With The Starman and Me shortlisted for multiple awards and her second book, Halo Moon, due to be published next Spring, Sharon discusses the major inspirations behind her writing journey so far.
A Writing Journey: The Starman and Me
I’ve always had a thing about the natural world. I put it down to weekends racing over the Yorkshire moors and summer holidays caravanning in the Lake District and France. You’re out there spotting wildlife, wading through waterfalls, naming trees and flowers, eating wild raspberries, getting soaked or sunburnt, listening and watching – and you can’t help but be astounded by it all.
Studying science was an obvious choice for me and it was two science-related discoveries that triggered the idea for my debut novel The Starman and Me. The first was a skeleton of a hominin (Homo floresiensis) that existed alongside modern humans only 12,000 years ago. The second was the use of brain implants to communicate with and control machines, just using thoughts. What if, I wondered, some of those little hominins were still alive today and a shameless scientist put a brain chip in one of them? What would happen then?
The idea is just the beginning, of course. Around that idea you build characters and settings. You throw in obstacles and conflicts. Add tension and pace. You squeeze in a half hour of writing at lunch time, maybe an hour on Saturday morning before the kids wake up. You run out of steam half way through and have no idea where the story’s going, vow to give up only to return to it the very next day. And all this is happening with no thoughts of being published, just the burning desire to write a book.
Recently, completing my second novel, Halo Moon, prompted me to reflect on the influences that brought me to this point. As well as my love of nature, I can’t emphasise enough how important reading was to me as a child. It formed worlds in my head that I can still conjure up today – images of the Phoenix and the Sand Fairy, sailing the ‘Swallow’ to Cormorant Island and the landscapes of Narnia –most of these books being borrowed from the village library. Just as important was ‘free writing’ at school – expressing how we felt when looking at a painting, listening to music, when we felt happy or sad. And how proud I felt when my busy Dad typed out a piece I’d written about a stallion galloping over a beach – I still have it safely tucked away somewhere. All of these influences brought me to where I am now.
Launching into my third book now, who knows where this journey will take me – but I’m sure it’ll contain a mix of nature and discovery and the amazing world around us.
THE STARMAN AND ME by Sharon Cohen is available in paperback. It is shortlisted for the Awesome Book Awards 2019, was Highly Commended for the Branford Boase Award 2018, and is shortlisted for the Schools Essex Book Award 2018. Her second book HALO MOON will be out in February 2019 (Quercus Children’s Books).
Connect with Sharon on Twitter @SCohen_Author and find out more on her website www.sharoncohen.co.uk.
Many thanks to Sharon for sharing this guest blog post with us.