Sarah England comes of age

Posted: December 2, 2011 in Friday Guest

When I turned 40 I changed. Not physically – although nothing improved – but something inside. There was a new urgency as I realised how unwell I was. I had headaches and neck pains and overwhelming tiredness. I couldn’t sit through another meeting or be bored by another manager. All my life I had wanted to write books – to be a paperback writer. I’d read copiously as a child and got my English O Level at 14. Was it too late?

As fate would have it, my husband was offered a job in the South West and I had the ideal opportunity to jack in my sales and marketing job with a major pharmaceutical company. Alas, I also had to jack in the hefty salary and the Beamer but – God it was wonderful! I came home on the train with no luggage – free!

The joy, however, was short lived. Convinced I was going to hit the world literary stage with a blockbuster I spent two years submitting dire tomes of utter tosh to long-suffering agents. It was then the realisation hit me – this wasn’t easy! So I did a brief correspondence course in creative writing and I started studying short stories in magazines in an effort to learn my craft. I even went to a writing conference with one of my sad tomes and had a one-to-one with an agent. She read the first few lines and said, “My God this is boring.” Crushed? I went home in tears.

Bear with me – there is a happy ending. About a year after I started writing and submitting short stories I finally got a yes! From a chap called Dan McDaid at My Weekly. I have since had over 100 short stories bought and published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies. Bridge House Publishing were the first publishing company to take my short stories into an anthology and the latest one, Mosaic, is now not only in paperback but has just gone onto Amazon Kindle at a fraction of the price. It’s a pretty classy collection with not only well known authors but some award-winning ones, too. My two stories are Adele – a glamour puss who has settled for life in a back terrace in Rotherham with a some what ordinary and quite bemused bloke. And Different Colours – a bit of a steamy piece – my first and only sex scene!

Then came a bit of a leap. After years of trying I finally made it into Woman’s Weekly fiction. My story Another Man, while causing a bit of family friction when it was published earlier this year, got there first. They have since bought seven more and the latest are now out in the current Christmas Special Issue and the Fiction Special (Issue 10) also out now. This is hugely exciting for me and I’ve really felt that I can push the boat out for them – in terms of humour and difficult subjects – ie there is no agenda except an entertaining read. I’m hoping to write a serial for them as my next major project.

The other leap forward this year was finishing my novel, Expected. This has been a mixed experience. On the one hand I decided, after being told by agent after agent that they really liked it but the women’s commercial fiction market was too difficult at the moment, to market it myself on Kindle ebooks. Good and bad news. I had to do all the editing, presentation and promotion myself  – and I knew nothing about Facebook, twitter, blogs and websites, so I had to learn the ropes – and fast. It took weeks and weeks and I’m still not doing well in terms of being known or selling the book. However, my learning curve has been extremely steep and I’m now pretty savvy when it comes to negotiating my way round the internet. I’ve also discovered Ether Books, which I wouldn’t have otherwise done, and have uploaded four short stories. One is horror – 3am and Wide Awake – which I have on good authority will scare the pants off you. The other three were published in the small press but didn’t see much daylight so Ether has offered a wider audience for Cold Melon Tart, Islands, and Rough Love. As far as I can see they seem to be doing quite well and through Ether I also have an author interview week commencing 5 December and a link to Expected.

Before I go, I would like to tell you a little about my girl, Sam Sweet, in Expected. She’s expected to do what other people want – to marry a man she doesn’t love and have his children. Sam is from a rough working class background and all she’s dreamed about is a career. But now she’s stuck. And said career is sliding away with jealous colleagues and a hateful boss. Miserable, she comfort eats and she shops – don’t we all? – thus making her situation even worse. She has to find some power – a voice! If she doesn’t she will not be free to make her own choices in life. I hope I’ve created a gutsy, funny heroine who finds her own way, and I hope it’s a fast and furious read that the reader will enjoy.

My next projects are the serial for Woman’s Weekly and a psychological thriller that’s been spinning around in my head for a while. With a background in nursing and pharmaceuticals, a lot of my stories inevitably revolve around illness or mental problems. If you aren’t well then the world is a whole different game and that fascinates me. I always want to write for ordinary people – for everyone. I just need to get my books out there along with my stories and hopefully that will happen. One day…

***

Read Sarah’s blog here.

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Comments
  1. D lane says:

    I have read many of Sarah’s short stories and i have to say they are all beautifully written and thought provoking… wonderfully descriptive and some keep you guesing until the end . So far my favourites have been 3 am and wide awake and rough love , both fantastic reads . 3 am scared me so much i had to sleep with a light on !!! Sarah’s book expected is funny and also just a little sad , again a page turner and one that should be published in paper back … who are these agents ?!!! Keep up the good work Sarah, i can’t wait for the next book a thriller … Please … someone needs to take notice of this womans talent !!!

    • Sarah England says:

      Thank you ever so much! My aim is to write books and stories that people want to read – that entertain – and I’m so glad I did that even if it did scare you witless! And thank you also for your hugely encouraging remarks! They are so very much appreciated!

  2. I’d love to read your books Sarah. I must look them up. Oh and you’ve dome a fabulous job with this site.

  3. Stace says:

    I’m blown away that any professional in any workplace would say such a thing about another person’s work. Good on you, Sarah, for living your dream.

    • Sarah England says:

      Hi Stace – thank you so much for taking the time to leave such lovely comments. Susan has done a fabulous job with the website and it was lovely to be her guest for the week. I’m just hoping one or two will check out ‘Expected’ as a result. Thank you and all good wishes, Sarah England x

  4. valerie patricia beech says:

    Hi Sarah, You’ve done so well. The talent is obvious–always that little bit different, always immediate and very much the modern woman—-not girlie but emotionally felt experience!
    What a learning curve of writing and computer skills and all self taught, which leads me to the thing about you that I most admire, your single -minded determination. I think you’ve moved along at a pace from an insubstantial dream thro’ unshaped story writing to a finely honed skill, still retaining your individual style and approach. You deserve success. I think Einstein said something about the ratio of brilliance to hard-work—the latter being 95% of success. Good Luck. Tricia.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Hard work – you are right there! And not allowing others to crush you! I only wish people would actually buy Expected – that doesn’t seem to be happening and makes me kind of sad. I need your luck – thank you, Tricia! x

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