Liath Luachra: The Consent

One plotline that I’d hoped to return to in more detail with ‘The Metal Men’ was Liath Luachra’s relationship with Bressal Binnbéalach – Bressal of the Sweet Tongue – her old rígfénnid and sly ex-leader of Na Cinéaltaí.

The interaction between Liath Luachra and Bressal was always one of my favourite elements from the first book in the series (Liath Luachra: The Grey One) and it’s a relationship I’ve always intended to go back and explore a little further. Unfortunately, the subsequent plotlines meant that wasn’t really feasible.

Over the course of writing ‘The Metal Men’, I wrote about two chapters on this, but, in the end, as the story already had enough plotlines, I culled those sections from the text. Instead, I started writing a ‘long’ short story called Liath Luachra: The Consent, which focusses on Liath Luachra’s promise to obtain Bressal’s consent to undertake the Seeking (one of the conditions required by the Uí Loinge, in Liath Luachra: The Seeking).

This is a separate story which takes place after the events in The Metal Men. It’s not critical for anyone following the series. For that reason, I’ve intentionally kept it separate and, as a result, it’s only available at the Irish Imbas website.

The story is still unfinished (about 13,000 words) but the plan is to have it completed for around the 16th March so that anyone who wants it after they’ve read ‘The Metal Men’ can get it. Work permitting, I’ll get this out to Patreon patrons before then. 

The draft blurb is as follows:


Ireland: 1st century A.D. A land of tribal affiliations, secret alliances and treacherous rivalries.

Although ‘The Seeking’ is complete, to fulfil her word to the Uí Loinge Elders, Liath Luachra must reconnect with Bressal Binnbéalach – the previous leader of Na Cinéaltaí – and obtain his consent.

But Bressal hasn’t forgotten her actions against him at Dún Mór.

A story about Joyce I’d never heard before

One story about James Joyce I hadn’t come across before – even when I was growing up in Cork – concerned a business trip he carried out to the ‘real’ Capital back in 1909. In league with some Trieste-based businessmen, Joyce had come searching for a suitable place to open a cinema. Finding no suitable premises in Cork however, he returned to Dublin where he subsequently opened the ‘Volta Electric Cinema’ in December that same year.

Sadly, although he displayed a level of entrepreneurship ahead of his time, Joyce’s lack of gritty business acumen meant that Ireland’s first commercial cinema was a failure, closing down in April the following year and sold at a loss a few months later.

I came across this story through a link to Cork’s Crawford Gallery where they’re marking the centenary of Joyce’s Ulysses with an exhibition called ‘Odyssey’ that examines Joyce’s connections to Cork and – more vaguely – a consideration of how odysseys or journeys have been portrayed in art over the years. The exhibition includes artworks from over thirty artists, including works of historical figures like James Barry and more contemporary artists such as Brian Maguire and Aoife Desmond.

The exhibition is centred around a six-minute documentary call James Joyce: Framed in Cork. This follows an investigation by a Department of English lecturer at UCC (University College Cork) of Joyce’s connections to the city.

You can find a link to the exhibition here at Joyce Exhibition and it’s on until the third of April). Even if you have no interest in the exhibition, I highly recommend the teas rooms for a catch-up friends.

As Joyce himself said:

What is better than to sit at the end of the day with friends – or substitutes for friends.

Night View

The night view of Wellington City from Matiu Island – a small island in the centre of the harbour which is owned by the local iwi (tribe) and protected as conservation estate.

I was privileged enough to spend a night out there recently and finished the last chapter outline for Liath Luachra: The Metal Men that night (and wrote it over the next two days). I’m pretty sure it affected the mood of the piece.

Liath Luachra: The Metal Men is done

Liath Luachra: The Metal Men (4th book in the Irish Woman Warerior Series) is now complete. I’m currently working with the artist to get the final covers sorted but all looks good for the planned release in March (patrons will get it earlier).

I’m really pleased with the final result.

The new back cover blurb is below.


“Everything the Hungry People devour has the taste of ‘more’”!

As the harrowing pursuit of a mysterious raiding party draws to a close, the woman warrior Liath Luachra prepares her war party for one final onslaught.But out in the Great Wild, even the best laid schemes rarely go as planned.

The south-eastern forests hide threats more dangerous than raiders, Liath Luachra’s alliances are foundering, and her own personal history risks upending her existence forever.

