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VESS Newsletter Profile

Peta Sandars

An established writer is always a great asset to a campaigning organisation, and one with a committed interest doubly so. Peta Sandars had worked in accounts and teaching before her talents as a writer kept her busy in magazine and stage work - then her first novel was very successful. Her second novel, Gone Tomorrow, is a historical saga features a very independent woman dying of pancreatic cancer: she asks people to help her commit suicide but eventually has to resort to assistance from an unscrupulous character. She says, "I write what makes me angry." Moral dilemmas feature strongly in her work - a fellow novelist even said she "hijacks the genre"!

But it is Peta's own health that has brought the issues of v.e. into sharper focus. She suffers from a mild form of MS - fortunately it is not debilitating, but it is sufficiently scary to make her intimately aware of the situations that can drive people to self-deliverance. "For someone like myself, the fact that Departing Drugs exists is a major advantage."

In spite of working long hours (she travels the country doing research for her writing), Peta Sandars always seems to have been involved in humanitarian causes: Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Amnesty, the Green Party, Friends of the Earth and, more recently, VESS. She was soon reported around the world for her pithy comments on v.e. ("The slippery slopes argument could be used to prohibit the manufacture of Doc Marten's boots because some psychopaths might conceivably use them to kick people's heads in.") Soon, she was one of the most active of our public speakers, learning the techniques necessary to convince on television and radio.

But, like Beloff, she has involved herself in the day-to-day work at grass-roots level. Using her early experience in accounts, Peta Sandars as Treasurer has modernised the VESS book-keeping methods and now spends many hours in the Office preparing reports and helping in other, mundane ways. Immersing herself in the work at the coal-face helps her to counter opposition effectively. On television she demonstrates adroitness both with technical data and quickly switches where necessary to more emotive use of words. "People abandon reason for emotion - you have to meet them on their own terms."

Peta Sandars - writings on v.e. can be found in EXIT Newsletter April 1995, Facing the Reality, and in the Dying in Dignity Mensa News Journal 1995 2(1), pp14-16. A biographical article has also appeared in Mensa Magazine. Gone Tomorrow is published by Bantam, May 1997 under her pen name, Jane Gurney.

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