Interview: Sarah Jane Butfield

The Bookie Monster Interviews Sarah Jane Butfield, author of Glass Half Full.

Author Sarah Jane Butfield was born in Ipswich, and raised in rural Suffolk, England.

Fulfilling her childhood dream and becoming a nurse, was just the start of her amazing journey. Her nursing and teaching qualifications would take her around the world, enabling her to work in all fields of nursing, education and management. However, after 27 years as nurse, wife and mother of four children and three step-children, Sarah Jane has now achieved another long held ambition,that of becoming a published author.

Tell us a little about yourself, your work and how you got into writing.

After 27 years as a nurse working in a variety of healthcare roles and environments I decided to take the opportunity for change when Mother Nature tipped my world upside down and I had to start again. If you have to start, again, it makes sense to start with a new career and my writing is now that new career. I have always loved writing but combining being a wife, and mother of four children and three stepchildren with full time nursing career, means dreams of a creative nature take a back seat.

Glass Half Full: Our Australian adventure is my first book, but I am also a published freelance magazine journalist and blogger, in the healthcare and writing arenas. The sequel, 'Two dogs, our bags and no idea; our year in Charantes,' will be published in 2014.
What five words best describe you?

Positive, honest, family-focused, determined and funny.

Do you have a most embarrassing moment? Do tell!

Well at our new house, we have a brook that run along the bottom of the garden. Over the long, hot summer, I loved to go, sit and dangle my feet in the very cold water at the end of day. I wondered why my French neighbours would stand with their arms folded across their chests looking at me, but never saying anything to me. As I don’t understand French I wouldn’t have understood anyway. One day I was telling an expat friend about my evening pastime and about the neighbours and she said the neighbour’s husband died in the brook and nobody goes in or draws water from it now. Imagine my horror when I thought about the previous evening when I had even taken a glass of red wine with me to sit and soak my feet. When I next saw the neighbour I couldn’t look at her, I have totally disrespected her husband’s memory for sure.

Are there any critiques in particular that you just can’t seem to shake?

I suppose the hardest are those that are not constructive or that are blatantly not genuine.

If you were to create a writing soundtrack, what artists would be on it?

The sound track for Glass Half full, would feature, Kings of Leon, Mumford and sons, Jordin Sparks, Coldplay and Embrace.

Do you laugh at your own jokes as you write them?

Yes, as my published work to date is non fiction I am writing about my own experiences. However, sometimes when I read it back I find myself laughing at my own misfortune, as if it was someone it happened to. I also find myself smiling at heart warming and funny anecdotes as I write them, my family think I am crazy, they could be right. 

Do you write full time or do you keep a day job?

I am very fortunate to be able to write full time at the moment, and long may it continue. Although some of that time does include writing, other than in my books; I do guest blogging, ghost blogging and online forum work.

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?

I was asked what i like about steampunk. As I had no idea what it was, I took an educated guess on something to do with punk music, which I now know was totally off the mark. It gave them a good laugh at my expense though.

When did you decide to make a career of writing?

In 2011 when we lost the roots to our Australian adventure during the Brisbane floods. It was time to make a new start.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I do, and its great. I love getting emails and comments, I feel like I make a new friend every time I get one. I have been totally overwhelmed by how many people can relate to the various life events we encountered in relatively short space of time and the support I am able to provide to people going through those hard times now.

What was your favorite moment when writing your book?

The day my paperback copy arrived in the post, I cried when I opened it. It suddenly made the whole process real.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The first book took nine months, however the sequel looks set to be ready in a six month time frame. I learned a lot first time round, which helps. The self help guides take about 6-8 weeks each to complete.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to read and gardening is my guilty pleasure.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Its about my life so its all based on me.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

Write as if no one will ever read it, that way your write with pure, unadulterated emotion from the heart. It is very true.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what you know and don't worry about rankings, life is too short.

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?

What can I get you?

Who are you reading right now?

I am reading James Patterson, 'I, Micheal Bennett.' and 'The Sister' by Max China.

OK, so, what’s next, do you already have a new project in the works?

In addition to my non-fiction books, I am currently working on a series of self-help books for people facing challenging life events and tough family situations, based on her real life experience of divorce, bereavement, child custody issues, migration, parenting, etc.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Not so much writers block but procrastination. The cure is to turn off the internet, then the writing just flows without interruption.

What tools have you found most successful in advertising/marketing yourself and your books?

Author interviews, of course are a great way of branding and establishing yourself and your writing. Having a social media presence alongside that is essential and targeting potential readers with blog posts about topical issues related to the content of the books.

Did any specific author(s) motivate you to begin writing?

I admire the work of Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist with a talent for writing which incorporates her area of expertise. I loved Left Neglected and Love Anthony and I have Still Alice yet to read.

What kinds of challenges did you face when you were writing the series?

Nigel Branson, because he is inspirational.
The Dalai Larma, for his cultural motivation and Nigel Harmen for some eye candy.

In ten words or less:
·        Biggest fear?
o   Being under water
·        Favorite TV Show?
o   Eastenders
·        Happiest moment in your life to date?
o   My wedding day, third time lucky!!
·        If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?
o   To be in charge of the keys to the wine store
·        If you were a Star Trek® character, which one would it be? Why?
o   Dr Spock
·        If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
o   Wonder woman - I love that costume
·        If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?
o   A hot curry and garlic naan bread
·        If you could meet anybody in history, past or present, who would it be?
o   God
·        How would your friends describe you in 3 words?
o   They would say I talk alot, listen only when it's interesting and I love wine
·        Last thing you dressed up as for Halloween?
o   Catwoman
·        Oreo’s…Bite into the entire cookie or deconstruct it?
o   deconstruct the only way for maximum enjoyment
·        Quirk that annoys your spouse/friends?
o   Talking over TV programs and finishing their sentences when they pause
·        What is one thing that you can’t live without?
o   My family
·        What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
o   Pulled a tree down with my car, not realising it would fall on top of the car
·        What is your biggest pet peeve?
o   people who dont know how lucky they are, complaining about trivia
·        Who is the most famous person you have met?
o   The Queen
·        Worst job ever?
o   Chambermaid
·        Would you rather be homeless for a year or be in jail for a year?
o   In jail, you get fed, a bed and education

Where can readers stalk you?