Kingsbridge author wins Independent Press Award for romance novel

Mary Sheeran of Kingsbridge was the recipient of the 2020 Independent Press award for her novel, “A Dangerous Liberty: Women of Destiny”
Courtesy of Mary Sheeran

Amidst the doom and gloom of the coronavirus, there has been some positivity. Recently, a local author was honored for her writing.

On May 5, Mary Sheeran of Kingsbridge was the recipient of the 2020 Independent Press award for her novel, “A Dangerous Liberty: Women of Destiny,” which was a winner in the romance category.

The Independent Press Award is an international competition for small and independent book publishers judged by publishing experts from multiple aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Their aim is to draw attention to books that are not produced by the Big 6 book publishers.

“It’s nice to get recognized and it makes me feel good,” Sheeran said.

“A Dangerous Liberty” is a historical romance set in the late 1860s in San Francisco and Virginia City, Nevada and deals with post Civil War tensions in the American West. The protagonist is Elisabeth Winters, an internationally renowned pianist and aspiring composer whose father, a United States senator, had been murdered before the war for his abolitionist views.

Although she had vowed never to return to her country, Winters finds herself out of necessity having to spend some time in the West. Although she tries to devote herself to her music, she cannot help working for the causes her she and her father believed in, and finds that she is a target for death. The Spanish-American William de la Cuesta, fighting to reclaim lands stolen from his family, is one possibility, and he alone knows a secret that she has blocked from her memory.

Mary Sheeran of Kingsbridge was the recipient of the 2020 Independent Press award for her novel, “A Dangerous Liberty: Women of Destiny.” Courtesy of Mary Sheeran

Sheeran’s other novels include “Banished From Memory,” set in Hollywood 1960 with a blacklist theme. This novel was cited as a Distinguished Favorite in the Historical Fiction category by the 2019 Independent Press Award and finished as a semi-finalist in the North Street Book Competition, “Quest of the Sleeping Princess,” set in the ballet world and “Who Have the Power,” set in the American West and exploring the effect of the Comstock silver bonanzas on the Native American tribes.

Sheeran, 62, grew up in New Jersey and fell in love with writing and singing as a youngster. Her dad, Pat Sheeran, was a Coca Cola salesman who passed those passions onto her. She was a writer and editor for her high school paper and always had creative ideas floating around in her head.

“I was just always writing stuff,” she recalled. “It’s always been a part of me.”

After majoring in theater and history at St. Mary’s College in Indiana, she moved to Manhattan, where she lived until 2015.

In the Big Apple she appeared in off Broadway shows, cabarets and sang as well. But five years ago, she relocated to the Bronx and loves being near the Jerome Park Reservoir, the Botanical Gardens and the zoo.

While she is grateful for the award, Sheeran recognizes there are more important things taking place right now.

“It’s an extraordinary time in the history of our country,” she said. “You can’t just think about yourself.”

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