Author Pat McDermott is no stranger to a great 'what if?' story. And all great stories start with 'what if?' right? The Band of Roses Trilogy is a testament to that.
The basic premise to this trilogy is what if Brian Boru, the great Ard Rí (High King) of Ireland, had never been killed at the Battle of Clontarf back so long ago on 23 April 2014?
What if he had refused to battle on Good Friday, something he never did? Boru was a god-fearing man who supported the church, and vowed that no matter how serious the issue, he would never fight on a holy day.
What if he lived and his family continued ruling Ireland right up into modern times?
What if that family, a thousand years on, was suddenly thrown back into the spotlight and forced to fight for their lives?
The Band of Roses Trilogy answers some of those possible questions while taking readers on a memorable romp though Ireland's ancient history as well as history in the making.
Let's take a look at this series --
A Band of Roses , book one
Irish kings still rule the Emerald Isle—
and a princess is in trouble . . .
Ancient Irish traditions remain strong in a world where High King Brian Boru survived the Battle of Clontarf and established a dynasty that rules Ireland to this day. When greed for oil prompts England’s Regent to claim an Irish island in the North Atlantic, Ireland’s Crown Princess Talty becomes a pawn in a murderous plot to seize the throne of England.
From Japan to California to an eleventh century Ireland preparing for the Battle of Clontarf, Talty must hide her true identity, though she can’t hide her ingrained training as a member of the Fianna: the warriors who guard the Kingdom of Ireland. She brings home a discovery worth more than any oil well, yet all she wants is to return to her family and Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves and cannot have—or so she thinks. Neil has a secret of his own, one that emerges as the Boru clan works with MI6 to thwart an invasion of Ireland and bring Talty home.
Fiery Roses , book two
"Irish kings still rule the Emerald Isle—
and part of the kingdom is burning . . ."
In the exciting sequel to A Band of Roses, the discovery of gas off the coast of northwest Ireland ensnares Irish Princess Talty Boru and her devoted champion, Neil, in a web of blackmail and murder. County Mayo's residents object to a pipeline crossing their pristine boglands, but an arsonist tries to change their minds by setting homes and land ablaze. One of his fires sends newlyweds Neil and Talty to an ancient world at the mercy of a waking volcano. While they struggle to outwit a tyrant with a shocking secret, King Brian locks horns with a ruthless tycoon who will stop at nothing to become a high roller in the oil and gas game. The resulting conflict proves fatal for the Boru clan, whose members once again close ranks to thwart the latest threat to the kingdom they are sworn to protect.
Salty Roses , book three
"A ride aboard a luxury submarine leads to oceans of trouble for Ireland’s Crown Princess . . ."
Warrior princess Talty Boru and her noble Irish clan have outwitted all sorts of scoundrels. A wife and a mother at last, the dynamic heir to the Irish throne believes her days of exotic adventure are all done and dusted. Yet her royal duties seem endless, and a day off with her handsome husband Neil is looking good. Former naval officer Talty eagerly accepts an eccentric billionaire’s invitation for a jaunt aboard his luxury submarine, but as she and Neil dive beneath the waves to view an eerie shipwreck, a sinister plot unfolds. An unknown enemy lures them to an ancient tomb and sends them to a world infested with treacherous pirates. Talty takes charge of a pirate ship and its mangy crew, while Neil matches wits with a steamy temptress who jeopardizes his wedding vows. As he and Talty fight to save their marriage, they learn that the door to parallel worlds swings both ways…
What first struck me about these stories is how relevant they are in today's Ireland. Especially Fiery Roses and the gas fields off the County Mayo coast. Anyone following the Shell To Sea drama over the last many years will know of which I speak.
This is no light-hearted series. And I wouldn't expect that from Pat, as she's a very conscientious writer. These stories are deeply-engrossing, dramatic, emotional, and sometimes romantic tales. Each book is well over the 400 page mark, guaranteeing readers a full and fulfilling experience.
With all this drama, one wonders what makes the author tick. We sat down and had a quick chat with Pat about her writing and her love of Ireland, among other things.
Welcome, Pat. Thanks for taking time to chat with us. First let me congratulate you on such a wonderful series. They're really engrossing tales, right from page one. Gotta love books like that.
So, let's get started. Readers love knowing more about their favorite author. We've read interviews about the books themselves and where you get your ideas . . . all the usual stuff. We'd like to know you from the other side of writing. Will you please tell us what your writing space is like? What surrounds you and gets your imagination going?
With the Ireland images and the Boru statue, it sounds like you have some great inspiration for this series. I might have to get some tips from you about keeping the desk clean when I'm not working though. My hubs accuses me of nesting everywhere I go. He's right, of course!
What is your daily writing routine like?
I try to write every day, usually early in the morning when it’s quiet and my only interruptions are cats in need of hugs. Whether I’m struggling with something new or revising pages I've already written, I find that quiet time of the day most productive. If I'm not working on a story, I'm doing something to promote either my own work or the work of other writers (I have a book blog for that). Or I'm updating my travel/writing blog. I make it a point to go out almost every day for groceries, to visit friends, or to haunt the library or the mall, anywhere to get out of the house for an hour or so. Most afternoons, I'm reading for research and/or pleasure. Monday evenings, I host a writers’ group, which gives me an incentive to spruce up a chapter or two each week. At certain times of the year, I attend a writing class on Tuesday nights. Busy days, and that doesn't even count the usual household chores or family and social commitments. When my children were small, I doubt I could have managed all this. I have great respect for writers with growing families who find time to write, and write well.
