Interview with Saskia Sarginson, author of debut novel The Twins

Saskia Sarginson Q&A

Author of debut novel The Twins



What inspired you to write The Twins?

Having identical twin girls gave me the opportunity to study the fascinating relationship they have with each other: the struggle for power and identity, the competition between them, but also the unspoken loyalty and the extraordinary bond they share. I knew that I wanted to write a story with identical twins at its centre. But I also wanted to test the limits of the relationship inside the story.
I chose to set it in Suffolk because I grew up there and find the area inspiring to write about; with its dense pine forests and bleakly beautiful shingle beaches, it’s rich in atmosphere, myth and history.


Why did you choose 1972 and 1987 as your main dates?


In 1972 there was little TV and no computer games and at that time Suffolk was off the beaten track and unspoilt – the perfect place for Rose to run to, and for the girls to run wild. Thatcher’s Britain in 1987 was an interesting period and one that I remember well – it was a good contrast to Rose’s hippy ideals. Those dates also have key events in them that I wanted to weave into the novel. I love retro novels – particularly ones in a time that is full of personal nostalgia for me and, I hope, many readers.

What do you think happens to Isolte/Ben and Viola/John in the end?

Although I left the ending a little open, I always intended that there would be a feeling of hope. There is no such thing as ‘happy ever after,’ but I wish good things for all of them when they walk off that last page.

What comes first for you – plot or characters, and how do they evolve?

Characters always come first; and with them a feel for what I want to say in the book, the central themes and ideas. As the characters develop they seem as real as my own family and I begin to fall in love them. The plot stays flexible; you can’t be rigid about what is going to happen or how it happens. That is one of the most exciting things about writing – never knowing exactly what is going to happen next!

Have you always written?

Since childhood I’ve written short stories and poems. My working life has been spent as a journalist, copy writer, ghost writer and script reader. But it was only in my forties that I had the confidence to sit down and attempt to write a novel. I was used to writing short stories, but I soon discovered that the longer length was a format that I loved.

Did doing an English degree as a mature student influence your decision to write a novel?

Definitely. Doing an English Literature degree at Cambridge with three small children to care for was challenging, but it was also liberating, exciting and inspiring. I received a lot of encouragement in my creative writing from some of the tutors. It really did change my life. Afterwards I began to take writing fiction seriously.

What advice would you give to others who also want to start writing fiction?

It’s never too late to begin. But you have to want it with a passion that borders on obsession, because it requires hard work, total commitment and the ability to pick yourself up each time you have been felled by rejection, criticism or disappointment and somehow maintain faith in yourself.

What does it feel like to have your debut novel in print?

Extraordinary. When I finally allowed myself to believe that it was really happening, my overriding feeling was one of immense relief and a sense of being very lucky. My anticipation about how it’ll be received out there in the world is tinged with nerves – it’s odd to have something so intimate and close to you put into the public domain.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on another retro novel (60s through to early 80s) also set in Suffolk – but this time the story plays out against the backdrop of marshes, mudflats, the river and a forbidden island. It’s about Eva, a teenager who is thought to have drowned, and what actually happened to her. Meanwhile, despite being the only one who thinks she’s alive, her younger sister is determined to bring Eva back. There is also the story of Eva’s parents and the lie they told about Eva’s history that triggered the tragedy in the first place.

 

Piatkus

The Twins

By Saskia Sarginson

'Outstandingly good. Part-thriller, part-love story, I guarantee you will not be able to put it down' Sun

The Richard and Judy Bestseller.

They were identical in every way
Until the unthinkable tore them apart

Isolte and Viola are twins. Inseparable as children, they've grown into very different adults: Isolte, a successful features writer for a fashion magazine with a photographer boyfriend and a flat in London, and Viola, desperately unhappy and struggling with a lifelong eating disorder.

What happened all those years ago to set the twins on such different paths to adulthood? As both women start to unravel the escalating tragedies of a half-remembered summer, terrifying secrets from the past come rushing back - and threaten to overwhelm their adult lives...

'Convincing and compelling . . . building tension that resonates even after the novel ends' Stylist

'This book got its hooks into us and wouldn't let go. Hypnotic, with real emotional punch' Star

'Gripping' Marie Claire

'Stunning in its insight and beautifully written' Judy Finnigan

'Touching and extremely readable' Sunday Mirror

Intense... darkAn excellent debut and you are sure to have a hard time putting it downTimeless and rivetingThumpingly goodA Perfect R & J read. Highly compulsiveClever, and full of suspenseAn absorbing account of unbreakable and uncanny bondsA deeply moving, gripping read, this is a novel about the secrets we all carry with us, and the bonds between twins that can never be broken. It is an astonishing debut.

Saskia Sarginson was awarded a distinction in her MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway after a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and a BA in Fashion Design & Communications. Before becoming a full-time author, Saskia's writing experience included being a health and beauty editor on women's magazines, a ghost writer for the BBC and Harper Collins and copy-writing and script editing.

Saskia lives in south London with her four children.

Isolte and Viola are twins. Inseparable as children, they've grown into very different adults: Isolte, a successful features writer for a fashion magazine with a photographer boyfriend and a flat in London, and Viola, desperately unhappy and struggling with a lifelong eating disorder.

What happened all those years ago to set the twins on such different paths to adulthood? As both women start to unravel the escalating tragedies of a half-remembered summer, terrifying secrets from the past come rushing back -- and threaten to overwhelm their adult lives . . .

A stunningly, unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent.

The Piatkus superlead for 2013 and our biggest debut launchAs emotionally engaging and beautifully crafted as a Maggie O'Farrell novelA story about the extraordinary bond between twins and the secrets we all carry with us, this is at the same time an emotional family drama and a deeply psychological, page-turning mysteryUpmarket, intelligent and commercial, this is a perfect bookclub readWe have sold translation rights in 12 territories (and counting), including US rights
Follow

Saskia Sarginson on Twitter

Follow the author of debut novel, The Twins, Saskia Sarginson on Twitter
Join

Saskia Sarginson on Facebook

Join Saskia Sarginson, author of debut novel, The Twins, on Facebook