Sarah Steele – Q&A

Sarah Steele’s novel, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is published by Headline on 6 August 2020.

Sarah kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon.

Flo Connelly discovers a box of vintage dress patterns in her late grandmother’s wardrobe, each containing a fabric swatch, a postcard from a glamorous location, and a photograph of the mysterious Nancy Moon wearing each outfit in each place. Her life at a crossroads, Flo is inspired to remake the dresses herself and wear them everywhere Nancy did, in order to unravel the story of what happened to Nancy Moon after the summer of 1962.

2. What inspired the book?

I have a lifelong love of dressmaking, which began as a teenager and which I still enjoy today, and a well-worn wardrobe of vintage clothing. My collection of vintage dress patterns combines these passions, and I have long thought there is a story behind the scribbled measurements and pencilled notes on the packets.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I plan to an extent, in terms of premise, research and outline, but am far more of the write, write, write persuasion. Neither my characters nor I know what will happen at the end of a book, or even a scene, until we get there.

4. Having been through the publishing process was there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?

My very first job was as an editorial assistant at Hodder & Stoughton, and I worked freelance in publishing for many years, so I’ve always had a good idea of what goes on behind the scenes, but have been bowled over by the hard work and passion that the Headline team have thrown in Nancy.

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I originally trained as a classical musician, so can be found playing my violin in local orchestras and escaping at the piano with a bit of Beethoven. Or of course sitting with my sewing or the latest crochet project. And whatever the weather, I’m often found walking the Stroud hills with my little rescue dog. I’m not very going at doing nothing, as you can tell …

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a book I return to every few years, as I learn something new from it at every stage of my life. I can’t imagine not knowing what it will teach me next.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

From the point of view of fashion, what era would you like to have lived in? Late fifties, early sixties: think Mad Men circa series four, nipped-in waists, rich brocades, Grace Kelly scarves, long gloves, kitten heels … but since lockdown, maybe not the restrictive undergarments!

You can read my review of The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon here.

About the Book

To unravel that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…

Florence Connelly is broken hearted. Her marriage has collapsed under the weight of the loss she shares with her husband, and her beloved grandmother has just died. Even the joy she found in dressmaking is gone.

But things change when Flo opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns found inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a photograph of a mysterious young woman, Nancy Moon, wearing the hand-made dress.

Flo discovers that Nancy was a distant relation who took the boat train to Paris in 1962 and never returned. With no one to stay home for, Flo decides to follow Nancy’s thread. She unravels an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And begins to stitch the pieces of her own life back together.

About the Author

Sarah Steele was the director of Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral in 2018, which culminated in a suffragette march led by Helen Pankhurst. After training in London as a classical pianist and violinist, Sarah joined the world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was for many years a freelance editor. She lives in Stroud. THE MISSING PIECES OF NANCY MOON is her debut novel.

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