Hello! I’m Orna Ross, a poet, author and creative entrepreneur on a mission to bring digital publishing and creative business to as. many people as possible–especially poets.
BIOS: Below are bios and “about-mes” of varying length and depth. Whether you are a journalist, potential partner, or reader, you should find what you’re looking for. (If not, email me your questions through the contact page.)
Thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy my website… and that it moves you to create something splendid.
About Orna Ross (In Brief):
Orna Ross is an award-winning and bestselling author and poet and founder and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, the professional non-profit association for self-publishing writers. Born and raised in Ireland, Orna now lives in London but writes, publishes and teach around the globe. She has been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by UK publishing trade magazine, The Bookseller.
About Orna Ross (In Depth):
Orna Ross writes and publishes poetry, inspired by WB Yeats, Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver and, in her haiku, Thich Nhat Hanh. And cross-generational, trans-Atlantic timeslip historical fiction, stories which have two timelines, in which buried secrets from the past cause havoc.
A creative facilitator and advocate for creative independence through self-publishing and online creative business, she also publishes non-fiction guidebooks for self-publishing authors and creative entrepreneurs.
Born in Waterford City, in the south-east of Ireland, and raised in Wexford, she lived in Dublin for thirty years before moving, in 2009, with her husband and grown-up family to live and work in London.
Having freelanced for two decades in Irish education, publishing, and media (organizations like The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Smurfit Publications and University College Dublin), Ross ran her own writing school and literary agency in Dublin until illness (breast cancer and reaction to the treatment) forced a hiatus.
After moving to London, she returned to work just as digital publishing was changing everything for authors. She instantly saw the potential and took her rights back from her publishers in 2011 and founded the Alliance of Independent Authors at London Book Fair in 2012.
Her experience as an author-publisher working with thousands of other indie authors has made her a passionate advocate for self-publishing as artistic expression, as a viable business option for authors, and as a necessary skill for every other business in today’s digital, networked economy.
Known for her belief that “every business is now also in the publishing business”, she has repeatedly been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by The Bookseller, the trade magazine of UK publishing.
My books have won awards, reached the top of Amazon, Apple and Kobo bestseller lists, and are now read in more than 40 countries around the world. Equally wonderful to me is how digital tools have enabled me to scale up my teaching, speaking and creative facilitation.
Creatives can now earn a living doing what we love. We are limited only by our creativity, willingness to do the work and ability to attract followers and fans. New technologies are making all of these easier than ever before.
Ours is the creative age but we’ve been put through an education system designed for industrial and information economies. We need re-education (a lot of unlearning) if we are to tap our own creative capacity and consciously apply it.
Is the world of creative business a strange place for a writer like me to find herself? Maybe, but I like this quote from multimillionaire CEO Sidney Harman:
“‘Get me some poets as managers.’ … Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers.“
I believe business can be as creative as poetry when approached with a creative mindset. That’s what I practice each day alongside the authors and other creativepreneurs I work with: digital enterprises built around personal passion, mission and sense of purpose.
The unique meeting point of doing what we most love to do (passion) and what we believe the world most needs right now (mission) is where a creativepreneur sets up stall. This is where we find the micro-niche of people who value our work enough to pay us, so we can make a living.
This is what led me to publishing my own novels and poetry and to forming the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Creativist Club. There authors come together with other artists and performers, coaches and counselors, yogis and healers, educators and consultants, activists and changemakers of all kinds.
Doers and makers, movers and shakers, who are choosing the creative way to do business… and life. They are moving creative endeavor out from under the protection of others into the marketplace. They are claiming their own intellectual property and upgrading their creative skills on every front, including business and enterprise. They are inspiring company.
ABOUT ORNA ROSS: PERSONAL
Born: Áine McCarthy, in Waterford, Ireland, in 1960. Yes, Orna Ross is a pseudonym.
Raised: Murrintown, Co. Wexford, which was then officially (in my mind, anyway) the smallest village in the world. Nuclear Irish family, eldest of five, three brothers and a sister.
