Hitting the books helped author to realise writing dream
Published on Thu 18 Jul 2019 by Jonathan Watson
One of Scotland’s most exciting emerging authors says that her experience as a University of Dundee student prepared her for a new chapter in her life.
Having completed her MLitt in Writing Practice and Study in 2014, Sandra Ireland has just released her third novel, The Unmaking of Ellie Rook.
Now a tutor within the University’s English department, Carnoustie-based Sandra said that her studies gave her the confidence to embark upon a career as an author.
“I was 45 when I started my English and Creative Writing undergraduate course at Dundee,” she said.
“I always had a love for writing but it was only after my mother died, when I started to write as an escape, that I began to explore a return to education.
“At first I was worried that I would feel out of place but as soon as I started I realised I belonged at university. Now, as a tutor at Dundee, I get to see today’s students at work and it is very exciting to see how they interact and encourage one another.”
The decision to attend university was not a simple one for Sandra, who had to take on a cleaning job to make ends meet while she studied. After graduating from Dundee with a First Class Honours degree in English and Creative Writing, she was awarded the Carnegie-Cameron Scholarship that allowed her to study for her MLitt.
Just months after completing her course, Sandra’s writing was noticed by a literary agent and she was soon signed to a leading publisher. With her reputation as a writer blossoming, Sandra continues her work as a tutor on Dundee’s Humanities for All programme.
A psychological thriller, The Unmaking of Ellie Rook follows a young woman who is called home from her new life following the disappearance of her mother. Ellie’s story is entwined with the Aberdeenshire legend of Finella of the Mearns, who is said to have murdered King Kenneth II in the ninth century.
“With this novel, I knew I wanted to write about strong women, but from personal experience I understand how difficult it can be to summon up courage,” Sandra continued.
“I wanted to say something about the lives of women who feel they have no choice.
“My main hope is that the readers like the book as that gives you confidence as a writer. My last book, Bone Deep, sold in the United States, Germany and India, so for it to be published internationally would also be fantastic.”