Okay, so who are you again?

I always had a sneaking suspicion that when writers were developing characters, they based them on people they know. I’m sure more than one friend or relative of a writer has scanned the pages of their latest work hoping or perhaps dreading to find themselves characterised in text.

It was something of surprise to me therefore that when I started writing The Key of Ornoss that wasn’t the way it happened. Then again I’ve never been taught to write, I didn’t start by sketching out plots and developing story arcs. Maybe others write that way but for me it was a very right-brain process. I’d be minding my own business when all of a sudden the characters would start talking. Having learned to keep a notebook handy I’d begin scribbling it all down, desperate to keep up and only when they’d finished would I get a chance to look at what had emerged and asked questions about who this new person was, where the conversation was taking place and how they got there etc. Filling in those few missing pieces was an exciting process, it wasn’t so much like writing a story as finding a story.

In a less conscious part of my mind the story had grown, developed and written itself. When it came out it was a bit like opening the box and pouring out the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, almost everything I wrote was out of chronological sequence. My job was going back through three and a half notebooks of scribbles and typing it up in order. The only left-brain writing that took place was adding in a few stitching pieces to make sure everything connected up as well as it could.

Somewhere in there, along with a convoluted plot set in an amazing new world these characters were born, like fully formed real people I was meeting for the first time. They weren’t in any way constructed consciously by me and as far as I can tell they don’t resemble anyone I’ve ever met. It’s like they’re their own people, some good, some bad but all extraordinary in their own way.

As mysterious a process as writing was and continues to be for me, part two of this story, The Rod of Xerus, which is already complete as a first draft, was even more of a challenge. The story and the worlds expanded hugely as this part of the tale emerged and at times I wasn’t sure my brain could hold all of it. It was a very large baby to give birth to but so thrilling to see where Cal went next and how her adventures unravelled.

I know somewhere inside, in the hidden bookstore in my mind, part three is in the process of germinating and growing. Hints of it have already begun to show themselves: an image here, a snatch of conversation there. I honestly can’t wait until it’s ready to come out into the world and show itself. Is that weird? I can’t wait to read the book I’m about to write. My only commitment and requirement for this whole process is to enjoy it and have fun along the way. I don’t care if I don’t make a penny from it, which is good because I probably won’t!

Counting down…

When I started writing, back in 2019, I didn’t really know where it was leading and how it would turn out. There was no plan to write a book and every week I’d wonder if the ideas would dry up and it would be left unfinished, half a tale, soon to be forgotten.

One notebook after another became filled with scribbles and notes, questions and quotes, as day by day the story poured out of me and onto the page. There was no chronological sequence to it, my imagination flitted about; a butterfly going from flower to flower, free for the first time in years.

It didn’t take that long to get the whole story down, a matter of weeks but it was a mess. I cobbled it together, had a quick read through to correct the most obvious inconsistencies, and sent of off to my sister, a much more experienced writer. Her feedback was hugely positive and from that I had an inkling that perhaps there was something here worth sharing.

By the time The Key of Ornoss gets released on an unsuspecting world we’ll be almost two years down the road from the day I first took up pen and pad. It’s fair to say that back then I had no idea what lay ahead on the road to creating this thing called a book but I have enjoyed every minute of it. I love learning new things and this has certainly been a learning curve.

In just ten weeks, the Key of Ornoss goes live for sale, initially through Amazon and then, if all goes well, through other platforms too. I genuinely have no idea what the future holds, whether anyone will buy it, read it, like it, and I guess I have very little control over that. One thing I do know, I love writing and that’s not going to stop. One way or another book two in the series, The Rod of Xerus is going to be edited (it’s already finished to first draft) and prepared for print, probably next year. I just hope it’s as much fun as this has been, I’m sure it will be.

And so, let the countdown continue!

2021-03-31T11:24:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

The Key of Ornoss book launch!

Field research – literally

As a child I often visited my uncle’s farm in Fermanagh and stayed for a few days at a time. One of the jobs my cousins and I had to was take the cows from their grazing pasture to the milking parlour and back again. This usually involved a very early start but I didn’t mind.

I remember one day, we’d just reached the top of the lane and the cows were making their way along the little country road leading to their field when by chance I happened to look over the hedge into the field of the neighbouring farm. There, near the corner of the field was a series of raised earthen rings. I think my cousins called it a fairy fort but looking back it was the remains of an ancient ringfort perhaps from as early as the Bronze Age.

Apart from that farmer and his family and my Uncle’s family, I doubt anyone knew it was there. The land was just pasture and it wasn’t bothering the cows so there it sat and probably still sits to this day.

To say Ireland is littered with such sites is an understatement, they’re all over though like this one, I suspect many go unrecorded and uninvestigated. I’ve always been fascinated by them and by the many standing stones and stone circles found in Ireland, the Isle of Man and all over the UK. The one in the picture is Ballynoe, not far from where I grew up. Although it dates back to Neolithic times, no one really know who built it, why or how it was used. Now, isn’t that a wonderful mystery to set our imaginations roaming?