How did Sarah come to write?!

Walking along the Kennet and Avon canal in high summer 2016 with the sun shining down on my bare shoulders, my thoughts were drawn away from the beauty of the countryside; the waterway teaming with birdlife, insect life, animal life to other matters. I was aware of all these things as I strolled along, but inside, my head and heart were churning. Should I give up the job I had loved for 35 years? Could I leave those with whom I had worked at such short notice? Or indeed, could I continue any longer?

As I walked, the seed of a story came to me, born from my recent disillusionment. It wasn’t an easy subject, but the seed planted itself in my mind and started to grow. It wouldn’t disappear and as I continued along the grassy pathway, I dictated those first ideas into my phone. I couldn’t risk losing it, but by then it wouldn’t let me go. It had me hooked and it continued to flourish and grow until Liar Liar came to fruition.
The novel is fictional, but deals with the reality that police officers are only human. The vast majority I have worked with are the most hard-working, enthusiastic, ethical individuals you could hope to meet; they strive to do the right thing, despite the political nature of the current job and how society has changed. Just as in any occupation, however, there is the odd bad apple and I had discovered that I didn’t deal with these as well as I’d have liked. 

Coming to terms with my uncertainty enabled me to make the decision that has changed my life and one that I have not regretted for one minute. I had been given a chance by Aria to fulfil my passion and at the same time, things had changed for me in the profession I’d strived so hard for throughout my adult life.  

I love writing. Sometimes it comes easily but at other times I can sit for hours and barely write a word. My books are not just about crime, they are about the persons mired within its clutches and those who fight against it. My characters are eclectic and real, based on people I have worked with, those I have arrested and the victims with whom I have sympathised. 

People have often asked me how I can write about murder so easily. I am actually a very contented, happy person, but I have spent my working life dealing with crime. It was second nature to arrive home thinking about what I had dealt with and I could speak about stabbings, drug abusers, death and gang warfare as easily as a teacher talks of their pupils, or a doctor their patients, or an accountant their spreadsheets.    

Writing allows me to put words to the things I have witnessed. I know it is clichéd but I have seen the best and the worst, the good and the bad, the winners and the losers. It may sound depressing to others, but those who work in the emergency services gain strength in working as a team, and I have worked in some of the best. Charlie, Hunter and their team reflect my experience and I enjoy writing about the challenges they face. 

As for challenges – I love them, so next year will see me co-ordinating wedding outfits as mother-of-the-bride, keeping track of my three beautiful daughters as their lives develop, writing another book or two and attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with my partner and a few family members. Determination will get me to the top; as long as the effects of altitude do not stop me. When I look out from the summit as the sun rises I will think of the family and friends that I have lost and the ones that still surround me with their love and encouragement. I will also think of Charlie Stafford, Hunter and the team that have allowed me the chance to follow my dreams. I might not be able to lift a glass of champagne at that moment but I’ll be sure to swig some water, and drink a toast to them all. 

I have learnt this year that in times of adversity you truly know the friends and family who are leading the way, walking beside you or who are right behind you, prodding you with sharpened walking poles to achieve greater and more challenging things. I hope to make them proud.

Sarah x