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?

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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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4 weeks ago
Orna Ross

...

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Those are fab covers, Orna! Beautiful! <3

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1 month ago
Orna Ross

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 25. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 25: EZRA!

Willie Yates was not the only poet to be attracted to insult gone, and to offer her writing advice and mentoring. His young secretary, Ezra Pound, though married, set about winning her favour through their shared love of books and writing.

----

Iseult and Ezra walk by the river at Battersea Park. She is a picture of Parisian chic, in a wide brimmed hat and well cut day dress in simple style. He is in lime-green trousers tucked into his stockings, and as they walk, he is talking, talking, hands waving like a windmill.

”...So he is calling on his ancestors, not just the Yeatses but the Butlers and Pollexfens, and as determined to marry as a penniless maid, except that his imperative is astrological, not fiscal. Transiting Saturn conjuncting Mars in the seventh house of Venus twinning Neptune heading for Uranus, pardon my ad stareums".

Iseult laughs, guiltily. "Poor Willie. I fear Moura is no more likely to say yes now as then".

"Have a care he does not set his sights on you instead.”

"Ezra!", Iseult exclaims.
...

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 25. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 25: EZRA!

Willie Yates was not the only poet to be attracted to insult gone, and to offer her writing advice and mentoring. His young secretary, Ezra Pound, though married, set about winning her favour through their shared love of books and writing. 

----

Iseult and Ezra walk by the river at Battersea Park. She is a picture of Parisian chic, in a wide brimmed hat and well cut day dress in simple style. He is in lime-green trousers tucked into his stockings, and as they walk, he is talking, talking, hands waving like a windmill.

”...So he is calling on his ancestors, not just the Yeatses but the Butlers and Pollexfens, and as determined to marry as a penniless maid, except that his imperative is astrological, not fiscal. Transiting Saturn conjuncting Mars in the seventh house of Venus twinning Neptune heading for Uranus, pardon my ad stareums. 

Iseult laughs, guiltily. Poor Willie. I fear Moura is no more likely to say yes now as then.

Have a care he does not set his sights on you instead.”

Ezra!, Iseult exclaims.
1 month ago
Orna Ross

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 24. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). One of the big challenges in writing this biographical fiction is male biographers’ dislike and misrepresentation of Maud Gonne. She was a liar, a loose woman, a heartless flirt, a show off, mad, bad and dangerous to know. It’s in the writings by the women of the time, including her daughter Iseult, that you find the other Maud. Kind, compassionate, idealistic, devoted, and talented. Trying to capture her complexity across a long lifetime. ...

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 24. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). One of the big challenges in writing  this biographical fiction is male biographers’ dislike and misrepresentation of Maud Gonne. She was a liar, a loose woman, a heartless flirt, a show off, mad, bad and dangerous to know. It’s in the writings by the women of the time, including her daughter Iseult, that you find the other Maud. Kind, compassionate, idealistic, devoted, and talented. Trying to capture her complexity across a long lifetime.
2 months ago
Orna Ross

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 23. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 23: I HAVE DECIDED

Iseult looks out the carriage window at the French countryside, rain drenched. The sky is everywhere reflected in furrow-floods and puddles. This June has been uncommonly wet and cold—but she can't complain. , No one can. For as soon as a grumble was out of your mouth, you'd think of seeping uniforms lying in the trenches, or marching boots churning up mud.

“I have decided," WB says, with the air of somebody trying on a thought for size. "I can only make Moura a marriage proposal if she gives up politics.”

“Oh Willie, that is not a proposal at all. Not to Moura.”

“Lady Gregory agrees with me."

Or you agree with Lady G, thinks Iseult.

"We... I... I would gladly see her work at charity such as her movement for feeding the children or any such.’

“Her thoughts for the moment are much filled with the Irish in prison. Prisoners of war, she calls them.”

“I include the amnesty work. Any work directly on behalf of the rebels would be a problem.”

"Then perhaps it might be wiser not to ask, Willie. I don’t know why you are so keen to marry, anyway. Marriage is so revoltingly down to earth."

"There is an astrological imperative."

“An astrological imperative... Ooooh. Explain, pray.”

“I have a poor horoscope for marriage but a weekend next year has a stabilising pattern. Transiting Saturn is conjuncting Mars in the Seventh House of Marriage while trining both my Neptune and transit of Venus. This forms a Grand Trine in Fire, a most beneficient aspect. And this pattern is spiritually augmented by transiting Jupiter opposite –“

Iseult starts to laugh. “Stop, Willie. Speak English, I beg you.’

“In summary: marriage next autumn would bring me stability, luck, philosophical harmony and creative inspiration as against poor indicators for any other time. And in case I was to be in any doubt of this, another predictive system is equally affirmative.”

His right hand is gravely raised, as if in benediction, and now she understands how, to some people, he is a drawing-room act. The demonic mage.

“Autumn 1917, thus, is my time for matrimony. If Moura is to refuse me, I shall need time to find another potential bride.”

Iseult nods, slowly.

"I shall tell her so," he says. "No politics. Then she can make her choice."
...

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 23. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 23: I HAVE DECIDED

Iseult looks out the carriage window at the French countryside, rain drenched. The sky is everywhere reflected in furrow-floods and puddles. This June has been uncommonly wet and cold—but she cant complain. , No one can. For as soon as a grumble was out of your mouth, youd think of seeping uniforms lying in the trenches, or marching boots churning up mud.

“I have decided, WB says, with the air of somebody trying on a thought for size. I can only make Moura a marriage proposal if she gives up politics.”

“Oh Willie, that is not a proposal at all. Not to Moura.”

“Lady Gregory agrees with me.

Or you agree with Lady G, thinks Iseult. 

We... I... I would gladly see her work at charity such as her movement for feeding the children or any such.’

“Her thoughts for the moment are much filled with the Irish in prison. Prisoners of war, she calls them.”

“I include the amnesty work. Any work directly on behalf of the rebels would be a problem.”  

Then perhaps it might be wiser not to ask, Willie. I don’t know why you are so keen to marry, anyway. Marriage is so revoltingly down to earth.

There is an astrological imperative.

“An astrological imperative...  Ooooh. Explain, pray.”

“I have a poor horoscope for marriage but a weekend next year has a stabilising pattern. Transiting Saturn is conjuncting Mars in the Seventh House of Marriage while trining both my Neptune and transit of Venus. This forms a Grand Trine in Fire, a most beneficient aspect. And this pattern is spiritually augmented by transiting Jupiter opposite –“

Iseult starts to laugh. “Stop, Willie. Speak English, I beg you.’

“In summary: marriage next autumn would bring me stability, luck, philosophical harmony and creative inspiration as against poor indicators for any other time. And in case I was to be in any doubt of this, another predictive system is equally affirmative.”

His right hand is gravely raised, as if in benediction, and now she understands how, to some people, he is a drawing-room act. The demonic mage.  

“Autumn 1917, thus, is my time for matrimony. If Moura is to refuse me, I shall need time to find another potential bride.”

Iseult nods, slowly.  

I shall tell her so, he says. No politics. Then she can make her choice.
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