Lindsay Sharman is a citizen of the World, and owes no allegiance to any country, apart from the UK because it has free healthcare (at the moment… not for much longer, the way things are going). She lives with a husband (her own) and a cat (her husband’s) and an expectant space where a dog should be (which will be filled sometime in the next few years). Lindsay is the author of the Madame Magenta series.
Tell us about the main character of your books, Madame Magenta.
Magenta is every young buck’s ideal heroine: a forty-something woman who lives in North London and reads fortunes for a living.
Madame Magenta exists on the page and the stage. Which iteration came first?
I pranced about onstage as Magenta for about a year before I put her in a novel.
What does the stage version of Magenta involve? Is the act wholly scripted, or do you allow for improvisation and audience interaction?
It involves looking like I’m half-crazed and fully-drunk. But behind this apparent chaos is a script, and even my interaction with the audience is carefully manipulated. Having said that, I often change the wording and add jokes on the fly, and I do enjoy it when it goes genuinely tits-up, as you can see in this video where I forget the lyrics to the song and start spouting nonsense…
Do elements of your audience interactions ever find their way into the Madame Magenta books?
Yes. As with the performance, I have a fully worked-out plan before I start writing, but I’d quickly become bored if I always followed it. The stage work has really helped flesh out Magenta’s attitude to her work and clients. It’s super-useful. A bit like intense hot-seating.
Do you have a personal interest in the occult?
You have to be interested in something to write about it. However, I can get interested in almost anything. I worked in telecommunications once upon a time and found myself genuinely fascinated by copper cabling theft, and would bore people at parties* about it. But I found I could only bore one or two people at a time using the ‘party’ method, so I started performing on the London cabaret and comedy scene, but that wasn’t enough either so I expanded my reach yet again by writing novels. I now have literally tens of fans.
*by ‘parties’ I actually mean ‘bus stops’.
Have you ever had your fortune read?
I used to read my own fortune as a teenager using Runes and a book that told you what the hell the Rune pieces meant, and I would keep going until I got the result I wanted. I never went to a professional fortune-teller as I needed to ask private and shameful questions such as “will I be sad forever” and “will I be a virgin forever.” *
*These questions aren’t necessarily directly related to each other, but do encompass my experience of being a teenager.
Which novelists do you most admire?
Sue Townsend, Aldous Huxley, Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Douglas Adams, Iain (M) Banks, Philip K Dick, George Macdonald Fraser, Charles Bukowski.
What inspires you to write?
Reading, actually. I was an obsessive reader of novels for years, and one day I decided it was my turn to have a go.
What’s your writing schedule like? Are you super regimented, butt-in chair every day, tip-tapping away for hours, or an airy-fairy ‘when the muse strikes’ sort of a person?
Somewhere in between. I find forcing a schedule on myself is like trying to take my cat for a walk. As in, it’s something I do almost every day, it involves equal parts reluctance and hysteria, and society does not require me to do it at all, so I sometimes wonder why I bother.
What’s the biggest influence on the kind of thing you write? Another author? A TV show? Some other thing that is neither of those two things?
My main influence is Stuff Wot I Have Thought Of On Trains While Eating Convenient Pastry.
What’s next in the pipeline? Will we be seeing a third Madame Magenta book any time soon?
I am writing a YA novel that will also appeal to adults (hopefully)! Starring a young Magenta! I hope to finish it by the end of February 2016! I am not panicking about this deadline at all!
Finally, what question do you wish I’d asked but didn’t?
Nothing, this interview was too long and I am tired and I haven’t even taken the cat out for a drag yet.
You can purchase the first book in the Madame Magenta series, Magenta is the Warmest Colour, HERE.