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13 November 2014

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You are in: Devon > People > Your stories > Sarah's story

Sarah Turton

Sarah Turton

Sarah's story

Seven years after being diagnosed with dyslexia, Sarah Turton from Plymouth has just published her first book.

Ever since she was a little girl, Sarah Turton has wanted to write books.

But all her life, Sarah, from Plymouth, has had difficulty putting her thoughts into words. In fact, writing anything at all was hard work.

Then, in 2001, at the age of 32, she was diagnosed as dyslexic, and all of a sudden everything made sense.

But rather than hold her back, the diagnosis made Sarah all the more determined to do what she's always wanted to do.

Sarah has just published her first book, Beyond the Lemon Tree, which she describes as "my attempt to describe the world as I see it."

The book comprises short passages and poems, some of which Sarah first wrote in a daily diary in 2004.

Sarah's Lemon Tree drawing

Sarah's drawing of the lemon tree on the cover

"It's chronological," said Sarah. "So you can follow it as a story.

"It starts with a woman in a caravan in Mousehole in  2004 - that's me - thinking who am I and what am I going to do. I felt really out of place.

"This book is my reality. Everyone has their own reality, and this is mine.

"Lots of people laugh when they read it, so they find it funny which I didn't intend - but I don't mind. I think the book is quite inspirational."

Sarah was always bright at school, but struggled with the structure of schoolwork.

She left Plympton Grammar School with minimal qualifications and went to work for a pig farmer.

Several years later, she went to Marjons in Plymouth to study philosophy and theology: "But I dropped out after a year," said Sarah. "I was 24 at the time. My verbal skills were good, but writing essays was so difficult. It was like a jumbled mess, and I think they thought I was lazy."

Sarah then worked in sales before heading off to Italy, where - somewhat ironically - she taught English as a foreign language.

"The Italian students taught me some of the grammar! That was quite funny. Then, I taught at a primary school near Bologna, with around 50 five-year-olds. I was at the school for a year in 1998, and that's where I started to write poetry.

"I think it was the effect of the Italian language, because it's so musical. And it's such an inpsiring and creative place to live."

After returning to the UK, Sarah decided to have another crack at university. It was while studying English Literature at Lancaster University that she was diagnosed with dyslexia.

Sarah with her book

Sarah says her book is 'her reality'

For Sarah, it explained everything: "I was really angry at all that waste of time. After the diagnosis, things started happening for me."

After successfully earning her degree, Sarah worked at the Bristol School for Dyslexia for a while before returning to the South West, when she started to make the daily diaries.

"Writing books is what I've wanted to do since I was young. In fact, I wrote a booklet when I was 12, when I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

"But although I wanted to write and had lots of ideas, I just couldn't write.

"When I was diagnosed, I suddenly saw myself as a victim, and I'd never thought of myself as a victim before. I thought it would stop me from doing things.

"I believed I was disabled, and that was rubbish.

"And I told myself I'd always done what I wanted - I'd even been a teacher without a degree - so why should I stop now. My message to people is that everyone has a talent and they shouldn't be held back."

The book has been quite an undertaking, as Sarah had twin girls in 2006, so she has been very busy!

Sarah and her husband Szymon have set up their own print company, Selchie Print, to publish Beyond the Lemon Tree, and 2,500 copies have been printed.

Different typesets are used in the book, and Sarah says a theme becomes apparent. The front of the little purple book features Sarah's drawing of a lemon tree.

But what of the name, Beyond the Lemon Tree? Where did that come from? "People will have to read the book to find out!" said Sarah.

Sarah will be doing a book signing session at Waterstones in New George Street, Plymouth from 12pm to 2pm on Saturday 11 October 2008. She's also be speaking at Waterstones' reading group on Thursday 30 October at 7pm.

*Beyond the Lemon Tree by Sarah Turton, published by Selchie Print, price £7.99.

last updated: 02/10/2008 at 09:16
created: 01/10/2008

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