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?

Click on the book cover to read more about the book or make a purchase.
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.

Literary Historical FictionHer 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.

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

Literary Historical Fiction: Dancing in the Wind

Literary Historical FictionIt’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.
Click on the book cover to pre-order.

 

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6 hours ago

Orna Ross

IN THE HOUR WRITING NOTEBOOK DAY 13: What the three books of the Irish Trilogy have in common is summed up in Jo's reflections near the start of ITH:

"Secrets lie heavy under the waves of the world, silent, invisible, but lingering and far-reaching. Secrets have a hundred hearts and a thousand hands and are always making trouble.

Do you think you don't have secrets? You are wrong my friend. The most invisible, most silent secrets, the ones we don't know we're holding, are the heaviest of all.

That's the work I do, helping people to dive deep, excavate what's down there, surface it up and out above the swirls, into bright, clean air where it can be seen for what it is. And for what it's creating."
...

IN THE HOUR WRITING NOTEBOOK DAY 13: What the three books of the Irish Trilogy have in common is summed up in Jos reflections near the start of ITH:

Secrets lie heavy under the waves of the world, silent, invisible, but lingering and far-reaching. Secrets have a hundred hearts and a thousand hands and are always making trouble.

Do you think you dont have secrets? You are wrong my friend. The most invisible, most silent secrets, the ones we dont know were holding, are the heaviest of all.

Thats the work I do, helping people to dive deep, excavate whats down there, surface it up and out above the swirls, into bright, clean air where it can be seen for what it is. And for what its creating.

4 days ago

Orna Ross

IN THE HOUR NOTEBOOK DAY 12: MANHATTAN WALK: As I step back out of the flower shop, I spy the moon rising above the long tunnel of buildings that is 8th St. A harvest moon, white and hard. But no matter how hard she shines, no matter how bright her glow, from here we can’t see her whole and clear. We have muted her magnificence with our city lights.

The thought is new for me. Usually I love to see the moon up there, doing her thing, waxing and waning, hiding in the dark or shining her heart out, reliable and familiar no matter where you go in the world. But now I'm hit with a longing so surprising and sharp that my abdomen clenches and I hear myself call out. “Oh!”

Oh. A longing for Ireland’s black darkness. For how the moon is not just brighter in an Irish night sky, but also reflected wherever you look. In the dark windows of houses. In the puddles along back roads. In the black, seeming-stillness of the ocean at night.

I haven’t been back to Ireland for years. For too long it seems, if I’m to judge from the pain I’m feeling in my heart right now, standing outside the lasagne restaurant on the corner of 20th and 8th.

Is this another sign of what Patricia, my therapist, calls my pressing need for me to nurture me? “A good mother mothers herself first”. Yeah. Yes. True, Patricia. I know. And I will. Just let me get through these exams, and then maybe a summer trip to Ireland?

Or maybe, I think, starting to walk again towards home—my new home, my now home, my Manhattan home—I’ll go to Bali. Or Montenegro. Or Sri Lanka. Somewhere with sun and without the complications that still swirl round my old home, my first home, my Irish home.
...

IN THE HOUR NOTEBOOK DAY 12: MANHATTAN WALK: As I step back out of the flower shop, I spy the moon rising above the long tunnel of buildings that is 8th St. A harvest moon, white and hard. But no matter how hard she shines, no matter how bright her glow, from here we can’t see her whole and clear. We have muted her magnificence with our city lights. 

The thought is new for me. Usually I love to see the moon up there, doing her thing, waxing and waning, hiding in the dark or shining her heart out, reliable and familiar no matter where you go in the world. But now Im hit with a longing so surprising and sharp  that my abdomen clenches and I hear myself call out. “Oh!” 

Oh. A longing for Ireland’s black darkness. For how the moon is not just brighter in an Irish night sky, but also reflected wherever you look. In the dark windows of houses. In the puddles along back roads. In the black, seeming-stillness of the ocean at night.

I haven’t been back to Ireland for years. For too long it seems, if I’m to judge from the pain I’m feeling in my heart right now, standing outside the lasagne restaurant on the corner of 20th and 8th. 

Is this another sign of what Patricia, my therapist, calls my pressing need for me to nurture me? “A good mother mothers herself first”. Yeah. Yes. True, Patricia. I know. And I will. Just let me get through these exams, and then maybe a summer trip to Ireland? 

Or maybe, I think, starting to walk again towards home—my new home, my now home, my Manhattan home—I’ll go to Bali. Or Montenegro.  Or Sri Lanka. Somewhere with sun and without the complications that still swirl round my old home, my first home, my Irish home.

