Today I’m delighted to feature Kindle Top Ten bestseller Rachel Sargeant. Rachel’s first novel featured Great War nurses on a hospital ship while her more recent books have been crime thrillers. While we were both at an early blogger/author meet up in Stoke, I’ve really got to know Rachel better via our Twitter conversations.
Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied in Wales and worked in Surrey and London before moving to Germany, where she lived on and off for ten years, mostly as a full-time mum but also as an English teacher at a university. Later she spent five years in Shropshire and now lives with her husband and children in Gloucestershire.
Her many moves have provided inspiration for the settings of her novels, three of which are crime thrillers with HarperCollins. The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany, became a Kindle Top Ten bestseller, sold over 100,000 copies and has been translated into Italian and Czech.
A previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition, Rachel has also had stories placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her fiction has appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series.
Over to Rachel
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Dancing Queen by Abba – I notice that a lot of Five on Friday interviewees of my vintage mention this song. Not a surprise as it has such nostalgic qualities. For me it brings back memories of Record Session on Wednesdays at school. We could pay a 2p entry fee, get our wrists stamped and attend a dinnertime disco in the school hall run by the head of geography. Dancing Queen was a floor filler. I never did work out how to dance to it, but then I’ve never learned to dance to any tune.
Summer Nights – Grease is my favourite film. I queued twice unsuccessfully to get into the cinema when it came out. When I managed it on the third attempt, it was well worth the wait even though by then I’d watched all the big songs performed a dozen times on Top of the Pops and played my cassette of the soundtrack until the tape started to warp.
That’s Entertainment by The Jam – I used to play Radio One on my little transistor radio in my bedroom all the time. This song always moved me and it’s the nearest I’ve ever come to appreciating something cool.
Cruel To Be Kind by Nick Lowe – I’ve always liked this song and, since I’ve been writing, it’s had a special meaning. I’m grateful to three fellow creative writers I met on our MA course. They have become my best, most truthful critics.
The Sea by Bobby Darin – I don’t know when I first heard this song as it was a hit before I was born, but it’s one of my favourites. A song about the sea is right up my musical street. I was born in a seaside town and the seaside remains my favourite holiday destination.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Books – obvz
Television – I love a good TV thriller or detective story. I’m partial to the odd comedy too. Occasionally I’ll watch a reality show but feel the genre is too scripted/edited these days and lacks the spontaneous humour of a few years ago.
Sleep – I only get up at all because my lovely husband brings me breakfast in bed.
Toast – a key component of said breakfast
The garden in the summer – I love reading and writing outside on a sunny day.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t hate reading for pleasure quite so much; one day it will be one of your favourite pastimes.
Learn to touch type – every job you’ll ever have will involve a computer.
Don’t put blond highlights in your hair. The natural reddish brown suits you better and you’ll miss it when you’re old.
Unless you’ve got something intelligent to say, keep quiet. And when you think you’ve got something intelligent to say, it probably isn’t intelligent, so still say nothing.
Don’t sneer at vegetarians – Guess what? You will become one.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I couldn’t read until I was eight. My infants’ school taught ITA (Initial Teaching Alphabet). This was a 1970s experiment to teach children phonetics before they were introduced to proper English. We were drilled in complete nonsense through flashcards and spelling tests for nearly three years. There was a reading scheme of ITA books, but we couldn’t access and enjoy real books. I was an adult before I got into reading for pleasure in a big way and I’m still a weak speller which I put down to poor foundation training in my early years.
I can’t ride a bike. I’m alright going in a straight line for a few metres, but no good on a slope or in traffic.
However, I can ride a horse, or at least I used to be able to. Throughout my teenage years, I fell off on a weekly basis but it didn’t really bother me. I wouldn’t like to try now – doubt my bones would bounce in the same way.
I used to be a chartered librarian, managing a group of libraries in London. It was often my job to select new stock – a tricky task that took careful consideration. I never thought that one day the few librarians left in public libraries would be deciding whether to stock my books.
A palm reader told me I should write. So I did.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
Although I have a daily To Do list on my desk for writing and household tasks, I don’t have a bucket list. I’m happy pottering about and don’t have a burning desire to skydive with dolphins. If I could have a fantasy wish granted, it would be to have a display of bestselling books in bookshop windows that will be enjoyed by a core of readers who like my books.
Thank you, Jill, for inviting me to take part in Five on Friday. I always enjoy reading the feature so it’s great to appear here.
Thanks for joining us Rachel, and so pleased you’re a ‘Five’ follower too. Aaah Dancing Queen – I know I’m older than you but it was on my list too – a perfect pop tune if ever there was one (though not the best to dance to!). I love your advice to your younger self, I could do to adopt the keep quiet guidance myself. Thankfully I learnt to read via the basic say what you see method eg D-O-G = Dog. I do remember when phonetics was the ‘go to’ method and never understood the logic. Sadly for you, it appears not to have been the best option. Glad you found your way to reading for pleasure though, whatever age it hits, it changes your life. As an ex Chartered Librarian myself, I remember the joys of stock selection and discussing books with readers. I suspect missing that is partly why I turned to blogging. Delighted to find another who hasn’t got a yearning to skydive and hope that display of bestselling books proves more than just a fantasy.
THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.
YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…
BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she lives with…
Even the good have to die.
A beloved teacher is murdered and left in a ditch beside a country lane. His wife is found beaten and gagged in their suburban home.
Even the best schools have secrets.
New detective Pippa Adams learns that the teacher ran a homework club for vulnerable pupils. But what did he really teach them?
Even the perfect family has something to hide.
When Pippa scratches the surface of the school community, she meets families who’ve learned a shattering lesson. And finally uncovers the good teacher’s darkest secrets…
Previously published as LONG TIME WAITING, now fully updated.
Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret…
When Helen moves abroad with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to meet her fellow expat teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare…
As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the community, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything…
In 1915 Sara Winwood writes a diary. It begins as a grand adventure for Sara and five other newly enlisted sisters in the Australian Army Nursing Service heading into the unknown to do their bit in a distant war.
But on board the hospital ship Gascon adventure turns to ordeal. The women face an unrelenting barrage of blood, death and disease with only the fortitude and humour of their patients – shrapnel-filled men scraped off the hostile cliffs of the Gallipoli peninsula – to keep them going.
They don’t just see war; they touch, taste and breathe it.
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