Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Band of Roses: An Interview with Author Pat McDermott

Join us today as we're transported to Ireland with author Pat McDermott. She daringly answers the question--what if Brian Boru had lived? Boru is a particular favorite book subject of mine too, so this one really caught my attention. Welcome Pat!
Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a New England girl, a Boston native, though I now live near the New Hampshire seacoast. My grandparents came from Ireland, and the stories and music I heard growing up couldn’t help but influence my writing.

Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?

I can recall writing stories down when I was six, so it just happened at first. My extended family included some wonderful storytellers, and joining them seemed natural. However, getting serious about writing did take some planning.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

It’s a tie between cooking and traveling. I enjoy discovering new dishes, and I have my own cooking blog. I also have a writing/travel blog in which I describe my visits to various places, especially to Ireland.

What inspired the idea behind your book?
The old “what if” that plagues most writers. I have two aunts who introduced me to the tales and legends of the Emerald Isle. When I was a teenager, they gave me a copper statue of High King Brian Boru, and I wanted to learn more about him. Everything I read stated how sad it was that Brian perished at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D., as Ireland would be a very different place today if he had survived. I couldn’t help wondering . . . what if he had survived?

Do you have a favorite character in A Band of Roses? Who and why?

“Roses” has quite a cast of characters, and I love them all, even the villains. To answer the question, I’ll choose Neil Boru. Being an adopted member of the royal Boru clan causes Neil to feel less than worthy of his station in life. He’s an Air Corps pilot and a warrior sworn to protect his cousin, Princess Talty. When she comes to harm, he feels a failure. He loathes himself for falling in love with her, as she is his adoptive cousin and such feelings are forbidden. Neil’s struggle to choose the honorable path shows a nobility that transcends bloodlines.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing A Band of Roses?
I found weaving historical details into the story without bogging it down quite difficult, especially in the chapter where Talty visits Ireland at the time of the Battle of Clontarf.

Will you share with us a short preview of A Band of Roses?

A Band of Roses is an alternate history set in modern day Ireland. The story’s premise supposes what Ireland would be like today if High King Brian Boru had survived the Battle of Clontarf. I’ve created an Ireland that’s still a monarchy, one where the present King Brian is a descendant of the first Brian Boru, and his daughter, Talty Boru, is a princess in trouble. Talty becomes a pawn not only in the high-stakes gamble for offshore oil, but in a scheme to seize the throne of England that escalates into murder and treason. From Japan to California to an eleventh century Ireland preparing for the Battle of Clontarf, she finds romance and adventure and brings back a discovery worth more than any oil well. Yet all she wants is to return to her family and her lifelong friend and protector, Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves but can’t have—or so she thinks. Talty’s warrior cousin has a secret of his own, one that emerges as the Boru clan scrambles to thwart an invasion of Ireland and bring Talty home.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

If only I knew how a princess and her royal family really live! The completely fictitious characters, settings, and events in A Band of Roses sprang unbidden from a blend of old legends and actual events, like the Battle of Clontarf. The story opens with English commandos claiming a tiny uninhabited island hundreds of miles off the Irish coast. Sounds ridiculous, but it happened, though I tailored the facts to fit the story.

What kind of research was involved for A Band of Roses?

Lots of reading and a little travel.  Whether I was writing about Japanese kimonos, attack helicopters, or Irish mythology, I wanted to get it right. I knew enough about Brian Boru to realize I didn’t know enough. Digging into his history became an enjoyable challenge, one that took me to Ireland. Not only did I visit Clontarf, the site of Brian’s battle with the Vikings and now an upscale Dublin suburb, I also spent a day in Killaloe, his hometown in County Clare, to see the new Brian Boru exhibit.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?


What do you have in store next for your readers?

