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Words of wisdom from top author

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

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Her book has stolen the hearts of hard-bitten publishers but it was the turn of Wells pupils to be enchanted by the work of a local author last week.

Sarah Lean was Sarah Apperley and a young pupil at St Joseph's and St Teresa's School in Wells when she first became hooked on writing.

Her talent was quickly spotted by her then head teacher Derek Chorley who wrote in her final school report of his hopes that one day he would see her name in print.

His encouragement came back to her three decades on when she started a creative writing masters degree.

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Sarah's first book, A Dog Called Homeless – complete with a dedication to Mr Chorley – was published less than six months ago.

Seven publishers ended up bidding for the rights to the book, each one reporting how Sarah's book had moved them to tears.

The contest was won by leading publisher HarperCollins Children's Books, who are responsible for books by famous authors Michael Murpurgo and David Walliams.

The book is now selling across the world, Sarah's second novel A Horse For Angel is due to be published next year and HarperCollins has now signed up to publish three further books by Sarah.

But on Thursday it was back to her literary roots for Sarah when she visited her old school.

Sarah was always interested in writing and remembers having some of her early stories typed up at home by her mum Julia Apperley.

"My mum was a member of Wells Operatic Society and was also working for a child psychologist, who was finishing his dissertation," she said.

"Mum brought home a typewriter and would type up the scripts for the Wells Operatic Society as well as for the man's dissertation.

"I was about ten years old at the time. I remember standing by her shoulder and asking her if she would type my stories and made up some there and then.

"I had a feeling that I cannot describe, a word that doesn't exist in the dictionary. It's related to shiver, excitement, surprise, possibility, dawn, home, and love."

Sarah revisited her old city last week to take part in a Wells Literature Festival schools event, talking to youngsters about A Dog Called Homeless.

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