Sunday, June 01, 2014

Author Interview: Sarah Jane Butfield: Our Australian adventure: Her Debut Travel Memoir

Author Sarah Jane Butfield fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse, and has now achieved another long held ambition, that of becoming a published author.

Glass Half Full: Our Australian adventure is her debut travel memoir, but she is also a published freelance magazine journalist and blogger, in the healthcare and writing arenas. The sequel, Two dogs and a suitcase: Clueless in Charente, will be published in 2014.

Your real name and pen name?

I write under my real name for my non fiction work, but will be using my pen name, Shontae Stevens, for my romantic fiction novel due out in early 2015.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

My best childhood memories are from family holidays caravanning in North Wales with my parents and my sisters. I always enjoyed weekends and school holidays at my grandmother's house, there were many adventures to be had, with tree houses and hideaways to be built in the various trees and outbuildings. Great times :)

About your education

I attended primary school in a small village called Stonham Aspal in Suffolk and then went to High School in nearby Debenham.
kings canyon 
What career did you plan during your education days

Whilst at school I didn't have any exact career plans, I thought I would probably end up working in Woolworths. However in my final year at high school I attended a careers day and the pre nursing course caught my eye. The rest as they say is history.

What languages you can speak and write?

I have never had a natural flair for languages and despite living in France that trend hasn't improved with age.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

My family are my biggest inspiration. I was a single mother for many years and my life revolved around being there in every way for them. Now I am happily married my husband and my children are still the motivation to see more, do more and be the best that I can be. Not just for myself, but for them.

What hurts you most in this world?

It hurts me that child abuse still exists in modern society.

with family
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

In my twenties the biggest challenge I faced was the loss of my mother. I still do not know, over twenty years later, if I have fully dealt with it. Obviously the challenges we faced in Australia after the floods had a huge impact on our lives but the most challenging issue which I still battle on a daily basis is my driving anxiety after a road rage car accident in 2010. I have had counselling, used meditation and I am soon going to try hypnotherapy to control the now irrational fear I have of traffic noise and car travel in general. I need to overcome this for the sanity of my family who do not enjoy having me as a passenger anymore.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead
personality, who would it be and why?

I would love to live a day as my father, as I never knew him and I would love the opportunity to know something about him and his life.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I used to be a chick lit/romantic fiction fan reading little else, however since developing my writing career and networking with authors from a variety of genres, I am now a huge fan of crime thrillers and memoirs.
sarah in france
When did you start writing?

I have always loved writing and for the most part  it has been confined to my journals. However, after the Brisbane floods and losing our home we had to make life-changing decisions, and that became the catalyst to moving my writing to the next level. Sitting in a caravan in Queensland after the floods contemplating our future, my husband Nigel, said, "If you want to be a writer you need to just do it. Do something about it, learn how to write or just write." So I did.

What is the purpose of your writing?

I genuinely feel that what really counts is what is in your heart, how you feel and the love of the people around you. I endeavour to portray honesty and hope in all of my writing.

Which of your work has been published so far?

My published work thus far is Glass Half Full: Our Australian adventure.

Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

Is the glass half empty or half full? Ironically, sometimes life influences our view, and alters our perception. Life changing events, up to 1997, almost destroyed me. At my lowest point, and just in time, I met Nigel. He helped me to discover how a positive attitude can change everything. I decided not to squander anymore of my time or energy on undeserving people. This new positive approach helps me to perceive my glass as half full, with my aim being to achieve a happy and healthy life for my family. Together, we live life to the full. In 2008 and with good times ahead of us, my glass was half full. As a family, we made the biggest and most difficult decision of our lives; part of our family would immigrate to Australia. We lived the Australian dream; embracing the adventure until adversity came to test us. A sequence of life changing events including, a close family bereavement, PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,) following a road rage car accident and the shock of losing the roots to our Australian adventure as a result of the Brisbane floods tested us on many levels. Glass Half Full follows our journey into happy, sad and challenging times. Find out, what it takes to survive, when the odds are stacked against you. Do you fight back, and if so at what cost physically and emotionally? Could we maintain our positivity and family values against the odds? This is our story.

What are your forthcoming writings?

The sequel to Glass Half full is due for publication within the next few weeks. It is titled - Two dogs and a suitcase: Clueless in Charente.

What are your future plans?

I have two romantic fiction novels in first draft format one of which I hope to publish in early 2015. In addition I am currently working on a series of self help books for people facing challenging life events and tough family situations, based on my real life experiences of divorce, bereavement, child custody issues, migration, parenting. 

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

Factual accuracy
Grammar and punctuation
Connecting with my readers

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

I think all fiction writing draws on some elements or aspects of a person real life, even it comes in the form of relating images and characters in dreams into YA characters.

Your dream destination on Earth?

The Maldives, I have been twice but would gladly go again and again.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.

I was born in Ipswich, and raised in rural Suffolk, England. I have lived in three states in Australia and in France. I enjoy air travel and we have visited various parts of Spain, the Maldives and the Caribbean.

What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I love exploring the culture and the food.

Your favorite time of the day?

I love the early morning for writing,  but I enjoy my evening time catching up with my family, either face to face, on Skype or on the telephone.

Your zodiac/ sun sign?

I am a taurus not sure what sun sign I am.

Your favorite color and why?

I have always been drawn to and love the colour purple I don't know if that has any significance but I find it calming.

Your favorite book and why?
My favourite book is Left neglected by Lisa Genova. This book touched me so much on first reading I have since read it twice more. I felt a connection with the lead character and the attention to details throughout is exquisite.

Your favorite celebrity and why?

I am not good on celebrities, but I do admire Davina McCall’s charity work.

Your favorite food?


Some quickies:
Sun or Moon, - Sun
Laughter or Smile,- Smile
Morning or Evening, Evening
Coffee or Tea, Coffee
Mountain or Sea, Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive, Short
Silence or Conversation, Silence
Water or Fire, Fire
Air or Earth, Earth
Mars or Jupiter, Jupiter
Tulip or Rose, Rose
Red or Blue, Blue
Left or Right, Right
Glance or Stare Glance

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote;

“Whatever you believe, and however, each of us deals with these events in our lives, one thing is for certain the truism, time is a great healer, is of no consolation at that moment of intense, all-consuming grief.”

The last line of your autobiography would be…

Never hold back or give up on your dreams.

Twitter handle: @SarahJanewrites

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