Just as she faces a challenge her world has never encountered before.


Liath Luachra: The Metal Men is the fourth book in the Irish Woman Warrior Series and continues the story of the traumatised woman warrior’s ongoing efforts to survive in the brutal, world of first century Ireland. The main character – Liath Luachra – is based on a 12th century reference from Ireland’s famous ‘Fenian Cycle’ mythology.

A Gentle Seismic Shift

I have two books coming out this year which I’m hoping will create a gentle seismic shift around Irish culture and how Irish mythology is understood and portrayed. Both, however, are very different.

The first (Liath Luachra: The Metal Men) is ‘historical fiction’ but it’ll be taking Irish mythological fiction narratives to a place they haven’t been taken before (and hopefully amend some misconceptions along the way).

This will be released on 16 March 2022.

The second (the working title is ‘Irish Mythology:The Fundamentals) is non-fiction and is intended to be the definitive book explaining how Irish mythology (and other mythology) works and should be utilised. This one is anticipated to create a lot of reaction. The proposed release is October 2022.

One way or the other, I suspect this will be an interesting year.

The Irony of an Irish Literary Icon

You’ll see a lot of publicity around the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses tomorrow (it’s a hundred years since it was published) but I’m already growing a little cynical about the inevitable over-the-top lauding of its praises and self-congratulatory hoo-balloo.

When Ulysses was first published in 1918 (for context, this was just two years after the Easter Rising), it was serialized in parts via an American Literary Journal until 1920 before being published in its entirety in 1922. The book was subsequently blacklisted and banned from publication due to its ‘obscenity’ (although there were many pirated copies) until the mid-1930s.

Joyce had already left Ireland by then however (in 1902) and he was very much an ex-isle by the time his ‘success’ kicked in. It certainly seems that he didn’t have much patience for much of Irish society at the time. He despised the Catholic Church, he was openly contemptuous of the various political movements (and there were a lot during that period) but he seems to have reserved a particular level of scorn for the Irish literary sector, most particularly for the romanticised (and very anglicized) Celtic Twilight representation of Irish culture as pushed by W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and other members of the Irish Literary Renaissance.

Joyce was essentially pilloried in Ireland for two decades by the established hoi-polloi and literary gatekeepers of the time but, in a sense, he had the last laugh. His huge success later in life means that today, it’s that exact same group of government-sponsored literary organisations who’ll be out there telling everyone what a literary genius he was. Most of them, will probably not even have read the book.

I’m sure if he was still alive, he’d appreciate the irony.

Awakening

She woke to the weight of that dream pressing on her chest.

That and a blanket.

And pain. Always pain.

Lying on the roundhouse floor, unable to rise, the memory of the owl lingered in her head, but she made no attempt to dismiss it. Dreams had their own distorted logic, a logic that had little application in the waking world, nevertheless she’d recognised some veiled half-truth in its twisted reasoning, something she sensed was of personal relevance to herself.

The Seeking was done.

That realisation made her wince inside, rousing the melancholy she always associated with the completion of a Tasking. Although such events should have provided a sense of accomplishment or achievement, in her own case they’d never heralded more than the removal of purpose, a lingering sense of helplessness and the dreaded prospect of a return to Luachair.

And the ghosts awaiting there.

[Segment from Liath Luachra: The Metal Men – 2022]

Image ref: Segment from ‘Lonely Girl’ by Luis Royo.

The Music of What Happens

Once, as they rested during a hunt for wild deer, Fionn mac Cumhaill and his men debated what the finest music in the world might be.

“Then tell us what it is,” said Fionn to Oisín, who’d started the discussion.

“The cuckoo calling from the tree that’s highest in the hedge,” cried his son.

Fionn nodded. “That’s a good sound,” he admitted. “And you, Oscar? “What is finest of music to your mind?”

“The finest of music is the clash of a spear against a shield in battle,” the warrior exclaimed.

“It is a good sound,” said Fionn.

Working his way through the party, he asked each of his men what they thought and each gave their answer: the belling of a stag across the water, the baying of a tuneful pack of hunt hounds heard somewhere in the distance, the throaty song of a lark, the happy laugh of a gleeful girl, the whisper of a loved one in the darkness of night.

