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Sally Page

Sally Page

Sally is the author of Sunday Times best-selling books

  • Location: Gillingham, Dorset 

  • Author and founder of (a fountain pen company) 

  • Sector: Creative industry 

  • University degree: History at Nottingham University

How does your usual day look like?

My day starts in bed checking my social media and responding to anyone who has commented on my books. I have always used Instagram, but worried a bit about diving into Twitter, however I have found it a surprisingly positive experience. (so far!). Breakfast at my desk will usually include some admin and then I get down to the best bit - the writing. And the good thing about being an author is that you can write from anywhere, and may well need to travel for research. My favourite trip was to Seville to study a garden that features in a chapter of my latest book, The Secrets of Flowers, which is due out in August 2024 with Harper Collins.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

Obviously the writing, but also the opportunity to observe people, whether that be in a cafe, a garden or a pub! I think authors are essentially interested in people and the stories they have to tell. I also love the freedom I have now that I am lucky enough to be a full time writer.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

Imagination but also logic. Your story has to flow and be engaging but there is a lot of planning involved too. I used to run my own market research company conducting group discussions for major companies. Funnily enough I used similar skills - intuitively listening to people which drew on creativity, and then the analytical part that put this in a business context.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

Attending the British Book Awards, when The Keeper of Stories was shortlisted for British Book of the Year. It was an amazing event and I felt privileged to be there amongst such talented authors. It was also a chance to get dressed up - which is not normal in my day to day work!

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

​Once my first book took off I resigned from my role as a fundraiser for The Wiltshire Community Foundation, which does the most amazing job supporting grassroots projects around the county. I felt guilty about leaving, even though all the staff were so excited about my success. Luckily I can now support them in a different way and still attend their events.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

I am not a very patient person, but getting a book published takes time. I have been writing since 2016 but only got an agent in 2019 and was first published in 2022. So patience, and also resilience is needed to deal with all the rejection.

How did you get to become an Author?

I started one morning when I woke up with an idea for a book in my head! I then wrote … at night … early in the morning … in fact most of the time when I wasn’t working. During lockdown I had to be furloughed from my job, so I took that time to write as well.

If you could give a younger woman one piece of advice (it can be anything) - what would you say to them?

Avoid the politics and interpersonal rubbish that can sometimes fill your mind and take over when you are working with a group of people.

You will look back and realise none of it really mattered, it didn’t bring you any joy, and that it was a waste of your time and energy.

Professional networking for women matters, because….

...everyone has a story to tell and you may well meet women who enrich your story

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I think like many women I GSD (my friend’s son’s acronym for 'Get Shit Done') but hopefully don’t make a meal of it and have fun along the way.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

I spend it with friends and family, and also I paint. That includes walls as well as pictures.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

I brought up my daughters pretty much on my own and as a self-employed woman have turned my hand to a number of things out of necessity. I have learnt that adversity gives you something to push against, rather like putting your foot up against a wall. Without the tough times I wouldn’t have achieved half the things I have. I have found that resilience becomes a habit and is easier over time. As for stress, find the thing you love to do and life isn’t anywhere near as stressful!

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

I have worked in advertising, run a market research company, founded a fountain pen company, I have been a fundraiser, event organiser, run a flower shop and now I am an author. So I have had lots of alternative careers! I think if I had more talent, maybe I would be a painter.

What are you currently learning or what’s one of the last things you learnt?

I am learning about oil painting. which is part pleasure and part research for a book.

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey?

I have a friend, Fiona Oliver, who is CEO of The Wiltshire Community Foundation. We have worked together on and off over the years. She is a woman with a fantastic strategic brain, but she also has the best understanding of people of anyone I know. Today I will often talk characters through with her when I am planning a book.

Years ago when we were together in a really difficult meeting, she said - the rest of us were climbing the walls like cats and you did your Ice Queen thing. At that point I realised - nobody knows. Nobody knew how awful I was feeling. I have remembered that in other tricky situations!

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Join a choir! I can’t really sing and would hate to stand up and sing in public, but I do love music.

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

  • Question: What advice would you give to would-be-writers?

  • Answer: Just keep going, get advice along the way, but not necessarily from friends and read as much as possible:

The previous interviewee left a question for you! “Ten years from now, looking back: what will be some of the milestones from the last decade you’d want to be celebrating?”

Birth of my grandson, my eldest daughter becoming a doctor despite huge health obstacles. So personal stuff first. And then things to do with my books.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: The superpower I'd like to have: To speak every language. My actual superpower: I am calm in tough situations (or appear so!)

  • Favourite restaurant: J.Sheekey, London

  • Favourite fashion brand: Me & Em

  • Favourite beauty product: Neal's Yard Remedies: Frankincense cream

  • Favourite perfume: Armani Elle

  • Book recommendation: "Still Life" by Sarah Winman

  • Next holiday destination: North Norfolk, UK

  • Your hobby: Painting

  • Favourite mantra: "Do the right thing."

  • Who inspires you? My friends

  • Tea or Coffee: Both

  • Red wine or White wine: White if it has bubbles

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning bird

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog

Thank you Sally for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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