Dad's Red Dress

Latest news: 07 Oct 2017
Dad's Red Dress has been ordered for all the Dublin libraries. Thrilled and delighted.

Dad's Red Dress is available on Amazon, on Smashwords, in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, Books Upstairs, Dublin and in the Maynooth Bookshop and directly from

Review by Children's Books Ireland in Inis magazine, online:

Jessie Keane just wants her family to be normal… utterly, completely normal. Having moved from L.A. back to Ireland, normality would offer a chance to avoid the ‘looks’, the rumours and the bullying that she has dealt with in the past. But ‘normal’ is hardly possible. Not with a little sister who claims to have been abducted by the Virgin Mary (twice), a wildly contemporary artist stepmother and a creative architect father with a penchant for cross-dressing. As she tries to balance this eccentric, yet loving family, and what she hopes will be an ordinary school life, Jessie is put to the test when a new development shakes the façade she is working so hard to craft. She must stop this! Or so she thinks…

When I picked up Dad’s Red Dress, I expected a book that was quirky, entertaining and funny. What I did not expect was a novel that spoke to the heart of what it means to grow up. Filled with vivid, genuine characters and complex, conflicting family drama, it is joyous, loving and truly unique among the vast canon of coming-of-age stories. Each character is intricately drawn. Difficult subject matter is handled with great sensitivity. The dialogue is realistic and relatable for any young person. And while the situation may be unusual, the emotional impact is not. It gives the reader much to consider about life, friendship, who we really are and what makes a family. Dad’s Red Dress is indeed humourous; a delight to read. Simply wonderful.

Review by Mary Esther Judy

Now in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway

This is a very entertaining and engaging read written in an original and imaginative way. And it deals with quite a difficult subject really well through humour.

From the beginning of the book we become aware that Jessie’s family are not quite main- stream - Eva , Jessie’s stepmother is a breast sculptor, Laura, Jessie’s sister has a fixation with the Virgin Mary and insists on wearing a veil the whole time. But it not until we are into the second chapter that we become aware that Jessie’s father likes to wear women’s clothes and wants to have a sex change. And because the family have just moved to Ireland from LA, Jessie has a lot to cope with.

I felt that Lindsay got into the head of Jessie very well. She is a sensitive and imaginative teenager who has ordinary everyday teenage problems to deal with as well as her dad’s transexuality. The character of the school principal who is attracted to ‘Mandy’ adds plenty of humour to proceedings as does Laura, Jessie’s sister with her quirky ways and her unusual pets. There are plenty of humorous moments, one particularly hilarious one where Mandy’s chicken fillet comes flying out at a rugby match springs to mind. She balances humour and tension perfectly throughout the novel.

This book should appeal to all teenagers - Jessie is a typical teenager in many ways and as the novel progresses we get to know and like her better. We sympathise with her love for her father and her struggle to come to terms with ‘Mandy’. I became involved in her world where clouds take on a significance and her colourful way of thinking.

I would recommend this quirky and entertaining novel to anyone. It highlighted the problems that the children of transsexuals can encounter when their parents are transitioning. without preaching or making judgement. - Kindle edition review on 25/4/17


I've read this twice, as an advance reader copy, and as an ebook on my kindle. It's a great story for young adults, a coming of age themed novel, filled with complexity and featuring a wonderful family of characters, alternative in many ways, and yet, so relatable. Original and believable, every character is well developed and totally three dimensional. I loved the intricacies of each one, and Jessie is just a delight, having a beautiful relationship with her Dad. Jesse has a lot to deal with now that her family has moved to Ireland from the USA...weird little sister, new school, new friends, boys, bullying - oh, and did I mention her Dad? Read on...! The Librarians Chair; 9/2/17

Vivid characters, excellent story:
In Croatia, with Aoife Maguire
Dad's Red Dress is a story for our times, and one that can be enjoyed by all of the family. The characters are vivid, the story is fresh, and the dialogue is sparkling. I can heartily recommend it. 8/2/17

A sparkling and rewarding read:
From the very first paragraph, I was sucked into the colourful and crazy world of young Jessie Keane. Her exotic family exudes warmth and togetherness. The reader is left in no doubt that this is a loving and safe environment for her and her sister. ... [The] serious subject matter is dealt with sensitively by L.J. Sedgwick, and even better than that, it is uproariously funny. I found myself re-reading sentences and entire paragraphs over again, in pure joy. I haven't enjoyed a novel as much in years. - Trish Groves, author.