“These are all good sounds,” said Fionn.“

So, tell us, a Fionn,” one of his men ventured finally, for there was genuine curiosity amongst them.  “What do you think? What would your answer be?”

Fionn considered the question for a moment.

“The music of what happens,” he said at last. “That is the finest music in the world.”

Note: This is a segment I’ve adapted from one of the ‘old style’ Fionn mac Cumhaill stories, in this case from a book called ‘Irish Fairy Tales’  by James Stephens. Stephens actually adapted it from the 12th century Macgnímartha Find [The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn] back in 1920. This is how a lot of the Fenian Cycle (and other Irish mythology) works.

Irish Imbas Projects for 2022

The nice thing about a decent holiday is that it gives you time and space to think outside the rut, to consider new possibilities or the need to change existing circumstances. Like everyone else, I think I’ve been pretty burned out from work and social stress since the emergence of the first Covid strain in 2020. That was something that cut the legs out from under a full year’s work on a potential tv series (while also dramatically escalating my freelance consulting work) on top of all the writing.

Fortunately, sitting in the sun and blobbing over the holidays, does wonders for the soul, in terms of planning what I can realistically achieve over the forthcoming twelve months, at least. Here are the projects I hope to work on over 2022.


Liath Luachra: The Metal Men

I’m currently on the last leg of this story – which turned out to be far longer than I’d anticipated due to the disparate plot threads. I don’t want to finish on another cliff hanger so I’m just going to slog through on this to a close-to-final draft at the end of January. I’m hoping to make this available to Patreons sometime in February and it’ll be available in all the ebookstores sometime on 16 March 2022.


Fionn: Stranger at Mullán Bán:

The next book in the Fionn series will have clear overlaps with ‘The Seeking’ and ‘The Metal Men’ and Demne/Fionn takes a more active role in the narrative. I’m provisionally working to a release date of June 2022, but I now suspect this will be later.  


Untitled Liath Luachra Short Story:

This short story will be available for Patreons only. Further detail later in the year.


Non-fiction Irish Mythology Book:

This is a book explaining how Irish mythology (and other mythology) works. Most of it is already written but I’m trying to work out how to best get the information across. The plan is to release this sometime in the latter part of 2022. I’ll probably do a small ‘fantasy-based’ spin off on that as well to guide fantasy writers on what to consider when dealing with other cultures and mythology.


Liath Luachra: The Great Wild:

A short Liath Luachra series novella. This will cover an adventure prior to Liath Luachra joining Na Cinéaltaí. The story will initially be available for Patreons only. Further detail later in the year.


How to Save the World

Not the usual stuff I publish, this is a non-fiction ‘white paper’ based on the freelance consulting work I’ve been doing over the last 20 years, predominantly for Government Departments. Over that time, I’m come across patterns and behaviours that need to change in New Zealand (and overseas) if the planet and its occupants have any chance of surviving the next fifty years. Normally, I’d write something like this as part of a project for a government agency but, as they’re part of the problem, I’ll need to write it independently. I’m trying to set this at a level that journalists and the general public can utilise.


Obviously, that’s a substantial amount of work (and major breadth) on top of the Vóg newsletter and additional content I’ll be providing for my Patreons). Interest is also rising once again on a potential screen version of the Liath Luachra series so, as always, these projects need to be flexible in terms of responding to events that might occur throughout 2022.

If you’re keen on following this particular journey, feel free to subscribe to my Vóg Newsletter or if you’d prefer more up front and personal updates and woudl like to support the work I do, you might want to join my Patreon Group).

Best wishes to everyone for 2022.

Liath Luachra 1 on Sale for the rest of December

To celebrate a decidedly good end to a pretty exhausting year!

The first Liath Luachra book – the first one adapted for the screen – is going onsale everywhere until the end of the year. You can find it here: https://irishimbasbooks.com/book/liath-luachra-the-grey-one/

Or in the ‘Books’ section.

The Problem with Series

I was trying to explain to someone yesterday about how I ended up having four different book series on the go at the same time.

Beara Dark Legends (first book in the Beara Trilogy) was my first book but it’s the type of book that takes ages to write (the plot isn’t linear and it actually consists of two different – but interlinked – stories). As a result, I started the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series.

