A huge welcome to Pat McDermott, author of A Band of Roses!
BH- Can you give us some background on the 1014 Battle of Clontarf and King Brian?
Pat McDermott- Born into the obscure Dalcassian clan in 941 A.D., Brian Boru was the youngest son of Cennétig (Kennedy), the King of Thomond, an area that today includes sections of Counties Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary. Violent intertribal bickering claimed the life of Brian’s older brother, and Brian assumed the kingship of Thomond in 978. As his power spread, he became king of the southern half of Ireland. By 1002 he was High King. Brian achieved economic and educational reform and united most of the lesser tribes against their common enemy: the Norse invaders who terrorized Ireland. Things were going well until the disgruntled Irish King of Leinster rebelled against Brian’s authority and allied himself with the leader of the Dublin Norsemen. They called for reinforcements from other Viking colonies, and the resulting intrigue culminated in the bloody Battle of Clontarf, fought on Good Friday, April 23, 1014. Brian’s armies emerged victorious, though Brian and his son and grandson lost their lives in the struggle.
BH- Now in the world you've created, Brian survived, how does that change world affairs?
Pat- The survival of Brian and his heirs allowed the establishment of a royal dynasty that ensured peace and prosperity for Ireland. The powerful Boru clan thwarted various invasions over the years, and Ireland flourished as an independent kingdom. Thanks to the firm but loving hand with which Brian’s descendants continue to rule, she still does.
BH- What made you choose that alternate reality as a setting?
Pat- As the American granddaughter of Irish immigrants, I’ll never know what it is to be truly Irish. My childhood vision of Ireland was one of magical legends and ancient kings, banshees and leprechauns, rebellions and heroes. My O’Brien aunts told me about Brian Boru and assured me that we were his descendants. As I read more about my alleged royal ancestor, I noted that more than one of his biographers surmised that Ireland would be a very different place today if he had survived Clontarf. That sentiment merged with my imaginary of Ireland to create A Band of Roses.
BH- Why the Japan connection? (I love all things Japan and thought it was an awesome idea, it just seems like such a random place to send an Irish princess!)
Pat- Japan is another island country teeming with ancient legends. It struck me as an exotic counterpart to Ireland, one with strong traditions and Samurai warriors. Even in isolation, Talty could still have access to the warrior training she sought and the gardens she loved.
BH- I hadn't thought of it that way. That's a great comparison. Tell us more about the Peregrine Project-- where did you get the idea to incorporate that sci-fi element?
Pat- From the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs to Lost in Space, I’ve always enjoyed stories that allow me to discover other worlds. The Peregrine Project is the accidental creation of an eccentric genius and the means by which Talty and her friends visit a strange land or two. Having them visit the Ireland of our world in 1014 A.D. seemed like a great idea.
BH- It was really interesting to have Talty in 1014! You describe a lot of sparring matches-- do you spar yourself? If so, which weapons are you most comfortable with?
Pat-Sparring is an fanciful sport for me. I love reading about and creating characters who are competent in martial arts, and I’ve done lots of research to add realism to my stories, but I don’t actively participate. I have tried archery, but Talty is much better with a bow and arrow than I am.
BH- I've always wanted to try archery. Talty is very focused on joining the Fianna-- tell us a little more about the Fianna.
Pat- The Fianna were the followers of legendary Irish warrior Finn MacCool, who may or may not have existed in the third century A.D. Numbering in the thousands, these elite fighting men and women left their clans and fairy worlds to serve the High King for a predetermined length of time. They protected the coast, thwarted invasions, and upheld the King’s law until their enemies defeated them at the Battle of Gabhra in 284. In A Band of Roses, no one defeated the Fianna. They have endured over the centuries and still protect Ireland.
BH- I've heard you're working on a new book, is Fiery Roses a sequel? (I hope so!!) Can you tell us a little about it?
Pat- Fiery Roses is indeed a sequel. While visiting County Mayo a few years ago, I learned about the discovery of offshore gas fields and the residents’ objections to how the gas would get to shore. Sad to say, the disputes continue even now, though in Fiery Roses, the Boru clan help sort things out. The book is due for release by the end of the year. The blurb reads ". . . the discovery of gas off the coast of Ireland ensnares Irish Crown Princess Talty Boru and her devoted champion, Neil Boru, in a web of blackmail and murder. Intent on convincing County Mayo’s residents to allow a pipeline to cross their pristine boglands, an arsonist is setting homes and land ablaze. One of his fires sends Talty and Neil to an ancient world at the mercy of a waking volcano. While they struggle to outwit a tyrant with a shocking secret, King Brian locks horns with a ruthless tycoon who will stop at nothing to become a high roller in the oil and gas game. The resulting conflict proves fatal for the Boru clan, whose members once again close ranks to thwart the latest threat to the kingdom they are sworn to protect."
BH- Ooooh, I'm so excited!!
Thanks so much to Pat McDermott for the interview!!