Literary Historical Fiction

I write literary historical fiction, family murder mysteries that span generations and uncover buried secrets of the past that are poisoning the present

Literary Fiction: Blue Mercy: A Family Murder Mystery

Literary Historical Fiction

When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father.

Now, at the end of her life, she wants her daughter, Star, to know what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989.

Star vehemently resists.

But why?

What is Mercy hiding?

Was her father’s death, as many believe, an assisted suicide?

Or something even more sinister?

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In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: The Irish Trilogy: A Family Murder Mystery

Each of these books can be read as a standalone. Taken together they cover four generations of a family from 1890 to 2010, set in Ireland, London and California.
Literary Historical Fiction

Literary Historical Fiction
Twenty years ago, Jo Devereux fled Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, driven away by buried secrets and hatreds.

Now she’s back to uncover the truth of what really happened between her family and their friends, the O’Donovans, during the bitter Irish Civil War of 1922.

When Jo meets Rory O’Donovan, the only man she ever truly loved, she is reminded of how the passion of rebellion sweeps people up. But her real interest now is in what happens after the rising.

Can the letters left by her estranged mother redeem the past and offer her–or maybe even both of them–a future?

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In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: Her Secret Rose

The Yeats-Gonne Trilogy tells the story of the strange love triangle between the poet WB Yeats, his long-time muse Maud Gonne and her daughter, Iseult. Each of these books can be read as a standalone. Taken together they range across the years 1889 to 1923, set in Ireland, London and Paris.

Her Secret Rose: Willie and Maud

Willie Yeats is 23 years old in 1889, when dazzling Maud Gonne decides to recruit him in her newly adopted cause of Irish freedom–and “the troubling of his life” begins.

He spreads his dreams under her feet as they set about creating a new Ireland through poetry, politics and their shared interest in the occult. But this love affair is much more than poetic image would have you believe.

Packed with emotional twists and surprises, Her Secret Rose brings to life 1890s Dublin, London and Paris while exposing untold truths about one of history’s most charismatic love affairs. If you like Hamnet or Shadowplay then you’ll love this haunting and moving story.

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In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: Dancing in the Wind

It’s 1916, the world is at war, Ireland has just embarked on a doomed rebellion against the British, and WB Yeats, the famous Irish poet, has decided that “having come to 50 years”, he is in need of a wife. Just then comes the news that the love of his life, Maud Gonne, has been widowed and in the most spectacular way: her estranged husband John MacBride has been executed by the British government for his part in the 1916 Irish uprising.
Maud dispatches her 23-year-old daughter, Iseult, to ask the poet to help them get to Ireland, so they can be part of the independence revolution there. Iseult is as tall and beautiful as her mother was at that age, but with a more literary leaning, and her presence stirs the poet to painful memories and new, somewhat frightening, feelings.
As war escalates in Europe and revolution foments in Ireland, the public struggles for freedom and respect are played out in their intimate love triangle.
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News About My Current Work in Progress

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2 days ago
Orna Ross

Following on from the discussion about reviving the word "feminal", here's my first draft attempt to get it into my current WIP, A Life Before This One (first book in my upcoming Yeats-Gonne series). What do we think? Too much?

****

... This book is born of what WB called “the blear-eyed wisdom” of midnight toil but that’s only the half of it. There's also the opposite kind of energy: the knowing that comes through heart and gut, not head. I’m an old woman now, a grandmother to thirteen and great-grandmother to seven, and was initiated early into such knowing, by my own grandmother, who taught me well. So I’ve spent a lifetime letting it through and I know it well.

The feminal. That was the word they had for it in the olden days, the word my grandmother used to use. That’s what fires this story, as much as any research or facts. Many times while writing, I've felt it...her... coming through me.

We let the word die, but what it described never went away, since then, or before. It’s behind the figures in cave paintings, the mantras of the Vedas and the head of the sphinx. Behind the whore of Babylon, the the gifts of the Muses and the temples at Thebes. Behind the temptations of Eve, the trinity of Morrigan, the erotics of Sappho. Behind the spells of witches, the emblems of alchemy, the summoning of spirits. Behind lady love and girl power, virgin births and sex bombs, dame nature and Mother Earth. The feminal. Everywhere the same and everywhere concealed.

Both Maud Gonne and WB went in search of her, but neither could let her lead. A more opinionated pair than those two would be hard to find--and nothing sees off the feminal like a strongly held opinion...

[Pic: The Three Morrigans by Ion Ander Ramirez of IonAnder Art.]
... See MoreSee Less

Following on from the discussion about reviving the word feminal, heres my first draft attempt to get it into my current WIP, A Life Before This One (first book in my upcoming Yeats-Gonne series). What do we think? Too much? 

****

... This book is born of what WB called “the blear-eyed wisdom” of midnight toil but that’s only the half of it. Theres also the opposite kind of energy: the knowing that comes through heart and gut, not head. I’m an old woman now, a grandmother to thirteen and great-grandmother to seven, and was initiated early into such knowing, by my own grandmother, who taught me well. So I’ve spent a lifetime letting it through and I know it well. 

