Chapter in My Life Interview

with Sharon Bairden

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

My first name is Sarah, but when I was a kid someone very close to me said he’d never read a book by a woman so I use my initials but I sign books with my first name as it’s more personal. (That person has now changed their mind by the way and they love my book!) I’ve finally been published after twenty years of trying to learn the craft and find my voice. I’m glad I’m not a supermodel or I would be well past my sell-by date by now. Thankfully, I think writers mostly get better with age.  

I’m a Liverpool girl and I’ve written stories since I was little but I was told at school that you can’t make much money writing (fingers crossed I’ll prove them wrong!) so I studied Theology at Uni and got a ‘proper job’ teaching in secondary school.

I write novels in between the chaos of life – teaching, looking after my family (two boys, my husband and my Black Lab, Seamus) and running a Justice and Peace youth group.

  1. So, Witness X, what’s it all about?

She’s the only one who can access the truth…

Fourteen years ago, the police caged a notorious serial killer who abducted and butchered two victims every February. He was safe behind bars. Wasn’t he?

But then another body is discovered, and soon enough, the race is on to catch the real killer. Neuropsychologist Kyra Sullivan fights to use a new technology that accesses the minds of the witnesses, working with the police to uncover the truth. Will Kyra discover the person behind the murders, and if so, at what cost? And how far will she go to ensure justice is served?

What if we could use technology to actually see someone’s memory of a crime to solve it? What effect would it have on the viewer? The theme of the book is truth. I’m obsessed with what people mean by truth and if there is an objective truth.

People create narratives to make sense of things they don’t understand or to justify how they behave. It’s how the brain works – the whole of life is about narrative, our memories, our hopes, our relationships.

I get frustrated when people lie, especially when it hinders justice being done. If only we lived in a world where we could get hold of the truth, unabridged, unpolluted and complete!

  1. Why crime fiction with a little bit of a twist?

I love reading thrilling crime novels, but there are so many books in this genre that I felt I needed to put my own spin on it if I was ever to get some shelf space. I’m very interested in scientific advancements and how these affect people’s lives, for good or for bad.

When I think about technology, what it can do now, and what it might be able to do in the very near future, my imagination takes over. When people ask me where I get my ideas from it’s really a mixture of looking at the world and asking ‘what if…?’

  1. You are stranded on a desert island, you can take one book, what is it?

‘The Meaning of Liff ‘ by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. It’s a tiny little book, which reads like a dictionary. It takes the many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and objects that we are all familiar with but for which no words exist, and matches them up with name-places which lie idly about on maps pointing to places but not having any real meaning.

Examples would be ‘Abilene’ (adj) descriptive of the pleasing coolness on the reverse side of a pillow and ‘Throcking’ (participal vb) the action of continually pushing down the lever on a pop-up toaster in the hope that you will thereby get it to understand that you want it toast something.

I think to have a book like this whilst secluded would help me to fondly remember and appreciate the little things in everyday life.

  1. Do you have a kill list…who’s on it?

No I have a ‘forgive’ list and I’m working my way VERY SLOWLY through it!

(Forgiveness is MUCH more difficult than murder!)

  1. Top criminal

I take it you mean from a book?! Hannibal Lecter has to be number one. He is so cultured and intelligent and makes a delicious dinner so I think he would be great company and there would be so much I could learn from him. But there’s also Dexter Morgan – a pleasant, friendly chap who is highly skilled and kills bad guys – what’s not to like?!

Top fictional hero

Marcella Fasan from Michelle Lovric’s ‘The Book of Human Skin’ and Offred from Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ are presently two of my favourite heros – two strong, intelligent women overcoming difficult circumstances. Two of my favourite books.

  1. Planner or Pantser

I pantsed the first novel and it nearly killed me trying to edit it, because it was all so disorganised. To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing first time around as I ‘ve had no formal training in novel writing and I’ve had to learn as I go along, which has been hair-raising at times!

I planned my second novel carefully, taking into consideration all the things I have learned along the way. After saying that, I’m not adverse to making detours along the way, and being inspired as I go along, but I do feel much more confident with a clear road ahead of me.

  1. Best place to dispose of a body?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…I loved it when Trevor Jordache was patioed on Brookside. You could enjoy having a glass of cold white wine on a hot summer’s day sitting over your victim knowing that it would be unlikely they’d be found!

  1. Where can we find you (website, twitter etc)

On Twitter you can find me at @semoorhead

My website is where you can see my short blog posts about my journey and writing in general and photos of my fabulous book launch hosted by the lovely Luca Veste, another Liverpool crime writer. (He’s really called Luke Vest, you know, he’s just trying to sound mysterious!)