Jo started her career as a Freelance journalist, but she’s always been interested in politics, and in 2007 she ran for election, and almost won. After that, she joined Leinster House as a parliamentary administrator, working in finance.
“Finance is not an accessible subject, and a lot of people said my reports and speeches were easy to read. I’ve wanted to write since I was little, and with that encouragement, I decided to give it a bash.”
Jo’s father died young. He’d had no idea who his mother was. Investigating his history, Jo discovered all about the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby homes.
“I started writing in 2013,” says Jo. “The book took me a year. I wrote in the evenings and at weekends.”
She sent the book to the Richard and Judy competition at the end of 2013, and in March 2014, she was on the shortlist of 7, and had until August to edit the book.
“On September 18th Dominic was born, and in October, I heard that I hadn’t won the competition, but they wanted to take my book further. The editor offered me a two book deal.”
Who is Jo Spain?
Date of birth: 23rd October, 1979, in Dublin.
Education: St John of God’s School in Artane. Trinity College Dublin; Politics and Philosophy.
Family: Husband Martin. Isobel, 10, Liam, 6, Sophia, 4 and Dominic, 1.
The Day Job: Policy Director for Sinn Fein.
Interests: “I run. That’s my space.”
Favourite Writers: Louise Penny; Fred Vargas; Stig Larsson; Liz Nugent; Anne Cleaves.
Second Novel: “I’m editing it. It’s set in the world of politics.”
Top Writing Tip: “Finish the first draft; then go back and edit it all. But realise that finishing the book is only the start of the process.”
The Debut: With Our Blessing. Quercus: €17.99. Kindle: €8.92.
An elderly woman is found murdered in Phoenix Park; she turns out to be the Reverend Mother of a former Magdalene Laundry. DI Tom Reynolds and his team stay in the convent, in the depths of the country to investigate. It’s snowy and spooky. Could the killer still be around?
The Verdict: Brilliant! Fast paced, well researched and sensitive. Jo Spain is a sparking new talent.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 10th October
© Sue Leonard. 2015