An introverted child, Sandra spent a lot of time reading.
“It was a great escape,” she says.
She moved to Dublin in 1991, and from 2005, has Cared for her second child, who is autistic and has ADHD.
“I was home-schooling Reuben. There were difficult years leading to his diagnosis in 2016. After that, things became clearer.”
In 2009, after joining a creative writing group, Sandra wrote and performed comic poems at open mic sessions.
“They were about bad sex and failed relationships,” she says. This led to a self-published volume. “And I was shortlisted for the Strokestown International Poetry Festival. I’d written a poem about Ryan Tubridy.”
In 2014, Sandra felt the urge to write fiction. She self-published a few books in various genres. Then, in 2018, when Reuben started attending school, and Sandra, taking him there, found herself on the LUAS Green line four times a day, she was inspired to write her debut. Thirteen Stops is a novel told as 13 connected short stories.
“It was easy to write,” she says. “It felt different from my other writing straight away. I had it finished in two months. Then came the hard part; finding an agent and a publisher.”
Who is Sandra Harris?
Date of birth: 1969 in Cork. “But I was bought up in County Westmeath.”
Education: Our Lady’s Bough, Athlone. University of Ulster, Coleraine, Arts. (unfinished.)
Home: Dublin, 2.
Family: Lisa, 29 and Reuben, 15.
The Day Job: Reuben’s fulltime Carer.
In Another Life: “I’d still be writing, but my hair would be naturally straight.”
Favourite Writers: Marian Keyes; Stephen King; The Brontës; Bram Stoker; EL James. “I admire her for having three books out at once.”
Second Novel: “I’ve written two follow up books, showing the characters one year later, then two years earlier.”
Top Tip: “Just write, already. You’re not getting any younger. If you wait for permission, or until your life is serene, it won’t happen.”
Website: www.sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.worpress.com Twitter: @sandraAuthor
The Debut: Thirteen Stops. Poolbeg: Kindle: €4.41.
These thirteen, skilfully linked stories about a diverse group of characters covers a whole range of issues, from autism to institutional abuse, taking in a raft of, mostly bad, relationships into the mix.
The Verdict: A clever idea, well carried out.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 29th August.
© Sue J Leonard. 2020.