Oh, my goodness! You are really one busy woman. It makes me feel guilty for asking the next question! What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Probably cooking or planning a meal. Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes, and I have my own cooking blog, called Kitchen Excursions. I enjoy exploring different ethnic cuisines. Recently, I've discovered some delicious Turkish and French dishes, and I make a mean Guinness Beef Stew. I also love hiking, reading, and traveling, especially to Ireland.
I knew about your other blogs, but I didn't know about Kitchen Excursions. I'm definitely going to pop into that one and read through your recipes. I go through bouts of enjoying cooking then not. I'm experiencing the latter at the moment and need some incentive.
Thanks for chatting with us, Pat. Let's get to that great excerp.
• • •
In this excerpt, Talty and Neil are in County Mayo for the opening of the Grace O'Malley Museum:
The wind fills the rigging and whips my hair. Salt spray dampens my face. The men at the oars propel my galley over the sea to capture the foolish merchant ship that dared to invade my waters. She sits low in the waves, weighed down with gold and silver, packed with silk and spices from the Far East. She’s mine.
“Man the cannons!” I shout from the gun deck. “Prepare to board her!”
“Your Highness? We have here a model of Granuaile’s galley. Not an exact reproduction, but assembled as closely as possible from the descriptions in the existing records.”
The droning words seeped into Talty’s daydream like ink drops clouding a pool of water. The invigorating tang of briny air gave way to the scent of new wood and fresh paint. Talty was back in the Grace O’Malley museum in Louisburg, Mayo.
“You’ll walk the plank for this, me bucko!”
Though miffed that the curator’s ongoing narrative had spoiled her imagined adventure, Talty smiled courteously at the gangly, white-haired man. “The ship looks quite authentic, Mr. Gavin.”
The raisin-like eyes behind his glasses squinted back at her. “Grania had several galleys under her command.” Gavin walked on, babbling away about tribal warfare in sixteenth century Ireland.
Talty knew the story of Granuaile, also known as Pirate Queen Grania “Grace” O’Malley, yet she listened politely, ambling along after Gavin to the next display. Neil stopped beside her, biting his lip the way he did when trying not to laugh. The merry gleam in his eye said he’d caught her daydreaming.
She stepped on his foot. “I understand Grania divorced one of her husbands and locked him out of his castle.”
Gavin didn’t miss a beat. “Richard Bourke. Sometimes known as Iron Dick.”
Neil’s polite cough barely muffled a snort of laughter. “The fella possessed exceptional marital skills, did he?”
Talty stepped harder on his foot, somehow managing to keep her public smile in place. “Isn’t the name from the armor he wore?”
Gavin’s unsmiling face betrayed no awareness of their playful interaction. His attention seemed riveted on the exhibit before him. He clasped his hands behind his back. “That’s one theory. The name may have referred to an ironworks on his property. Unfortunately, we have more folklore than fact about the history of this time. It’s folklore that tells us how Grania herself became known as Granuaile. ‘Gráinne Mhaol’ means ‘Bald Grace’ in Irish. Legend has it she cut her hair after her father refused to take her along on his voyages. He claimed her hair was so long, it would get caught in the rigging.”
Neil tugged Talty’s shoulder length hair. “Obviously he let her sail with him after that.”
“Obviously. This ends the tour, ma’am. If you’re ready, we’ll officially open the museum.” Gavin started for the door.
Talty followed, recalling one of her favorite stories about Grania O’Malley. Only hours after the Pirate Queen gave birth to a son in her cabin, foreign pirates attacked her galley. Grania appeared on deck clad only in a blanket. She shot the pirate captain with her blunderbuss pistol and led her men to victory. Having recently experienced childbirth herself, Talty found her admiration of the legendary woman turning to awe.
The wax figures of Granuaile and her husbands, sons, and enemies positioned throughout the room appeared ready to step down and strike up a conversation. Colorful murals on the walls portrayed seascapes and sixteenth century sailing vessels, adding to the fanciful mood.
This morning’s formalities would be modest compared to the afternoon gala at the Marine Foundation, yet Talty suspected the most enjoyable part of her day would be spent here in Mayo. The Marine Foundation was important, yes, but the reception following its opening ceremony was “by invitation only.” She dreaded facing the fawning, praise-seeking politicians who’d have the run of the place, and she didn’t care a whit if she ever met the billionaire tycoon, Roxy what’s-his-name.
The Granuaile event was open to the public. Talty looked forward to her allotted forty-five minutes of shaking hands and chatting with the people before the Morrigan whisked her south to Galway. Silently rehearsing her short speech, she walked between Neil and Gavin to the Granuaile Center’s humble lobby. The standing crowd enthusiastically applauded her entry.
Despite the warm welcome, Barry and Rory stood guard on either side of the packed little room. Their eagle-eyed vigilance was more than adequate for this quiet corner of Mayo. Security at the Marine Foundation would be tighter than a goatskin on a drum.
Her public smile firmly in place, Talty cordially greeted the well-wishers, who had no way of knowing she was already back on her pirate ship, shouting orders to man the cannons and prepare to board.
• • •
Boston, Massachusetts native Pat McDermott writes romantic action/adventure stories set in an Ireland that might have been. Autumn Glimmer, a young adult paranormal adventure featuring Ireland’s fairies, is the sequel to Glancing Through the Glimmer. Both books are “prequels” to her Band of Roses Trilogy.
She is a member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. She lives and writes in New Hampshire, USA.
• • •
--> Pat is giving away a copy of Salty Roses to one lucky winner today. Just leave a message for her in comments, along with your email address, and the best comment wins. :-)