When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started writing m/m romance about two years ago now when I saw a call for submissions for an anthology featuring angels. It just so happened that I’d always wanted to write an angel story. I wrote the story, to challenge myself as a writer, and then when the story was accepted I discovered that working within the m/m romance genre gave me the chance to write the stories I wanted to tell.
My next story was a fantasy romance, Heart of the Kingdom, and the most recent is Lost and Won, a historical novella set within the English civil war.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
I always wanted to write and I always said I would and then one day I did. Then when I started I found that I couldn’t stop.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I tend to revise as I go along – if I finish a chapter or part of the story I will get it as good as I feel it can be at this stage before I move on. Sometimes I can’t get something quite ‘right’ and then I know I have to come back to it. But I always go through several drafts.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I plan a little – I have a sense of where I want to be but often I’m not quite sure how to get there and not everything I write goes into the finished story. It’s great when characters surprise you but sometimes you wish they’d let you know if they decide to change your story. Anyone would think it was about them. Lost and Won was a new challenge in that I had to work with and around historical dates and couldn’t make everything up.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
I read a lot and I go on internet trails – I start ‘looking things up’ and I make lists. For Philip and Francis in Lost and Won I read poems and love letters set in and around the time of the story and also some of Cromwell’s writings.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
Usually as I’m writing. I often have a ‘place holder’ title or even a nickname for a work in progress. For Lost and Won I had the title fairly soon. It’s a quote from Macbeth – and the story is set just after a battle. But it is the witches in Macbeth who say, ‘when the battle’s lost and won’ and there is a witch in my story. It was also at the heart of the conflict between Philip and Francis so that they can’t tell who has lost and who has won.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Love stories, of course. Romance, fantasy, legends and myths. Historical novels and Science Fiction.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
In my dreams – a film director!
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
With Lost and Won I was thinking of clothes – the Cavalier fashions and the austerity of the Roundheads and what might happen if two childhood friends and sometime lovers chose opposing sides.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I love the cover to Lost and Won. Reese Dante used the image of the house to create a window into history and I feel that my characters are living out their story in that house and that if I could just see a little further they would be there.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I like spending time with my family and friends. I love looking up at the stars and watching the waves on the shore. I’m a bookworm and love to curl up with a favourite book. I am very happy in theatres and libraries and I love exploring the countryside.
What future projects do you have in the works?
I’m writing a story where my hero gets caught up in the French Revolution and finds his fate in the shadow of the guillotine.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
You can find me at http://sarahannwatts.blogspot.co.uk/
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
This is one of my favourite excerpts from Lost and Won:
‘There was a battle and you lost.’
Philip prayed never to see Francis again. Now the man who stole his heart is his prisoner, staking his life on Philip’s honour. All Philip has to do is let him go.
“I wanted to see you again.”
Philip looked at the bedraggled figure confronting him. His dark hair was tangled with wisps of straw and there were smudges beneath his eyes. Evidently he’d been sleeping in hedgerows and his shirt and breeches were plainer than Philip’s own. He was no longer the young cavalier who rode away in a swirl of satin and lace, his father’s sword at his belt and gold in his purse with letters of introduction to the Queen herself.
“What happened to you?”
Francis clasped his injured arm and leaned against the hearth. “I’m in disguise. You now have the most elegant scarecrow in England.”
Philip might have shaken him if only Francis hadn’t looked as if he would break if he touched him.
“Please tell me you didn’t lay a trail to my front door with your folly.”
“No,” Francis said. He gave a lopsided smile but Philip saw his hand clench on the settle and the knuckles whiten. “I wouldn’t do that.”
“Then where did you get the clothes?”
“It’s a long story. My throat is dry. I don’t suppose you would spare me a stoup of wine?”
“I don’t keep wine in the house.”
“No of course not, I’d forgotten how sober and godly you’d grown.” Francis sighed. “Well, truth be told I had a fancy to go swimming so I stripped and left my court dress on the river bank. Then this youth came by, “Praise the devil with pitchforks” or some such name. You’d have liked him. He was pious, righteous, smug, reminded me of you. Anyway he was curious and we—talked—and after a while I—persuaded—him that he should take off his clothes and …”
“Francis!” Philip gripped his wrist. “No more tales.”
and from Heart of the Kingdom:
“You were a creature of water, and I was a servant of fire. There should be enmity between us.”
Heart of the kingdom is a story of a king who has lost his kingdom and a knight who has lost his memory…
When I heard the horse coming up the valley I came out to meet you, my hands empty. The sun was in my eyes so I couldn’t see your face, but I saw that you were armed and no casual traveler.
My own clothes had grown ragged— I knew I looked like a peasant.
You drew rein and asked me for water. Then I saw you were hurt. I fetched water in an earthenware cup. You took it and drank deeply, and then the cup fell from your hand and I caught you, staggering a little with my useless arm, and laid you on the grass. I tethered your horse so she wouldn’t stray. Then I took your shield and sword from you and half carried, half dragged you into my cave.
There I tended you. The hem of your cloak was wet like your hair. I stripped the cloak and your shirt and saw the jagged wound on your shoulder where the claws of the beast had torn you. I laid my hand over the marks and sighed. Then I heated water at the fire and crushed herbs to make a poultice to draw out the poison. Even then, the fever held you for three days before it broke. I thought you would die, young and strong though you were. More beautiful than memory. Your dark hair was forever wet, though I did my best to sponge the heat of the fever from your brow. I watched over you for three nights, bringing you cool water to drink and feeding the fire to keep you warm. Finally I rolled myself in your cloak and slept —worn out— knowing I had done all I could and you would live or die. After some hesitation, I laid your sword and shield at your side.