Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
Before I do, Denise, I’d like to thank you for hosting me here on the Pen and Muse today. I’m from the Mission Hill section of Boston, Massachusetts, which, during my childhood (I’m not telling when), was a mostly Irish neighborhood. My earliest years were spent on the top floor of a three-decker house owned by my O’Brien grandparents, who occupied the first floor along with my mother’s two sisters. Another aunt and two cousins lived only a few doors away. Sadly, that close-knit way of life has changed for most families these days. My kids are both married and have moved to different states, and I now live near the New Hampshire seacoast with my husband and three Tonkinese cats. I spend most mornings writing, and when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading or cooking. I love to cook and have my own cooking blog. On Monday evenings, I host a casual but effective writers’ group (we’re all published in some form). For most of the year, I attend a weekly writing class. I’m a member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.
Tell us about your book. How did it get started?
Autumn Glimmer is the sequel to Glancing Through the Glimmer. Both books are young adult “prequels” to my more grown-up Band of Roses Trilogy. All are alternate history adventures set in a modern Ireland still ruled by the heirs of High King Brian Boru. The present King Brian’s son, seventeen-year-old Prince Liam, is the hero of both Glimmer books, which also star Janet, the American Ambassador’s sixteen-year-old granddaughter, and a cast of Ireland’s mischievous fairies, who refer to their magic as “glimmer.” It isn’t necessary to have read Glancing Through the Glimmer to enjoy Autumn Glimmer, but a little background wouldn’t hurt.
In Glancing Through the Glimmer, Finvarra, the King of Fairies, is unfazed by the fact that Ireland’s fairies are dying from lack of mortal belief in them. Finvarra would rather dance than worry—but he must have a mortal dancing partner.
When Janet Gleason’s grandfather/guardian becomes the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, she must leave her American school and friends behind. A royal invitation to the Ambassadors’ Ball terrifies her. She can’t even waltz and dreads embarrassment. Finvarra’s fairy witch, Becula, overhears her fervent wish to learn to dance.
Liam Boru loathes the idea of escorting another pampered girl to a ball. In fact, he detests most of his royal duties. He dresses down to move through Dublin unnoticed and lands on his royal backside when Janet crashes into him. He asks to see her again, and she agrees. Unaware of each other’s identities, they meet for a date, and the fairies steal Janet away. Liam’s attempts to find her lead to a glimmer-fraught showdown in the dungeons of Clontarf Castle.
In Autumn Glimmer, King Brian invites Janet and her grandparents to Glensheelin, the royal family’s country estate, to celebrate Halloween. Glensheelin is Irish for “the glen of the fairy pool,” which the mortals think is a fictitious old legend. In fact, a clan of fairies still lives beneath Glensheelin’s lake, and every seventh Halloween, they must leave their watery home to collect the flowers their queen requires to keep a hungry monster asleep. This year, Blinn, Mell, and Lewy get the job. Blinn wants to see the mortal king’s house. Lewy wants to taste oatcakes again, and Mell goes along on a tragic ride that leaves poor Lewy lost and alone. Liam and Janet must help him find the flower bag before the monster awakens, but Lewy’s misguided glimmer catches the young mortals in a magical spell that threatens to trap them forever in the palace beneath the lake.
How do you create your characters?
For me, characters evolve over the course of a story. By the time I reach the end, I know them well enough to go back to the start and flesh them out better. I also keep “character charts” with hair and eye colors, personality traits, hobbies, flaws, etc. to help keep details consistent.
What got you started in writing?
I can recall writing down stories when I was six. My family included some talented storytellers, especially my father. He made up most of his bedtime stories, and his tales often kept me awake for hours, in a good way: they made me want to make up stories too. I’ve attended writing classes over the years, but my own children were nearly grown before I started putting ideas on paper seriously. I entered one of my short stories in the 74th Writer’s Digest Annual Writing contest and received an Honorable Mention for children’s fiction, an award that gave my confidence a big boost, enough to finish A Band of Roses, my first novel.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I work at a desktop that’s cluttered when the writing is flying and neat when I can’t think where the story should go next. The setup includes a slide-out shelf for my must-have tea and lots of overflowing bookcases. And I always listen to music when I’m writing.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Current events are the main inspiration for my stories. I know my characters well and enjoy placing them in real life situations, which are often more incredible than any writer could ever invent. A good news story can trigger daydreams that have made me miss my exit on the highway more than once.
What do you like to read?
Depends on my mood or why I’m reading. I read a lot of non-fiction for research, but I also enjoy reading for pleasure, usually escapist adventure stories like L.A. Meyers’ “Bloody Jack” series, starring Mary/Jackie Faber, a street urchin in 18th century London who dresses up as a boy and joins the British navy.
What would your advice be for aspiring authors in regards to writing?
You’re the only one with the ultimate vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Join a writers’ group, take classes or workshops, and never stop reading. Go out on a limb and read books you wouldn’t ordinarily read. To paraphrase an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, a mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions. Don’t be afraid other authors will influence your personal style. And exercise those writing muscles! The more you write, the easier it is to get your vision onto a printed page. Set goals and deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Persevere in your quest to become a published author, and enjoy the ride!
Anything else you’d like to share?
How about a brief excerpt from Autumn Glimmer?
Below the bubble, the water brightened to a lustrous cobalt blue. Stars seemed to shimmer deep in the lake. A forest of vegetation waved on the lake bed. The impossible sight of crystal towers emerged beyond the greenery, and Liam wanted to dance.
Janet raised a hand to her face. “It’s lovely, but why does it smell so bad?”
She was right. A nasty whiff of something vile had seeped into the bubble.
Becula raised her arms. “Hasten!”
The bubble’s downward speed increased. The stench intensified. Trying to pinpoint its source, Liam scanned the ghostly lake. An amber mist glowed in the inky water beyond the light and seemed to be pursuing them.
“What is it?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“The Crogall Cú,” Becula said, her nonchalant tone at odds with the stiffened sags and bags on her face. “When it hunts, its nostrils blow foul vapors to confuse its prey. Fear not, young prince. It shall not harm us.”
A terrible roar tore through the bubble. Janet yipped and clung to Liam. Squashing his lips to keep from yipping himself, he hugged her to him.
The mist billowed into to a putrid fog that poured like custard to sully the water. Another roar, much closer this time, jolted the bubble.
Janet screamed. A blood-red eye as big as an autumn moon stared into the bubble.
* * * * *
Glancing Through the Glimmer / E-book Available from
Barnes & Noble Nook -
Autumn Glimmer / E-book Available from -
Pat’s Website – www.patmcdermott.net