Orna Ross
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Literary Historical Fiction

I write literary historical fiction, family murder mysteries that span generations and uncover buried secrets of the past that are poisoning the present

Literary Fiction: Blue Mercy: A Family Murder Mystery

Literary Historical Fiction

When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father.

Now, at the end of her life, she wants her daughter, Star, to know what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989.

Star vehemently resists.

But why?

What is Mercy hiding?

Was her father’s death, as many believe, an assisted suicide?

Or something even more sinister?

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In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: The Irish Trilogy: A Family Murder Mystery

Each of these books can be read as a standalone. Taken together they cover four generations of a family from 1890 to 2010, set in Ireland, London and California.
Literary Historical Fiction

Literary Historical Fiction
Twenty years ago, Jo Devereux fled Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, driven away by buried secrets and hatreds.

Now she’s back to uncover the truth of what really happened between her family and their friends, the O’Donovans, during the bitter Irish Civil War of 1922.

When Jo meets Rory O’Donovan, the only man she ever truly loved, she is reminded of how the passion of rebellion sweeps people up. But her real interest now is in what happens after the rising.

Can the letters left by her estranged mother redeem the past and offer her–or maybe even both of them–a future?

Click on the book cover to read more about the book or make an ebook purchase.
In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: Her Secret Rose

The Yeats-Gonne Trilogy tells the story of the strange love triangle between the poet WB Yeats, his long-time muse Maud Gonne and her daughter, Iseult. Each of these books can be read as a standalone. Taken together they range across the years 1889 to 1923, set in Ireland, London and Paris.

Her Secret Rose: Willie and Maud

The Irish Nobel-Laureate poet Willie Yeats was 23 years old in 1889, when Maud Gonne arrived from Paris to call to his house in West London and, as he later put it, “the troubling of his life” began. Six feet tall, elegantly beautiful and passionately political, this British heiress turned Irish revolutionary was the muse the young poet had been seeking. He would spread his dreams under her feet, as together they set about creating a new Ireland, through his poetry and her politics.

Yeats forged a poetic career from his unrequited love for Gonne and her proud and passionate “pilgrim soul”. But as the narrator of the story says, “when looked at from the other side of the bedsheets, most tales take a turning… and this one’s no different.”

A novel of secrets and intrigue, passion and politics, mystery and magic, that brings to life 1890s Dublin, London and Paris, two fascinating characters — and a charismatic love affair that altered the course of history for two nations.

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In paperback and hardback on Amazon

Literary Historical Fiction: Dancing in the Wind

It’s 1916, the world is at war, Ireland has just embarked on a doomed rebellion against the British, and WB Yeats, the famous Irish poet, has decided that “having come to 50 years”, he is in need of a wife. Just then comes the news that the love of his life, Maud Gonne, has been widowed and in the most spectacular way: her estranged husband John MacBride has been executed by the British government for his part in the 1916 Irish uprising.
Maud dispatches her 23-year-old daughter, Iseult, to ask the poet to help them get to Ireland, so they can be part of the independence revolution there. Iseult is as tall and beautiful as her mother was at that age, but with a more literary leaning, and her presence stirs the poet to painful memories and new, somewhat frightening, feelings.
As war escalates in Europe and revolution foments in Ireland, the public struggles for freedom and respect are played out in their intimate love triangle.
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News About My Current Work in Progress

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2 weeks ago
Today’s #indiepoetryplease #poem is “Memories of Wexford”

Morning light soft over grey grasses
where the otters have lain.
The gentle glisten of dewlight
ornamenting the spider’s domain.
The skylark rising up from the saltmarsh.
The spring mist turning to rain.

#wexford #naturepoetry #poetry
...
Today’s #indiepoetryplease #poem is “Memories of Wexford”
•
Morning light soft over grey grasses
where the otters have lain. 
The gentle glisten of dewlight 
ornamenting the spider’s domain. 
The skylark rising up from the saltmarsh. 
The spring mist turning to rain.
•
#wexford #naturepoetry #poetry
2 weeks ago
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 9. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 9: "AN ASTROLOGICAL DEADLINE".

And then, across in London, there was the poet, and his astrological obsession, now set into a deadline. WB had spent a lifetime poring over the movements of the planets, the moon, and the stars. He only did business with those who paid the mysteries of the sky due respect, by agreeing to have a horoscope cast. He confided in all friends how his own horoscope condemned him to loneliness and bachelorhood.

When he was born, on the July 13, 1865 an hour-and-a-half before midnight, Venus--the planet of love--was square to Mars and semi-square to Uranus. Which any astrologer could tell you dealt him a stellar liability in the love stakes.

