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Sarah Gethin On Falling in Love With Heathcliff

My latest guest in the Meet A Welsh Author series is Sara Gethin, a former primary school teacher who began writing fiction for children. She’s also published two novels for adult readers and several short stories.

Earliest Reading Memory

Sitting on the floor of the library in Llanelli, a book in my lap, probably an Enid Blyton. The children’s section was upstairs back then, in a wonderful, light-filled room that smelt of furniture polish. 

The Author Who Changed My Life

Emily Bronte, thanks to the Welsh Joint Education Committee who felt — wrongly in my opinion (I appreciate this may be controversial! ) — that Wuthering Heights was the ideal novel for impressionable teenagers.

I fell for Cathy’s Heathcliff, and it took the rest of my teenage years to realise that his character traits weren’t the best to search for in my own love interest. Of course, read with wiser eyes, it’s a wonderful novel. 

Welsh author Sara Gethin with her latest novel Emmet and Me

The Book I Keep Returning To

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle. Genius.

Most Recommended Book

A Marmite one. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I was on a packed train to Bridgend when I came to the story’s jaw-dropping reveal halfway through the book. (I very nearly missed my stop.)

An Unexpected Pleasure

A good friend kept recommending Frank McCourt’s, Angela’s Ashes. I held out, convinced the subject matter was far too miserable. When I eventually read it, I did sob quite a lot, but I cried with laughter too. Now in my top five favourite books.

The Last Book I Bought

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. Love her writing, keep forgetting how to correctly pronounce her surname (according to Wikipedia, it’s ‘teivz’).

You Won’t Find Me Reading …

Any further releases by Harper Lee’s estate. Having read Go Set a Watchman I wish I’d stopped at To Kill a Mockingbird.

I Would Love To Have A Drink/Dinner With …

Patricia Highsmith.

I spent a few months reading her books back-to-back in my thirties, and her portrayal of people and their devious motives fascinated me. She didn’t have the friendliest of personalities, reportedly, and she once took a snail-covered lettuce in her handbag to a party (breeding the creatures was one of her hobbies, apparently).

So maybe not dinner with her, but perhaps a tequila. 

My Favourite Writing Place

A coffee shop in Kilmainham, Dublin.

I Wish I’d Written …

Anything by Agatha Christie. Oh, to have a mind that could plot a storyline so perfectly! 

The Author Behind The Name: Sara Gethin

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White, the name under which she has published four books for children.

She grew up in Llanelli, working as an assistant in a children’s library and as a primary school teacher.

The first of her four books for children — Welsh Cakes and Custard — won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014.

Her debut novel for adults,  Not Thomas, was shortlisted for the The Guardian’s “Not the Booker prize” project in 2017 and the 2018 Waverton Good Read Award. It was optioned for television.

Her second novel, Emmet and Me, was published by Honno Press in May, 2021.

Sarah’s short fiction has been shortlisted for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award

You can follow Sara via her website and at Twitter @SGethinWriter

Emmet and Me: Synopsis

Summer 1966: When her father comes home with lipstick on his collar, ten-year-old Claire’s life is turned upside down. Her furious mother leaves the family and heads to London, and Claire and her brothers are packed off to Ireland, to their reclusive grandmother at her tiny cottage on the beautifully bleak coast of Connemara.

A misfit among her new classmates, Claire finds it hard to make friends until she happens across a boy her own age from the school next door. He lives at the local orphanage, a notoriously harsh place. Amidst half-truths, lies and haunting family secrets, Claire forms a forbidden friendship with Emmet ‒ a bond that will change both their lives forever.

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