CIARA has always written. But she started in earnest when her second child went to nursery school.

“The book just evolved,” she says. “I didn’t have a particular plot, and the characters simply arrived. I got to the end. It was all on scraps of paper. I typed it onto the computer and had 75,000 words. I thought, ‘this is book size’. I sent it off, and the first publisher accepted it.”

The debut is set in Ireland. With Irish parents, Ciara spent all her holidays in Ballybutler, near Midleton, Co Cork.

“Ireland is very much part of my identity. It’s a second home to me.”

Who is Ciara Hegarty?

Date of birth: December 11, 1980 in London.

Education: Convent in Isleworth. University, King’s College London. (English Language and Communications.)

Home: A seaside village in Dorset.

Family: Two daughters. Imogen, 11, and Roisin, seven.

The Day Job: Full-time writer.

Hobbies: I love knitting and crocheting. And I spend lots of time in the sea with my daughters.

Favourite Writers: Ian McEwan; Jennifer Johnston. I read children’s books with my 11-year-old. Eva Ibbotson is brilliant.

Second Novel: A tentative first draft has gone off to my editor. It’s set in Ireland, but is almost present day. It’s about a mother/daughter relationship.

Top Writing Tip: Always carry a notebook with you, and have one by your bed. Don’t edit before the end.


Twitter: @ciara_hegarty


The Road to the Sea by Ciara Hegarty. Published by Panmacmillan at €10.99.

It’s the forties in rural Ireland. Kathleen is troubled. Since her twin sister died her mother has been steeped in depression, leaving Kathleen to care for her young siblings. A shocking family incident forces her into the arms of Joseph Foley, a traumatised young man who has mysteriously arrived in the farming community.

The Verdict: This impressive debut takes an unusual angle on a taboo subject. Subtle and haunting, it shows how family tragedies and secrets can resonate.

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