Hello! I’m Orna Ross, a writer who’s also on a mission to empower other creative types through digital publishing and doing creative business the creative way.
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 and I hope you enjoy the site.
About Orna Ross (In Brief):
Orna Ross is an award winning novelist, poet, creative facilitator and self-publishing advocate. She is Founder-Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors and has repeatedly been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” (The Bookseller).
About Orna Ross (Medium):
Orna Ross is a novelist, poet and creative facilitator to other independent authors and “creativepreneurs” (those who are developing creative business around a personal passion or mission).
As well as running her own author-publishing company, she is Founder-Director of the global professional association for self-publishing writers, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and offers empowerment and motivation to creativeprenreurs through The Creativist Club.
Born and raised in Ireland, she now lives in England, dividing her life between London, for her “the best city in the world”, and one of the most creative spots outside the capital, St Leonard’s on Sea.
About Orna Ross (Long):
Orna Ross publishes cross-generational, trans-Atlantic historical fiction, stories in which buried secrets from the past erupt into the present.
She also writes and publishes inspirational poetry and guidebooks for self-publishing authors and creativepreneurs.
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 forced a hiatus.
After moving to London, she returned to work just as digital publishing was changing everything. 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 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, for me, is how digital has 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 willingness to work, our ability to attract followers and fans and, of course, our creativity.
Ours is the creative age but we’ve been put through an education system designed for industrial and information economies. We need re-education 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: sole traders or small businesses growing their enterprises around personal passion and purpose and mission.
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, which is also home to 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 of the academy and review pages and into the marketplace. 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 six? 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.
Then there’s Dublin, especially Clontarf where I lived, on and off, for 20-something years, and where we raised our family.
There’s London, incomparable London, the greatest city in the world.
There’s San Francisco, where I spend some time most winters, which always gives me and my writing, some Californian can-do oomph.
And now there’s St Leonards on Sea, on the south coast of England which The Guardian described as “one part retired great aunt, one part rogueish Regency bounder, two parts 20s Bright Young Thing and a dash of 60s hippy.” I would add one part social deprivation and a great big splash of artistic regeneration.
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 proces. 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 Hub”. 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 familes 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 women, and others, face today. I see writing as a polical act, fiction and poetry included. 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.
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.