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NEWS > Alumnae News > Writing Her Own Future

Writing Her Own Future

Award-winning author Sarah Govett, Class of 1996, returned to LEH last week to talk to the Thirds about writing dystopian fiction and comedy as part of Enrichment Week.

The author of The Territory trilogy, the India Smythe series and We Go On Forever, was invited back by LEH librarian Gemma Pearce who said: “We’re so grateful to Sarah for her warm, engaging and highly interactive talk, which really got pupils thinking and fired imaginations.

“It made it extra special for students to know that she’d been a pupil here herself. Ever since her visit, all her books in the library have been in great demand!”

Sarah’s talk ended with some lively questions followed by a busy signing session, which saw pupils eagerly queuing with stacks of books to be personalised.

Sarah started by telling her young audience: “I’m thrilled to be here. It is rather weird to be back, and looking round earlier, I kept getting strange flashes of déjà vu.  Some things are the same, like the corridor to the Home Economics room, many of the classrooms with their wooden flip top desks and the entrance, but a lot has really changed.  There are obviously whole new buildings I’ve never seen before and generally the facilities all look a lot smarter and nicer than when I was here.”

She went on to explain: “I didn’t always think I’d be a writer,” said Sarah, who studied Biology, Chemistry and History at A level. “I originally read Law at Trinity College, Oxford and then qualified as a solicitor in the City. It didn’t suit me. I left and then started tutoring while I worked out what to do with my life. That did suit me, and I ended up setting up and running my own tutoring agency. While I was doing this, I got the idea for my first book, The Territory, but had no time to write it.

“The opportunity came with the birth of my daughter. I knew I was going to take six months off work so, while she slept, I wrote, and I loved it. I haven’t looked back! “

The Territory trilogy was described by The Guardian as: “The 1984 of our time” and by Metro as “gripping dystopia with a keen political edge”.

Sarah was originally drawn to dystopian fiction as an adolescent reader. “It’s so gripping. The stakes are high, it’s a matter of life or death.  There’s lots to keep readers turning the page. What resonates with me, is that they’re a vehicle for social commentary, it’s a way of bringing attention to what you think is wrong with the world.”

In contrast to her darker fantasy thrillers, is her comedy India Smythe series, which she admits “is slightly based on my time here – set in a girls’ school divided by a fence from the boys’ school next door.”

Sarah explains: “Comedy is really important to me.  If I’m feeling stressed, the only thing that works for me is laughing at stuff. If you laugh about bullies, it strips them of their power.”

Asked by one of the pupils to select which of her books was her favourite, she replied: “All of my books are very special to me in different ways.  But there’s something particularly magical about the first time you see one of your novels sitting on a book shop shelf.”

Sarah’s first screen play, the AI stalker drama T.I.M., hit the number one spot when it was released on Netflix earlier this year, and her first adult crime thriller will be published by Penguin next summer. Called Believe, it will be out in June 2025 and has already been optioned for TV.

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