Oct 28, 2009

Sarah Jane Stratford - Interview and Contest

 [see contest info update at end of interview]

A warm PVN welcome to Sarah Jane Stratford author of The Midnight Guardian: A Millennial Novel  St. Martin's Press (October 13, 2009). For more information about the author and her novel go to this PVN post

As many of you may know the contest for copy of The Midnight Guardian has already begun. I will continue until November 4. After this interview there will be more contest information.

Sarah Jane, thanks so much for this interview!

PVN:  What attracts you to vampires? What are the characteristics of your vampires?

Sarah Jane: I am enthralled by the idea of those who were once human now living a life that is, in a way, constant play-acting – pretending to be human. Seeming to be a part of, but really only an observer of, the human world. And yet needing humans for life, literally and otherwise. There seemed no end of territory to explore there – trying to further understand humanity through these creatures. My millennial vampires are extra-powerful – after 1000 years of life, they are much harder to kill. And they have observed an awful lot of history. They're really not supposed to get involved in the doings of humans, but sometimes they are compelled. 

PVN:  Describe Brigit for us.

Sarah Jane: She's a millennial, made in the 10th century when she was seventeen. She is intelligent, loving, loyal, powerful, and brave. She's also stubborn (after all, she hails from Yorkshire!), sarcastic, and prone to temper – although she's gotten a lot of that under control. And she's got a good, sometimes cynical, sense of humor. There's nothing she won't do for those she loves. Which can make things unpleasant for anyone out to injure one of her loved ones.

PVN:  Why the WWII setting for Midnight Guardian?

Sarah Jane: I often feel it wasn't wholly my choice in that Brigit told me so much of what was afoot, but I was excited to explore the juxtapositions. Here you have a group of humans being utterly monstrous – and in relief, the perceived monstrousness of the vampires. Part of what I wanted to do was query the true definition of "humanity" under these circumstances – and in life in general. In a state of war, humans are at their most shameful – although there is that contingent that rises up and becomes bigger and better than it might otherwise – and to observe as much through non-human eyes was fascinating.

PVN:  Is this a series? How many more books do you plan?

Sarah Jane: It is a series! I'm working on the second book now. My plan so far is to see what happens with the vampires as the war progresses. After that, well…we'll see!

PVN:  What other projects are you working on?

Sarah Jane: Besides the afore-mentioned second book, I'm making revisions on a stage play that I like the look of, and two screenplays. As soon as I'm done with the second book, there are about three other books I want to dive into, so I should be nice and busy for a while.

PVN: You have a masters degree in Medieval History - any plans to write fiction or nonfiction set in that era?

Sarah Jane: I briefly touched on some of medieval York in TMG, but I'd love to do a whole book in that time. Before they moved to London, my vampires were very proud Yorkists, and I know they were active in the War of the Roses, so that seems fertile territory.

PVN:  You earned your degree in York, UK . I visited there once for 3 days and fell in love with it. What was it like for you living and studying there?

Sarah Jane: Isn't it incredible? I found it endlessly inspiring – it seemed as though there was a story around every corner. I did a lot of my work at the King's Manor, a 16th-century building that definitely got us in the mood for medievalism. Although the 1960s orange lounge chairs were a tad jarring – Mad Men and medieval don't mix (much though I love both). It was just amazing to read about an event in a particular street, and then go and walk that street! Even if it was now chock-a-block with trendy modern shops, the past didn't seem that far off. I can't wait to go back – especially if I can have a warmer bedroom. 

PVN:  Describe your writing day and your writing environment.

Sarah Jane: I like to try and get started by nine in the morning and go till I collapse, or get to a yoga class or the theatre. I'm a member of the Writers Room in New York – it's a purpose-created office space where writers in all sorts of media can have a quiet, comfortable place to work. What's great about it is that it allows for camaraderie and networking too – writing is so solitary, but here you can work and also interact when you need a break.

PVN:  What writers have inspired you?

Sarah Jane: Wow – so many, and in so many ways. Whatever the medium, I gravitate towards those who explore the human condition. Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen, Kurt Vonnegut. I love theatre, so Shakespeare, Pinter, Stoppard, Shaw, and Sondheim have all been powerful inspirations. And I'd be remiss not to cite Joss Whedon and especially Marti Noxon, from whom I was honored to get a blurb on the book jacket. These were scripts that delved the depths of emotion and humanity, with wit, flair, and above all, honesty. Powerful stuff.

