Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What if? - Pat McDermott and A Band of Roses

Today's guest blogger is Pat McDermott, author of the alternate history adventure novel A Band of Roses.

A Band of Roses is an alternate history adventure 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.

Crown Princess Talty Boru, the daughter of the current King Brian, is the heir to the throne, though she wishes she weren’t. She’d prefer to pursue a military career, but she’s resigned to her royal fate until England’s Prince Geoffrey seizes a tiny Irish island in the North Atlantic and the oil-rich ocean bed around it. Geoffrey plans to return the island to Ireland in exchange for oil wells in the Irish sea. He proposes a conciliatory treaty that would marry Talty to the unbalanced young English King. Talty agrees, as the terms demand that she relinquish her title as heir to the throne. She believes she’s free of her duties as crown princess, but a murder attempt on her wedding night turns her life upside down.

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 one of Ireland’s ancient Fian warriors, however.

Her recruitment into International Security Forces’ top secret Peregrine Project allows her to visit strange worlds, one an eleventh century Ireland preparing for the Battle of Clontarf. She finds romance and adventureand 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.

What If? by Pat MacDermott

From time to time, most of us wonder how life might have turned out if we’d had richer parents, attended another school, married a different person. Historians have asked similar questions concerning the outcome of world events. What if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen? What if the American Revolution had failed? What if Germany had won World War II?

Hold those thoughts for a moment, please. As a second generation Irish American, I’ll never know what it is to be truly Irish. I only have the stories my grandparents told, the songs they sang, the letters from siblings and cousins they never expected to see again. My childhood vision of Ireland was one of magical legends and ancient kings, banshees and leprechauns, rebellions and heroes. When at last I saw the real Emerald Isle, the palm trees astonished me. My grandparents never mentioned palm trees!

I longed for the Ireland I knew through song and story. My aunts had assured me our family had descended from Irish royalty, kings and queens long gone but hardly forgotten. How could such great men and women simply vanish?

What if they were still around?

In 1002 A.D., the chieftain of an obscure Irish clan rose to claim the High Kingship of Ireland. Brian Boru united Ireland’s warring tribes under one leader for the first and only time in Irish history. A scholar as well as a warrior, King Brian rebuilt churches, encouraged education, repaired roads and bridges, and roused the country to rise against the Norse invaders who had ravaged Ireland for centuries.
On Good Friday in 1014 A.D., Brian’s army challenged a host of Vikings and their allies on the plains of Clontarf. Though his troops were victorious, Brian’s son and grandson perished in the battle. Brian himself died as he prayed in his tent, murdered by fleeing Vikings who stumbled upon his camp.

Many historians have speculated that Ireland would be a different place today if Brian Boru and his heirs had survived the Battle of Clontarf. A Band of Roses presents one possible scenario.

So begins the preface of A Band of Roses, a book whose concept offered the refuge I sought. In my Ireland, King Brian survived the Battle of Clontarf. His descendants still rule modern Ireland, and the current crown princess, Talty Boru, longs to be anyone but the heir to her father’s throne. She quickly learns to be careful what she wishes for. Her adventures take her from Japan to California to an ancient Ireland whose facts don’t fit the history she knows. Time travel? Not quite. The parallel world she visits is ours.

While some argue that “Alternative History” is more grammatically correct, “Alternate History” has emerged as the common name of this interesting genre of fiction. The “what if” asked by so many authors has produced a wealth of thought-provoking tales. My “what if” has created an Ireland that might have been, one where all are welcome. I invite you to stop by and lose your way for a while.

Born and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, Pat McDermott grew up in a family full of music and myths that have found their way into her stories. She is a member of The New Hampshire Writers' Project, Seacoast Writers' Association, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A frequent visitor to Ireland, she lives in New Hampshire, where she is currently working on her next novel.

To find out more about the author and her work visit www.patmcdermott.net.


Eliza Knight said...

This was a great book Pat! Can't wait for your next one!

Nicole North said...

I love the way you did "what if?" and the way you talk about the history! It really draws the reader in in an emotional way! And I had no idea there were palm trees in Ireland. How neat!

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

Great blog, Pat. Good luck with the book! I'll be reading it soon. (My TBR pile is starting to look like Mt. Olympus!)

Pat McDermott said...

I want to thank The Book Connection for hosting me and "A Band of Roses" today. Eliza, thanks so much for dropping by on your Latest Release Day! I appreciate it so much. Nicole, those palm trees astounded me when I first saw them. They still do! Gwynlyn, I understand about the TBR pile. I have a Kilimanjaro here myself :-) Thank you all for visiting today!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Terrific post for a terrific book. Looking forward to the next story.

Mike in NE said...

Pat, that is a great "what if" scenario.
It was intriguing to imagine what modern day Ireland would be like if still ruled by a benevolent King like Brian Boru and his heirs.

I found out - I read this great book. Once you begin you will not be able to put it down.

Cheryl said...

It's great to see so many people dropping in to support Pat.

I understand about that TBR pile too Gwen. I'm trying to whittle it down, but there are just so many good books out there.

Pat, it sounds like you've written a wonderful book. Good luck with promoting it.


Pat McDermott said...

Dawn, thanks for the kind words. Your support means a lot! Mike, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. Glad you stopped by to say so!


I like what if? It's fun to thing what might have been. Very good post.


Kathleen Gowdy said...

I think Steven King had a similar experience when writing "Stand By Me." While it's true he'd been a twelve year old boy he never found a dead body, but what if...

Great book, Pat! Can't wait to read the sequel!

Julie Robinson said...

Awesome trailer, Pat! And I like the alternate history concept. Reminds me of Veronica Wolff giving her story-heroes, who are based on real historical characters, happy endings to their ill-fated lives.

Since when are palm trees in Ireland???

Pat McDermott said...

Julie, there are palm trees in Ireland from Shannon Airport to Kylemore Abbey. Apparently before the last ice age, the island was part of a tropical climate, and today the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and frequent rain allow it to maintain a subtropical climate. Kathleen, I'm honored to be mentioned in the same blog with Stephen King. And Loretta, I couldn't agree more that it's fun to think of what might have been. Thank you all so much for stopping by!

Corrina said...

You took the 'What if' scenario and rocked it! This was an awesome post.

Pat McDermott said...

I'm blushing, Corrina. Thank you!

She said...

A Band of Roses sounds interesting. Being 2nd generation Iriah American myself I am greatly interested in the history and lore of Ireland. This needs to go on my wish list.

Julie Robinson said...

Thanks Pat. That's an interesting bit of trivia.

You know, I don't recall ever reading about palm trees being in Ireland in any historical.

Fascinating stuff . . .

Pat McDermott said...

She, thanks for stopping by, and good luck with that wish list. Julie - I'd never read about the palm trees either. I suspect anyone writing about Ireland has either never been there and doesn't know about them, or lives there and thinks they're ordinary. Cheryl, thanks again for playing hostess. I enjoyed visiting The Book Connection!

Cheryl said...

Glad to have you here, Pat. Thanks for bringing so many friends and keeping the conversation lively.