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A Frome Woman, Through and Through
Many people dream of being taken on by an agent, but Sarah found the experience terrifying because she had to relinquish so much control. She was afraid she would end up with a ‘chic-lit’ cover at odds with the content of the novel, but in the end she was more than satisfied with the result.
Frome gave Sarah Scholefield both the environment and the inspiration to write her first novel, Redferne Lane. She is a Frome woman through and through: born here, educated here, and bringing up her family here. In fact it was the time spent daily walking her children to and from school through Rodden Meadow that gave her the both the idea and the time to develop her characters.
Although Sarah had always wanted to write, it wasn’t the path she first chose when leaving Frome College. She took a degree in molecular biology at UWE and was offered a job at Kew Gardens. However, ‘The idea of a life spent sitting in a lab all day just crushed my soul,’ she says; so she turned it down. After doing some ‘holding jobs’ she began to teach in a Bristol secondary school. But when she married and had her first son, she found it difficult to continue.
She took up writing in 2004 helped, like so many of us, by attending Alison Clink’s evening classes on Creative Writing. Short stories sustained her literary output through the birth of her two younger children until, in 2013, she joined the Creative Writing MA course at Bath Spa University. Beginning her first novel was part of the course, and it was the initial chapter of Redferne Lane, sent out to various agents by the university as part of the course, which attracted the attention of David Haviland. David is part of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency and he arranged for Thistle Publishing to take her on as a debut novelist.
Sarah had embarked on the MA because she knew her writing needed to be polished. She wanted it to be ‘the best possible’, and admits she had to change bits of the book. ‘It was an unwieldy beast at first,’ she says.
Sarah wanted Redferne Lane to be ‘the best possible’, and admits she had to change bits of the book. ‘It was an unwieldy beast at first,’ she says.
Finding support among fellow writers is important, she feels. 'Being a part of FWC has made me feel part of something important. While pursuing something that means I spend a lot of time in my own head it's fantastic to know there are some like minded individuals just exactly the same thing.
Sarah now fits in her writing with two part-time jobs and her family (two sons, aged 20 and 13, and a daughter aged 10). In a good week she manages a couple of hours on her next novel fairly often. She gets moral support from her family (her daughter thinks having a published author for a mother is ‘the best thing ever’) and she still meets regularly with her MA group from Bath Spa for critical literary support.
Redferne Lane is about a young widow, Grace, who begins a relationship with her dead husband’s brother. It had two strings, one dealing with events in the past, the other with present day issues.