All, however, was not lost. He now had it "from the most learned", that the best time to overcome his celestial disadvantage would be late in 1917, when the planets were set to come together in a right good way for marriage.

That gave him just over a year to find himself a bride and get her to the altar. And now, just as his thoughts turned towards taking a wife, just as he'd found a place in Ireland that he might be able to call home, Maud Gonne was free again. MacBride was dead, executed and immortalized by the rising in Dublin.

The rising--already in his mind The Rising-was a tragic business that was going to affect his work for Ireland greatly and leave the country greatly different. He hardly knew what to think of it yet. (He must write to Lady Gregory.) With the war on, the times were too dangerous for him to encourage men to risks he was not prepared to share or approve and Ireland's priests and the leaders were not likely to keep the wild bloods to passive resistance now.

Only one thing was clear, with the clarity of the heavens. The words he wrote two decades ago, the work he and Maud Gonne had done together, the intentions they had cast into the astral plane, were coming to culmination.

By this rising Ireland was flung into a new, open moment, where a new way and a new form might be moulded into being. And by the same eruptions of violence, so too were he and Maud Gonne.
...
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 9. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 9: AN ASTROLOGICAL DEADLINE. 

And then, across in London, there was the poet, and his astrological obsession, now set into a deadline. WB had spent a lifetime poring over the movements of the planets, the moon, and the stars. He only did business with those who paid the mysteries of the sky due respect, by agreeing to have a horoscope cast. He confided in all friends how his own horoscope condemned him to loneliness and bachelorhood. 

When he was born, on the July 13, 1865 an hour-and-a-half  before midnight, Venus--the planet of love--was square to Mars and semi-square to Uranus. Which any astrologer could tell you dealt him a stellar liability in the love stakes. 

All, however, was not lost. He now had it from the most learned, that the best time to overcome his celestial disadvantage would be late in 1917, when the planets were set to come together in a right good way for marriage. 

That gave him just over a year to find himself a bride and get her to the altar. And now, just as his thoughts turned towards taking a wife, just as hed found a place in Ireland that he might be able to call home, Maud Gonne was free again. MacBride was dead, executed and immortalized by the rising in Dublin.

The rising--already in his mind The Rising-was a tragic business that was going to affect his work for Ireland greatly and leave the country greatly different. He hardly knew what to think of it yet. (He must write to Lady Gregory.) With the war on, the times were too dangerous for him to encourage men to risks he was not prepared to share or approve and Irelands priests and the leaders were not likely to keep the wild bloods to passive resistance now.

Only one thing was clear, with the clarity of the heavens. The words he wrote two decades ago, the work he and Maud Gonne had done together, the intentions they had cast into the astral plane, were coming to culmination. 

By this rising Ireland was flung into a new, open moment, where  a new way and a new form might be moulded into being. And by the same eruptions of violence, so too were he and Maud Gonne.
3 weeks ago
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 8. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book).

DAY 8: THE TELLER OF THE TALE.

“You’ll be wanting to know my name, I suppose, if you’re to trust me with this tale. You can call me Rosie but you won’t mind, I hope, if I tell you as little as necessary about myself.

WB said, “words alone are certain good.” Well… sometimes, I’ll give him that, but in my book, the most certain good is the opposite. The space between the words. The nothingness between the things. You can trust in nothing. It’s always there, holding all, and never a bit of blather out of it.

We Irish do love to blather and none more than our friend, WB. But oh, what exquisite blather he gave us.

Yes, I’m Irish, if you haven’t guessed already from how I talk. My name is Rosie Cross, and I was born in Ireland 101 years ago, and I gave the first half of my life over to the cause of Irish freedom, in the days when it was dangerous to do so.
Already now, your mind is setting itself around that information and, the thing is, I don’t want it to. You have a notion of me now you didn’t have a minute ago, but none of that matters one jot to the story I’m telling and anyhow, by the time you get to reading this, I’ll most likely be gone.

They’ve been telling me for years it’s all up for me, and one of these days, they’ll be right. When you get to my stage of life, you realize it never mat- tered what you were called, or where you came from. All that is only the smallest part of who you are. My own grandmother was the first to tell me so. “You can call me anything you like,” she used to say, “so long as you don’t call me too early in the morning.”

For my preference, call me nothing. No one. Only the teller of the tale.
...
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 8. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book).

DAY 8: THE TELLER OF THE TALE. 

“You’ll be wanting to know my name, I suppose, if you’re to trust me with this tale. You can call me Rosie but you won’t mind, I hope, if I tell you as little as necessary about myself.

WB said, “words alone are certain good.” Well… sometimes, I’ll give him that, but in my book, the most certain good is the opposite. The space between the words. The nothingness between the things. You can trust in nothing. It’s always there, holding all, and never a bit of blather out of it.

