Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Dad's Red Dress... Coming out soon

I'm in the final stages of preparing to publish my  novel, Dad's Red Dress. Excited and nervous; every time I look at the manuscript, I tweak another line, find another typo, read a sentence and decide it could be tighter/ shorter/ longer/funnier/stranger/ cut! 

But this story has been waiting in the wings and it can't wait to be read... We're holding on to each other, the book and I, ready for the strange dance that is publication.
Cover design : Aoife Henkes

So what is the book about?

Jessie wants her family to be normal. Really normal. Boringly so.

Trouble is her kid sister thinks she’s been abducted by the Virgin Mary – twice; once on a motorbike; her step-Mum makes nude sculptures and her Dad becomes Mandy when the door closes.

And that, as Jessie is about to learn, is only the start…

I would love to keep you in touch with what's happening...either on this blog or via
Twitter on @DadsRedDress
Facebook: @DadsRedDress


The history of DRD is interesting for me and that's why I wanted to get the story right. The germ that inspired me was planted when I was a teenager myself. A man my parents knew was transitioning  -- but, and this shocked my parents, she was also staying with his wife and family.

What horrified my parents equally - but which I thought was remarkably brave and possibly necessary financially - was that she was partially financing the necessary operations with a published diary/ expose of what he was going through in, I think, the Evening Press. I can also remember the paper being closed when I began to show an interest! In one particular two page spread, I read something about part of the jaw being chipped away to create high cheekbones, which sounded immensely painful.

But also, I was a child so I wondered how the kids felt and that's where this story comes from. I never met the woman who inspired me; I've never even spoken to her or her family. That would have felt deeply invasive. The story I created came from inside my mind in ten days in 2002 when, faced with the deadline for a script competition, I wrote what was originally called Jessie Jones is Nearly ten. 

She was, then. In the book, she's 13 and called Jessie Keane.

In it's original incarnation, it was a family film, despite the subject matter, because it was told from the perspective of Jessie, who was nine at the time. (In the novel, she's now 13.) 

Who knows, once the book is out, maybe the film will finally follow?

Feedback/ Bluecat Screenplay Competition 2011

"I enjoyed the subject matter. Sexual identity makes for an interesting story, and here, the writer gives us a story of a man becoming a woman, only it’s from the perspective of the man’s daughter. This is fascinating and complex. This family is full of love. They’ll never stop loving each other. Everyone wants to do the right thing. But still, Jessie struggles to come to terms with her father’s impending change.

"And why not? After all, she is going through her own transformation. She’s becoming an adolescent.  Her life is full of questions. She’s only beginning to discover herself, and yet, she must somehow understand her father. It’s a great set up for the story..."

"I love the way you describe the loading of the truck “swallowing everything up efficiently.” It makes for a much more interesting read than something along the lines of “chairs and tables are stacked in the back of a truck.”

"You seem to have a talent for breathing life into inanimate objects (“Jessie feeds coins into a hungry pay phone”). Descriptions like this all but guarantee you’ll have some engaged readers. The way you characterize Laura as being “not so angelic now” after her veil is snatched is likewise effective.

"Additionally, I really like how you come back to her veil at the very end of the piece (“. . .Laura dressed like a white rabbit, but with the veil”). It helps to present a genuine sense of closure and finality."


  1. Can't wait to read the book!

    1. I only saw this now - I don't expect to get comments much! You must be due another trip to Dublin soon? x