I’m Sarah – book lover, word worrier, and believer in silver linings.
I’ve always loved reading, but it took me a very long time to work out that I wanted to be a writer. My first career ambition, aged about six, was to be an Olympic gymnast. My enthusiasm earned me a place on my primary school gym team, but, hampered by a total lack of co-ordination and absolutely no upper body strength whatsoever, I survived about five minutes of practice before the teacher whispered that she didn’t think gymnastics was quite my thing. I slunk off to the library instead.
Libraries played a vital role in my childhood: I spent most of my time with my nose stuck in a book. I admit this was partly because it was the 1970s and the only other option was riding around aimlessly on my Raleigh Shopper (and inevitably getting my flares caught in the chain), but it was mainly because I loved losing myself in stories. The world-stopping power of books – the chance they offer to escape everything boring or scary or just plain annoying – is something I’ve always found magical. But in spite of my love of reading, writing as a career seemed far out of reach.
As I got older I sometimes thought about being a writer, but only in the same way I thought about being an astronaut or a backing singer for Wham! – not as something I might actually be able to achieve. By the end of secondary school, I’d settled on an altogether more practical option – I was quite good at Maths, so chose to study the brand-new-and-shiny-sounding Computer Science at University. My lecturers talked in hushed tones of the future, and the barely imaginable World Wide Web of Information that would connect us all. It all sounded terribly exciting …
And so it was for a while, but after twenty years of designing IT systems, I’d got a tiny bit sick of computers. By this point I’d had two sons, and reading to them had become my favourite part of every day. Long after they grew out of bedtime stories, I was still sneaking their books for myself, hooked on their world-stopping powers.
And then I got ill – or at least, more ill than I had been (I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was thirteen) – and had to give up my job. But this setback came with the best ever silver lining – for the first time in years, I had spare time and energy. I started to write, and found I couldn’t stop.
I spent the next five-and-a-half years writing three-and-a-half books. They weren’t good enough to be published, but there was no way I was going to give up. I went back to University, this time to study for Bath Spa’s MA in Writing for Young People, and finished my fourth attempt at a book while I was there. The Magpie Garden was runner-up in the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2016, and a finalist in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition 2016.
I’m now doing my best to live happily-ever-after. I write all day at my kitchen table, and sometimes forget to cook dinner.