Monday, 11 March 2013

Pat McDermott: Band of Roses Trilogy

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?

My writing retreat is right off the kitchen, handy for all those domestic chores I like to get up and do when I'm stuck on a scene. My desk and its environs are cluttered when the writing is flying, neat when I can’t think what to write next. My desktop setup includes a slide-out shelf for my tea, speakers for music, and several boxes and statues acquired in my travels, mostly in Ireland. I have a daily Irish calendar and love ripping off the page each morning to see the next photo. Behind my desk are three tall bookcases packed with books and more statues, including a copper image of High King Brian Boru. The office has a lace-curtained glass door, though I never get to close it, as my three cats would take offense and howl. (Or is that my husband?)

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. :-)


  1. Kemberlee, thanks so much for hosting me and the Boru clan on your gorgeous blog today. It's a wonderful home from home!

  2. Hey Pat! Thanks for being here with us today. I always love our chats. And this series is really a stand-out one, IMO. And you know the whole Brian Boru thing is close to my heart too :-)

    I hope you enjoy the day with us here at Heart of Fiction. You know you're welcome any time!

  3. Hi Pat, as I'm reading this post, I'm gathering 'alternate history.' Am I correct? If so, I do love the 'what if's.' The trilogy sounds awesome.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us. These look like winners to me.

    1. Hi back, Lorrie! Alternate history, yes, and in a parallel world. Talty gets to visit our ancient Ireland right before the Battle of Clontarf, where she learns that Brian Boru has died. He survived the battle in her Ireland, which is why she's the Crown Princess now. I still love the stories, so much that I wrote two YAs based on the "Roses" characters as teenagers. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thank you Kemberlee for inviting Pat...
    and thank you Pat for sharing with us!
    My half-Irish husband shares his thoughts and dreams of Ireland with me every chance he gets! I tell him all the time he looks a bit like an Irish imp. :)
    As a matter of fact, we have the outline for a story... a bit of a time travel adventure ready to go. One of these days, when EVERWUD is finished we will give it a go!
    For now, we dream.
    Thank you again, and I look forward to reading your 'what if' adventures!
    Marilyn :)

    1. Marilyn, watch out for those Irish imps! :-) Are you writing this story together? It really sounds interesting. Will keep an eye out for it. Thank you so much for dropping by!

  5. Hey Pat! thanks for sharing with us your valuable work. This serie sounds really interesting.
    Thank you again and I look forward to read your adventures.

    1. Graciela, I'm delighted to see you here. I think you'll enjoy Talty's adventures. Thanks so much for coming to visit!

  6. Pat--I have a question about what it is like to write a trilogy. Did you find as you worked your way through the later books that your characters had developed/changed in ways you hadn't expected and were therefore not exactly the same characters you started out with?

  7. Hello, Elizabeth. A good question! I'm assuming you're referring to changes beyond normal character arc changes. I'd have to say that for this trilogy, my characters' basic personalities didn't change, though the characters matured and learned lessons as they met the challenges I threw at them. And yes, they threw more than a few back at me. But at the end of the trilogy, Talty still had her resilience, Neil his protectiveness, Aidan his buffoon mask, King Brian his leonine leadership. If I'd written the books over a shorter span and not come to know the cast so well, I'd probably have a different answer. Thanks for posing such a thoughtful question, and for stopping by!

  8. Thanks for sharing your work here Pat. I can see how much you love Ireland
    Is there a reason for this? Have you got connections?

    I love the titles of all your books and have Band of Roses on my list to read.

    1. Hi, Cathy. Early in the 20th century, my maternal grandparents emigrated to America from County Sligo in northwest Ireland, though they didn't meet until they were both in Boston. So I have an interest, yes. I'm sure you have a huge To Be Read list. If you do get around to reading A Band of Roses, I think you'll enjoy it. I look forward to reading your Shadow Across the Liffey, which is already on my Kindle. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Congratulations to Marilyn Dieckmann, winner of a Kindle copy of Salty Roses! My sincere thanks to everyone who took time from their busy day to spend a few moments with me here on Heart of Fiction. Special thanks to my gracious hostess, Kemberlee Shortland. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Best to you all, Pat.

  10. Thank you for being with us, Pat. It's always wonderful to see you here. Be sure to let us know where your next adventure takes you!