Funny you should say that… Katy O’Dowd

First of all, thank you to Laura for inviting me to a do a blog post, am very happy to be here!

It’s always difficult, isn’t it, to know what to write for someone else. When you have a blog yourself you’re content enough to fill it full of pictures of fluffy kittens wearing silly clothes or art nouveau posters of sci-fi overlords and, oh hang on, maybe it’s only me who does that?

So, in the spirit of continuing to lower the tone of a really rather wonderful website here, let me first of all declare that I am a big old tree hugging hippy type though not into the strange clothes, or strange teas, or strange, oh damn it maybe I’m not a tree hugging hippy type after all. Now that we have that all sorted out, I won’t use that particular analogy again, but I will say that I am a believer in coincidence. There, I’ve said it.

Three things happened during the writing of The Scarlet Ribbon to enforce that belief, or maybe it was coping with new baby and extreme lack of sleep, who can say for sure?

James Quinn is the lead in the book, the feisty young surgeon who wants to become a man-midwife after a tragic loss. Not long after his name was chosen, my Dad was in the College of Physicians, Dublin, and it being an old and venerable place even the names graffitied into magnificent desks there are also old and venerable – one such being ‘James Quinn’.

Carissa O’Flaherty is a love interest in The Scarlet Ribbon, and keeper of a really unusual, uncommon name. It is anglicised in the book, but as James explains Carissa is Cara Íosa – meaning friend of Jesus, and pronounced with a hard c and ee-oh-sah – so called after recovering from a serious illness in thanks to God by her parents. Not long after her name was picked I went to get my hair done at a new salon and my hairdresser for the appointment was, you guessed it, called Cara Íosa.

The title of The Scarlet Ribbon was initially The Scarlet Ribbon. Then it was switched to James Quinn Man-Midwife and submitted to the publisher, The History Press Ireland, as that. THPI said that they would like a name change and after an editorial and marketing meeting had come up with…. The Scarlet Ribbon.

Spooky, eh?

The Scarlet Ribbon was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line.

Written by father and daughter team Michael (a doctor and medical historian) and Katy O’Dowd, the book follows James Quinn, a young Irish surgeon battling prejudice, suspicion and personal demons in his controversial quest to change the face of medicine.

Following his marriage, tragedy strikes, thrusting James into a life of turmoil and despair. Throwing himself into his work, the young surgeon eventually begins to find solace in the most unexpected of places. From the backstreets of Paris, through the glittering social whirl of London and finally back to Ireland again, this is a story of the thorns of love and the harsh reality of life in the eighteenth century, where nothing is simple and complications of all kinds surround James Quinn, man midwife.

The Scarlet Ribbon is widely available in bookshops and online.

Katy is an arts and entertainment journalist and has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online.

Alongside writing under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose next book she is working on, she writes under her own name. ‘The Lady Astronomer’ will be out with Doctor Fantastique Books in May. She also reviews movies for STUDIO magazine, and is currently co-editing ‘Nasty Snips II’ a horror anthology which will be out with Pendragon Press at Halloween.

Katy blogs at

And can be found on twitter @katyod


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