Today's guest is MuseItUp YA author, Pat McDermott. Pat's recent release is Glancing Through the Glimmer.
AUTHOR: Pat McDermott
BOOK TITLE: Glancing Through the Glimmer
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
BUY LINK: MIU Bookstore “Coming Soon” link
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I grew up in Boston, and I miss it until I try driving down there. I currently live near the New Hampshire seacoast with my husband and three Tonkinese cats. My kids are both married and have moved to different states, and I now have the luxury of spending my mornings writing. I also love to cook and have my own cooking blog. My writing crosses several genres, incorporating touches of fantasy, action/adventure, sci-fi, and romance. A few years ago, I entered a short story in the 74th Writer’s Digest Annual Writing competition and received an Honorable Mention for children’s fiction. That award gave me the confidence to complete my first full-length novel, A Band of Roses, the first in a trilogy scheduled for release in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing. Glancing Through the Glimmer is the young adult “prequel” to that trilogy. I’m currently working on the sequel to “Glimmer.”
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
Glancing Through the Glimmer is a young adult alternate history adventure set in modern Ireland. The story’s “what if” premise supposes what Ireland would be like today if High King Brian Boru hadn’t perished at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD. I’ve created an Ireland that’s still a monarchy, one in which the present King Brian is a descendant of the Brian Boru. Seventeen-year-old Prince Liam is the hero of Glancing Through the Glimmer. The title is a phrase from The Fairy Thorn, an old Irish poem by Samuel Ferguson about four "merry maidens fair in kirtles of the green" who go out walking one evening and find to their horror that when they reach the hawthorn tree, one of them is stolen away “By whom they dare not look to see.”
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember. My extended family included some entertaining storytellers, and the fables and myths I heard and read as a child taught me how a story can transport a reader or listener right out of the room. I wanted to be someone who could do that. As a child, I made up lots of stories, but my own children were in college before I started putting ideas on paper seriously. I enrolled in writing classes to deal with my imaginary friends and made some wonderful flesh-and-blood friends along the way.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I’m blessed to have two wonderful aunts, both devotees of Irish history. When I was a little girl, they assured me that we were descended from Irish royalty. (Isn’t everyone who’s Irish?) From one of their frequent trips to Ireland, they brought me a copper statue of Brian Boru, and I wanted to know more about him. Everything I found said how sad it was that Brian didn’t survive the Battle of Clontarf, as Ireland would be a very different place today. So, I started thinking . . . what if he had survived?
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
When I get an idea for a story, I start by doing tons of research, an enjoyable job I know will provide new ideas and subplots. I’ve tried the outline approach, and I do find it helpful to organize my thoughts, but my stories tend to take off on their own and seldom follow an outline.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Depends on the story. For this book, the characters came first. I wove the plot around them.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I’d have to pick Finvarra, the King of the Connaught Fairies. I love him because he’s quirky and funny, I hate him because he’s selfish. I fear him because he has magical powers I can’t protect myself against without a steel amulet of some sort, and I pity him because he’s lived so long, he’s seen all his mortal friends die.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting back into the teenager groove proved a challenge. I learned to avoid using current American teenage slang, as it changes so rapidly, though I do have fun with Irish slang. In the end, my 13-year-old beta reader approved, so I trust I did a good job.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
The length of time varies depending on how much research I need and how much time I can dedicate to writing. My first novel took nearly five years to complete, as I was learning about the characters and the plot, and how to write a novel. So many questions arose as I wrote, and I wanted to get it all right. Digging into Brian Boru’s history became an enjoyable challenge, one that took me to Ireland and its fabulous bookstores. 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. Subsequent stories took much less time to write. I completed Glancing Through the Glimmer in about eight months, and I learned lots about Irish fairies in the process.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
I find it difficult to write from scratch, especially at the start of a new scene. I worry if I’ll pick the right opening, point of view, setting, etc. Those are the times I start laundry or make a grocery list or just leave the house for a while. Once I get going on the scene, it flows well. Then there’s that research. I find it a challenge to tailor facts to fit the story without bogging it down and sounding preachy.
Describe your writing space.
Cluttered when the writing is flying, neat when I can’t think where the story should go next. My desktop setup includes a slide-out shelf for my tea and lots of overflowing bookcases.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes. I have my own cooking blog, called Kitchen Excursions. I enjoy exploring different ethnic cuisines and have recently mastered some delicious Turkish and Irish dishes. One of the most relaxing and rewarding dishes I do is risotto, and I make all kinds. I also love hiking, reading, and traveling, especially to Ireland.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
I’ve read so many wonderful books, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. To name a few favorite writers, Edward Rutherford and Diana Gabaldon have drawn me into their historical worlds, John Sanford and John Connolly into their modern day crime scenes, and William Trevor into the simple joy of phrasing words to create vivid images. I love the adventures of Clive Cussler and L.A. Meyers, and I enjoy the varied writing styles of Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry, Dean Koontz, Kate Thompson, and Helen Simonson, to name a very few. I also admire Simon Winchester’s ability to impart facts an easygoing way that seems more like fiction than nonfiction.
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
I recently acquired a Kindle. Great for travel, though I do like the feel and smell of a “real” book, especially one of those 1800s antiques from my aunts’ amazing library. I’d like to think both reading options can coexist. Time will tell.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?
Glancing Through the Glimmer is out today. A Band of Roses and its sequel, Fiery Roses have been previously released but are currently unavailable. The entire “Roses” trilogy, including the third book, Salty Roses, is scheduled for release in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing. My short story, By the Light of My Heart, is currently featured in a print anthology entitled The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. I am currently working on Autumn Glimmer, the sequel to Glancing Through the Glimmer.
