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City of Books Podcast Featuring Sara Baume

Photo credit: Kenneth O’Halloran



Despite winning critical success with each of her books, writer and visual artist Sara Baume says, “I’ll always feel like a failed artist rather than a successful writer.”

But, typically reflective, this highly original author adds: “Perhaps carrying that is useful in some way.”

She tells the City of Books podcast that she doesn’t show much of her art: “It all sits in my art room of junk.” However, working with her hands is important to her.

Art themes include handmade birds – featured in her last book, the non-fiction work Handiwork – and tiny container ships which reflect her concerns about over-consumption. When she looks at the real life versions of those ships, she thinks about all the boxes inside them.

Sara is unafraid to use her own life in her writing, while insisting on its status as fiction, and does so again in her new book Seven Steeples, a gentle and thought-provoking novel spanning seven years. It’s about a couple and their two rescue dogs who drop off the radar and live a quiet life doing as little harm to the planet as possible.

“Everything I write is always an extremity of my actual existence. It’s sort of like a smudged out version of us, I suppose, and becomes less like us as the book goes on,” says Sara, who moved to the countryside 11 years ago and currently lives with her partner in West Cork.

Modestly, she tells podcast presenter Martina Devlin that she lacks the flair to invent stories and “perhaps I don’t have a busy enough life” to borrow details from the people she meets, like other writers. So she needs to harvest her own, even as she transforms it.

Seven Steeples by Sara Baume is published by Tramp Press

City of Books is sponsored by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.


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