4 days ago

Orna Ross

IN THE HOUR NOTEBOOK DAY 11: PERTON STREET. The Manhattan research continues. Jo's apartment block is on a fictional “Perton Street” in the West Village... a cross between Perry St. (the location of Carrie Bradshaw’s house in Sex and the City) and Morton St (where Phoebe, my favorite Friends character, was supposed to have lived, in Number 5, pic attached.) Of course, these are apartments that neither of those two could have afforded, even in the 1990s, but Jo has done v well for herself, with not just a monthly column, but a self-help book series.

A background theme of IN THE HOUR will be what happens to places like Greenwich Village as they transform from homes for artsy, LBGTQ+ communities full of singers, actors and activists to being transformed by the jack-hammers and money merchants of multi-million-dollar construction...

But mostly I’ve set Jo and Rich down here so I get to indulge my imaginings of what it might be like to have lived in the West Village circa 2010, when I was moving from Ireland to London.

....

If you’d like to be involved in shaping the development of IN THE HOUR sign up here to receive a fortnightly email and suggest what should happen next. Just click the blue sign up button above.
...

IN THE HOUR NOTEBOOK DAY 11: PERTON STREET. The Manhattan research continues. Jos apartment block is on a fictional “Perton Street” in the West Village... a cross between Perry St. (the location of Carrie Bradshaw’s house in Sex and the City) and Morton St (where Phoebe, my favorite Friends character, was supposed to have lived, in Number 5, pic attached.) Of course, these are apartments that neither of those two could have afforded, even in the 1990s, but Jo has done v well for herself, with not just a monthly column, but a self-help book series.

A background theme of IN THE HOUR will be what happens to places like Greenwich Village as they transform from homes for artsy, LBGTQ+ communities full of singers, actors and activists to being transformed by the jack-hammers and money merchants of multi-million-dollar construction...

But mostly I’ve set Jo and Rich down here so I get to indulge my imaginings of what it might be like to have lived in the West Village circa 2010, when I was moving from Ireland to London. 

....

If you’d like to be involved in shaping the development of IN THE HOUR sign up here to receive a fortnightly email and suggest what should happen next. Just click the blue sign up button above.

2 weeks ago

Orna Ross

IN THE HOUR: NOTEBOOK DAY 8: GENITALIAN IRREGULARITY:

That Dublin hospital, fifteen years ago, when Rich was just two days old. That shriveled old doctor, looking over his pince-nez glasses at me, with what seemed like derision. As if what he was about to tell me was my fault, for telling him to call me Ms, when he’d dubbed me Mrs Devereux.

My fault for *being* a Ms. In 1990s Ireland, the chaps were still allowed to be openly derisive of single mothers.

"Ms Devereux, you’ll have noticed an irregularity with your child’s genitalia."

I had. As the swelling in the testicles had subsided, what looked like a vagina, complete with labia, had emerged beneath the penis. I’d asked the nurse about it and she’d frowned and said not to be worrying, these things had a way of sorting themselves

What things? I’d asked, but she’d managed to not answer me as she flicked through her tasks and glided off to the next mother in the next bed.

“Is there something wrong?" I asked the doctor now.

He cleared his throat and pronounced in a voice too loud for the small room, a voice that would brook no argument, and no hysterics. “Ms Devereux, your child is a hermaphrodite."

....

If you’d like to be involved in shaping the development of “In the Hour”, sign up here to receive a fortnightly email and suggest what should happen next. Just click the blue sign up button above.
...

IN THE HOUR: NOTEBOOK DAY 8: GENITALIAN IRREGULARITY: 

That Dublin hospital, fifteen years ago, when Rich was just two days old. That shriveled old doctor, looking over his pince-nez glasses at me, with what seemed like derision. As if what he was about to tell me was my fault, for telling him to call me Ms, when he’d dubbed me Mrs Devereux. 

My fault for *being* a Ms. In 1990s Ireland, the chaps were still allowed to be openly derisive of single mothers. 

Ms Devereux, you’ll have noticed an irregularity with your child’s genitalia.

I had. As the swelling in the testicles had subsided, what looked like a vagina, complete with labia, had emerged beneath the penis. I’d asked the nurse about it and she’d frowned and said not to be worrying, these things had a way of sorting themselves 

What things? I’d asked, but she’d managed to not answer me as she flicked through her tasks and glided off to the next mother in the next bed. 

“Is there something wrong? I asked the doctor now. 

He cleared his throat and pronounced in a voice too loud for the small room, a voice that would brook no argument, and no hysterics. “Ms Devereux, your child is a hermaphrodite.

....

If you’d like to be involved in shaping the development of “In the Hour”, sign up here to receive a fortnightly email and suggest what should happen next. Just click the blue sign up button above.

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