Interview with Sareeta Domingo: “Persevere, and choose projects in which you have the utmost belief.”

Sareeta Domingo is the author of The Three of Us, (originally published as The Nearness of You), and creator, editor and contributing writer of romantic fiction anthology Who’s Loving You

Her novel If I Don’t Have You was shortlisted for the Diverse Book Awards 2021. She has also written numerous erotic short stories and an erotic novella with Pavilion Books, and her books for Young Adults are published under S.A. Domingo, including Love on the Main Stage, shortlisted for the Lancashire Book of the Year 2021. 

She has contributed to publications including, iNews, gal-dem, Black Ballad, Stylist and Token Magazine, has appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour and Sky Arts Book Club, and has taken part in events for Primadonna Festival, Black Girls Book Club and the Royal Society of Literature among others. She lives in South East London.

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Hi Sareeta, great to have you on Famous Writing Routines. We’re really excited to talk to you about your writing routine and process. For those who may not know, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Sure! I’m an author and editor from South East London. As well as currently working as Editorial Director of Trapeze Books (an imprint of Hachette here in the UK), I’m the author of several novels and stories – my debut novel was reissued earlier this year as The Three of Us, but it was originally published as The Nearness of You back in 2016.

I’m also the creator, editor and contributing writer of romantic fiction anthology Who’s Loving You, an anthology of love stories by British women of colour, and another novel, If I Don’t Have You. I’ve also written numerous short stories and a novella with Pavilion Books, and my books for Young Adults are published under S.A. Domingo. I’ve also contributed to a number of other publications. Basically, books and writing are my thing!

How do you balance your work as an Editorial Director at Trapeze Books with your own writing? Do you find that both roles feed into each other? 

They do to an extent – seeing and facilitating other authors’ success and creativity is very motivating, but it can also be challenging when you’re comparing yourself to others – like authors often do – in terms of success and what type of story is ‘working’ in the industry at any given time! It is also a challenge in terms of the demands of my job versus essentially having another job as an author. Finding time for both and to have a life outside of those pursuits is tough.

Can you take us behind the creative process for your first full-length novel, The Nearness of You

I’d had the idea of the very beginning of the story – a young woman walking a dog that isn’t hers, and finding the body of somebody who’d died by suicide on the banks of the River Thames in London – for years before the rest of the novel took shape.

At that point I had no idea it would turn into a romantic story, but I returned to it when I decided I wanted to continue that initial kernel of narrative. Initially I was just dabbling with the idea of turning it into a novel, but I’d previously had short stories and a novella published.

I’d write little chunks of it while watching TV, but it eventually expanded and grew, and I knew I wanted it to be the story of someone trying to find their way in the world after university, while reconciling with her past and the issues this difficult discovery exposes for her. But also, you know, falling in love with her best friend’s boyfriend, and the tension that arises from that!

What does a typical writing day look like for you? And if you don’t have a typical day, can you give us a recent example day? 

My job is demanding, so my writing comes a bit more in fits and starts than I would like at the moment. But typically, I will get up around 6am, get ready for my working day, and then write for an hour before I eat breakfast and head to work (or swap my personal laptop for my professional one if I’m working at home).

At the moment I’m revising my next novel, and I’ve started using Scrivener for that as I’ve found it’s an interesting way to storyboard the manuscript I already have, and rearrange or alter chapters more easily. It gives a fresh perspective on my work in progress.

When I’m writing, I usually listen to moody music like FKA Twigs, James Blake and Fiona Apple, or jazz – Miles Davis, Coltrane, the greats. Or, I find wordless beats online. I use programs like Cold Turkey on my laptop and Forest on my phone to attempt to avoid distracting myself with social media or internet shopping that grows out of unrelated research online! But I find trying to create before I do my day job in general is the best way to incrementally make progress with my writing, and working on it on the weekend when I can, too. 

Do you have a daily word count that you like to hit each day? 

No, I tend not to be too rigid when it comes to word count – I just like to feel like I’m making good progress, and sometimes that just means getting a chance to sit down and write at all. 

If you could give just one piece of advice to a writer trying to get published, what would it be?

Persevere, and choose projects in which you have the utmost belief. This is an incredibly subjective business, so ultimately you have to back yourself before anybody else can. You’ll also need to get used to the potential for rejection, or staying with the piece you’re working on for a long time, so you need to have an enduring love for it – and for the act of writing itself.

What does your writing workspace look like?

I’m lucky enough to have a seperate room in my flat that has my desk in it as well as my wardrobe (I’m a clothes lover, so yes, that’s plural!) and my exercise bike that I don’t use nearly enough. My desk is fairly cluttered – speakers, paperwork, plants etc, and I look out of the window onto a lovely garden.

Photo of Sareeta’s writing workspace (courtesy of the author).

Before you go…

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