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I’m delighted to be doing a blog swap with Sara Jayne Townsend today. She’s making a return visit to my blog and I’m visiting hers as well. She’s going to talk to us about WEARING MANY HATS. A great big welcome to her and everyone else who stopped by.

Come on in, sit down and relax. Help yourself to tea or coffee and we have fresh Caramel cake as well. All comfy? Good. Let’s hear what Sara has to say.

Most of us wear many hats in our lives. Many women wear several at once – that of daughter; of mother; of wife; of friend; of sister.

The two hats I wear most days are those of employee and writer, as I juggle the writing around the day job. But the writer role is divided into two further hats – that of crime writer, and of horror writer. 

Some people might think that these are very different genres, with very different readerships. But there are more similarities than you might think. Both generally feature characters dying in horrible ways. Often the protagonists are trying to get to the bottom of this mysterious death. But with crime, the end of the story is to reveal the killer, whereas in horror, quite often the killer is known fairly early on, but the emphasis is on how to stop them – especially if there is a supernatural element.

However, I do approach both genres in different ways (and hence the wearing of different hats). The Shara Summers novels are amateur sleuth mystery novels. Plotting is vitally important in these novels. A trail of clues will lead my amateur sleuth to the killer and she must pick up on the clues if she is to solve the mystery. And perhaps the reader will discover the killer before she does. There are no supernatural elements to the Shara Summers novels. The killer is always a human being, with foibles and weaknesses. And it is, of course, generally the weaknesses that lead to them getting caught.

I approach horror in a very different way. Although plotting is just as important to me in this genre (my writing style involves writing a plot summary of every novel before I begin writing chapter 1), the hunt for the killer is not so straightforward. Often the protagonists are dealing with something supernatural and fantastical, and completely out of the realm of their reality. Before they can actually work out how to stop the killer, they have to accept that what’s going on is something they previously dismissed as impossible. People will have died before they get to the point that they can believe in the existence of the Big Bad. After that, it might be a case of discovering what can bring down the Big Bad, for if it’s a supernatural creature it can’t be killed the way a human can.

I tend to let loose with the gore a bit more in the horror novels. The deaths in the Shara Summers novels are a bit more restrained. People can get shot, and stabbed and so on of course, but the deaths in the new horror novel THE WHISPERING DEATH are far more graphic – for the purposes of the plot I wanted people to be ripped apart in a way that would have the main characters thinking that nothing human could do that to a person. That’s not necessary in my crime novels.

I get that not everyone likes graphic horror, and that fans of my crime may not necessarily be into my horror, and vice versa. And that’s OK. But I write both crime and horror because I am a fan of both genres. There has to be a few more of us out there.

I like writing both genres for different reasons, so I am planning to carry on wearing both the ‘horror writer’ hat and the ‘crime writer’ hat for the foreseeable future. But not at the same time. Maybe one day I’ll start to forget which hat I’m wearing when I write, but it’s not happened yet!

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Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later.  It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

Her latest horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, about a group of live action roleplayers who unwittingly release an ancient evil during a game, has recently been released by Kensington Gore Publishing.

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend) or join her Facebook Group, “Imaginary Friends” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/301037281383).

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Thanks so much for the interesting article, Sara. I read both genres, but I’ve never really thought about comparing the two. Everyone please stop by in at Sara’s blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com  and see what I have to say.