Sandra always thought she’d be a ‘writer’ when she grew up. Growing up took longer than she expected, with a few detours along the way, detours that perhaps taught her skills necessary to a writer’s vocation: stamina, discipline, stubbornness and the ability to pick herself up and begin again, and again, and again.
Born in South Africa, and later home-schooled (or perhaps more accurately, self-schooled) in Ireland from the age of 12, she went on to receive a BA (Hons) in Classical Studies and Ancient Greek from Bristol University. She pursued careers in weaving, performance art, and mime, Jeet Kune Do, graphic design and IT (oh, and waitressing, of course). She travelled widely, both as a child and as an adult. In Ireland she taught weaving at her mother’s craft centre, and in India she taught Photoshop to refugee Tibetan monks and nuns. She has studied and travelled with spiritual teachers including Paul Lowe, David Deida and Deena Metzger. Sandra exhibited photographs of her travels in London and Toronto. In the mid 90s she contracted tick-bite fever in South Africa which has had a lasting impact on her health.
Sandra’s first fiction publication was in 2008 (‘La Llorona’ in Versal 6) when she was 46. She had been attending Barbara Turner-Vesselago’s Freefall Writing retreats for some years and can safely say she’s still writing because of Freefall. Essentially Freefall is an antidote to writer’s block. As Barbara describes it: “Freefall invokes the courage to fall without a parachute, into the words as they come, into the thoughts before they have fully formed in the mind, into the unplanned structures that take shape, without prompting, to contain them.”
Since 2008 Sandra has had over forty short stories and flash fiction published in literary magazines and journals, as well as one national newspaper. Awards and a full list of publications are listed here. In 2010, she began work on her novel, Ten Virtuous Acts, set in Sri Lanka and Thailand during the early 80s. The work explores a young woman’s attempt to find her moral compass in a world of cheap airfare and first-to-third-world tourism. Ten Virtuous Acts won the 2011 J.G. Farrell Award for best novel-in-progress and an early draft was long-listed for the 2011 Mslexia Women’s First Novel Competition. She is currently working on Seagull Pie, a fictionalised memoir. Seagull Pie won First Prize in the Bridport Prize’s 2019 Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel.
In her spare time Sandra is an animal advocate for strays in Bosnia and Herzegovina, founding AWABosnia. She lives with her partner David Crean and Rónán their foundling cat.
Gratefully acknowledging the support of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity; The Jeff and Kim van Steenbergen Scholarships; Dr. William A. Cochrane Endowment; Arts Council England, The Arts Council Ireland and the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.
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