Mary Watson

Posted by Sue Leonard on Thursday 15th March 2018

Always a prolific reader, Mary wrote and illustrated her first book, aged five. She loved learning, and adored life at university.

Studying Creative Writing in South Africa, under the tutelage of Andre Brink, she wrote a collection of short stories, and won the Caine Prize in 2006.

After completing her degrees, she worked in the Film Department.

“I was on the tenure track.”

She met her Irish husband, Cathal, at a party in Cape Town.

“He’s a scientist. We met again at a poetry reading. I got his number from a  friend, rang him, and asked him out!”

The couple moved with their elder son to Galway in late 2008.

“The country was in crisis. I missed teaching, and, having a baby, felt a loss of identity. Writing was the one thing that was mine.”

She wrote a literary thriller, The Cutting Room which was published in South Africa in 2013.

“Then I wanted to write something different. The literary book explored ideas, now I wanted to start with the story; that excited me.”


Who is Mary Watson

Date of birth: 1975 in Cape Town.

Education:  Roman Catholic school in Capetown run by Dominican nuns. University of Cape Town; Degree in English, MA in Creative Writing, PhD in Film studies. Bristol University; 2nd MA.

Home: Galway.

Family: Husband, Cathal. Sons Liam, 9, Luke 7, Felix , 4.

The Day Job: Full time writer, structured around looking after the children.

In Another Life: “I’d have been a ballet dancer.”

Favourite Writers: Sarah Waters; Maggie O’Farrell.  “And in  YA I love Maggie Stiefvater Sabaa Tahir and Frances Hardinge.”

Second Novel: “A companion book to the Wren Hunt, it takes on different characters.”

Top Tip: “Draft without your inner sense on. Don’t think, just write. Then you have something to shape.”

Web:  Twitter: @stonemadonna

The Debut: The Wren Hunt. Bloomsbury Children’s Books: €9.99. Kindle: €5.69. 

The novel opens when a girl, Wren, is chased by a gang of boys. But there’s something different about Wren – and when she goes on an undercover mission to save her family, she is drawn into a whole other world and gains a new sense of herself.

The Verdict: A Beautifully imagined and written YA Fantasy combining ancient magic with the modern world.


Published in The Irish Examiner on 3rd March 

© Sue Leonard. 2018 

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