Orna Ross is (born Aine McCarthy, 1960) is a bestselling and award-winning Irish author, with a strong educational background, and a desire to help others achieve their creative potential — in writing, in publishing and in life.
She writes mostly historical novels, often cross-generational, with an Irish setting and a murder mystery at their heart. She also writes poetry that inspires, aiming to capture moments of creative presence.
Ross is a self-publishing author and has been named “one of the rising stars in the indie world” by The Guardian. As the founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, the professional association for self-publishing authors, Ross is also a passionate promoter of creative writing and publishing as forms of artistic expression, as personal development tools and as career options with significant and growing potential in today’s digital publishing ecosystem.
She has repeatedly been hailed as one of the “100 most influential people in publishing” by The Bookseller, the trade magazine of UK publishing.
As well as writing and publishing books, she builds communities, online and off, that foster free expression, creativity and what she calls “creativism” (see below).
Born in Waterford and raised in Wexford, in the south-east of Ireland, Ross now lives in London & St Leonard’s On Sea.
Born: 1 April 1960
Nationality: Irish (Now lives in London & St Leonard’s On Sea)
This bestselling and award-winning Irish author, with a strong educational background, is defined by her desire to help others achieve their creative potential — in writing, in publishing and in life. A self-publishing author, her guiding mission is a belief in the published word as a powerful agent of healing and personal transformation, as well as a vital mode of expression and positive career option.
This has made her “one of the rising stars in the indie world”, according to The Guardian.
Ross writes mostly historical novels, often cross-generational, with an Irish setting and a murder mystery at their heart. She also writes poetry that inspires, aiming to capture moments of creative presence.
Ross’s writing achievements have gone hand in hand with a career in media, academia and publishing. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies, both from University College Dublin (UCD), she has previously worked as a freelance journalist, writing facilitator, literary agent and lecturer in culture and creativity studies at the Women’s Studies Centre (then known as WERRC) at UCD.
During her time there, Ross devised the Creative and Imaginative Practice course that later formed the basis of her Go Creative book series.
She has taught the principles and practices of creativity and creativism in a great variety of settings, from university lecture theaters to to community halls, from publishing conferences to virtual, online mentoring.
Ross has always supported other writers in their progress, whether in her capacity as a lecturer at UCD, or as head of the non-profit association, the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi), which she founded in 2012.
ALLi is an advocate for writers’ rights, offers a wide range of member benefits, a self-publishing advice center and watchdog for the indie author community, as well as working to promote and develop the self-publishing sector. It also publishes a range of guidebooks for authors, for which Ross is the series editor, and a very popular Self-Publishing Advice Centre which she oversees.
For this work, Ross has been repeatedly hailed as one of the “100 most influential people in publishing” by The Bookseller, the trade magazine of UK publishing.
Ross’s most recent venture is The Creativist Club, an online community for conscious creators.
Ross’s publishing has had two distinct phases: first as a trade-published then a self-published author. She published non-fiction guides for women with Attic Press in Dublin (Bodymatters for Women, 1989; Get Up & Go: A Travel Guide For Women, 1992) and fiction with Penguin Books (Lover’s Hollow, 2006; A Dance in Time 2008).
After a hiatus due to cancer treatment and a change of country, in 2011 Ross made a break from the world of traditional publishing and leveraged the power of the digital era by taking her rights back from Penguin to self-publish her novels as she had originally envisaged them.
Her first novel has now developed into a trilogy: The Irish Trilogy incorporating I: After the Rising (2012); II: Before the Fall (2013); and III: In the Hour (forthcoming 2019).
She has published two further novels, Blue Mercy (2013) and Her Secret Rose (2015) and collaborated with six other female writers to create a book box set: Outside the Box: Women Writing Women (2014), which featured Blue Mercy.
In addition to her fiction, she has written and edited non-fiction guides for writers, creatives and creativists. (see publications list below) and can also count poetry in her repertoire, having released a number of poetry pamphlets and a selected collection.
She also runs two popular blogs, the Creative Writing, Creative Publishing, Creative Living blog on her own website and the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Self-Publishing Advice Blog.
Alliance of Independent Authors
In addition to Ross’s writing, she also leads the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi). Ross launched ALLi in 2012 as a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to protect self-publishing writers’ rights, and promote and develop the self-publishing sector.
In her role, as the head of ALLi, Ross and her team have advised many authors and other organizations, including the BBC on publishing costs for independent authors.
While Ross both writes and publishes, her game-changing work lies in the development of the creativist movement. For Ross, creativism is the application of the creative process to everyday aspects of life like work, relationships and money. She takes care to separate such creativism from our ordinary understanding of creativity, which is closely aligned with the liberal arts.
Creativism requires an experimental and exploratory attitude, a tolerance of creative anxiety and failure and an understanding of the seven stages of the creative process, together with the skills and mind modes needed in each stage — and how to cultivate them. With these skills in place, Ross contends, anyone can create anything they truly want.
The first book of the Go Creative! Series, How to Create Anything (2017) explores the seven stages in depth, and is followed by a series of books, and what she calls work-rest-playbooks, that enable anyone who wants to own, and hone, their creative capacity.
The Irish Family: Ross’s homeland, Ireland, features strongly in her works and she draws on the cross-generational and gender conflicts of family life for inspiration. F-r-e-e-writing: From her time at University College Dublin (UCD) to the present, Ross has been driven by her deep interest in the written word as an agent for healing and transformation, for self and others.
WB Yeats: The Irish poet “made me want to be a writer,” Ross says.
The Sea: “Everything I needed to know I could have learned by watching the waves,” she says. She grew up close to the sea in Wexford and is delighted to have, in 2017, added life in St Leonard’s On Sea to her London life.
More: She further cites her inspirations on her website as history, gender and other writers and conscious creators.
Ross has enjoyed being a published author, by feminist publishing house, Attic Press, and corporate publisher, Penguin, but mostly under her own steam, as a self-published author.