Hometown: Can I have three? The first was, and still is, Wexford town and its surrounds, from Murrintown to Rosslare (where the mammy now lives). A trip to Wexford, with its long quay, crooked Viking streets and international opera festival always felt like a magical excursion to me. It still does.
Between “the town” where the action was, and Murrintown, the tiny village where I was brought up, was Johnstown Castle, a Victorian neo-gothic pile, with lakes and gardens, and nearby evocative ruins at Rathlannan and cemetery at Kildavin. (Don’t you love even the names of these places?). I spent many a formative day roaming Johnstown’s caste and grounds, reading books and communing with swans and gravestones in the Deer Park.
Then there’s Dublin, especially Clontarf where I lived, on and off, for 20-something years, and where we raised our family.
And now there’s London, incomparable London, for me the greatest city in the world.
University College Dublin: BA English Lit (1980), MA Women’s Studies (1997) and Lecturer in Cultural Studies & Creative and Imaginative Practice (2000 – 2006).
Religious Views: I’m not religious but I do believe in the creative spirit and the creative process. It seems to know what it’s doing. I try to engage it and emulate it, daily. Belief in the power and majesty of this process holds me in the way the concept of god holds others.
Marital Status: 30+ years, to the man known around these parts as “The Hubster”. So far, so fair.
Children: “The Daughter” and “The Son”, now grown and also living and working in London, so I get to see them every week. Being from a country where families are riven by emigration, I know this for the blessing it is.
Why The Pseudonym? Outside Ireland, people find my real name, Áine, difficult to pronounce (it’s “awn-ya”, folks, not “ay-ne”) When I started out as a novelist, my then publisher thought I should adopt a writing name that was short and what he called easy (he meant phonetic in English).
He was right but there’s a bit more to it than that. Every writer is engaged in a creative double-act, between the writing and the life. (Here’s a poem I wrote about that.). For me, having a pseudonym keeps those two separate in a way that’s healthy for me.
Politics: Man-loving, feminist progressive. I was once active in the struggle for women’s rights in Ireland, when it was sorely needed, and I’d like to see the cage of gender further dismantled. To see more women–and positive female values–in public life. To see more men–and positive male values–in private life.
So I still devote energy to change in that direction but now I prefer a more creative approach that seems to me to suit the cultural challenges we all face today. We’re all born of woman and seeded by man and we all carry “male” and “female” characteristics and energies. How these play out, in an individual life and in different societies, is endlessly fascinating to me and, I think, the most important political struggle, once we’re all engaged in every day.
I see writing as a political act, fiction and poetry included. And now I know, as I didn’t when I was younger, that the real challenge is what that uber-politician Mahatma Ghandi said: to be the change.
Day jobs Past: Schoolteacher, waitress, aerobics instructor, journalist, editor, university lecturer, writing school director, literary agent.
Diet: Vegetarian since 1995, when I visited an abattoir. Mostly vegan since breast cancer brought Jane Plant’s work on the links between hormone-saturated dairy and cancer to my attention.
Interests: Conscious creation. The human brain, psychology and human potential. Reading, writing, publishing. TV, cinema and theatre. History and historical fiction. Walking & jogging. Yoga & wall tennis. Music, especially Celtic indie rock. Travel. Meditation. Philosophy, more East than West and especially Zen Buddhism. Beaches & woods. Wild swimming. Web surfing.
Not so keen on: Spectator sport, “reality” TV, consumer culture.
Inspirations: History, gender, Ireland, the sea, other writers and conscious creators.
~ History: I agree with Mr Hartley that the past is, indeed, another country and it’s my favorite place to travel. I’m especially drawn to bohemian times and places where shackles are thrown off and creativity flourishes — fin de siecle Paris (1890s); literary revival and revolutionary Ireland (1910/20s); hippy (1960s) and gay lib (1980s) San Francisco.
~ Ireland: Oh, Ireland…
~ The sea: Everything I needed to know, I could have learned easier by watching the waves. (Click the image to read 3 short sea poems).
~ Books: I’m not just a writer but a better human being for being a reader. A deep bow to everyone who believes in the magic of two human imaginations connecting, in silent communion, across space and time.
Tweet me: @ornaross.