Sarah Walton speaks about drawing on her own life material in her novel The Silk Pavilion, using emotions from lived experiences, and real life exercises to get into the psyche of her characters.

The Silk Pavilion was an especially intense emotional writing experience, but Sarah reminds us that a writer puts aspects of themselves and their emotions in all their characters – even the horrible Miguel. Sarah roleplayed as Miguel with a writing group. She acted and spoke like him to truly get inside his head. Although she had nothing in common with him, she tuned into emotions he felt that she also has experienced, for example anxiety or rage.

The protagonist Lucy is informed by Sarah’s lived experiences with therapy. In fact, Sarah creates a fictional version of her therapist in The Silk Pavilion (with their blessing, of course). Like Lucy, Sarah is a victim of abuse, so she was able to draw from her emotions – particularly feelings of shame and pain – to create Lucy. To Sarah, using your own life material isn’t necessarily about providing a character with your own experiences, it’s about connecting to them through shared emotion.

The Silk Pavilion expertly explores the nature of abuse, the power of victims and Jungian psychology, all while being totally unputdownable. Lean more about The Silk Pavilion here or grab a copy now here.



In this clip, D.D. Johnston explores the nature of writing in non-standard English, the way characters would actually speak.  a native of Edinburgh, he speaks about writing in a Scottish venacular, and its place in his novel Disnaeland.

Disnaeland is set in the fictional Scottish town of Dundule, but D.D. tells us this story is universal. It could be set in working class communities throughout the world. Ultimately, Disnaeland is a heartful message about humanity’s capacity for cooperation.

However, it  gains a unique power from its Scottish setting, and no better is this communicated than through the use of Scots dialect and accents. It’s very title, ‘disnae’ means ‘does not’. This world disnae work for the people, disnae bring them happiness or joy, and maybe disnae need to exist in this monstrous form.

D.D. tells us that unlike many regional dialects of the British Isles, Scots dialect has roots in a real written language, Scots. He could draw from standard spellings from this language to write Scottish vernacular. It’s a strong, beautiful language and D.D.’s thankful for the resources available to him.

What if the end of the world is the best thing that’s never happened? learn more about Disnaeland here

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