Sarah Marie Graye talks about suicide in her new book, The Second Cup.
So, Sarah Marie, tell us more about The Second Cup.
It’s my debut novel and was released on 19 July 2017. When you publish your first book, you don’t get the chance to sit back and enjoy it – you’re too nervous! So I’ve decided to celebrate its first anniversary.
Where did you get the inspiration for the novel?
The idea of the butterfly effect – and how much we can be affected by things that happen to those around us. Faye discovers her ex-boyfriend – the one she never truly got over – has killed himself. The Second Cup explores how this news affects her friends as much as it does her.
When someone dies, the people left behind all cope in different ways and I wanted to capture that fallout and follow these people to the point where they start picking up the pieces and moving on.
If you have to pick one favourite character from the book, who would it be and why?
It would be Olivia. Firstly, because she was the hardest character to write – as she’s the one who’s the least like me. Secondly, because she goes through the most positive transformation out of all the characters and you get to read as she blossoms on the page.
Can you describe The Second Cup in three adjectives?
This is really difficult. I think if I were any good at using just a few words, I wouldn’t take 80,000 words to tell a story! I’m going to go for: slow-paced, warm and heart-rending.
What are you most proud of about the book?
Finishing it! When it’s your first one, there’s a part of you that’s not sure you’re actually going to come away with a completed novel. I still get a kick at looking at a paperback with my name on it – and I’m hoping that feeling never goes away.
When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I’d been mulling over the idea of writing a novel for years, but didn’t take it seriously until I decided to look into studying an MA Creative Writing. I realised that unless I had someone to answer to, I was never going to get words down on the page.
The course at London South Bank University allows you to work on a single novel – rather than producing a portfolio of poems and short stories – and was the kick start I needed. I finally finished my novel about 12 months after finishing the course.
What is your creative process like?
I’m still trying to work that out! I’ve just finished writing my second novel, The Victoria Lie, which is currently with my editor. And the process I’ve gone through to write it is completely different to that of my first novel. So I’m not sure if this approach is now my new creative process or if it will all be different again for book three!
Who are some of your favourite authors at the moment?
I’m a huge fan of Maggie O’Farrell and Dorothy Koomson. While I’m writing, I don’t read any new books to make sure I’m not unduly influenced by another writer, so I’ve been rereading books I know well.
Both Maggie O’Farrell and Dorothy Koomson write imperfect characters that are very “human” and their stories are character-based. This is what I aim for in my own writing, so I find they help me keep focused on the important details.
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about writing?
My favourite thing about writing is that it’s like creating magic! I use words to create people, places, situations, and can make the people who read these words laugh or cry.
My least favourite thing is the writing itself. Ideas form in my head as images and emotions, not words, and it can be infuriating trying to find the right words to represent my ideas on a page!
What’s next for you?
My second novel The Victoria Lie will be out soon. It’s the second book in The Butterfly Effect series and is another story where characters are affected by what happens to someone close them.
Beth and Faye from The Second Cup both play a part, but it’s not their story. The Victoria Lie can be read as a standalone story – although I think the reader has something to gain from reading The Second Cup first.
I’ve already started the “mental groundwork” for book three, which focuses on two of the characters from book two. I’m at the planning stage, so it’s all still very much up in the air, but my hope is to publish book three in 2019. Fingers crossed!
Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
Faye is left wondering how to move forward – and whether or not Jack’s best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack’s death ripples through the lives of her friends too.
Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.
Is Beth about to take her own life too?
Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression. Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.