Career Profile – English

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Name: Sarah Webb


Profession: Novelist

I have been writing full time for nearly eight years now, both adult novels and children’s books. I have three kinds of days – writing days, event days, and publisher/agent days. Most weeks I have four writing days and one event day. This might be a school visit where I talk to the children and/or give a writing workshop, a library visit or a book festival – often on a Saturday or Sunday. Once every two months or so, I also have a publisher/agent day where I travel to London to meet with one of my publishers and/or my agent, or attend a party or launch. This is the glam bit!

I did absolutely no creative writing in college, but I did study English and read until my eyes fell out of my head, a great asset to any writer. After college I worked in several bookshops, including Eason and Waterstone’s, along with fellow writers John Boyne and Paul Murray.  There are less than twenty full-time children’s writers and/or illustrators in Ireland and it’s not easy to make a living from writing for children. Saying that, many Irish writers have done exceptionally well worldwide, from Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl), to Darren Shan (horror), Michael Scott (fantasy-adventure), Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant), Oliver Jeffers (picture books) and P J Lynch (illustrations). As well as the Ask Amy Green series for age 10+ (Walker Books and Candlewick US), I also write early readers for O’Brien Press, and adult novels for Pan Macmillan.  My adult novels are popular fiction, with plenty of dialogue and family and relationship dramas. I write to entertain and inform, and I greatly enjoy inventing characters and plots.

My book, The Loving Kind, deals with plastic surgery, errant boyfriends, loyalty, and revenge. Ireland has an exceptional record when it comes to women’s popular fiction – with Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Cecelia Ahern, Cathy Kelly, and Sheila O’Flanagan – all huge worldwide. There are also newer names on the scene – Amy Huberman, Sinead Moriarty, and Niamh Greene. There is always a market for good popular fiction but your voice and your style have to be original.

I start my writing day with a walk. Then I settle down at my desk and write from 9. 30 until 1. 30. After lunch I will edit what I have written, answer emails, write things for my website, do newspaper interviews or other media requests, answer readers’ emails, etc. I also work three or four evenings a week – writing my two blogs, answering more readers’ letters, keeping up with my readers on my Facebook page, writing children’s book reviews for the Irish Independent and Inis magazine, and doing other admin work.

A lot of writing is actually re-writing, working on a book until you get it right. Each book goes through many, many different drafts before it is complete. And it can be hard graft. But when you’ve had a good writing day, when your characters really come to life on the page and pull the story along in a direction you never anticipated, then it’s all worth it.

Visit www. sarahwebb. ie and for more from Sarah Webb.

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