After two of those, I wrote the first Liath Luachra book as a prequel to that series but it ended up being more popular so I wrote a second one. When Hollywood showed an interest I had to write two more as they wanted enough content for three seasons if it got off the ground. As a result, I currently have three Liath Luachra (Irish Woman Warrior Series) books out and a fourth in the works.

Needless to say, I get at least one email every month from readers demanding the 2nd Beara, the 4th Fionn, the 4th Liath Luachra etc.

Sheesh!

Do not do what I did.

When mythology and history clash with fantasy.

One of the problems with writing adventures set in 1st and 2nd century Ireland is that they sit way outside the usual literary genres. Very much in the ‘sword’ (rather than in the ‘sorcery’) of ‘sword and sorcery’, when you mix in Irish mythology they almost automatically get assigned to the ‘fantasy’ classification.

Fantasy is an area that sits uncomfortably with Irish people who know their history and culture, as mythology is always culturally based (not fantasy based).

Designing covers for these books therefore becomes even more complicated as you have to ensure the cultural integrity while also balancing expectations of people who expect them to fall into the fantasy realm. These are some of my own attempts to do so, to date.

Early Fionn

This was an early sketch for one of the covers for Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma. The faces of the characters actually ended up quite different in the final cover but I liked the look of them sufficiently to think about an adaptation of the book as a graphic novel at some stage when I have time.

If anyone knows a decent graphic novel illustrator, let them know I’m looking.

Reading Material ‘as Gailege’ for Kids

One of the big problems I experienced raising my kids ‘as Gailege’ in New Zealand back in the early 2000s, was trying to get decent reading material to teach them with. Back then, there was relatively few ‘modern’ books for children (particularly in somewhere as isolated as New Zealand) and the cost of ordering them from the likes of ‘Siopa Leabhar’ and other outlets (who insisted on charging VAT even for overseas sales) was prohibitively expensive.

Fortunately, I was able to return to Ireland on a relatively regular basis and, on each occasion, I’d scour the shops for suitable books in Irish. One series of books which my kids absolutely loved was the ‘Cití Cailleach’ series (the Cití the Witch series) translated to Irish from the original ‘Winnie the Witch’ written by Valerie Thomas and illustrated by Korky Paul.

Yesterday, my daughter (now grown up) discovered a batch of the books we’d kept and was desperately looking for the Cití Cailleach series. Sadly, I’d passed them onto other Irish parents who were trying to raise their kids ‘as Gaeilge’.

As I was looking online however, I found this excellent video resource at Glór na nGael where one of the book is very ably read by Donach. I wish I’d had this kind of resource all those years ago!

You can find the you tube video HERE

The FREE literary game is live!

Dia Dhaoibh a Chairde/ Hallo Friends!

Welcome to the launch post for Dark Dawn/An Camhaoir Fuilsmeartha.

Through the image link below you’ll be transferred to an experimental format literary game relating to the ancient Irish Fianaigeacht – Fenian Cycle – tales (and to some of my own Fionn mac Cumhaill Series books). 

At heart, it’s the story of a sick warrior who’s convinced – against his better judgement – to try and save a tiny settlement. During the story, that warrior must make decisions – influenced by events in his own life – that can change the outcome.

It’s a very simple story. A very human story.

The game can be experienced through Irish or through English (or both). Naturally, because they’re different languages/cultures, those experiences will differ slightly. When it comes to different cultures, there’s no such thing as a ‘direct translation’.

This project is one I started three years ago as part of Irish Imbas’ ongoing mission to make Gaelic/Irish culture more visible and more understood (and to counter the reams of misinformation relating to Gaelic Irish mythology that pervade the internet). Developed on a shoestring budget, it required a whole new set of skills that I was obliged to learn as I progressed. In that regard, it’s also been something of a labour of love. To be honest, although I’m happy with the final product, I’m also a bit relieved I can finally move onto the next creative project.

Please feel free to share the post with whoever you think might be interested. In fact I’d encourage you to do so as there are still plenty of people out there under the illusiton that Irish/Gaelic is a ‘fantasy’ language. If you’re feeling particularly generous, I’d really appreciate an honest summary of your thoughts/feedback, either through the usual Goodreads review mechanism (here or at the end of the game) or directly by email.

But that’s enough of the intro.  It’s time to jump on in. Just click the link through the image below.

Bain sult as! / Enjoy!

LAINSEÁIL AN CAMHAOIR FUILSMEARTHA/ DARK DAWN!

