The Muse and Beyond: A Q&A with Sara Stockbridge

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I’ve just finished reading Cross My Palm, a fascinating novel set in 1860s London that tells the tale of a fortune-telling gypsy named Rose, who offers her services among ladies in high society and with two of them, sees a terrible fate awaiting. It’s a story filled with suspense, love, crime and an unexpected twist. I was hooked after the first chapter and didn’t put the book down until I’d consumed it all.

The author of Cross My Palm is Sara Stockbridge, known to all in the fashion industry as the 80s supermodel and muse to Dame Vivienne Westwood. She’s appeared in many editorials and has most famously been photographed by the doyen of British fashion photography Nick Knight for the cover of i-D.

I met Sara Stockbridge on the set of a film called Inconceivable in which she was performing and I was working as an assistant to the talented stylist and costume designer Sally O’Sullivan. I remember (and blush at the recollection) how I passionately lectured Sara on details of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles – Sara appeared in the film Interview with the Vampire, having had her head cut off by Brad Pitt. Sara struck me as a very strong, independent woman who also happens to be so very down to earth. I call her a Chameleon, because she has an incredible ability to transform and I don’t mean with regard to physical appearance but her ability to transform from a model, to an actress, an incredible writer and a passionate musician.

For that reason and so much more, Sara is one of my idols and I feel very privileged, that she agreed to an interview, answering all the questions that I always wanted to ask her. Sara is also perhaps the ultimate muse and this is why she gets pride of place as my first blog interviewee.

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Growing up, who were your muses and why?

Marilyn Monroe! I had her on my bedroom wall. I still love her, doesn’t everybody? And Sid Vicious, he looked so good in the My Way outfit in The Great Rock’n’roll Swindle. And Chrissie Hinde, I loved her songs and her voice.

Marilyn Monroe

What was your impression of Vivienne Westwood on meeting her for the first time?

I know it sounds unlikely, but I honestly don’t remember meeting Vivienne for the first time. I was probably starstruck. She was this almost fantastical figure to me.

When did it first occur to you, that you had become Vivienne Westwood’s muse and how did it make you feel to know that?

It didn’t really occur to me that I had become her ‘muse’. That’s something other people have decided. We never thought of that. I felt very lucky to be working with her and to know her.

Photo right copyright Kim Knott

What’s the greatest compliment you think that one woman could pay to another?

It depends on the woman. It ‘s nice to be told you’re good at what you do.

You’ve said that you wanted to become an actress from when you were eight, what was it about acting that got your interest and are there any great performances that you wish could have been yours?

I decided I wanted to be an actress at a school trip to see Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at the NT. It was the storytelling that interested me, the creation of this illusion that took you into another world. As for other people’s performances, I don’t covet any of them! When I was little I wanted to be like Marilyn. Now I would just like to be in something great. I mean be a part of something really important, like Apocalypse Now. Imagine the thrill of that!

Sara Stockbridge in the Interview with the Vampire

One of your favourite authors is Dickens, both your novels Grace Hammer and Cross My Palm are set in Victorian London, what fascinates you most about that period of time and place?

Victorian London is still here! The train lines, the houses, the pubs, the markets. You don’t have to look hard. I love that.

Grace Hammer by Sara Stockbridge

 

After reading Cross My Palm I was reminded of a quote by Steven King, “I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose”. Do you agree with my analogy or do you have a different method of drawing your characters?

Characters just pop out of my head when I’m writing. It sounds corny but they really do seem to be living somewhere in the ether already.

You recently started a band called ROOSTER, which is described as experimental rock, who are your biggest musical influences?

My biggest musical influences are David Bowie, David Bowie and David Bowie. And whatever I’m listening to this week. Which this week is The Velvet Underground.

Where do you see ROOSTER being in two years time?

Who knows? We’ll just have to see.

One of my favourite quote of all time is by Woody Allen “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying.” What do you want to be remembered for? Do you intend to live forever and is there a quote, which you’re particularly fond of?

I do want to be remembered for something good. I’d like someone to pick my book off a shelf in two hundred years and enjoy it. I guess that’s why I wrote one in the first place, to try and have a little bit of immortality..

Cros my Palm by Sara Stockbridge. Published by Chatto & Windus.

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