A prolific reader, Jacqueline reviewed books for the, then, Cork Examiner aged 14, winning young writer of the year.
After her Masters in Italy she lived in Spain for a year. Then, gaining a Fulbright scholarship, she embarked on a PhD. Afterwards she taught at Glasgow University, but left after a year for London.
“I worked for Tatler then Vogue, but after a few years moved to Associated Newspapers ending up as deputy editor on one of their London titles. Then I went on maternity leave and never went back.
“When my second child, Allegra was two I did a Masters, and we had to write a novel. I finished the first draft during the course.”
She worked on the book with her agent, Sallyanne Sweeney, then had her third baby. After that the book was sent out and sold.
Who is Jacqueline O’Mahony?
Date of birth: 25th September, 1972 near Cork City.
Education: Christ the King in Douglas; University College Cork, English and History, taking Erasmus in Italy; University of Bologna, MA; Duke University in North Carolina, PhD on American History. Travelled to Boston College as part of PhD and was a teaching assistant; City University, London, MA in Creative Writing.
Family: Husband, Mike. Louis, 10, Allegra, 8, Gabriella, 2.
The Day Job: Fulltime mother and writer.
In Another Life: “I’d be an Olympic runner. I don’t run, but I dream that I’m about to sprint.”
Favourite Writers: Shakespeare; Colm Tóibín; John McGahern; Seamus Heaney.
Second Novel: “I’m basing the next novel on Hannah.”
Top Tip: Persevere. “Writing is really hard work. To make it you have to put the hours in.”
The Debut: A River in the Trees. Riverrun: €16.99 Kindle: €11.00
Ellen feels lost. She’s had a stillborn baby and her marriage is in trouble. Leaving London, she returns to rural Ireland intent on learning her family’s past. And of Hannah, who, in 1919, fled to America with a baby fathered by a rebel leader. This debut flits between the stories.
“I was interested that Ellen has many more choices than Hannah, yet in her own way she is limited. She has so many choices that she gets lost in them.”
The Verdict: A beautifully written debut which cleverly links the centuries.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 26th January
© Sue Leonard. 2019