The feminal. That was the word they had for it in the olden days, the word my grandmother used to use. That’s what fires this story, as much as any research or facts. Many times while writing, Ive felt it...her... coming through me. 

We let the word die, but what it described never went away, since then, or before. It’s behind the figures in cave paintings, the mantras of the Vedas and the head of the sphinx. Behind the whore of Babylon, the the gifts of the Muses and the temples at Thebes. Behind the temptations of Eve, the trinity of Morrigan, the erotics of Sappho. Behind the spells of witches, the emblems of alchemy, the summoning of spirits. Behind lady love and girl power, virgin births and sex bombs, dame nature and Mother Earth. The feminal. Everywhere the same and everywhere concealed. 

Both Maud Gonne and WB went in search of her, but neither could let her lead. A more opinionated pair than those two would be hard to find--and nothing sees off the feminal like a strongly held opinion...

[Pic: The Three Morrigans by Ion Ander Ramirez of IonAnder Art.]

Comment on Facebook

It works well, feels strangely familiar, like something we knew but had forgotten. Not pretentious or tricksy. Love your description!

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4 days ago
Orna Ross

Came across an old word in research this morning and I think we should revive it. "Feminal", meaning: "relating to a woman".

Collins dictionary shows how this word--so useful in filling the great gap between "feminine" and "feminist"--was popular in the early 18th century (a time of turbulence for women in the Anglo world). Then it fell completely away--apart from a interesting small resurgence in the 1940s. Why did we let it die? Can it live again?

Feminal. Relating to a woman. I think I like it. I think we need it. Would you use it?

Pic is the great Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer, in the great Jane Campion's feminal (and feminist) adaptation of Henry James’s *The Portrait of a Lady*.
... See MoreSee Less

Came across an old word in research this morning and I think we should revive it. Feminal, meaning: relating to a woman. 

Collins dictionary shows how this word--so useful in filling the great gap between feminine and feminist--was popular in the early 18th century (a time of turbulence for women in the Anglo world). Then it fell completely away--apart from a interesting small resurgence in the 1940s. Why did we let it die? Can it live again?

Feminal. Relating to a woman. I think I like it. I think we need it. Would you use it?

Pic is the great Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer, in the great Jane Campions feminal (and feminist) adaptation of Henry James’s *The Portrait of a Lady*.

Comment on Facebook

Yes Orna Ross, I would use it; love it! Thanks 🙂

Just used it in my book. Autocorrect keeps trying to change it to "seminal"... which is rather hilarious. That made me think of another word we need.... Ovumnal! 😀

Lovely word, deserves resurrection. And how about "feminality"?!

And check out The White Goddess

I can certainly see how it would be useful. I'll have to try to remember to use it when appropriate.

That is entering my vocabulary right now!

A beautiful word, useful and graceful in equal measures

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1 week ago
Orna Ross

It's a winter evening in 1885 and my characters have just enjoyed a Sunday meal with friends. Nothing special, just Sunday dinner for six. Tapioca soup, whiting in butter, steaks of beef, cold slices of mutton with salad and sides, lemon sorbet, roast pork, apple charlotte, macaroni cheese, and fruit, washed down with champagne, sherry, burgundy, claret, hock and port. They're flaked out now in front of the fire, I wonder why? ... See MoreSee Less

Its a winter evening in 1885 and my characters have just enjoyed a Sunday meal with friends. Nothing special, just Sunday dinner for six. Tapioca soup, whiting in butter, steaks of beef, cold slices of mutton with salad and sides, lemon sorbet, roast pork, apple charlotte, macaroni cheese, and fruit, washed down with champagne, sherry, burgundy, claret, hock and port. Theyre flaked out now in front of the fire, I wonder why?

Comment on Facebook

I can't get beyond the tapioca soup - if I had to stomach that, I don't think I could cope with any of the rest of it!

I wonder if the soup is in fact cold? My favourite childhood dessert was gula melaka, iced sago made with coconut milk with a sauce made from palm sugar.

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3 weeks ago
Orna Ross

As dawn rises on a new year, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for believing in better, and for being here, and for all your support last year. A writer without readers is just a person alone in a room. You keep me going. Wishing you the best possible 2022. ... See MoreSee Less

As dawn rises on a new year, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for believing in better, and for being here,  and for all your support last year. A writer without readers is just a person alone in a room. You keep me going. Wishing you the best possible 2022.
4 weeks ago
Orna Ross

However you spend this day--whether you're celebrating with friends or family, isolating with covid or in blissful solitude, or choosing not to notice this silly-selly season at all--I wish you all things merry and bright on this 25th December 2021. And the joys of a good book, of course! ... See MoreSee Less

However you spend this day--whether youre celebrating with friends or family, isolating with covid or in blissful solitude, or choosing not to notice this silly-selly season at all--I wish you all things merry and bright on this 25th December 2021. And the joys of a good book, of course!