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News > School News > Publishing success for STAHS teacher

Publishing success for STAHS teacher

Sarah Jost's first novel is a big hit both sides of the Atlantic
11 Sep 2023
School News
Sarah Jost, who has had her first novel published, One Last Chance, to great success
Sarah Jost, who has had her first novel published, One Last Chance, to great success

Huge congratulations to Sarah Jost, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Housemistress and Modern Languages teacher, who had her first novel published in April 2023 in three countries, the UK, the US and France. It's already achieved great success on both sides of the Atlantic and is continuing to sell impressive numbers in all countries.

Sarah was born and grew up in Switzerland, against the backdrop of Lake Geneva and the Alps. She moved to the UK in her mid-twenties and lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband Luke and their dog Winnie. Sarah writes contemporary book club novels, with a touch of magic, looking at love stories in all shapes, mental health, female characters finding their confidence and quirky pets. Her debut novel One Last Chance, is an uplifiting love story of second chances and destiny - set in St Albans and Vevey, Switzerland. 

We spoke to Sarah about her personal experience of the creative writing process and working with the publishing industry:

'As a Housemistress at STAHS and an anxiety sufferer myself I have thought a lot about what can hold us back in life and the importance of connection in our lives. I wanted to write a novel exploring this, with a protagonist who starts off very flawed and petrified and learns to reclaim her agency. She is also a teacher, but in a very different school from STAHS!

I’ve written almost all my life, starting in my first language (French), before a hiatus when I moved to the UK in 2008 to work at STAHS as a French assistant. I then trained to be a teacher and returned to STAHS in 2012. Those years were spent learning English and it took me a long while until I decided to have a go at creative writing in my new language. One Last Chance is the third novel I completed since then and the first one that got me an agent and a publisher. I’m very lucky to have got publishing deals with Piatkus (Hachette) in the UK, Sourcebooks in the US and Bragelonne in France!

The writing process is messy, full of doubts and setbacks - but when it ‘flows’, it is the best feeling in the world. I planned One Last Chance carefully because of the five repeats of the same two years, ensuring that they would echo one another without being repetitive, then I worked to layer it all and deepen the characters’ development throughout the drafting and editing process. I don’t think people realise how many times a novel gets re-written (I certainly didn’t!), but I must have done more than ten drafts overall, some on my beta readers’ feedback, some with my agent and some with both my US and UK editors.

I’ve learnt from the writing and publishing process to take feedback not as personal criticism, but as a positive process, an essential part of our collective work to make the novel better. It can be testing to be sent pages detailing what is wrong with the book, but ultimately it is in your interest to work with your agent and editor to improve the novel. I have also learnt that being a people-pleaser can be very counter-productive, and that I need to trust my own instincts and vocalise them more. You can get easily lost when you receive well-intentioned but contradicting suggestions for your own work! Reading is ultimately a subjective experience, and trying to please everyone won’t help. You must keep sight of what you want to be the heart of your story, what you enjoy reading and writing, and keep reminding yourself of this.

I have a two book deal with Sourcebooks in the US, so I’m currently finishing my second novel with them, a story of art, empathy and obsession. Then we will go on submission with it in the UK, hoping to find it a home here. Fingers crossed it gets picked up - if not I have a few ideas for my third novel already!'

You can buy Sarah's novel, One Last Chance, at all national UK bookstores or online.


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