Sugar & Spice, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Sugar & Spice?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: Well, to sum it up; it's disturbing. I won't lie. It is a very controversial subject and it was very hard to write, but it IS fictional (although the idea came from a radio presenter's comment). It is the story of how sex offenders are sometimes let down by society in general, even when they ask for help. It is essentially a crime-thriller, but with a very real message.
Sugar & Spice is a ground-breaking crime-thriller set against the background of Britain’s fragmented criminal justice system, with the key protagonists the mother and partner of a murdered child.
Inspired by a news story of a man who begged a Judge to give him a longer sentence, because he knew he would harm another child if released without treatment, Sugar & Spice is meticulously researched, asking the questions society prefers not to have answered. At once disquieting and challenging, Sugar & Spice is car-crash reading.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: A child fails to return home. As hours turn to days, all they can do is hope. Some children never come back...
The story opens when two boys find the severed arm of a missing child. For the distraught mother, Claire Meadows, and her partner Matt Burford, the arrest of local sex-offender Thomas Bristow seems to offer closure. But doubts soon emerge. The Met officers who “interview” Bristow are from the Gene Hunt school of policing, and the confession appears worthless when another child is killed while Bristow is on remand awaiting trial.
Driven by a mother’s need to know, Claire visits Bristow in prison. H presents a compelling defence, convincing Claire not only that he is innocent of harming her daughter, but that his previous convictions were not what they seemed.
Running parallel to this we meet Greg Randall, respectable accountant and utterly devoted father of six year old twins. But for Randall, the murder has brought to the fore private demons he has long been struggling to cope with:
Fearing he might one day lose control, Randall seeks counselling at a prestigious private clinic, licensed by the Home Office to treat sex-offenders. Randall’s struggle to balance his family life as he undergoes “therapy,” runs alongside the hunt for the child-killer, until eventually the two story-lines inexorably converge.
With the Police inquiry floundering, Matt and Claire embark on their own investigation, teaming up with a second-year psychology student and a fourteen year-old truant schoolboy to bring one man’s reign of terror to an end.
The research is meticulous, and the characters based on real-life studies.
In Sugar & Spice not all things are nice...
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: They always just pop into my head—and stay there! They all have their own voice and I usually have a name in mind for them once I meet them. Sometimes, they just introduce themselves and tell ME who they are, I just expand upon that. Strong characters make the story. They have to have different traits, mannerisms and emotions and react in different ways to conflict etc. I don't go out of my way to give them personalities, I just let them develop on their own.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: For S&S I suspect it would be middle-age males who are hard enough to swallow the subject matter, but some mothers too. I honestly feel that most women would find it hard to feel any sympathy with the characters and would potentially be angered by the content.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: My journey has just begun. I have learnt so much in the last few years and continue to do so every day. I don't think you are ever the finished article.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: Truthfully? Someone walks into my head and tells me who they are and what their story is. I then sit down and write and see where the story takes me. No plotting as such, I just let it flow and see what happens.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, James Patterson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: Hmmmn, I love To Kill a Mockingbird. I would pretty impressed if I had sat down and come up with that.
DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: I made it in Powerpoint!
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: I have spent hours on forums, message boards and given away promotional codes. I tweet, Facebook and have used some coupons for advertising.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: Solely for the reason that every agent I sent S&S to said they loved it, but didn't think that they could represent it due to its content. So, I figured I'd do it myself. It won't be the route I use for all my work, but some books are best suited to epublishing and this is one of them.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
SAFFINA DESFORGES: It's hard work and you HAVE to spend the hours online, but Amazon make the actual process quite simple and I would recommend it!
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
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