Sarah Turnbull - Author Q & A

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5 minutes with Sarah Turnbull

Sarah Turnbull

Sarah Turnbull is the author of the international bestseller Almost French. Formerly a television journalist with SBS in Sydney, she began working as a freelance writer following her move to Paris in 1994. After nearly a decade in France, Sarah spent several years on an island near Tahiti. She now lives in Sydney.

Who is your favourite author?

It’s easier for me to name books. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is one of my all-time favourites – it’s a quiet, beautiful story about friendship and marriage. Peter Heller’s novel The Dog Stars is a new favourite. It’s original and poetic, like nothing I’ve ever read. Lord of the Flies would have to be high on the list too – I reread it recently and was struck by how perfect it is.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

In All Good Things I write about a scuba diving trip my husband and I made to the far side of Fakarava, a remote atoll in French Polynesia. There's nothing there except a string of tiny islets, one or two pensions, and Tumakohua Pass, a narrow, pristine ocean channel connecting the sea to Fakarava’s vast lagoon. Drift diving on the current was an unforgettable experience - I felt like I was flying. The pass was crammed with sea life that streamed around us and rose in great walls and banks in front of us. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope, there was so much stunning colour and light and shifting patterns. Normally at the end of a scuba dive I'd feel ready to return to land and air but that time I didn’t want to get out.

Do you have any hot writing tips for beginners?

Don’t worry if it’s any good and whether anyone will want to read or publish it. That comes later. Just write.

If you could replay a moment of your life over and over again, what would it be?

The moment when my husband walked across the operating theatre with our newborn son in his arms. It was a caesarean birth so I was pretty high on anaesthetic and gas but I remember it so clearly: my anticipation and impatience, the mix of elation, pride and relief on Frederic’s face. There were doctors and nurses all around us but from that point on for me there was just the three of us in the room.

What was the best thing about writing All Good Things?

I loved writing the water scenes in the book because I could relive my experiences swimming in the lagoon on Mo’orea and scuba diving. I’m a very visual person and the challenge was to describe in words the beautiful, vivid pictures in my memory. The most emotional scenes in the book relate to our struggle to have a child and I found writing these parts difficult but ultimately really satisfying. It’s a wonderful thing when you feel you’ve captured an ordinary life truth in words.

Want to know more about All Good Things?

All Good Things

For many people, finding the love of your life and moving to Paris would come pretty close to having it all. Having shared her story in the bestselling Almost French, Sarah Turnbull seemed to have had more than her fair share of dreams come true. But there was still one dream she was beginning to fear might be impossible. Then out of the blue an opportunity to embark on another adventure offers a new beginning - and new hope. Leaving Paris behind was never going to be easy. But it helps when your destination is known as paradise on earth, Tahiti...

Information provided by HarperCollins Australia