Centre for Stories

Indian Ocean Mentoring Project – An Interview with Sarah Marchant

"I retired from full time work two years ago. Theoretically I now have time to write!"

February 27, 2019

The Indian Ocean Mentoring Project is an extension of our incredibly successful mentoring program undertaken two years ago for early and emerging writers of African heritage. This second mentoring program is focused on early and emerging writers who are permanent residents or Australian citizens of Indian Ocean heritage living in WA. The Indian Ocean Rim countries are: Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In this series of interviews, we uncover the inner worlds of these budding writers, focusing on their connection to the Indian Ocean region, their motivation for writing and the authors that inspire them.

Sarah Marchant is a 67-year-old writer with five mischievous grandsons that she adores. She grew up in Tanzania, going to different schools in Kenya and Uganda, before moving to Australia at 16. Her favourite authors include Shirley Hazzard, Roy Jacobsen, and Alexandra Fuller. Having been retired for two years now, she is delighted about having an infinite amount of free time to indulge in her writing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Sarah Marchant. I am sixty seven years old. I retired from full time work two years ago. Theoretically I now have time to write! I am the mother of three children and grandmother of five rumbustious grandsons.

What is your connection to the Indian Ocean region?

I was born in Tanzania, Tanganyika as it was known then, to British parents. I lived and attended various schools in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, before coming to Australia at the age of sixteen. In my thirties, I returned to Kenya to work for a period of four years.

What are you hoping to get out of this mentorship?

The Indian Ocean Mentoring Project is my first serious attempt to actually get on with attempting to write. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be mentored by an established author and hope to learn ways to better structure my writing of memoir (maybe in short story form) and receive constructive feedback and advice.

Who are some of your favourite writers/books?

I have a long list of favourite books, which include: “The Unseen” by Roy Jacobsen, “My name is Lucy Barton and Olive Ketteridge” by Elizabeth Strout, “Disgrace” by JM Coetzee, “Stasiland” and “All That I Am” by Anna Funder, “The Great Fire” by Shirley Hazzard, and I admire the style and honesty in the writing of Alexandra Fuller.

Photo: Zal Kanga-Parabia

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