Beginner’s Pluck

Derry O’Dowd

Derry O’Dowd is the pen name of Michael and Katy O’Dowd. A retired obstetrician, Michael is a medical historian and the national chair of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Ireland. Daughter Katy is a journalist.

Katy is the eldest of four children. Born in Northern Ireland she lived in Zambia as a small child, before moving to Ballinasloe. After college she moved to London, and got a job with Time Out, Associated Newspapers, and then with Comic Relief. She moved back to Ireland four years ago.

Who is Derry O’Dowd?

Date of birth: Jun 7, 1972.

Education: Colaiste Dhulaigh College: Radio Journalism. Newman College: 2 years media studies.

Home: Galway City.

Family: Husband James Wagstaff. Children Tadhg 13, and Riley 3.

The Day Job: Writing in various forms.

Hobbies: “I like baking. And I love really bad TV.”

Favourite Writers: Stephen King. Cormac McCarthy. “And I adore the books by Neil Stephenson.”

Second Novel: “We’re working on the next Derry O’Dowd novel. And my first solo novel comes out in May. It’s a Steampunk novel called the Lady Astronomer.”

Top Writing Tip: Write little and often. Don’t give up.


Twitter: @katyod


The Scarlet Ribbon. The History Press Ireland, €14.99; Kindle, €4.73

It was Michael’s idea, but he didn’t think he’d have the time to write it. And that’s where Katy came in. “We’d sit together, and discuss where the plot was going, then I’d go off and write it,” says Katy.

James Quinn is an idealistic surgeon, who, after a tragedy, and the death of his wife, decides to become a man midwife. But he has to battle a great deal of prejudice and suspicion. He’s also got his own demons to fight. The novel takes the reader from the backstreets of Paris, though society London, and back to Dublin again.

The Verdict: A thoroughly researched historical love story, this novel gives us a vivid glimpse at medicine in the 18th century.

— Interviewed by Sue Leonard

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