In addition to Fiery Roses and Salty Roses, the next two books in the “Band of Roses” trilogy, I’ve written a ‘Roses’ prequel, a YA called Glancing Through the Glimmer, which is a paranormal fantasy/sweet romantic adventure fraught with Irish fairies. I’m happy to announce that the sequel, Autumn Glimmer, is now under contract. Currently, I’m working on a pure romance set—where else?—in Ireland.

Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?

I’d love to have my grandparents back long enough to treat me to a tour of the Ireland of their youth, late nineteenth/early twentieth century.

If you had a chance to rewrite, is there anything about your book you would change?

Nothing about the plot would change, but I’d still be revising and editing to get everything just so. Of course, I never would. This is one reason why writers have deadlines. I recently heard a published author say she still sees things she’d like to change in books she wrote thirty years ago.

Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?

All three, though I use the desktop most often. The laptop travels with me, and I take it to another room when I want to write without the distraction of checking e-mail and Facebook, etc. And, I always have a notebook and pen in my purse and in the drawer beside my bed.

by Pat McDermott

          A Band of Roses is an alternate history action/adventure story set in modern day Ireland. The "what if" premise of the story supposes that Irish High King Brian Boru survived the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. and founded a dynasty that rules Ireland to this day.
          Irish Crown Princess TALTY BORU, daughter of the current KING BRIAN, becomes a pawn not only in the high-stakes gamble for suboceanic oil, but in a scheme to seize the throne of England when greed prompts England's Regent to claim a tiny Irish island in the North Atlantic. The theft sparks an international incident that escalates into murder and treason. Multiple attempts on Talty's life force King Brian to send her away to protect her, though he unwittingly sends her into further danger.
          From Japan to California, Talty must hide her true identity until her elders can set things straight. She can't disguise her ingrained training as a one of Ireland's venerable Fian warriors, however.  Her recruitment into a top secret military project allows her to visit two parallel worlds, one an eleventh century Ireland preparing for the Battle of Clontarf, the other a desert inhabited by Bedouin-like peoples. She finds romance and adventure in these strange places and brings back a discovery worth more than any oil well, yet all she wants is to return to her family and her lifelong friend and protector NEIL BORU, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves and can't have—or so she thinks. Talty's warrior cousin has a secret of his own, one that emerges as the Boru clan works with England's MI6 to thwart an invasion of Ireland and bring Talty home.

An Excerpt
The Irish Constitution mandated that the king’s heir must be ready to accede the throne on his or her eighteenth birthday. Talty was already twenty and doubted she’d ever be ready. She had so much to learn! Still, an Air Corps Dauphin flew her from the LÉ Alastrina to Tara Hall’s helipad each Saturday morning to meet with her father for a review of the week’s events. His request for a midweek meeting worried her.

Praying that the dark blue of her navy uniform hid the wrinkles in her skirt, Talty smoothed her pinned-up hair and stepped from the private elevator to Tara Hall’s fourth floor. The rapid click of her regulation military heels echoed down the corridor leading to the King’s Chambers.

Though she’d told no one, Talty hated being Crown Princess. The prospect of spending her life preparing for her beloved father’s death depressed her. She wouldn’t have to worry about that for years, however. Silver might speckle King Brian’s russet hair, but he was only fifty, and still strong and healthy.

She hurried past the reception area, where her father’s no-nonsense assistant rose from her desk and opened the carved oak door bearing the royal lion of the Boru clan. With a nod of thanks, Talty stepped into her father’s chambers.

Where can your readers find you?

Blogs: Put the Kettle On, my writing/travel blog, http://pat-mcdermott.blogspot.com/ or Across the Plain of Shining Books, which features other authors, http://acrosstheplainofshiningbooks.blogspot.com/


  1. Thank you for joining us today Pat! You've written about a subject I find fascinating. I'll definitely be reading this book!

