Birthday parties were sensational — her father would perform brilliantly as a Chinese magician or a clown or invent hilarious games and treasure hunts. From him she learned that working hard brought many rewards, especially self-respect.
Sara won a rare scholarship to a public school, but university would have stretched the budget too far, so she left school at 16 and took a secretarial course. Married at 21, she had a son by the age of 22 and another three years later. She ran an all-day playgroup and was a seaside landlady at the same time, catering for up to 11 people — bed, breakfast, and evening meal.
Finally she realised that she and her husband were incompatible! Divorce lifted a weight from her shoulders. A new life opened up with an offer of a teacher training place. From being rendered nervous, uncertain, and cabbagelike by her dominating ex-husband, she soon became confident and outgoing again. During her degree course she met her present husband, a kind, thoughtful, attentive man who is her friend and soul mate. She loved teaching in Sussex but after 12 years she became frustrated and dissatisfied with new rules and regulations, which she felt turned her into a drudge.
Her switch into writing came about in a peculiar way. Richie, her elder son, had always been nuts about natural history and had a huge collection of animal skulls. At the age of 15 he decided he'd write an information book about collecting. Heinemann and Pan, prestigious publishers, eagerly fell on the book and when it was published it won the famous Times Information Book Award. Interviews, television spots, and magazine articles followed. Encouraged by his success, she thought she could write, too, and had several information books for children published.
Then she saw Charlotte Lamb being wined and dined by Mills & Boon on a television program and decided she could do Charlotte's job! But she'd rarely read fiction before, so she bought 20 books, analysed them carefully, then wrote one of her own. Amazingly, it was accepted and she began writing full time.
Sara and her husband moved to a small country estate in Cornwall, which was a paradise. Her sons visited often — Richie brought his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters; Simon was always rushing in after some danger-filled action in Alaska or Hawaii, protecting the environment with Greenpeace. Sara qualified as a homeopath, and cared for the health of her family and friends.
But paradise is always fleeting. Sara's husband became seriously ill and it was clear that they had to move somewhere less demanding on their time and effort. After a nightmare year of worrying about him, nursing, and watching him like a hawk, she was relieved when they'd sold the estate and moved back to Sussex.
Their current house is large and thatched and sits in the pretty rolling downs with wonderful walks and views all around. They live closer to the boys (men!) and see them often. Richie and Heidi's family is growing. Simon has a son and a new, dangerous, passion — flinging himself off mountains (paragliding). The three hills nearby frequently entice him down. She adores seeing her family (her mother, and her mother-in-law, too) around the table at Christmas. Sara feels fortunate that although she's had tough times and has sometimes been desperately unhappy, she is now surrounded by love and feels she can weather any storm to come.