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Sarah Ball is the best selling author of Nine Months. Her fantastic second novel, Marry Me, is out now. Find out what she has to say about her life as a novelist.

What inspires you to write?
So many little things...a snippet of news on the telly, a magazine article, funny things my friends tell me about...the need to fund my blossoming shoe habit!

How long does it take you to write a novel?
That's a tricky one as it's so dependent on my ever-changing situation (a three year old and a five year old). The first book took about four years (!) I think I took my time because I didn't believe for a minute it would come to anything, so it was something to do and dream about when my first baby was asleep. Marry Me was much quicker and took about ten months; my second baby was sleeping in the day and my oldest was at pre-school so I finally had some snippets of time. My third one is taking longer as my oldest is at that why-should-I-sleep-when-I-can-turn-boxes-of-stuff-upside-down phase. When they're both at school I shall treat it like a proper job, work like a trojan all day long, and not go out for shopping sprees and pub lunches,
ever...because that would be very, very bad...

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
Sadly not, although would love to have a more structured day. Until then it's a case of waiting till the kids are out (or out for the count) then racing to the computer to, er, well, check my emails, surf the Amazon website, get a biscuit... then work till the kids need me again.

Has your life changed since you became a novelist?
It has made me a much happier, more fulfilled person. I'm now really excited about the future and am a more interesting person to talk to at parties.

How do you cure writer's block?
Ugh, the 'B' word (this always seems to happen to me at around 40,000 words!). Several things; I don't panic, I take a break, have lots of baths (great thinking time), get out of the house for a new perspective, but all the time I keep trying, because once you sit back down and work through that tough bit, it suddenly starts to flow again and you wonder why you ever worried so much.

Who is your all-time favourite author?
You mean just pick one?? I couldn't possibly! My favourite childhood writers were Judy Blume and Paul Gallico (Jennie), they were so inspiring. Nowadays, Jane Green and Lisa Jewell are great reads...

What are you reading at the moment?
I've just started Nick Hornby's About A Boy, as I loved the film and rather like having Hugh Grant in my head, acting out the scenes.

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That we're all incredibly rich! You only hear about the enormous advances because they are few and far between. It's a labour of love I'm afraid, but I wouldn't swop that heady feeling of achievement for all the money in London.

What advice would you give budding authors?
I know it's hard, everything has already been done, but do try to be original, be it characters, story, voice. Try to say it in a way that hasn't been said before, and relax and enjoy it! If your loving it, that will come across on the page. When approaching agents, buy/borrow a good book on getting published, then follow their advice to the letter. Agents are obviously very busy and inundated with manuscripts. It'd be a terrible waste if yours was looked over because it wasn't presented correctly. Don't let rejections get you down. Every successful writer will tell you about the many times they were rejected. I had about twelve, but I don't regret getting them, they made the success seem even sweeter!

What can readers expect from Sarah Ball in the future?
I've got a whole list of books I want to write, waiting in my head. Soon I will have more time to devote to writing and so long as people still want to read them, I will keep them coming. I don't want to be too formulaic and keep churning out the same stuff with different characters though, I really want to try and be a little bit different every time. If I'm completely honest for a moment and allow myself to daydream wildly, I would love to learn to write screen plays. I'm so envious of the writers of great bitter-sweet dramas like Cold Feet and Bob and Rose...my biggest ambition is to write a popular drama, but then I'm still young (well, clinging onto my twenties for a short while longer) and I think it's great to really think big and have something to aspire to...and there's no harm in trying, is there...

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