We Irish do love to blather and none more than our friend, WB. But oh, what exquisite blather he gave us.

Yes, I’m Irish, if you haven’t guessed already from how I talk. My name is Rosie Cross, and I was born in Ireland 101 years ago, and I gave the first half of my life over to the cause of Irish freedom, in the days when it was dangerous to do so.
Already now, your mind is setting itself around that information and, the thing is, I don’t want it to. You have a notion of me now you didn’t have a minute ago, but none of that matters one jot to the story I’m telling and anyhow, by the time you get to reading this, I’ll most likely be gone.

They’ve been telling me for years it’s all up for me, and one of these days, they’ll be right. When you get to my stage of life, you realize it never mat- tered what you were called, or where you came from. All that is only the smallest part of who you are. My own grandmother was the first to tell me so. “You can call me anything you like,” she used to say, “so long as you don’t call me too early in the morning.”

For my preference, call me nothing. No one. Only the teller of the tale.
3 weeks ago
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK: DAY 7. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book).

DAY 7: WHO IS ROSIE? Rosie Cross, our narrator, tells us a little about herself.

Why am I telling you this tale? Because of the day, when I was a small girl, that I first heard a shanachie, a Gaelic storyteller, tell a story. He stood among us, with us listeners lined up either side of him, me holding my father's hand and wondering at the shine in his eyes, so different to how he looked when he was about to deal us the boot or the strap.

Alive. Himself. Showing a part of himself I’d never before seen.

We were allowed to sit because the story was only prose. If it were poetry, my father told me, we'd have had to stand.

The story was long and I thought it splendid though I was only half able to follow it. A warrior who took the shape of a bird, and a hostile king, and an old woman, the warrior's grandmother, sailing into a cove in an unfamiliar boat filled with all with strangers to him, save for her. The man at the till of the boat asking the warrior to join them. "We've come a long way for you, now. Step in."

But the grandmother calling out, "Don't do it, acooshla. Put your foot in this boat and you'll never put the other back on the land again.”

“Come now,” said the tiller.

“Begone now,” said the grandmother. “Bid is begone and turn your face to your own house door."

The warrior did what his grandmother directed and let the boat pull away without him. The whole encounter had put a terrible fear in him and as soon as he got home, he threw himself onto his knees to recite the Rosary.

And sure enough, next day came the news that his grandmother was dead, killed by the king.

There was a great deal more. That’s only the bit I remember. The language was strange. English and not English.
My father was as taken with that as by the story. "It's the words," he kept saying after, whenever it came up. "It's the old, old Irish out of the old times, y’see, and he's not permitted to change a word of it.

“That man had the words from his father, and he from his father again, back and back, to times that even an eagle, or the oldest tree in these fields, can't recall. He has the very words, for us to hear them, out of his mouth today."
...
DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK: DAY 7.  (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). 

DAY 7: WHO IS ROSIE? Rosie Cross, our narrator, tells us a little about herself.

Why am I telling you this tale? Because of the day, when I was a small girl, that I first heard a shanachie, a Gaelic storyteller, tell a story. He stood among us, with us listeners lined up either side of him, me holding my fathers hand and wondering at the shine in his eyes, so different to how he looked when he was about to deal us the boot or the strap. 

Alive. Himself. Showing a part of himself I’d never before seen. 

We were allowed to sit because the story was only prose. If it were poetry, my father told me, wed have had to stand. 

The story was long and I thought it splendid though I was only half able to follow it. A warrior who took the shape of a bird, and a hostile king, and an old woman, the warriors grandmother, sailing into a cove in an unfamiliar boat filled with all with strangers to him, save for her. The man at the till of the boat asking the warrior to join them. Weve come a long way for you, now. Step in. 

But the grandmother calling out, Dont do it, acooshla. Put your foot in this boat and youll never put the other back on the land again.”

“Come now,” said the tiller.

“Begone now,” said the grandmother. “Bid is begone and turn your face to your own house door.

The warrior did what his grandmother directed and let the boat pull away without him. The whole encounter had put a terrible fear in him and as soon as he got home, he threw himself onto his knees to recite the Rosary. 

And sure enough, next day came the news that his grandmother was dead, killed by the king.

There was a great deal more. That’s only the bit I remember. The language was strange. English and not English. 
My father was as taken with that as by the story. Its the words, he kept saying after, whenever it came up. Its the old, old Irish out of the old times, y’see, and hes not permitted to change a word of it.

“That man had the words from his father, and he from his father again, back and back, to times that even an eagle, or the oldest tree in these fields, cant recall. He has the very words, for us to hear them, out of his mouth today.
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