This week we had a chat with dog lover and dyslexic author Sarah Padget, who hasn't allowed this challenge to get in the way of her commitment to support her furry friends through her favourite charity, Happy Paws, with her writing. Read on for this inspiring interview...
Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sarah Padget and I live close to the Southdown National Park in East Sussex. Being an author is not my primary job but has been an interesting and rewarding journey. Primarily I am a senior instructor (Sensei) teaching Wado Ryu karate to children and adults in Sussex and Kent. We teach from grass roots to world level and are kept very busy with this, even during the lockdowns this year as we have been Zoom(ing) to keep lessons going.
My other passion is my dogs. Both my dogs were rescued from abroad where conditions for animals are so desperate and make you ashamed to be human quite a lot of the time. All three of my books stem from a need help these animals.
What first inspired you to start writing?
The decision to write a book was an idiotic idea. I am dyslexic and read very little let alone write books!!!
The charity I work with, and that brought me Quita, the star of my books, wanted to rescue 11 golden retrievers and needed a HUGE amount of funds to do it. Happy Paws specialises in rescuing Golden Retrievers from Eastern European countries such as Turkey, Cyprus, Romania etc. Retrievers do not do well as street dogs and the abuse of animals is horrific. The charity, had only just been given charity status and it was going to be a struggle to raise this money.
What could I do? While driving to teach a karate class, I had the unlikely idea of writing a book about our rescued dog and giving all the profits to Happy Paws. Once I had got my head around this idea the format and ideas for the book just fell out of me and the bones of the book started to appear on paper.
What made you want to work with Rowanvale and be published?
Initially I printed the book out and sold it to other Happy Paws supporters until a friend suggested getting it published. I didn’t know where to begin and knew nothing about publishing other than that it was very unlikely to be accepted by a publisher even if I knew where to start. After further discussion, I decided to self publish and looked for a ‘helpful’ publisher who could guide me during the process.
Rowanvale has been so helpful and friendly and guided me through the process. The pricing was also helpful as I don’t make any profits from the books; all the profits go to Happy Paws for the dogs.
When you’re not writing, what are you reading?
This is an easy question. I’m afraid I can’t come out with a list of interesting books as I rarely read. Being dyslexic, reading is not a pleasure but I am at the moment reading a book on canine scent training as my latest rescued retriever is turning out to be a good human tracker, which I hope to build on so that he can help humans who have helped him.
Which work are you most proud of?
This is a hard question. Of course, I am super proud of my first book The Tale of Quita the Rescued Dog as it was a real achievement, however, as a series of books I hope to expand it in the future with the new addition and super tracker, Quinn.
What’s your best advice for handling writer's block?
Fortunately, because of the passion I have for my dogs I haven’t experienced writer's block. I have had days of not knowing how to put across what I want to say but it has usually been remedied by a long and bracing walk on top of the Southdowns. Wind blowing and often rain driving against you make you concentrate on something other than getting words on paper. Then it just happens.
What’s one thing you always have with you when you’re writing?
I always have my inspiration – my dogs – with me. Maybe not by choice, but they don’t let me out of their sight if I’m at home. They are my constant shadows.
What is the one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
As I don’t ‘do’ books, I would be unlikely to have a book with me. A last minute book grab would most likely be Johnathan Livingstone Seagull by Stephen Bach. On first glance it seems to be a thin, insignificant book easily read in an hour but it is full of deeper ideas and questions, and it is the one book which I read over and over again.
What is the best part about being an independently published author?
A difficult question as I haven’t had books published any other way. I did have one of Quita’s books accepted by a publisher but I couldn’t afford the fees they wanted to charge so, I think the best thing to enable me to continue to help Happy Paws Puppy Rescue, is their pricing structure. I do find it difficult to market the books as 'media' isn’t the way my mind works, but I am achieving my goals of helping other dogs lead the lives they should and have to date raised over £2000 for the charity.
What’s next for you?
I would like to publish another book to continue Quita’s story and bring it up to date. Following the death of our old retriever we had when Quita came to us, we have had the arrival of Quinn our latest troubled boy. I would also like to change the perspective of the story to being from Quita’s point of view.
Quita does have a Facebook page, The Tale of Quita the Rescued Dog, and an Instagram page, Quita the Rescued Dog.