Please share your inspiration for your Heirs of Ireland series:
I have grandparents on both sides of the family and many great aunts and uncles who emigrated from Ireland. On the couple of occasions I was blessed to visit the Emerald Isle; I was embraced by my Irish relatives as if I had sprouted from their own soil. Having my characters engage with the rich tapestries of my heritage has been an intimate and rewarding experience.
What made you decide to add novelist to your already substantial accomplishments?
Since I was fifteen, it was in etched in my heart that I was to be a novelist. I wrote three books by the age of 22 and the raw concept and title of the fourth, Flight of the Earls, was conceived during my college years. It would be twenty years later when Flight of the Earls would be successfully pitched at a writers conference and then finally written. I consider it an act of God’s mercy in guiding me to lay down my fiction pen for so long. In retrospect, I had a tremendous amount of spiritual and relational growing to do before I was prepared to write this novel.
What surprising discovery did you make about Irish immigrants while researching this era?
The Irish are a complicated people and it’s something of a miracle their glorious culture and spirit survived their tragic history. When they arrived in America in droves as a result of the Great Potato Famine, they were loathed and mocked for flooding the labor market and for living in slum-like conditions. Yet, the Irish in turn treated the immigrants of Africa with an equal level of derision and malice. Those who were being bullied became the bully. But beyond this significant historical blemish, the Irish forever imbued in America their unique sense of humor, deep faith and formidable work ethic.
What is one standout characteristic did you give to each of Clare and Seamus?
Both of these characters were forced to rise above their upbringing and their tragic circumstances. Clare is lifted by her powerful inner drive to care for others. Seamus is burdened by his past and often drifts without purpose, but his tantalizing glow of potential is what draws us to him.
What emotions do you hope to engender in your readers as they read Flight of the Earls?
All of them. Historical novelists are tasked with transporting readers to a different place and time; while providing an experience which relates to the present. Emotions are what make this possible. To be successful we must include the full pageantry of human expression. Laughter, tears, anger and jealousy—these are but a few of the ingredients of realism. But if there is one emotion I would want to linger long after the book is put down, that would be a sense of hope.
What is one of the spiritual themes that runs through Flight of the Earls and why did you choose that particular theme?
It is no accident that the Heirs of Ireland Series is a trilogy because each of the books is spiritually themed around a different person of the Trinity, although at a subtle and foundational level. Flight of the Earls, the first of these books, is centred around fatherhood. It explores the generational impact of our earthly fathers and our desperate need for connection with our Heavenly Father.