Artists, dancers, authors, entrepreneurs and the people behind some of the brands we work with inspire us every day. Each month, Colour Spotlight puts one of our clients in the hot seat, asking them three questions that dig deeper into their careers, latest ventures and future plans.
Sharna Jackson is the author of the first black British children’s detective series, High Rise Mystery. In the lead up to her appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 18, we talked to Sharna about how Luton, Sherlock, and her nine year-old son inspired her debut book.
1. Why did the genre of murder mystery appeal to you?
Sharna: My mum was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes (particularly Jeremy Brett’s portrayal) so I had early exposure to the genre. We also liked a lot of noir – I wrote a short film script called Investigating Eternity when I was 16. The twists and turns, chicanery and all-out scammery of murder mysteries are thrilling. Transposing those conventions to new contexts and types of writing, re-appropriating that Edwardian world into contemporary contexts was a fun and interesting process.
2. Did any members of your family help to inspire you?
Sharna: My nine year-old son Joseph helped me write High Rise Mystery. We transformed our living room into a kind of police investigation room with scribbled Post-it notes plastered all over the walls – and up the stairs. He was especially brilliant at collecting quotes and thinking of possible murder methods and weapons. His input helped keep the writing in touch with who was writing it for – having input from kids for me, is a vital part of writing or creating anything for children. It makes the end product better.
3. Did you have any specific role models that made you want to be a writer?
Sharna: Role models are dangerous, as people are generally disappointing. I work across culture, entertainment and publishing but there is a through line in my work which specifically driven to encourage and increase new, diverse and disengaged audiences’ participation, locally, nationally and globally. I’d say that Luton’s influence on me – the town where I grew up – was a catalyst and an inspiration to me. A much-maligned town that has a lot to celebrate.
Cracking the Case with Sharna Jackson and Robin Stevens is at Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 18 from 2-3pm. For more information and tickets, visit https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/