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Sharon Dogar’s first novel, Waves, is a poignant
coming-of-age story about a family dealing with the accident of their
daughter. It took a while for Sharon to get started, "but then I had
‘the moment,' " she explains. "That moment when a character just arrives
in your mind and begs to be written - whether you want to do it or
not. I remember it was lunchtime. I walked into the sitting room and
had a thought: I was by the sea. And in that moment, I saw a boy with
his back to me; he was in the kitchen of a beach house, looking at
something on the wall. Looking at it with utter intensity and
absorption. I knew straight away his name was Hal. I walked back into
my own kitchen and wrote the prologue, immediately and completely,
exactly as it remained in the final manuscript. And then I had to write
a story to go with it!" Her second novel, Falling, was published
by Chicken House and her third novel, to be published by Andersen Press
in September 2010, is the much-anticipated Annexed.
Sharon Dogar lives in Oxford with her husband and three children. She loves writing, reading and daydreaming. For the last ten years she’s also worked with adolescents as a psycho-therapist.
Where did you grow up?
On an estate just outside Oxford.
And later in a suburb.
PS Haven't really grown up, but trying ...
What were you like at school?
Depends which one you're talking about.
Primary school - happy
prep school - confused
Convent school - very confused, and a bit angry
Middle school - hard-working, happy
Secondary school - miserable and lonely
CFE/sixth form - suddenly gregarious and not actually in lessons very often
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. A forensic scientist. A Spacewoman. A gamekeeper in Africa. An actor. Someone else, anyone else.
What did you do after you left school?
Went to college in London. Travelled around South America with boyfriend. Went to Pakistan on own. Worked, played, danced a lot, wrote stories and tried to make sense of why the hell we're all here.
Why did you begin writing/illustrating?
I never stopped, so I didn't have to start, I've just always written things down, sometimes to remember and sometimes to forget.
How would you describe your books?
As wondering what if? And if so, how and when and why?
Where do your ideas come from?
Some come from real life, like Hal's eyes, and his insults (courtesy of my two sons) or Sarz catching a flatfish (courtesy of my daughter).
Others just appear, and it feels like they arrive out of thin air, but of course, they don't, they come from all the experiences a person's ever had or heard about. They come from the unconscious.
Philip Pullman once said his daemon would be a magpie, because they steal bright shiny things, and he's right, of course, writers pick up ideas anywhere and everywhere - and they don't really believe in ownership.
What is your ideal place and time for writing/illustrating?
It's not so much the where, although I love my kitchen table, a certain place in Greece and another in France, as well as the Bodleian Library (especially for editing), but mostly, for me, it's the feeling the urge to write, and once I'm in that mode I can write upside down on the bog balancing a sprig of holly on my ... but to save my family the embarrasment we're building a shed at the bottom of the garden to put me in.
Which book would you most like to have written?
So many. Here are a few ....
To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved, Skellig, The Passion, Northern Lights, The Blood Stone, Lucas, The Grapes of Wrath, A Hundred Years of Solitude, Stand By Me, The Constant Nymph, Rapture (poems by Carol Ann Duffy) The Da Vinci Code (for the money) Anne Frank's Diary, I am David, Across the Nightingale Floor, Fingersmith, Alias Grace, Where the Wild Things Are, Ferdinand the Bull ... the list goes on and on and on ...
What is your favourite film?
Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Psycho, Casablanca ... I think you get the picture ...
What is your favourite music?
Anything I can dance to - and that's almost anything, but never heavy metal.
What is the funniest joke you know?
A millionaire was asked how he got so rich. He replied: I found five pence on the beach and spent it on an apple, polished it really hard and sold it for ten pence. I kept on doing this and by the end of the month I had one pound twenty-five pence.
And then my father-in law died and left me two million pounds.
What is your most precious memory?
Private, and staying that way.
What are you most proud of?
Long term, my family. Short term, actually standing up in front of total strangers and reading a bit of my book out loud!
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Do it. Do it everyday if you can. Read a lot, look a lot. Don't bother trying to imagine what 'the market wants' or what your mum might think, just sit down wherever you're most at ease, and listen to whatever (or whoever) is inside you - and then make it into words.
