Women Of The World Contributor – Sarah Tyley

Hello!  I’m Sarah Tyley, born and bred on a dairy farm in Somerset.  I currently live in SW France where I have created my own gardening business and where, when I’m not digging up ground elder, I’m focussing on being an Indie Author.   

I feel I have lived my life in phases: after the first eighteen growing up in Somerset, I embarked on a seven-year ‘travelling’ phase, most of it solo.  I worked grape picking in France: in bars in Hong Kong: as a secretary at the Disney Studios in LA, and as a tree planter in Canada – always taking time in-between to travel and laze on beaches in exotic locations.  

Then I moved into a six-year ‘mature student’ phase, where I returned to the UK and studied Environmental Science, an HND in Agricultural Engineering for the Tropics and an MSc in Sustainable Agriculture.

I put my qualifications to use during a nine-year ‘overseas working’ phase – in agricultural economics and community development.  For five of those years I was based in West Africa, predominantly Mali, working with female peanut farmers.  It was an extraordinary and rich experience working with African women.  Inequality was off the chart, and it was strange thinking that I was the only woman in the village with a clitoris!  But I have never felt safer or more welcome.  

My current phase in SW France started with house-renovating and has moved onto the creation of my gardening business and writing my debut novel, Spaghetti Head, which I published in March 2018.  I am also a co-organiser of L’atelier des écrivains – the Writers’ Workshop, here in France.  We hold it in a beautiful 18th century manor house and provide a supportive and free environment for women to let their creative juices flow!

Spaghetti Head is set in a world governed by women and focusses on one woman’s struggle to conform when her negative inner critic is doing everything to prevent her from doing so.  Working with women peanut farmers in West Africa for five years and experiencing first-hand their resilience and resourcefulness is partly what inspired me to imagine that maybe, one day, women will govern the planet.  And having grown up on a dairy farm in Somerset, how could I not include a Friesian cow in my story?

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