Sarah Ash read music at New Hall, Cambridge for four years, studying with Robin Holloway and John Rutter for her finals. Her interests in music and drama led her into teaching where she has been lucky to work with many dynamic and talented young people.
Although she had co-written several musicals for young performers, she decided in 1991 to concentrate her creative energies on her other passion: writing. Having been shortlisted in the final ten of the Guardian Children’s Fiction award for a – still unpublished – fantasy The Mabinogion Mice, her breakthrough came in 1992 with the publication in Interzone of the short story ‘Moth Music’.
In the author’s own words…
My first attempts at writing were comic strips, and plays which I persuaded my schoolfriends to act out (some of them have never forgotten the experience!) At twelve (inspired by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) I began to write fantasy fiction, at one stage burying my earliest efforts in a biscuit tin under an ancient apple tree in our garden in Bath. My first completed fantasy novel was called ‘The Miglas’. It was painstakingly handwritten in many different colours (often after lights out, no wonder my eyesight is so bad!) in several red Silvine exercise books. Others followed and soon I was trying to get them published. But I was born on a Thursday and in my case ‘Thursday’s Child has far to go’ meant it would take me a very long time to find a publisher; no “Fourteen-year old author!” headlines for me, although many encouraging letters of the ‘next time…’ variety.
At Cambridge I was soon involved in many and various dramatic productions. As a member of David Wiles’s troupe, I had the chance to go out on the road (and into schools, borstals and prisons!). I still couldn’t rid myself of my addiction to the theatre.
Unlike many other authors, I didn’t gain my life experience in exotic jobs such as trapeze artist, night-club chanteuse or mortician – instead I ventured into the jungle known as teaching! I became a class music specialist and kept up my writing when I could. Having gained one (very supportive) husband and two (very lively) sons, I still wonder how J.K. Rowling managed to write Harry Potter with a small child to look after.
The major breakthrough came when I bought my first word processor, an Amstrad 9512. For years I’d struggled with my faithful old typewriter; the wpc freed me from having to correct all my typos and the endless frustrating trips to the photocopying shop.
Until autumn 2012 I ran a primary school library, which was a wonderful experience. I also had great fun organizing the school orchestra for ten years. But now I’ve ‘retired’ to Bath where I hope I can spend a little more time on my writing. Although I miss working with the children!
My sister is Jessica Rydill, author of the fantasy novels Children of the Shaman and The Glass Mountain and our cousin, Vicki Howie, writes for children. We’re beginning to wonder what the next generation will produce.
I admit to a passion for anime and manga – my latest ambition would be to see my stories re-worked as anime (I’ve never really grown out of my early love for comics).