  2. Great interview! And the book sounds really interesting. What really drew me in was the whole "what if" element. I think it's cool that you took history and changed it to make your own story:)

  3. I ordered my copy last night. I normally wouldn't because it's in eBook, but I really want to read this story so I broke my own rule. :)

  4. MK, thanks so much for hosting me and the Boru clan today. We appreciate the warm welcome!

  5. Thanks, Kimberly. I love the "what if" element. It's part of so many stories. So glad you stopped by!

  6. This looks really good and I'm a sucker for a series.

  7. I suspect most series happen when a cast of characters won't go away quietly, Musing Sallie. That's what happened here, and if you enjoy series, I'm delighted to oblige :-) Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Dear Pat,

    Each time I see your name, I'm drawn as a moth to a candle, remembering my delight at BAND OF ROSES. You're right--this group of characters is far too memorable and delightful to put away. Bring 'em on! I'll have a blast reading the sequel.

    I wish you tremendous success. xErin

  9. Thank you, Erin. Always a pleasure to see you!

  10. Greetings from Ireland, and from another Boru-ite :-)

    I know you're planning another trip to Ireland soon, but have you thought about coming over in April 2014 for the 1000 year anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf?

  11. Thanks for popping in, Kemberlee. I think about going over all the time. Any festivities planned? I've visited the Brian Boru Centre in Killaloe. Expect they'd have some sort of celebration there.

  12. Waving Pat. It was great learning new things about you today with MK. Your cover is awesome and your books very intriguing. You know I love all things Celtic. ;)

    Best of luck with lots of readers.

  13. Waving back, Paisley! Thanks for the good wishes, and for stopping by!

  14. Oh, yes, definitely plans. One of the big re-enactment groups is putting it together now. I believe it will be held on 23 April 2014, which was the date of the original battle, or it will be held on whatever date Good Friday falls on, since 23 April 1014 was Good Friday.

    There's also the Brú Ború Cultural Centre at the base of the Rock of Cashel. As you know, Brian Boru was the King of Munster before he became Ard Rí (High King) and his seat of power at at Cashel.

    As well, you should make a journey to Armagh City to the Catholic St Patrick's Cathedral (two cathedrals, both called St Patrick, one is Catholic, the other Protestant!). Boru is buried in the Catholic church.

    If you make plans to come over then, let me know!

  15. Jennifer (JC Page)July 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    See this one will be a top seller! Love your history lesson and unique approach. My only problem was the excerpt wasn't long enough. Looking forward to this amazing read~

  16. Kemberlee-Thank you for sharing information about the event in 2014. I was planning a holiday to IE for next autumn, but I do believe I may wait another year!

  17. Jennifer, thanks for the vote of confidence. I hope/know you'll enjoy the story!

  18. The Irish know how to celebrate. I bet 2014 will be a fantastic year to be in Ireland. I know you love it so because you write about the people and places so well. Best wishes.

  19. Great interview, ladies! Pat, more power to you for loving to cook. I am the Queen of the Microwave.

  20. JQ, it does sound like a great party in the works, doesn't it? Let's all go! Thanks for the kind words. You made me smile :-)

  21. Alexa, I have my microwave moments, mostly to make popcorn when I'm too busy to cook a proper meal. I do enjoy cooking when I have time, though. Thank you for dropping by!

  22. Pat--I'm fond of cooking too, but prefer baking chocolate cake when I have the time. :) I'll be reading your book sooner than planned--I'm excited to get started on it and to see your approach to Brian Boru's alternate history.

  23. MK, I hope you enjoy reading that approach as much as I enjoyed writing it. Oh, and next time you make chocolate cake, let me know. I'll be right over with the ice cream. Thank you so much for hosting me and the Boru clan. We've had a wonderful visit!

  24. Nobody does Irish legends like Pat McDermott! I just LOVE her work!

  25. Why, thank you Gail! A lovely compliment from a fine storyteller :-)

  26. Pat,

    So nice to see you. Your work sounds awesome. I love all things Irish! :) What a wonderful spin! Can't wait to read it.

    All the Best,

  27. Lovely to meet you, Rionna (lovely name,too!). Thanks so much for stopping by.