Monday, January 27, 2014



1         Please tell us a little bit about your background.

A:    I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk - in the south East of England. I have lived and worked in various counties of England during my adult life - however I am a born and bred country girl at heart. I love the outdoors, walking, gardening, camping with my family and friends and generally having adventures and discovering new places and experiences.

2                    Have you always wanted to be an author or what other career were you considering when younger?

A:    I have always enjoyed writing and I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. My journals over the years have been a combination of daily to do lists, brainstorming solutions to everyday issues and in challenging times, they are a self-help coaching tool to vent my feelings and frustrations in private. However, as a child I wanted to be a nurse, therefore I went straight from school to college, to gain the entry qualifications needed to complete my three year Registered General Nurse training in Essex in 1986. Since then I have worked in almost all fields of nursing, and healthcare, in both acute care and management positions. My nursing qualifications and experience have enabled me to travel to places in the world I never dreamt possible in my youth.

3                    You have certainly done your share of living internationally.  How did you feel, going from climate of the UK out to the extremes of the Australian outback?

A:       As a child I hated the cold weather - I longed for the summers, so it was no surprise that in adulthood I preferred to holiday in Spain, France, the Maldives, Caribbean, etc. However, no amount of foreign travel prepares you for living and working in the hot, dry climate of Alice Springs and the hot, humid weather in outback Queensland. Having said that, I am currently missing the heat, as we are in mid-winter here in France.

4                    You are currently living in France.  Are you working at all or concentrating on your writing?

A:         I feel very blessed at the moment to be writing full time. After writing and publishing my first book last year, I am now editing the sequel, whilst also writing for blogs, internet forums and expat magazines; I suppose writing now qualifies as my full time job, and I love it.

5                    While you were living and working in Alice Springs, did you visit any stations?

A:        We visited a station near to Alice Springs - and I was totally in awe of the huge expanse they cover and the complexities faced by people who work there. My youngest daughter Jaime however, lived and worked on an outback ranch for ten days during a work experience school project. She became competent in bare back riding of cows and horses, whilst taking part in ranch duties. In addition to this the team slept in the company of visiting dingoes under shade cloth at night, something that filled me with fear as she recounted the night-time adventures to me on her return.

6             Did you have anything to do with the RFDS through your nursing?

A:       Yes, the RFDS provide an essential service in Alice Springs and they retrieve and return many patients to the remote outback communities. As new overseas nurses, we were all offered the opportunity to spend a day as an observer with them, which was an awesome experience. I have the greatest respect for the depth of knowledge and expertise they require to operate in extremely testing environments.

7            What has the reaction to your book been like?

A:         I have been overwhelmed by the response to be honest. In part, writing the book was cathartic exercise for me and I did not intend to publish it. However, a friend of mine suggested that I put in onto a site called 'Authonomy' - the response was amazing. Many people read and commented on it and asked when it would be published. I never thought so many people would be interested in our experiences. This wave of interest from readers and authors alike, gave me the confidence to self-publish and made me believe that my writing dream could become a reality.

8             Have you done any media interviews?

A:       Yes, I have recently been featured in the Toowoomba Chronicle, due to the local interest and ongoing issues, which still affect the flood victims and the ongoing class action. I am also being featured in some Cornish newspapers over the next week after completing the interviews yesterday. I think because so many areas of UK and Australia are touched in some way by my story, it gives it a local interest edge from a variety of angles.

9            Have you ever been bullied?

A:         When I was at school, I was the token ‘fat’ child in the class and although at the time I never realised I was being bullied, I actually was. When my children went through their schooling, bullying was much more high profile and behaviours which I had accepted in my youth, were now construed as bullying and unacceptable, and rightly so. My youngest daughter Jaime has dyslexia and is dysnumeric, this led to her being bullied when she attended private school in Alice Springs. We were amazed and delighted at the proactive approach the school and support services took as they dealt with the short, medium and long-term issues associated with her experiences.

10                Whether you have been bullied or not, do you feel that the governments and schools around the world are doing enough to try to combat this problem?

A:      All of my children have completed their high schooling now and there is much more in place in the form of procedures for reporting and awareness in teaching staff for recognising bullying within school. However, I think the bigger issues now lay in bullying via social media, which is harder for schools, etc., to control. Zero tolerance of bullying in any environment, be it in work or school is needed and I believe the solutions will be ever evolving to meet the forms that bullying takes as our intolerance of it increases.

11                 What further do you feel the above could do to either try to decrease bullying hugely or eliminate it altogether?

A:       I think that making it socially unacceptable in any form, at any age and  in any environment is the way to go. How we achieve this I believe will be small steps and regular doses of education, not just in schools, but also in society in general.

12                On a personal level, is there anything you would like to do to help with this fight? 

A:        I belong to several parenting groups that listen - and talk to - people affected by this and other unacceptable practices. Giving people a voice, a way of attracting help, is one way we can all help on a grass roots level.

13                 You are in the middle of the sequel to ‘Glass Half-Full’?  Please tell us something about that.

A:        I am currently editing the sequel, which is called ‘Two Dogs, Our Bags and No Idea, Our Year in Charantes’  which follows our arrival in France. My readers can pick up with our escapades as we try to leave the aftermath of the floods behind us and start again from scratch. We have a new home, which needs a total renovation, learning a new language and integrating into a rural community.  As usual, it is an honest and gritty reflection of family life with laughter, tears and new memories being made.

14          Are you published traditionally or self?

A:      'Glass Half Full', our Australian adventure is self-published; like I said I never dreamt that I would have such a widespread, geographically and demographically diverse audience for this book, or that it would ever attract a traditional publisher. However I appear to wrong on a few levels there; I have had some interest regarding the sequel and a possible prequel package, for now I am enjoying the self-published freedom - but hey, watch this space.

15          What is on the agenda for 2014?

A:        I am also working on a series of self-help books based on a positive approach to dealing with life’s challenging situations.

16         Do you have a message you would like to share with the world?

A:        Never give up on your dreams; if you can conceive it, you can achieve it. I keep this on my desk and in my kitchen and it is the mantra by which I now live my life.

17          Is there anything further you would like to add?

A:         Thank you for inviting me to feature on your blog and many best wishes for 2014.



  1. Sarah Jane Butfield and her husband are truly inspirational, what they have endured and survived is incredible. Her book "Glass Half Full tells the adventure of their emigration to Oz, in full techni-colour, warts-and-all detail, I defy anyone not to be touched by this eloquent memoir.