Sam Blake is the pen name of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin. Vanessa always worked – right through school and university, and after college she worked in retail in London, and then in shopping centre marketing.
“It was fun. A mixture of pure marketing and managing events.”
Moving to Ireland in 1992, to join Shane, her future husband, Vanessa worked as a tour guide in Glendalough, then in Avoca Handweavers, eventually managing their Powerscourt store.
“I started writing in 1999 when Shane went sailing across the Atlantic.”
It was a rocky road to publication. One book was accepted, then dropped after a takeover; an agent tried to sell another, which she, eventually, self-published. Meanwhile, inspired by a writing workshop, she organised a series of writing workshops. In 2005, she formalised these, as Inkwell Writers, and in 2011, started writing.ie, an online resource for writers.
The debut, started in 2008, was inspired by a news report of an Irish girl who, pregnant, went to Manchester, and had a baby secretly. It died, and, putting it in a suitcase she returned to Ireland.
“It took a long time, because I was busy with writing.ie.”
Simon Trewin sold the manuscript, after Vanessa started scouting for him.
Who is Sam Blake
Date of birth: 12th October 1969 in Lincolnshire. Brought up in St Alban’s Hertfordshire.
Education: Bishop’s Hatfield Girl’s School. Queen Mary College London: English and History.
Home: Kilmacanogue, County Wicklow
Family: Husband Shane, Sam 16 and Sophie 11
The Day Job: Running The Inkwell Group Publishing Consultancy, writing.ie and The Right’s Bureau.
Interests: Kickboxing. Going to the gym.
Favourite Writers: Patricia Cornwell, Karin Slaughter, Lee Childs.
Second Novel: The second in the Cathy Connolly trilogy, due next spring.
Top Tip: “Keep writing. This debut is my fifth completed manuscript. I didn’t find my voice until book 3.”
Web: writing.ie Twitter: @samblakebooks
The Debut: Little Bones: twenty7: €14.99 Kindle: €4.57.
When Detective Garda Cathy Connolly arrives at the scene of a break-in, she discovers some baby’s bones hidden in the hem of a wedding dress. A day later, the body of the elderly woman who owned the dress is found dead. Was it an accident or could it be murder?
The Verdict: A clever, twisty tale uncovering a long held family secret.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 4th June
© Sue Leonard. 2016