An Interview with Sallyann
By Sali Mustafic
Sallyann at Lyme Regis Seafront
|I had the priviledge of meeting one of our most inspirational authors recently.
Sallyann Sheridan writes novels and self-help books as well as running courses in the UK and Europe. Sallyann's recent novel If Wishes Were Horses is set in and around Lyme Regis, Beer and Honiton. I enjoyed it so much that I read it in a single weekend; but it's not just one of those books you can't put down because you want to know what happens next; it's surprising and thought provoking; exploring ideas about why people act the way they do and how easy it can be to misjudge a situation.
I was particularly keen to meet Sallyann because whenever our paths have crossed at writing events I have been struck by her optimism and enthusiasm for life in the face of what most of us would consider significant difficulties.
if you lived most of your life in a wheelchair and needed someone with you pretty much all day, every day, would you fill your life with challenges such as travelling to India alone, running creativity workshops or writing a novel? Sallyann has done all this and more.
She says "you don't need to be a writer to experience the magic that comes from writng things down". Our conversation revolved around a rather philosophical idea, that it is our way of being in the world that makes the difference rather than what we can or cannot do.
She speaks of her body as being like a vehicle or an overcoat, saying "it's not who I am, it just happens to be what I turned up in". She lives in it but it is not her. Of her spine she says "it is a miracle that it holds me up at all". I was intrigued and asked where she gets her inspiration.
It seems that everything inpires Sallyann: House names suggest stories; when a sniff of oxygen in A&E promted thoughts of her spine and the miracle of it holding her up, she wrote a poem to it; she practices seeing every day as a new opportunity accepting what is with gratitude.
Sallyann encourages people to give creativity a go and spending an afternoon with her gave me a huge boost of energy and optimism. She suggests that spendimng a little time writing, painting, singing - or any other creative activity allows us to bypass thinking about things we miss, who we might wish to be, what could be different, and engage instead with curiosity in the exploration of possibilities. In this way it becomes possible to think, feel and view life more positively, let go of the past, and create a compelling future.
Look out Sallyann's Residential Writing Courses, Creative Writing Days and Theraputic Writing Days in the UK and Europe and don't be surprised if you meet me there too!
author interview with
| Sallyann's debut novel If Wishes Were
received great reviews and a nomination for
a Guardian Literary Award. As well as novels, Sallyann writes non-fiction and
teaches her literary craft to would-be writers across Europe and further afield. Anyone who
meets Sallyann is struck by her cheerfulness and she has always been unstinting with
her professional advice. I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed
for Devon Link...
Did you always want to write?
Not consciously. I have always been an avid reader and as I grew older I realised writing was something I was quite good at. I began to look at the craft of writing in the hope that I could become a better writer.
How old were you when you started to write?
I produced my first book around the age of eight or nine. At 17 I began to write sales letters for a company and found I had a flair for writing. Later I became a freelance copywriter and non-fiction author before turning my skills to fiction.
Do you think you would have been a writer were you not disabled?
Yes. It's difficult to say but I am so inspired by words and books that I can't think of doing anything else.
I've always been struck by your positive outlook; to what do you attribute that?
I feel I have always been good at acknowledging what is. There is no point kicking against things you can't change.
I don't see
myself as having a disability - my body is just the vehicle I turned up in and
I make the best use of what I've been given.
| go would stop me from doing anything. When I
went to India alone for a month, I had no idea how I would wash my hair,
bathe my feet or who was going to help me around. But despite quite a few
'Oh my goodness what have I done?' moments, the joy of that trip will stay
with me forever. Without wishing to minimise the amount of thought anyone
with a physical challenge needs to consider, the more you do something,
the better you become at it. I always mix a degree of organisation with
a huge amount of trust. Uncertainty often fuels the joy of life.
Have you started another novel yet? If so when can we look forward to seeing it in the shops?
I've just started writing my next novel and aim to have it finished in early spring. I am also working on other non-fiction projects including re-releasing my audio relaxation programme as a download from my website plus an E-book to accompany it.
How long does it take to write a novel and how much time do you spend each day working on it?
The actual writing doesn't take me too long, as its conception, outline and some of the plotting I do in my head beforehand. If Wishes Were Horses took me a couple of years from conception to completion but I was working on other projects at the same time. When I write, I tend to become so involved that everything else takes second place. It's not the getting started that's difficult; it's the knowledge that once I start everything and everyone else falls to the wayside!
Thank you Sallyann, I thoroughly enjoyed If Wishes Were Horses and look forward to reading your next book.
Copyright Sallyann Sheridan