What is your marketing plan?
I am shouting out through my web site and blog, online interviews, word of mouth, and various internet sites. The whole promotional aspect of writing befuddles me, I’m afraid. I’m still learning about it. While I realize marketing is important, I’m happier creating stories. I’ve attended book marketing seminars and did a couple of book signings, and I loved that a local readers’ group chose A Band of Roses as their book-of-the-month and invited me to be their guest author. Great fun. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the marketing process.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
You’re the only one with the ultimate, grand vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Join a writers' group, take classes or workshops, never stop reading. Go out on a limb and read a book 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 you can put your vision on 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!
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My Web Site: http://www.patmcdermott.net
My Writing/Travel Blog (Put the Kettle On): http://pat-mcdermott.blogspot.com
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pat.mcdermott1
Facebook page for Glancing Through the Glimmer: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/www.patmcdermott.net
My MuseItUp Author Page: http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=168&Itemid=82
MuseItUp Bookstore Page for Glancing Through the Glimmer:
My cooking blog (Kitchen Excursions): http://kitchenexcursions.blogspot.com/
Blurb/Synopsis for Glancing Through the Glimmer:
In the modern Kingdom of Ireland, few mortals believe in the fairy folk. Without that belief, the fairies are dying. Finvarra, the King of the Fairies, would rather dance than worry—but he must have a mortal dancing partner.
When Janet Gleason’s grandfather becomes the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, the sixteen-year-old orphan must leave Boston and her friends behind. Janet is lonely in Dublin and unused to her grandparents’ stuffy social life. An invitation to a royal ball terrifies her. She can’t even waltz and dreads embarrassment. Finvarra’s fairy witch overhears her fervent wish to learn to dance.
Seventeen-year-old Prince Liam Boru loathes the idea of escorting another spoiled American girl to a ball. In fact, he detests most of his royal duties. He dresses down to move through Dublin unnoticed and finds himself on his royal backside when Janet crashes into him. Intrigued, he asks to see her again, and she willingly agrees. Unaware of each other’s identities, they arrange to meet. When they do, the fairies steal Janet away.
Liam’s attempts to find her trigger a series of frustrating misadventures. Can he and Janet outwit a treacherous fairy king who’s been hoodwinking mortals for centuries?
The first time Liam slipped and fell, he cursed the rain-damp grass. He blamed his second tumble on his haste to catch up with Janet. What on earth had possessed the girl to run off like that? She couldn’t possibly want to find music that badly.
Music only she could hear.
The third time he lost his balance, he’d swear someone had pushed him, but no one was there. He landed on his hands and knees and cursed again. He might not be a muscleman, but he was far from a clumsy dolt. A lifetime of sports and outdoor treks had surely left him fit enough to climb a scrubby little hillside.
Something strange was afoot.
I’m being ridiculous. The breeze must have kept him from hearing the music she heard. She’d likely gone after the owner of whatever was playing the tune to learn its name.
Yet the Nose of Howth seemed deserted. How odd for a sunny Sunday morning. Even if Janet had gone off seeking the source of the music, no amount of rationalizing could explain why she’d left so abruptly. The chilling sense that she was in danger had Liam’s heart thumping high in his throat.
Should he call his cousin? If Kevin was still on the pier, it would take him a while to get here. And practical Kevin would surely think Liam astray in the head.
Maybe he was, but something told him he had to find Janet, and fast. Keeping close to the ground as if he were dodging radar, he clambered monkey-like up the hill. This time he reached the top of the rise. Lumps in the landscape surrounded him, clumps of rock and rolling masses of heather and gorse that encircled the level spot where he stood. He knew the place well. Except for the curious lack of weekend hill walkers, nothing seemed amiss.
He listened hard. A seagull cried in the distance. Otherwise, all was silent. No, wait! Music drifted toward him, a plucky harp tune he might have enjoyed under different circumstances. Was that what Janet had heard?
Where was it? He turned in a circle, squinting in the sunlight, scanning, straining to hear. When he returned to the spot where he’d started, a jolt of fear set his pulse racing.
A round stone hut had appeared on the highest part of the clearing. Its low thatched roof rose to a ridiculously high point. It resembled a roundhouse, the sort of dwelling that belonged in a prehistoric ring fort.
Or a fairy fort.
Liam swallowed hard. He’d seen replicas of such huts in Ireland’s folk parks. He’d also viewed ruins of the original ring forts, all that remained of the structures built by the mysterious peoples who’d lived and died in prehistoric Ireland thousands of years ago.
Where had this one come from? Why was it on the Nose of Howth? Liam had never seen it before, nor had he heard of any gimmicky tourism plans for the cliff walk. Of course, he didn’t know everything. Convincing himself that he’d failed to see the hut at first because the sun had blinded him, he ventured toward the structure.
He spotted a doorway and relaxed. Janet was there, speaking to a woman wearing a period costume, medieval or older. That’s what it was, he thought: tourism come to tarnish Howth. How could Uncle Peadar have allowed such nonsense?
Liam called Janet’s name again, but neither she nor the woman showed any sign that they’d heard him. The wind must have carried his voice away. He stalked toward the roundhouse. As he approached, the costumed woman placed a necklace over Janet’s head.
The roundhouse flickered, faded, and reappeared. Alarmed, Liam stopped. This was no tourist gimmick. As his thoughts scrambled for an explanation, the woman grabbed Janet’s arm and pulled her into the hut.
“Janet, no!” His ferocious roar proved useless. Unbelievably, the roundhouse began to dissolve. No longer doubting his horrified senses, he dove at the hut and charged through the disappearing door.
The world around him melted away.