Monday, 6 August 2012

Guest Blogger - Sarah Rayner - A Day In The Life

About two years ago the book group I was a part of decided on reading One Moment One Morning, written by Sarah Rayner.  I loved it, and just couldn't put it down.  What I loved most about this book was how it changed my mindset.  At that time I was commuting from Chelmsford to London, so I could in a way relate to what happens at the beginning of this book.  I'm not going to give anything away from the storyline, all I will say is how one moment can change everything.  If you want to know more you will have to read it for yourself, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.  I know some fellow bloggers have already read the book and enjoyed it too, it's definitely one to add to the reading list.

After I'd read the book I emailed Sarah to let her know how much I'd enjoyed it.  It's the first and only time I've ever done this.  I didn't expect a reply, but Sarah took the time to send me a response.  Since then we have kept in touch through Facebook, email and more recently Instagram.  I contacted Sarah and asked her if she would be interested in featuring in a guest post for me.  I was so chuffed when she agreed, it means a lot for her to write in my little space here in blogworld.  I now hand over to Sarah with pleasure for her to share with you a day in the life of a novelist 

A day in the life of a novelist
by Sarah Rayner

Photo courtesy of Sarah's photographer John Knight -

For years I used to have to get up and out of the house really early, as I was working in London as a freelance copywriter and I live in Brighton. So like the characters in my novel One Moment, One Morning, I’d be on that 7:44 train. I’m very lucky in the success of that novel has enabled me to be an author full time, so these days I work from home, but still wake-up time is often horribly cruel, as my partner, Tom, is a freelance chef and likes when possible to work the first shift of the day. I grumble like mad, and if it’s very early usually manage to go back to sleep, otherwise I lie in bed, thinking. It’s often when I have my best ideas - I ponder what should happen next in a novel, what’s missing from a character and incidents that might best illustrate what I’m trying to say. If I’m right in the thick of writing, I may get up and start typing while I’m still in my PJs.

Photo courtesy of Sarah's photographer John Knight -

Several times a week I go running. Sometimes I scoop up my friend who lives in nearby Hove, in which case we also gossip, which is wonderful, as before we know it we’ve jogged a reasonably long way. Otherwise I go alone – I find running is perfect for letting ideas settle. It feels a bit like when you pour rice in a jar and then bang the bottom and the grains become more compact, neater.

Brighton beach.

If possible I like to experience first-hand the places I’m writing about. For instance in The Two Week Wait, my latest book, there’s a passage where one of the characters, Adam, goes to a café on the promenade in Hove called The Meeting Place, and I wrote that sitting there with my morning coffee. Other characters in The Two Week Wait, Cath and Rich, live in Yorkshire. I lived in Leeds in the 1980s and Tom’s family is from there, so I went and stayed with them to remind myself of the city.

Apparently Anthony Trollope used to write 1000 words a day, but I’m nowhere near that fast or disciplined. For a first draft, I set myself a target of 500 words a day, which makes it relatively easy to exceed it. If I’m on a roll I continue – the most I’ve ever accomplished is 3000 words in a day - but often I only manage the minimum. If I’ve managed to write a lot, in the late afternoon I might head to my local beauty parlour for a manicure. It’s a teeny salon a stone’s throw from our house where customers from all walks of life congregate – it’s inspirational for getting a sense of how different people talk.

Photo courtesy of Sarah's photographer John Knight -

Every few weeks I head up to Soho for my book group, The Vicous Circle. Each session my friends and I aim to read a different book. We’re like most book groups – we don’t always love all we read, and I’ve found the best discussions are often for those books where some of us have enjoyed it and others not. When we all agree it can curtail debate, but then we spend the evening catching up instead.

The view from my office window

If we’re not out, then Tom and I have dinner, and often we indulge in a DVD. We both would rather watch a quality series such as The Killing, Mad Men or In Treatment, than trash telly. That said, if Seb, Tom’s son, is with us – which he is every weekend – we’ll often watch a more light-hearted film – oh, and eat chocolates.

Bedtime varies; if I’m coming back from London it might be midnight, but usually it’s much earlier, as I no longer have the stamina I did when I was in my teens and twenties for late nights.

One Moment, One Morning and The Two Week Wait are both available now in paperback (Picador, RRP £7.99) in all good bookshops and on Amazon.

You can find out more about Sarah at her website, or follow her on Twitter @creativepumpkin
Huge thanks goes to Sarah for taking the time to write this piece for me to publish here on my blog and also to her photographer John Knight for some of the photos used in this post.  So if you have not yet read any of Sarah's work, what are you waiting for?  Go and check it out, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Love Gem x x x x


  1. Ooh what a great post,I'm always on the lookout for a good read so I will definitely be off to add Sarah Rayner to my amazon basket! Thank you Gem.
    Victoria xx

  2. Oh I read that book a while ago. I really enjoyed it. I adored the chintzy teacups on the cover, shallow I know, but it's one reason I was attracted to the book. Lovely to read directly from Sarah too. How wonderful!
    I am currently reading Before I Go To Sleep. It is incredible. Would like to give The Two Week Wait a go. I live near Hove too. Something about the sea inspired us writers! X x

    1. Hi Gem, you might like to read 'A Tale of five Teacups' here about that shot -
      as it's rather a special story. And how lovely you enjoyed One Moment - The Two Week Wait is set in Brighton too and follows on with some of the characters, though it's a complete standalone story. I'm a woman of limited imagination as I live in Seven Dials and they always say 'write what you know'!

  3. Great blog post! My list of things to read is forever expanding! I am nearly finished 'meet me at the cupcake cafe'! I'd like to read the happiness project that a lot of IG'ers are on about.


  4. I'm definitely going to keep on writing because one day I would love a life where I have a view from the office window like that! And I will definitely be reading her books. Brilliant idea of yours to invite her Gem, well done, that was a very interesting blog! :)

  5. What an honor Gem...This was so great, and I have to tell you that my mom bought her book after reading your post and she really likes it. I'm borrowing it once she's done...can't wait.