Orna Ross Writer
Header pattern
Header pattern

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.

Her Secret Rose: Willie and Maud

Willie Yeats is 23 years old in 1889, when dazzling Maud Gonne decides to recruit him in her newly adopted cause of Irish freedom–and “the troubling of his life” begins.

He spreads his dreams under her feet as they set about creating a new Ireland through poetry, politics and their shared interest in the occult. But this love affair is much more than poetic image would have you believe.

Packed with emotional twists and surprises, Her Secret Rose brings to life 1890s Dublin, London and Paris while exposing untold truths about one of history’s most charismatic love affairs. If you like Hamnet or Shadowplay then you’ll love this haunting and moving story.

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

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.
Click on the book cover to pre-order.

News About My Current Work in Progress

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
3 days ago
Orna Ross

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 45. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 45: IT FRIGHTENED ME

Nervousness rears up in him, as so often before but if he is to ask, now is the time. He's conscious of his skin, a curious sensation of it pushing against his palm and fingers, soles and toes, cheeks and lips.

He slides from his chair so one knee is bent, and looks at her intently.

Maud laughs a small uncomfortable laugh. “And what is this"?

"Maud... I think, Maud, that we should marry. For the sake of the children".

She laughs again, but this time loud, and cutting, a sound that’s like glass shattering and walls crumpling. "Iseult is no child"

Maud sit up in her lounger chair, feet to the floor now, eyes blazing. "She is too old for growing pains. As for your offer, Willie, I--"

"Before you speak, please hear me... It's not just the children.”

“I beg you Willie, don’t.”

“When I look death in the face, when I clamber to the heights of sleep, when I grow excited with wine, it's your face I meet."

"Oh Willie."

"I wrote a poem to say so".

“I know. It frightened me".

"Oh Maud, because you did not keep our deep-sworn vow, I have had other friends, yes, but always, always, it has been…"

"Pfff! 'Friends.' We are 50 now, and you still cannot bring yourself to say the word ‘lover’."

"I had thought at 50 years, that I must endure. But being here again, with you and your family... and MacBride dead. Oh Maud, is this not our chance now, to put all to rights? Might we and Ireland not be ready now for our Castle of the Heroes?"

"Willie, I do not believe it is in your power to be parent to my children. It would arouse jealousy.”

“Jealousy?”

"You would be jealous of the love I bear them.”

She reaches one hand up to his face as she does, his face has turned in the direction of the entrance and it brushes only warm air. She turns too, to see the figure in the doorway. Iseult.

Her hair is loose, like a drift of golden silk, and draped across the
left side of her face as if wearing a veil. "Would either of you like some tea?" she asks, brightly.
...

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 45. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 45: IT FRIGHTENED ME

Nervousness rears up in him, as so often before but if he is to ask, now is the time. Hes conscious of his skin, a curious sensation of it pushing against his palm and fingers, soles and toes, cheeks and lips. 

He slides from his chair so one knee is bent, and looks at her intently.

Maud laughs a small uncomfortable laugh. “And what is this?

Maud... I think, Maud, that we should marry. For the sake of the children.

She laughs again, but this time loud, and cutting, a sound that’s like glass shattering and walls crumpling. Iseult is no child 

Maud sit up in her lounger chair, feet to the floor now, eyes blazing. She is too old for growing pains. As for your offer, Willie, I--

Before you speak, please hear me... Its not just the children.”

“I beg you Willie, don’t.”

“When I look death in the face, when I clamber to the heights of sleep, when I grow excited with wine, its your face I meet.

Oh Willie.

I wrote a poem to say so.

“I know. It frightened me.

Oh Maud, because you did not keep our  deep-sworn vow, I have had other friends, yes, but always, always, it has been…

Pfff!  Friends. We are 50 now, and you still cannot bring yourself to say the word ‘lover’.

I had thought at 50 years, that I must endure. But being here again, with you and your family... and MacBride dead. Oh Maud, is this not our chance now, to put all to rights? Might we and Ireland not be ready now for our Castle of the Heroes?

Willie, I do not believe it is in your power to be parent to my children. It would arouse jealousy.”

“Jealousy?”

You would be jealous of the love I bear them.” 

She reaches one hand up to his face as she does, his face has turned in the direction of the entrance and it brushes only warm air. She turns too, to see the figure in the doorway. Iseult. 

Her hair is loose, like a drift of golden silk, and draped across the 
left side of her face as if wearing a veil. Would either of you like some tea? she asks, brightly.
5 days ago
Orna Ross

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 44. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 44: A WAR OF WITS

Maud Gonne and WB lie, on the sun-drenched terrace of Les Mouettes, top clothes discarded. A breeze tugs softly at the poet’s hair and he feels it a small paradise to be here, after wartime London. The clean fragrance of sea-water, the scent of the sand, and the slight hint of Maud Gonne's perfume in the heat, the bergamot and lavender scent she wears at her temples and pulse points.

