A huge reader, Sarah’s main interest as a child was drama. But having gained an MA in Journalism, she worked as a journalist in Public Affairs, and then Business.
“Then I took a year out, travelling, doing a round the world trip before working again, in business and politics.”
She began to turn to fiction when she spent six months travelling, in America, Australia and Argentina with her husband to be.
“I also wrote some travel pieces – some for the Irish Examiner.”
On her return she became a freelance arts journalist, writing a weekly book column in The Irish Times.
Many of her stories have been listed for awards; one, The Wife, won the 2020 Máirtín Crawford Award at Belfast Book Festival.
Sarah lectures in Creative Writing and Features Journalism at DCU.
Dinner Party started as a short story.
“I developed it during my MFA,” says Sarah. “The story formed the first section of the novel. I knew about the present and wanted to know about the past. It was a process of discovery.”
Who is Sarah Gilmartin?
Date of birth: 1982 in Limerick.
Education: Lauren Hill Coláiste; Trinity College Dublin, English and German; Dublin City University, MA in Journalism; University College Dublin, MFA in Creative Writing.
Home: Dublin 8.
Family: Husband, Sunil.
The Day Job: Arts Journalist, and Freelance Lecturer.
In Another Life: “I’d loved to have been a stage actor. I’d hoped to do Drama and English at Trinity, but I didn’t get past the interview.”
Favourite Writers: Elizabeth Strout; Anne Tyler; Mary Gaitskill; John McGahern; Colm Tóibín; Anne Enright; Claire Keegan; Danielle McLoughlin; Mary Costello.
Second Novel: “I’m trying to grow my prizewinning story, The Wife. I have a sizeable Arts Grant, and it’s going well.”
Top Tip: “Don’t tie your identity to your writing. Appreciate the good times, because there will always be moments of rejection.”
The Debut: Dinner Party: A Tragedy: One: €14.99 Kindle: €8.87
Kate is struggling – spinning out of control, yet she organises a perfect dinner party for her disparate family. Tensions rise – and by tracing the family from the 1990’s, we learn how their dysfunctional past informs the present.
The Verdict: A quite brilliant look at family dynamics and the secrets that fuel dissent.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 25th September
© Sue J Leonard. 2021.