If that's too difficult then start by keeping a diary.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2010.Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment: "A brave re-imagining of a harrowing story and an iconic figure." The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most treasured children’s books of the last fifty years. Anne’s account of the years she spent in hiding from the Nazi’s in Amsterdam during the Second World War vividly tells much about how she feels about the experience and something about how she views those in hiding with her including Peter, a young man only a few years older than her. In Annexed, Sharon Dogar sensitively explores Peter’s story; what he feels about the experience of being in hiding, about being a Jew and, in particular, about what he feels about Anne. Initially irritated by what he sees as a rather silly young girl, Peter soon finds himself falling in love with Anne’s vivacity, intelligence and strength of purpose. Looking back from his deathbed in a Nazi concentration camp, Peter’s diary is touching and sensitive. In speculating and embellishing from some known facts and asking many ‘what if’ questions, Sharon Dogar has taken on a difficult task through which she has created a fascinating and inspiring story. It's a story rooted firmly in history and it asks a question of us all: Are we listening? 'Is anybody there?' Peter cries from the depths of his despair in the camps. Read it, and you will be. From the author, Sharon Dogar: 'Annexed is an imaginary tale, based on history, in which I try to imagine what it might have beel like to actuallly have lived with Anne Frank; to have become the target of her love; and to be so cruelly torn apart from her'. From Charlie Sheppard, Editor at Andersen Press, which has two titles - Annexed and Out of Shadows - shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book of the Year Award 2010: ‘There’s so much serendipity and luck in publishing and I think this story just proves that. These books were the first two I bought for Andersen Press. I couldn’t quite believe they’d landed on my desk in my first few weeks in the new job. Both of them changed the way I think, and for me that’s one of the most important things a children’s book can do. But both of them had been rejected by other publishers before they reached me. Wrong desk, wrong time. To have been able to work on these two incredible books has been an honour and a highlight of my career, and to have both of them recognised like this feels like a fairytale ending. I just hope Klaus [Publisher Klaus Flugge is Charlie's boss at Andersen Press] realises that these wonderful novels are one-offs and I won’t have 2 books on the shortlist every year!!’
Falling is a dark and dangerous multi-layered love story between an Asian girl and a white boy, in which the past and present collide. It's the gripping second teenage novel from Sharon Dogar, the critically acclaimed author of Waves. Intensely moving and atmospheric, it's also heart-breaking, thought-provoking, romantic, even violent but finally life-affirming. Waves was long-listed for the 2009 Carnegie Medal and was short-listed for the 2008 Branford Boase award. Review by Claudia (aged 16)This is a really fun book - funny, tense and tragic at times and would recommend it to all teenage girls. The characters are likeable and you felt you could really sympathise when things don’t go well. It was really easy to read and I was glued to it for a couple of days until I finished. Definitely worth a read!
This is an incredibly thought-provoking, lyrically written debut, which astounded me time after time with each new page. Sharon has cleverly intertwined two strands to the novel, past and present, into what I can best describe as unputdownable and original. The characters are superbly drawn and although it might not have the happiest ending it was despite that, richly satisfying.From Barry Cunnigham, the Publisher:Sharon Dogar's terrific first novel is taut, neurotic, edge -of-consciousness stuff. And it is not only me who thinks so - you can trake Philip Pullman's word for it too. Somewhere between Wuthering Heights and Lovely Bones, it's almost a crime mystery, and certainly a love story. It's about life and death - literally. Comments from the judges of this year's Branford Boase, Best Debut Novel ofthe Year Award: Nikki Gamble: “This year a large number of books were submitted for the awards and the judges noted an increase in established adult writers producing first novels for children. These trends reflect the increased profile of children's books in the press and media as well as the commercial success. The books selected for the shortlist are marked by their distinctive voices and authentic feeling for child or teenage readers. They are accessible but explore profound themes in the context of a story well told”. Linda Buckley-Archer: “With its aim of recognising the author of the best debut novel for children and its editor(s), The Branford Boase Award continues to highlight and promote the next generation of children’s fiction writers. The 2008 shortlist represents some fascinating new voices across a variety of genres which are sure to excite and challenge readers. The judges noted a tendency on this year’s longlist away from fantasy and towards history and social realism.” Trish Beswick: “We were delighted to find a spread of intelligent fiction submitted, eliciting spirited discussion amid the good humour and agreements. One-size-fits-all cannot and does not belong in the world of writing for children, and the complacent and bland were quickly cast aside. My thanks to the other judges for a booky, sparky afternoon!” Ian Dodds: "The nominations for the 2008 Branford Boase Award yet again demonstrate the full range of new writing talent for children and young people. All the writers on this year's shortlist have distinct voices and all are adept at creating stories that will grip, excite and challenge young readers. Good writing for young people is vitally important and this shortlist proves that."
This is an incredibly thought-provoking, lyrically written debut, which astounded me time after time with each new page. Sharon has cleverly intertwined two strands to the novel, past and present, into what I can best describe as unputdownable and original. The characters are superbly drawn and although it might not have the happiest ending it was despite that, richly satisfying. From Barry Cunnigham, the Publisher:Sharon Dogar's terrific first novel is taut, neurotic, edge -of-consciousness stuff. And it is not only me who thinks so - you can trake Philip Pullman's word for it too. Somewhere between Wuthering Heights and Lovely Bones, it's almost a crime mystery, and certainly a love story. It's about life and death - literally.