Sarah Cole in her home library with her debut book Virozone. (Ivan Kemp) 238447_02

Ocean Grove teacher Sarah Cole speaks to Luke Voogt about her love of writing and the release of her debut novel, Virozone.

Tell us about you…

I’m 38, grew up in Leopold and live in Ocean Grove.

My husband Daniel and I have been married nearly 10 years and we have a daughter Alex and a son Ethan.

I’ve been a secondary teacher for 13 years, predominantly at Northern Bay College. I love it, I wouldn’t work anywhere else!

I teach English and I’ve taught every year level from 6 to 12.

How did you get into writing?

I used to write a lot in primary school, and I wrote television and movie reviews for a local newspaper when I was 14.

I didn’t like the books in high school, so I started writing my own, where I could control what the characters do and say.

At uni I did my masters in education, followed by a masters in writing and literature.

I decided to write a novel because I didn’t like the books my students, mostly girls, were bringing in.

The girl characters chased after the boys, cried and didn’t have much confidence.

I wanted to write a book with a really strong female character who’s confident, assertive and brave.

I began writing Virozone seven years ago, while teaching full-time, raising two kids and studying one masters after another.

Because it’s something I love doing, it wasn’t a job.

Early morning I’d get up and write, or I’d drop my kids off at my parents Chippa and Ros’s house and write in my car while the kids played inside.

I submitted it to a few publishers and one said yes. I was overseas but I rang them, even though it was expensive, because I was so happy!

What is Virozone about?

Violence and environmental disaster have ravaged the world, which is split into exclusive zones to protect what little is left.

The Air, Water, Soil and Fire zones trade what they can to survive, while the fifth ‘Prestige Zone’ takes what it likes.

But when 16-year-old Lawlie Pearce’s mother is killed, it becomes clear that the tenuous peace between zones is on the verge of unravelling.

Lawlie leaves AirZone to seek truth and justice for her mother – even if she has to bring down the leader of the Prestige Zone, Sceptre, who dominates the world of Virozone.

My 90-year-old grandma, Nanny Bev, just read it and she loved it!

How have you coped with COVID-19?

Like for everyone, it was hard work. Kids aren’t meant to be at home doing school. They’re meant to be at home playing and hanging out with their parents – they’ve got to have that divide.

I worked from home while teaching my kids. It was not cool at all.

My six-year-old daughter refused to do any schoolwork the first time, but she learnt to roller-skate!

What do you like to do locally?

I love Upstate in central Geelong – their boxing class is amazing. I love local book shops as well.

What’s something about you people might not know?

I’ve never had any social media, until two weeks ago. I had to get it because of the book. I prefer talking to people in-person – I’m old school like that.