Sarah Dale is a practicing occupational psychologist and coach. She is the author of Keeping Your Spirits Up, a guide to facing the challenges of modern life. She lives in Nottingham, UK, with her husband, two daughters and step-son. Her moments of leisure are spent Nordic walking, reading fiction and frequenting coffee shops, the more independent the better. She secretly loves a good jigsaw.
Stephanie: Hello, Sarah! Congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion and thank you for chatting with me today about your book, Bolder and Wiser. Please tell me a little about your story?
Sarah: Hello there, and thank you for having me on your site.
I am approaching my fiftieth birthday, and, along with many of my friends, it is provoking some mixed feelings. My ‘day job’ is occupational psychology and coaching (I run my own business on Creating Focus), so I also hear similar reflections from some of my clients about the experience of mid-life and everything that comes with it. It is common of course to experience quite some turmoil about ageing as well as what that means for our careers, our family responsibilities, our appearance, our health and – in short – our place in the world. You could say my own ongoing Mid Life Crisis was the driver behind writing this book!
I decided to ask women older than me, ‘what matters?’ and ‘what doesn’t?’ as they look back and to try to draw some guidance from that to support me as I head into my fifties. I found twenty women, aged 60-85, to hold conversations with – and the results were wonderful.
Stephanie: What a fascinating and brilliant premise! How did you choose the conversations in your book and how long did it take you to compile them?
Sarah: I chose the women by putting out the word that I was doing this project, and we found each other. I knew a few of them already (including my mother) but most were more distant – friends’ or acquaintances’ mothers, or my parents’ friends or from more distant social media and other contacts. Women came forward readily – and there were more I could have talked to but I decided I needed to draw a line somewhere. Twenty gave me over 150,000 words worth of transcript so I think that was enough material to handle!
I carried out the conversations over the course of about a year, and then spent the next year transcribing them and writing the book.
Stephanie: What is the message in your story you would like readers to grasp?
Sarah: That there are plenty of positive aspects to ageing and that embracing or accepting it rather than denying or fighting it can be very liberating – and lead to more adventures and opportunities than trying to stay as we were in our twenties and thirties. It’s about letting some things go as well as being courageous about other things.
Stephanie: Were there any challenges writing this book?
Sarah: Plenty! The biggest one was deciding whether the book was primarily about me or the women – with the help of my editor, we decided it was really about me (!). That is, I must hastily add, it is not All About Me – but it IS about my response to the conversations rather than a description of these women’s lives.
The second biggest challenge was of course working out what to include and what to leave out from the conversations. Inevitably, I have had to leave out far more than ended up in the final book which was a real wrench at times. However, had I put it all in, it would have been far too overwhelming and very difficult to read.
Stephanie: Will there be a sequel?
Sarah: Not as such. However, I am planning the next book which will be primarily about the experience of work in the twenty-first century, and that too will be from a personal perspective as well as bringing in others’ experiences and some research findings.
Stephanie: What was your writing process for this book and did you use beta readers?
Sarah: I start with a notebook and pen, with a coffee and well away from the computer – and the initial ideas are usually in the form of mind-maps. I try to write the first draft fairly quickly and without editing as I go along (I completed a nanowrimo exercise a few years ago and that fast and furious approach suits me for the first draft), but then go through it again (and again) much more carefully and with the invaluable help of my editor and beta readers.
My beta readers consisted of some other psychologists, some trusted avid readers who blog and review plenty of books, and in this case, I also offered an early draft to the women I’d interviewed too.
Stephanie: Tell me about your experience with self-publishing and how you discovered indieBRAG?
Sarah: I have self- published both of my books. The first time I think I was very lucky as I found my way through the system by myself (and a lot of Googling) and was pleased with the final result. Design and editing are really important, and I used professionals for these elements.
By the time I was writing Bolder and Wiser, I had discovered and joined the Alliance of Independent Authors, and it was through them that I heard about IndieBRAG as several other members have been successful when they submitted their books.
Stephanie: How often do you write and where in your home is your favorite place to write?
Sarah: I try to write as often as I can and probably write in one form or another most days. At home, I am very lucky to have my own office space which has lots of light and a view out to the garden so I enjoy writing there. Sometimes, I find I need some background comforting noise and on those occasions, I will decamp to a coffee shop – that’s an especially helpful thing to do when I’m at the ideas stage, or stuck, I find.
Stephanie: What are you currently working on now?
Sarah: I’m beginning to work on a book about the experience of work in the modern world which ties together my writing and professional interests. Many of us have a complex love-hate relationship with work. How we make a living (or don’t) is one of the central questions in our lives but doesn’t often feel as interesting as the role of marriage or parenthood for instance. And yet we spend a significant amount of our time and energy doing it.
I want to hold a mirror up to our relationship with work, over the lifecycle, and see whether there’s some food for thought for all of us in that reflection.
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
Sarah: My books are available both as paperback and e-book, though Amazon and other outlets too.
Thank you, Sarah!
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Sarah Dale, who is the author of, Bolder and Wiser of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Bolder and Wiser, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.