We spoke with Sarah Driver, ahead of the publication of her novel, The Huntress: Sea.
Congratulations on having your novel published. Tell us a little about the novel.
Thank you! The Huntress: Sea is the first in a middle grade fantasy adventure trilogy set in the world of Trianukka. It tells the story of thirteen year old Mouse, born and raised aboard her ship the Huntress, which is captained by her one-eyed Grandma, Wren. They battle terrodyls and read the fire-spirits in the sky, and Mouse has always known she is destined to be captain one day. But her world begins to shift with the arrival of a stranger and the disappearance of a loved one. Then she discovers a quest she must fulfil in order to save her world.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
I think it came from a bit of a tangle of various interests, images and thoughts. To start with I saw one image in my head: a child on the deck of a ship, at night, wrapped in furs and singing – I think that must have been Mouse’s little brother, Sparrow. Then Mouse started chattering, and I started writing her words down. I was inspired by my work as a midwife at the time, and I remember thinking about babies born ‘in the caul’ and old sailing superstitions around that, although I don’t think I was consciously influenced by that experience – it’s something I’ve reflected on since. The character of Grandma is a midwife and healer. I couldn’t get Mouse’s story out of my head and had so much fun exploring her world of sea, storms and strange creatures that I chose to focus on the book for my MA in writing for young people at Bath Spa University. When I started the course, I only had half a page of this story (it wasn’t what I submitted to get in). By the end of that year I had a finished first draft.
Tell us about you… Where and when do you write?
I usually write at home in my study and I prefer to work earlier in the day, but it’ll sometimes need to go on late into the night. Sometimes I’ll suddenly need a change of scene, though, and I’ll work in a cafe or in my bedroom or in my shed in the summer. I’ve also written some of my favourite scenes on trains and planes.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing book two (The Huntress: Sky) and researching/making notes/drafting scenes for book three. I’m also brewing a few potential future projects in the back of my mind and making notes.
Desert Island books?
This question is agony! Wild by Jay Griffiths, Jane Eyre, the His Dark Materials trilogy.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
I think it depends on the stage I’m at. The very beginning with the inspiration/voice/throwing world-building ideas around energises me like nothing else. Sometimes I have no recollection of having written something at all, and that part of the process is somehow both things at once. Editing can be very draining at times.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Accept criticism and finish something – don’t expect it to be perfect first time!
What is the first book that made you cry?
The first one I can remember doing that was The Amber Spyglass. But Squirrel Nutkin used to make me cry with laughter when I was very young.
Finally, where can we get your book?
It’s currently available to pre-order at Amazon or Waterstones, and released online and in bookshops on April 6th.