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Sarah Jane Butler

December 20, 2022

Today I talked to Sarah Jane Butler about her novel Starling (Fairlight Books, 2022).

Starling is 19 and was raised in a camper van by a strong-willed mother who cut them off from their community of fellow travelers. Starling, who has never gone to school or to the dentist, knows the nomadic life of trapping rabbits, foraging for food, and getting kicked out by local police. When her mother suddenly leaves one morning, Starling has to figure out a way to survive in a harsh world, on her own. She walks until she connects with an old friend from another traveling family and starts to consider settling into a more conventional way of life, but first, she needs to figure out who she is.

Sarah Jane Butler grew up on the edge of Southborough Common in Kent. She studied languages at university and spent time living in France and Spain. Her short stories (some published under the name SJ Butler) have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, and her story ‘The Swimmer’ was included in Best British Short Stories 2011. She has twice won the 26 Project Writer’s Award, most recently in 2021 for her poem ‘Flow’, and has performed her work in pubs, a festival tent and a disused light vessel. Starling is her debut novel. As well as writing fiction, she is a copywriter and communications consultant. She lives in Sussex with her husband and two children. Sarah enjoys seeing the world around her, and often walks around fields and woods to try and identify and learn about local wildlife – she has also set up a small village wildlife group for those who share her interest. She has swum in her local river for many years and has kayaked and canoed on it all her adult life.

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