SHE’S drawing more inspiration from thriller king Dick Francis than racy writer Jilly Cooper, but Athy’s own Lissa Oliver is set to make her mark in the world of equine industry fiction.
Lissa’s first book, Chantilly Dawns, was launched at a reception at the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association offices in Kill last Friday evening, February 18, by Mark Costello of The Irish Field.
Lissa is a specialist horseracing journalist and European correspondent for Australia’s Racetrack magazine, as well as many Irish and European publications. Originally from London, she has lived in Kildare for more than 20 years with her husband Tony and daughter Samantha.
Her previous novels (the self-published Nero and Gala Day) have earned nominations for such awards as the James Tait Award and the Longman History Award, and her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and on radio.
She has also taught creative writing with the VEC in Athy and Newbridge, and was a founding member of the Kildare Screenwriters’ Guild and Athy Writers.
“Horseracing is my other great passion, hence the inspiration for the book. I knew I wanted to write about a jockey trying to rebuild his life and it could only happen in France, as the Irish racing community is too supporting and forgiving for the plot!” said Lissa.
Chantilly Dawns is a story about a top jockey who loses his racing licence after being accused of deliberately pulling up healthy horses.
As he struggles to clear his name, he becomes enmeshed in a thrilling yarn trying to uncover the truth behind the horses’ defeats and betrayal by one of his closest friends.
“I would class it as a coming of age and rights of passage story, but it’s also a gripping thriller,” said Lissa. It took her about seven months last year to write the book. She finished it last September and it was accepted by the first publisher to which she sent it, within two weeks.
And while Lissa says that the story draws on her own experience in the horse racing industry, she won’t be drawn as to whether her characters are based on real people!!
Chantilly Dawns is published by Book Republic and is available in bookshops for E12.99 or online at www.bookrepublic.ie.