My appreciation to Colleen for her very kind invitation to write this guest post. The Irish Tempest is my second novel. The first one, like some marriages and houses, was a starter novel. While it had some lively dialog and interesting characters, it was self-indulgent in style with predictable prose. My literary guardian angel – yes, I have one of those and his name is Jack Kerouac – suggested in his crabby way that I wait for a sign to unleash an epiphany of “true thoughts’.
Several years later (signs do take their time), I was dusting and reached for a framed photograph of myself around four years of age, dressed in a bright tartan plaid dress with a crisp peter pan collar and drooping knee socks. It is Christmas at my aunt’s home and in the foreground, you can see hints of the holiday madness with shredded wrapping paper and dismembered boxes. Above my head and slightly to the left, on a well-polished credenza, are the three wise men. Balthasar is staring down on me with what I believe, to this very day, is a frown of disapproval.
I am flashing an over the shoulder sneer of defiance because once again, I am made to stand in the corner for being NOSEY. This is not a word befitting a budding writer. Curious…inquisitive…even snoopish would be a more flattering choice. Being “nosey” was regarded by nearly every adult family member as a sin on par with lying, stealing and possibly, felony murder. Once I reached the age of reason (that would be seven), it formally became a crime to be confessed weekly. How could an inquisitive four year old resist all those lovely presents in their sparkly disguises? This is what I know to be true about writers: we snoop…we eavesdrop…we plunder. We do this to create characters, loveable and loathsome, who wallow in a world of our imagination and manipulation.
Holding that photograph inspired a brief visual of an adolescent boy, with dark curly hair and an Irish accent, caressing the child’s face and whispering, “Greedy little lamb.” That fleeting “true thought” gave birth to Court and Lacey in The Irish Tempest. Writing a historical novel does not follow the established dictum to “write what you know”. Basic research took a year during which I mentally mapped out the significant threads of the plot. Writing was painfully laborious and what sustained me were those moments when my characters seemed to write their own dialog and behave in shocking ways. By the time I was more than halfway through, I hit a wall and put it aside…for three years.
In the spring of 2013, another sign appeared. On an unusually mild March evening, I was walking by a park three blocks from my home. There are always neighborhood guys hanging out, playing music and checkers. Sitting on a small crate, away from the others, was a middle-age man not so discretely sipping a beverage from a paper bag. We made eye contact and he smiled as if he knew me. “Hey! How’s that story you’re writing about that family?”
Had he smacked me across the face with a dead carp, I would have been no less astonished. “You’re confusing me with someone else.” As soon as I got home, I called my sister because when you’re dreaming, you cannot dial a number for some wacky reason. I needed her to bear witness to this sign. Three years later, The Irish Tempest was published.
Publisher: Waxing Gibbous Press
Pub. Date: October 17th, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ireland, 1911: After seven centuries of unyielding oppression, there is a tempest rising, a national yearning for Irish independence. It threatens to sweep away all that is precious to the very privileged O'Rourke and de la Roche families. Seismic changes are but a whisper away.
What begins as a squabbling friendship between the wastrel Courtland O'Rourke and the defiant, mischief-making Lacey de la Roche matures into a deeply passionate, tempestuous love, fraught with secrets of lethal consequences and sins of omission.
In this debut historical novel, The Irish Tempest beckons the reader into a world, where landowner and tenant farmer, the well-off and the working-class are chafing under the chokehold of British domination.
Pulled apart by personal and social conflicts, Court and Lacey experience the world from perspectives both transformative and destructive. Court, compelled to accept a commission in the British army, initiates a disastrous affair with rippling aftershocks. Lacey, fueled by the arrogance of adolescence, is beguiled by a charismatic but sociopathic horse trainer.
The Irish Tempest thrusts the reader into the anguish of the 1916 Easter Rising and beyond as Ireland seethes on the cusp of revolution. Deftly paced with vividly drawn characters, The Irish Tempest embraces historical elements while preserving the essence of evocative storytelling.