'Dream come true' as Sunderland teacher celebrates the publication of his first novel
An English teacher from Southmoor Academy is celebrating the publication of his first novel.
Entitled Fit, the book chronicles the trials and tribulations of a young girl called Rose who is plucked from the obscurity of a foster home in a fictional working-class northern town and transported to a new life as a model in the bright lights of London.
Rose is offered a modelling contract after taking part in work experience but as the plot unfolds it’s not quite the rags to riches fairy tale ending.
Sammy, 43, said: “The story is about how difficult it is to get the opportunity of a lifetime as a young person from a disadvantaged background and for those who do, like Rose, it’s about dealing with the psychological cost of social mobility and what happens after you get that big break.
"The book also incorporates elements of traditional stories such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast.”
The book, which was inspired by Sammy’s 20 years working with teenagers in the classroom, captures the intensity of young people’s lives and the impacts of growing up in a society ravaged by cultural and economic division.
He added: “I’ve certainly used my experience as a teacher. While the book is entirely fiction, large parts of the story are based in a school environment and cover many of the dilemmas kids face which I have witnessed first-hand.
"I wanted to write the book in a way which acknowledges how difficult being a teenager can be. The book starts with Rose living in foster care and a core element of the story is the concept of lost children.”
While the book is aimed at an adult audience, Sammy has used excerpts with some of his classes.
Sammy said: “I have read the opening to my A Level class and would always be happy if a young person decided to read it.”
Sammy’s success came about after the awarding of the prestigious Northern Book Prize which included a contract for worldwide publication, distribution and representation from the publisher And Other Stories. It was the culmination of “20 years of trying and six failed novels”.
Sammy, who’s also deputy headteacher at the school, said: “I’ve been trying to write as long as I’ve been teaching and to see my work finally published is what I’ve dreamed about. It’s very exciting but I’m also nervous about what happens next.
"Hopefully this can also help to inspire some of the pupils I teach. Children’s perception of a teacher is often one of having done well at school and being successful and this gives me a chance to say “look I struggled for 20 years with repeated failures before I finally go there”.
"What I really hope is that someone reads it who has been through similar experiences and feels it’s truthful.”
Although Sammy has already started work on his next novel he has no plans to leave the classroom.
He added: “Teaching is my career and my ideal is to hopefully be able to do both.”
The book can be purchased in most bookshops as well as retailing online at Amazon and the And Other Stories website.