Writer Of The Week: Sarah Scotford-Smith

Sarah Scotford-Smith

Tracey from the Fiction team catches up with debut author Sarah Scotford-Smith. Sarah’s story “By The Bramley Tree” is in Special 259 which is in the shops now.

Tell us about your story “By The Bramley Tree”.

“By The Bramley Tree” is a story about Kayleigh, a woman who, since her dad died, doesn’t make enough time to visit her mother, Wendy. That is until Wendy hurts her back trying to lift a ladder to the Bramley tree, which needs pruning. Kayleigh has enough to do with her copywriting business, and now she has to make time to care for her mother, who is constantly fretting about her garden becoming overgrown.

I was working on assessments for my Creative and Critical Writing MA when the idea for “By The Bramley Tree “came to me. I was so busy with my coursework, and other things, such as my garden, were being neglected, and I thought that would be a good idea for a story.


How long have you been writing fiction?

I have been writing fiction for about twenty years. I have several half-finished novels on my laptop, and once I realised I needed some help to improve my writing skills, I enrolled in a BA (Hons) course at the University of Gloucestershire to study English Literature and Creative Writing. After I completed that, I did the MA, which I finished last year.


What made you submit a story to “The People’s Friend”?

I’ve always enjoyed reading short story magazines. My enthusiasm for them began in the 1980s with the fortnightly photo novel. From those grew my love of short story magazines, and especially “The People’s Friend”. I love to lose myself in the various stories and always hoped that one day, my story would be accepted for publication in the “Friend”. I have sent in about five stories over the years before “By The Bramley Tree” was accepted.


Which authors do you admire?

My favourite short story writer is Sarah Hall. I found her anthology, “Short Stories—A Beautiful Indifference”, really inspirational throughout my time at university. She chooses her words so beautifully, and her second-person narratives are particularly poignant.

I recently read and enjoyed Evie Woods’s “The Lost Bookshop”, a historical, magical realism novel. I’ve never written in this mixed genre before, but after reading “The Lost Bookshop”, I plan to try it out.  I also admire Anna Freeman’s novel “The Fair Fight”, which is about female pugilism (boxing) at the end of the eighteenth century. I’d never encountered this topic before, and Freeman explores it brilliantly.


What are your long-term writing plans?

My long-term writing plans include finishing some of those half-written novels. However, I am working through the editing stage with one of them. I hope that it will be finished later in the year. I also plan to keep on submitting short stories to “The People’s Friend”, as I like to vary what I’m working on. So, hopefully, you’ll get to see some more of my work in your favourite story mag.


What advice would you give someone hoping for success in the “Friend”?

If you’re like me, it might take you several attempts before you get a story accepted. So, I would say keep on writing, don’t give up and read the magazine to get a feel for what type of story the “Friend” looks for.

Thank you, Sarah!


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!