Sara O’Donovan

Posted by Sue Leonard on Friday 24th February 2023

Brought up in the world of horseracing, Sara has been a lifelong show-jumper.  

“My father was a jump-jockey, and then a head lad,” she says. “I loved pony books – and at ten I wrote my first pony story. I sent it to Hodder and Stoughton and they wrote back.”

After university Sarah worked for a show jumper for a year, and then for Weatherbys Racing Administrators.

“After that, I was the racing secretary for the late Queen’s trainer, Lord William Huntingdon.”

In 1999, moving to Ireland, Sara worked in a stud near Fermoy, in bloodstock insurance. Then she moved to West Cork. In 2004 she joined West Cork Music, and has worked there since.

Meanwhile, Sara was working as a freelance equestrian journalist, for Horse and Hound and the Irish Field. And in 2005, she wrote a local equestrian book.

            “I wrote a novel a few years ago,” she says, “but it went nowhere. I started again and began my debut at the end of 2019. I worked with a mentor at the start. There was magic in the writing of it. People were so good and kind.”

Who is Sara O’Donovan?

Date of birth: 1972 in Wiltshire but brought up in West Sussex.

Education: Chatsmore Catholic high school, Goring by Sea; Southampton University, English.

Home: Between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery.

Family: Husband Damian. Children Annie 14, and Tom 10. 2 horses 2 ponies, a donkey, 3 dogs, 3 cats and 6 hens. 

The Day Job: Marketing Manager of West Cork Music, and Manager of the West Cork Literary Festival.

In Another Life: “I’d be a competitive show jumper with my own yard.”

Favourite Writers: Laurie Lee; DH Lawrence; EM Forster; Eoin McNamee; Anne Bronte; Hilary Fannin.

Second Book: “I have a few ideas.”

Top Tip: “Be consistent, determined and tenacious, and ask for advice from people you trust.”

The Debut: Within You Without you. €14.00. Kindle: €5.82.

Kathryn Johnson’s marriage has lost all its spark. And on a visit to her mother’s house in England, she sees a face from the past. It’s her first love, but he died in an accident twenty years before. What, exactly, is going on?

The Verdict: A beautifully written love story with an element of magical realism.

Published in the Irish Examiner on 10th December.

© Sue J Leonard. 2023

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