connected to the business, washing to be taken out of the machine, dogs to be taken for a walk etc. If I'm doing workshops then I'm out a lot but if I've got a deadline I write all day if I can.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

I write mostly at my desk straight onto the computer, looking out over beautiful trees. I'm really lucky to live opposite a park so I can watch the birds and the leaves falling from the trees and daydream!

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