He can hear her breath, very faint, a rising and falling of air. He opens one eye to look at her. For once, she is still. The heat has made them both langerous, and she reclines on her lounger, stretched out, busy fingers at rest. He is close enough to see her scalp through hair that has thinned, the hollow of her cheek, the crisscrossing lines around eyes and mouth, marking the passage of time. But her lips are tight, and restless energy still crackles from her, somehow, though she lies so still. At fifty, she is still magnificent.

Across the sand, down near the water he can see Delaney and Seán in the distance, down by the water, the boy excited about something he’s found in a rock pool. But of poor Iseult, his new accomplice? No sign. She, or rather his guilty feeling that he’s deserted her, is interfering with his pleasure.

“It's been more than twelve hours now, and without food. Should someone not go to her?”

Maud's eyes flash with more irritation "Certainly not.”

“Why are you so annoyed with her?”

"Oh Willie." She casts her eyes skyward.

“My dear, she would not be human if she did not object to this lionising of MacBride".

"This is our opportunity to put that sordid tragedy behind us. You of all people should understand.”

"I understand that is how you view it."

She pushes herself up onto one elbow to look him in the eye. He wonders what she sees. That he is no longer the shy boy who once would have happily died, if she'd but turned to him? Her eyes are no longer bright but the palest green, and in their depths a weariness. She is right, no-one knows better than he how she suffered in that time.

In their last passionate moments together, she had said to him "Strike me if I shriek." He hadn't known whether it was because she had a horror of physical love, or whether she wanted what he'd only ever heard of snide whispers among his friends suggest that some women want.

Shock and confusion had crowned a hive of negative feelings, a scurrying colony of them, arranged in counter-spin rows. And the Iseult had burst into the room with her handful of flowers.

And afterwards, Maud’s letter, urging him to be strong enough and high enough to accept the spiritual love and union which was all she had to offer him.

And he was not. Strong enough. Or high enough. But with her by his side, perhaps he could be?

When he thinks of how she used to appear to him, so great a sweetness flows up through him, still.

"My dear, I have no wish for a war of wits with you."
...

DANCING IN THE WIND NOTEBOOK DAY 44. (Click the blue sign-up button to receive story extracts by email, and help guide the writing of this book). DAY 44: A WAR OF WITS

Maud Gonne and WB lie, on the sun-drenched terrace of Les Mouettes, top clothes discarded. A breeze tugs softly at the poet’s hair and he feels it a small paradise to be here, after wartime London. The clean fragrance of sea-water, the scent of the sand, and the slight hint of Maud Gonnes perfume in the heat, the bergamot and lavender scent she wears at her temples and pulse points.

He can hear her breath, very faint, a rising and falling of air. He opens one eye to look at her. For once, she is still. The heat has made them both langerous, and she reclines on her lounger, stretched out, busy fingers at rest. He is close enough to see her scalp through hair that has thinned, the hollow of her cheek, the crisscrossing lines around eyes and mouth, marking the passage of time.  But her lips are tight, and restless energy still crackles from her, somehow, though she lies so still. At fifty, she is still magnificent. 

Across the sand, down near the water he can see Delaney and Seán in the distance, down by the water, the boy excited about something he’s found in a rock pool. But of poor Iseult, his new accomplice? No sign. She, or rather his guilty feeling that he’s deserted her, is interfering with his pleasure. 

“Its been more than twelve hours now, and without food. Should someone not go to her?”

Mauds eyes flash with more irritation Certainly not.” 

“Why are you so annoyed with her?”

Oh Willie. She casts her eyes skyward.

“My dear, she would not be human if she did not object to this lionising of MacBride.

This is our opportunity to put that sordid tragedy behind us. You of all people should understand.” 

I understand that is how you view it.

She pushes herself up onto one elbow to look him in the eye. He wonders what she sees. That he is no longer the shy boy who once would have happily died, if shed but turned to him? Her eyes are no longer bright but the palest green, and in their depths a weariness. She is right, no-one knows better than he how she suffered in that time. 

In their last passionate moments together, she had said to him Strike me if I shriek. He hadnt known whether it was because she had a horror of physical love, or whether she wanted what hed only ever heard of snide whispers among his friends suggest that some women want. 

Shock and confusion had crowned a hive of negative feelings, a scurrying colony of them, arranged in counter-spin rows. And the Iseult had burst into the room with her handful of flowers. 

And afterwards, Maud’s letter, urging him to be strong enough and high enough to accept the spiritual love and union which was all she had to offer him.

And he was not. Strong enough. Or high enough. But with her by his side, perhaps he could be?

When he thinks of how she used to appear to him, so great a sweetness flows up through him, still.
 
My dear, I have no wish for a war of wits with you.
0