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20 Questions with... Sadie Maskery

Sadie Maskery lives in Scotland by the sea. Her chapbook, Push, is published by Erbacce Press ( and her collection Shouting At Crows by Alien Buddha Press ( She can be found on Twitter as @saccharinequeen and Mastadon as

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?

Hullo! Thank you for your patience and sorry in advance. My life growing up was all you might expect for a socially awkward, redheaded, tall, overweight, bookish girl with glasses. In fairness I deserved a lot of it. Insufferable child.

Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?

I did, yes, but have very little self-discipline and without deadlines am awful at finishing a project, so all the grand plans of writing a novel fell by the wayside. Discovering poetry has been a delight - I can grasp an emotion or idea long anough to create something tangible then burnish bits without hating the whole thing and feeling a failure.

Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.

Shouting At Crows ISBN 9798358354890 published by Alien Buddha Press and available on Amazon, is a collection of poetry written during lockdown.

What are you working on right now?

I have been offered publication for a chapbook by a publisher I absolutely idolise, and I don't want to jinx it by saying too much. While I cross my fingers over that I am creating hybrid art/poetry that is very lush and a bit odd.

Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it?

Prevarication, snacking, guilt then a spasm of creativity. Nap.

Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?

I write mainly on my phone, on a notes app. This means if I have an idea in a queue or overhear a conversation that sparks a patchwork poem, I can snatch it and keep it. The downsides are, I always forget to keep drafts and write over older versions of things (big mistake) and forget to back up, which when my phone died meant I lost 200 pages of scraps (massive mistake).

What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?

Tom Cox (an excellent author) on Twitter @cox_tom

Dec 2, 2021

Write the book you would like to see someone pull from a higgledy-piggledy pile in a second hand shop sixty three years after your death and say, "This looks fucking weird. I think I will buy it for Joan."

Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?

I am better at performing than socialising. It's a different persona. I used to sing, and, oh the relief and happiness when it went well! It can be quite funny at some poetry events when everyone is just waiting for their own turn to perform and not actually listening.

Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?

Life is an infinitessimally tiny spark in the eternal void, be kind.

Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?

If what is written gives pleasure without harm is that enough? Not every story needs a moral or educational imperative. Perhaps society has taught too many people that their opinions are more important than other people's, and that the ability to shout loudest is the key to winning an argument. What you write, how you write, where you write it … why? To entertain? Persuade? Incite? Shock? Just for profit? Why? Why your words? Are you that entitled? Not everyone is aware of their privilege. A writer should have integrity, maybe. Or not, what do I know.

Do you write between genres or not?

I wobble into the supernatural out of my main lane of mundanity.

Which living writers do you most admire?

Ian McMillan lives and writes words of quiet enthusiasm and joy. He gives so much to people and communities. And Tom Cox.

Which dead writers do you most admire?

Although - admire is a tricky word. I love Terry Pratchett but suspect he would have been a bugger to live with. Douglas Adams. Gerald Durrell. All passionate, funny, superb writers, all, um, strong characters. I would love to have met Dorothy L Sayers and Stella Gibbons. Might have needed a stiff drink afterwards.

What’s the book you wish you’d written?

That bloody novel I have been wanging on about for the last forty years.

What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?

1930s murder mysteries, the sea, indigestion, prog rock and regret.

Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?

At the moment, very much so.

What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?

'I liked the postcard you sent with it'. Which I treasure along with the 'nice tone' one friend dredged up after a concert I sang.

How do your family and friends feel about your writing?


Do you have a favourite bookshop?

Barter Books, Alnwick. All the books. All the bartering. There is something magical about that place, although I am sad that they have removed the honesty box filter coffee.

How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?

It is lovely that everyone can self publish or find an independent publisher and have a chance to be heard. It sucks that the way to be massively successful is to be a celebrity in another field … it feels like the odds of a young career writer being discovered and nurtured by a major publisher dwindle every year. I am very lucky that I have had the opportunity to lob some frail messages in bottles into the ocean of time. I hope one washes up at a charity shop sixty three years after my death and someone says, "This looks fucking weird. I think I will buy it for Joan."

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