What a great story – sometimes sad, deeply thought-provoking and often laugh out loud funny - 20/4/17

I found "Dad's Red Dress" sparkling, charming and a very entertaining book. - 18/3/17
In London with actress Karen Connell


It's a beautiful story excellently of the best novels I've read in bloody ages. - Patrick Chapman, author of Slow Clocks of Decay

Just finished your book on Wednesday. I had a few tears at the last chapter. It's a great read I love that style of writing. Your very witty and creative! I'm on the look out for a sequel or your second publication! – N F

At times very funny and the subject matter deftly handled, it was hard to put down and always a pleasure to get back to. Can't wait for the sequel. – T O’B, 
On way to Norway with Jakki Moore

Enjoyed the novel very much. Funny, off-beat and convincing. –  M B 

It was a touching story, dealing with all sorts of issues.  Such beautiful characters in Jessie's family, I loved them all. You did it so well, I really wanted to see how they would all deal with it.  Beautifully in the end! –  K S
In Oz with Andrea Mangan

It's heartbreaking, heartwarming and brilliantly funny, all at the same time. – PG.
*sob* What a lovely ending... it hits all the emotional marks. *blows nose loudly on damp tissue, which promptly disintegrates.* I love it. T G.

Only 10% through but having a good giggle. – K McV

What a great story, filled with complexity - original and believable, every character so well developed and totally three dimensional. I loved the intricacies of each one, and Jessie is just a delight, I was with her all the way! A beautiful relationship with her Dad, and her little sister! It's wonderful, just wonderful!!  - Caroline Farrell, author of Arkyne and Lady Beth.  


My first published novel, Dad's Red Dress is now out, diving onto bookshelves and the laps of readers. It's available in paperback and kindle here, on Amazon and from

Here's a tiny trailer to whet your appetitie and you can find more info on Twitter: @DadsRedDress
or Facebook:

Amazing cover by Aoife Henke 
It's been a long process, some of that to do with gathering courage and confidence to take this step. But it began a few years ago when, tired of waiting on other people's decisions and disillusioned at the number of scripts scowling at me from the shelves - even ones that everyone liked but couldn't raise funding on - I started to turn some of them into books, starting with the family features. 

Dad's Red Dress danced into prose and revelled in the freedom of it! 

So what's it about?

Having just moved to Ireland from California, Jessie is determined that nobody at school will find out about her dad's cross-dressing. Not because she minds but because when they do, bullying inevitably follows and she wants to protect herself and Laura. 

This story wanted to be heard. It's a strong story but I've tried to tell it lightly and honestly, from Jessie's point of view. This is her world and she's still finding her way in it. But I've had the idea for it since the early 80s. It first came out in 2002 as a feature script. That was my main form of writing at that stage. It got a huge amount of traction and interest, even a bit of competition from two German production companies who both wanted it and it was steaming ahead toward full production. Key casting was being talked about and then, nothing. 

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

Thing is her kid sister, Laura thinks she’s been abducted by the Virgin Mary – twice; once on a motorbike with a pink afro; her step-mum makes nude sculptures and her dad becomes Mandy when the door closes.

Trouble is, she's not really in control of what happens next and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated... 

So now, after waiting over 30 years (scary how time speeds up! My mother always said it did, when you got older and I believe her now!), Dad's Red Dress is available to buy on Amazon here.

The Northside People newspaper March 1st, 2017


The germ that inspired me was planted when I was a teenager myself. A local man was transitioning  -- but, and this shocked my parents, she was also staying with his wife and family. I never met her or knew anything more about her but what I do remember is that she was partially financing the necessary operations with a published diary of what he was going through in an evening paper.

In one two page spread, I managed to read something about part of the jaw being chipped away to create high cheekbones, which sounded immensely painful, before it was taken away.

But more fascinating to me as a child was wondering how the kids felt, how they were treated at school and that's where this story comes from. As I said, I never met the woman who inspired me; I've never even spoken to her or her family and I've never researched or looked any further into her story. 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. 

In the book, she's 13 and is called Jessie Keane.

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."

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