West Cork has an ‘undefinable something’ that attracted writer Sara Baume. Her second novel has just been published, writes Brian Moore
SARA Baume is an example of somebody you can, without fear of correction, describe as ‘brilliantly talented’.
As she prepares for the launch of her second novel, A Line Made By Walking, the multi-award winning writer has been reflecting on her new life in West Cork.
‘I grew up in Lisgoold in East Cork and then went to college at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) in Dublin,’ Sara says, over coffee at the Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen.
‘After college I spent a number of years working in Dublin and then my boyfriend and I moved to Whitegate, which was closer to home.’
However, Sara admits that she has always, secretly, had a desire to move to West Cork and live the fabled life of an artist.
‘West Cork has this undefinable something about the place that seemed to pull me towards wanting to live and work here. I think you only have to come to this part of Cork once, and you’re hooked and will always want to return,’ Sara continues.
Following the success of her first novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither, Sara found that she could no longer fight that West Cork magnetism and she and her artist boyfriend moved to an old farmhouse between Tragumna and Toe Head.
Although Sara’s success as a writer is without doubt well deserved, having won the 2014 Davy Byrne’s Short Story Award (previous winners include Anne Enright and Claire Keegan), she was long listed for the Guardian First Book Award, the Warwick Prize for Writing, the Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction and the International Dublin Literary Award and now, with two novels under her belt, she still admits that writing was never her first choice when it came to artistic pursuits.
‘I am somewhat of a reluctant writer, I suppose. I studied fine art and sculpture at college and I still, very much, want to be an artist in many ways, but it was while I was working to be a sculptor that I began writing,’ she says.
‘I began by writing about art and these articles were very quickly picked up and published by various art publications.
‘I remember thinking, “oh no is this what I’m good at?”.’ Sara’s latest novel, A Line Made By Walking, tells the story of a woman who leaves her job at an art gallery in Dublin and moves to an old creaky house that once belonged to her now deceased grandmother in rural Ireland.
‘I suppose there is a bit of my life experience in this story. There is a lot of the 25-year-old me in the main character, although the process of writing started very slowly.’
She adds: ‘It all began as an essay about my experience living in my grandmother’s house not long after she had died, then I just put it away for some reason to work on my first novel, which became Spill Simmer Falter Wither. So, much of this new book was written before I really sat down to begin the process.’
Now, well and truly installed in her West Cork home, Sara is once again looking forward to the West Cork Literary Festival where she will introduce A Line Made By Walking. ‘The literary festival is a must-attend event for me and I have been travelling to West Cork for many years now for it. I am looking forward to meeting old and new friends in Bantry later this year.’
• Sara Baume’s A Line Made By Walking is published by Tramp Press. She will appear at this summer’s West Cork Literary Festival in June. For more see www.westcorkmusic.ie/literaryfestival