PVN:  Where can readers find you on the Internet?

Sarah Jane: I have a web site – www.sarahjanestratford.com. Brigit posts outtakes from her journal there. The book has a Facebook page, as do I, and I also Twitter at stratfordsj. I love to hear from people, so please stop by!

Read a guest blog by Brigit and take another look at the book cover which features the Brandenburg Gate,


Three lucky readers will each win a copy of The Midnight Guardian: A  Millennial Novel. To be eligible do one or more of the following:
* Leave a comment
* Ask Sarah a question
* Link this contest to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL.

If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.

Contest update the publisher has limited winners to US and Canada
My apologies for this misunderstanding. It was my mistake!

The contest ends November 4, 2009 at 11:59 PM Hawaii Time.


buddyt said...

I think this is an interesting idea.

Combining actual history with a long lived vampire tribe.

It sounds exciting but I would think that pulling it off satisfactorily will take really good writing.

I shall keep an eye out for your book in local bookstores and see what you have mad of the idea.

Best of luck.


buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Brooke Reviews said...

Brigit sounds awesome! Can't wait to read this one. :)

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

I would love to read this book! :)

Sign me up!

bookreviewsbyjess (@) gmail.com

kalynnick said...

The book sounds good, please enter me. Thanks

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the great interview Patricia & Sarah. I enjoyed learning more about Sarah & her writing.
Thanks for sharing Sarah.
All the best,

Dot S.(ladeetdareads.wordpress.com) said...

Thanks for your interview. I really like learning about the author behind the book. Please enter me to win.

Anonymous said...

As many have said what more fitting a time period for vampires than Hitler's Germany. So excited to see that this is a series and there will be more.

throuthehaze said...

I would love to read this! Count me in please

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Margay Leah Justice said...

Sarah Jane, what do you think was your biggest challenge in writing this book? Or what is the biggest challenge in writing a series?

I posted about this contest here: http://www.facebook.com/MargayLeahJustice?ref=nf


donnas said...

Great interview! The Midnight Guardian sounds like a great book.

What other time periods do you think would be good fits for vampires?

Linked on sidebar here: http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Cherry said...

Re-posted your contest at http://contests-freebies.blogspot.com/2009/10/midnight-guardian-contest-at-pvn.html


Anonymous said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing. Brigit sounds really interesting. I would love a chance to read this book!

I linked this post on my sidebar: http://goodgonegirl.blogspot.com

Anna ♥

Reading said...

The book sounds so good. I would love to win this. Thanks for the giveaway.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Sarah Jane Stratford said...

Thank you all for your interest and lovely comments!

To answer some questions:

Margay said...
What do you think was your biggest challenge in writing this book? Or what is the biggest challenge in writing a series?

My biggest challenge in writing the book was to step back at times and allow the process to be what it was, rather than trying to force it. Writing is both organic and technical, and retaining that balance is very difficult. Luckily, I have other writer friends, and friends in other areas of the arts, who understand and can help re-ground me when it gets sticky.

Now that it's truly becoming a series, the challenge is to maintain the immediacy and the freshness. I love these characters very much and want to tell their stories with absolute honesty. I think they'll keep me on the right path - that's the thing with old, powerful vampires. If they don't like what you're doing, they'll let you know.

donnas said...
What other time periods do you think would be good fits for vampires?

When I was exploring the characters' histories, I went far back in time, which was a lot of fun. I'd love to do a whole story for them set in the middle ages.

Thank you everyone!!!

Valorie said...

Margaret Atwood is amazing. And the 10th century was a good time. Those Middle Ages were tons of fun and weirdness.


Beth (BBRB) said...

What a fabulous cover!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Dawn M. said...

What a great setting for a vampire story. Would love the chance to read it. Please count me in! :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Aimee said...

Vampires during WWII. Sounds good. Count me in, please. Thanks!


Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

I also linked this contest!

Linking to this on my sidebar and roundup post!

Jenny N. said...

Great interview. I haven't read this one yet so would like to enter to win a copy.