About Orna Ross
Hello! I’m Orna Ross, an Irish indie novelist and poet living in London. As well as writing and publishing my own fiction and poetry, I’m on a mission to bring the wonders of digital publishing and creative business to other authors and creative changemakers, through the the Alliance of Independent Authors, a non-profit I run with my husband Philip Lynch.
If you like inspirational poetry with an Irish lilt, or big, cross-generational, trans-Atlantic historical novels, please consider becoming a patron. (I have a special tier for other poets and indie authors)
Below are bios and “about-mes” of varying length and depth, depending on whether you are a journalist, potential patron or collaborator–or one of my dear readers.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, here’s my contact page. I’d love to hear from you and thank you for being here and reading my work.
Orna Ross is an award-winning and bestselling novelist and poet who explores histories and mysteries through her poetry books and literary historical murder mysteries.
Born and raised in Co. Wexford, in the south-east of Ireland, Orna considers herself to be a world citizen. She now lives in London, where she and Philip Lynch, her husband of 30+ years, run ALLi together from their home office and the Free Word Centre in Farringdon, “a home for organisations interested in who gets to speak and be heard in society”.
When not running ALLi, penning poems, or conjuring tales about murderous families of centuries past, Orna enjoys yoga and meditation, jogging and dancing, cinema and theatre, trekking and traveling, and hanging out with her friends and her—surprisingly non-homicidal!—family.
Orna’s 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 everyone in today’s digital, networked economy. A creative facilitator and advocate for creative independence through self-publishing and online creative business, she also writes (and publishes) publishing guides and creative business guides for authors and creative entrepreneurs.
She hosts a popular podcast with members of ALLi’s team and advisors and has repeatedly been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by The Bookseller, the trade magazine of UK publishing.
The world of business is changing. That’s why multimillionaire CEO Sidney Harman recently said: “‘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 other indie authors who are building digital enterprises around their own personal passion, mission and sense of purpose.
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
Since starting to self-publish, I’ve been able to do far more for my books than my previous publishers (Penguin & Attic Press). My indie published books have won awards, reached the top of Amazon, Apple and Kobo bestseller lists and are read around the world. With the help of technology, particularly artificial intelligence, machine learning and distributed networks, I look forward to reaching more readers, in more territories and formats than ever, in the 2020s.
That’s why I work to share what I’ve learned about digital publishing and creative business with authors, artists and other creative changemakers. This is not just about us. What makes a creative business unique is that it is composed of equal parts of passion and profit, creative and commercial. And what has poisoned so much human interaction, and is poisoning the planet we live on, is the single-minded pursuit of commercial profit, without the balancing force of a deeper creative or spiritual purpose.
A truly empowered creative class, with a sense of its own significance, making choices from creative as well as commercial imperatives, could seriously shift how the world of business and commerce operates, especially as new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence open new opportunities, and distributed networks for digitally-driven creative enterprises.
Background and Inspirations
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 grounds, reading books and communing with swans and gravestones in the Deer Park.
Then there’s Dublin, especially Clontarf, home to Bram Stoker and many other less famous Irish writers and 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 (the convent education put paid to that) 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, and observing 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 are now grown and also living and working in London. Being from a country where families are riven by emigration, I know this for the blessing it is.
Politics: 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. This is still the most important political struggle, for me. The one we’re all engaged in every day, internally as well as in every other relationship. I love the trans movement, love to see people feeling free enough to mix it up, and love to see the hold of hierarchies weaken or dissolve.
For me, writing as a political act, fiction and poetry included, but my real challenge is the one laid down by that uber-politician, Mahatma Gandhi: To be the change I want to see in the world.
Day jobs Past: Schoolteacher, waitress, aerobics instructor, journalist, editor, university lecturer, writing school director, literary agent.
Day jobs now: Director of the non-profit Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
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, consumerist culture.
Inspirations: History, gender, Ireland, the sea, other books.
~ 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 and gay lib San Francisco (1950s/80s).
Gender: 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.
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.