Hello! I’m Orna Ross, an Irish novelist and poet living in London. I’m also founder-director of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
I write every day, publish regularly, and I’m on a mission to bring the wonders of digital publishing and creative business to authors, artists and other creative changemakers.
Thank you for being here.
- FICTION: If you are a fiction reader, you’re invited to buy one of my novels here.
- POETRY: If you like my poetry, please consider becoming a patron. (I have a special tier for other poets that includes a Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast with indie poetry readings).
- NONFICTION: If you are (or want to be) a creative entrepreneur or influencer, I hope my Go Creative! guides and self-publishing books are helpful. (Let me know!)
Below are bios and “about-mes” of varying length and depth, depending on whether you are a journalist, potential partner or reader.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, here’s my contact page. Thank you for being here. A short stanza for you:
Creatives grope through the dark
drawn by the promise of dawn
our way lit by the stars
who smile on our stumbles
know why we seek
and love what our searching creates.
Thank you, dear follower, fan, subscriber, customer, member or patron. You’re a star!
ABOUT ORNA ROSS (In Brief):
Orna Ross is an award-winning and bestselling indie novelist and poet and founder-director of the , the global non-profit association for self-publishing authors. This advocacy work has seen her named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by UK publishing trade magazine, The Bookseller. (ALLi)Born and raised in Co. Wexford, in the south-east of Ireland, Orna 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, conjuring tales about murderous families of centuries past, or penning poems, Orna enjoys yoga and meditation, jogging and dancing, cinema and theatre, trekking and traveling. And hanging out with friends and her (surprisingly non-homicidal) family.
About Orna Ross (A Bit More):
Orna Ross writes and publishes poetry books and cross-generational, trans-Atlantic historical fiction.
Many of her poems are categorized as inspirational poetry (of the spiritual, rather than the religious, variety) and she has an ongoing chapbook series called Poems to Inspire.
Her novels are categorized are family murder mysteries. They almost always have two timelines, with past buried secrets creating havoc that must be resolved in the present.
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.
Orna has been a self-employed writer for three decades, for many years working as a freelance feature writer and teach in Irish education, publishing, and media (organizations like The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Smurfit Publications and University College Dublin). She also ran her own writing school and literary agency in Dublin from 2003 to 2008 and in that time published two novels with Penguin Ireland, launching her as a novelist.
In 2011 she began self-publishing and she, and her co-director and husband of 30+ years, founded the Alliance of Independent Authors at London Book Fair in 2012.
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.
She has repeatedly been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by The Bookseller, the trade magazine of UK publishing.
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.
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.
That’s why I’m a proud indie author. Self-publishing has been the best move of my writing life, creatively and commercially.
Since starting to self-publish, I’ve sold books every single day and on some days hundreds and even, on occasion (and thank you Bookbub), thousands. 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 my teaching, speaking and creative facilitation through the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Creativist Club. I love watching authors come together with each other, and with other artists and performers, coaches and counselors, yogis and healers, educators and consultants, activists and changemakers. Doers and makers, movers and shakers of all kinds who are choosing the creative way to do business… and life.
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.