AG TEACHT 11 BEALTAINE!

Tá sé ag cur sceana gréasaí agus tá pian i mo chliabhrach, ach tá plean ag Fiacail. Sin an chaoi a bhfuil sé! Níl muid anseo i Ráth Bládhma ach dhá lá agus tá muid sáite i bhfadhbanna mhuintir na háite cheana féin.

Ach… is áit dheas é. Gleann amuigh ar an iargúil atá ann, go domhain i bpoll tóna an Fhiántais Fhiáin. Tá dhá dhroim faoi chrainn ag síneadh siar ó thuaidh agus soir ó dheas, agus aill chuar ghéar ag an gceann eile a choinníonn gach rud istigh. Tosaíonn an féarach ag an gcoill thiar – sin an t-aon bhealach le dul isteach sa ghleann. Talamh fairsing, glas is ea é, a bhfuil ardú beag ann i lár an ghleanna. Sin an áit a bhfuil lonnaíocht Ráth Bládhma. Déanta na fírinne, is suíomh docht daingean é. Tá radharc soiléir amach ar gach taobh ag muintir na háite. Agus an geata dúnta, ní hamháin go mbeadh ar an namhaid teacht ar an ngleann ar an gcéad dul síos, ach bheadh air an talamh sin agus an díog chiorclach a thrasnú, dul suas an claífort agus, ar deireadh, briseadh tríd an sonnach adhmaid.

Go deimhin, tá cosaint láidir ag muintir Ráth Bládhma.

Ach ní thabharfaidh sí sin saor ón mbás iad ná baol air.

Deir Fiacail go bhfuil fiann breis is caoga laoch ag tarraingt orthu. Dar leis, tá scabhtaí acu sa ghleann cheana féin. Measann sé go bhfuil a lorg feicthe aige agus go bhfuil siad ag coinneáil súil orainn. Níl ach triúr laoch sa ráth; mé féin, Fiacail agus mo chol ceathrair, Tóla. Ach níl ionainn ach cuairteoirí atá ag stopadh ar feadh tamaillín ar ár mbealach. Níl cónaí ach ag seachtar i Ráth Bládhma i ndáiríre, agus níl ach beirt acu siúd ina laochra – an banlaoch Liath Luachra agus an t-ógánach Aodhán.

Agus déarfainn féin nach bhfuil seans na ngrást acu.

How Things Work Out (or don’t!)

It’s interesting for me to look back on some of the older posts and articles in this site and see how my plans and intentions have changed over the years. I recently came an article from 4 years back where I’d outlined some of my book plans including

  • Liath Luachra: Sons of the Land
  • Bodhmhall: The Black Hag
  • Fionn: The Salmon of Secret Wisdom

The first of those (Liath Luachra: Sons of the Land) did go ahead and was, indeed, published but under the title Liath Luachra: The Swallowed. At the point in time where I wrote that article, I knew the book would have a strong wolf element to it. The Irish word for ‘wolf’ is ‘mactíre’ which literally means ‘son of the land,’ so it seemed a logical title at the time. I think I ended up changing it as ‘The Swallowed’ aligned more effectively with the theme of the book.  

Bodhmhall: The Black Hag was a book I’d intended to write as an accompaniment to ‘Liath Luachra: The Grey One’. You can read why that didn’t go ahead in the 2017 article (HERE).  

Fionn: The Salmon of Secret Wisdom is a book I still intend to write but having started the 4th in the series, I quickly realised that there were some important elements to the story that had to take place first before I could even start talking about the famous Salmon. For the next arc in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series (three more books), Demne/Fionn takes on a far greater role than in the previous arc. He is the titular hero in this after all.

I’m hoping to release Fionn: Stranger at Mullán Bán (the first book in the new arc) during the first quarter of 2022.

Part-time Creating

Producing and distributing a professional ‘product’ takes time and effort (or a lot of spare money!).

One of the issues asociated with being a niche, part-time creator therefore, is that competing priorities generally constrict you from achieving the things you want to achieve (in the time you want to achieve them). Add in family, other work and life-altering events (Covid-19, earthquakes,etc. etc.) and the opportunity for creative output decreases even further.

Since I first started producing my own products through Irish Imbas (since 2014, I think ), I’ve been regularly frustarted at having to shut down my creative projects in response to other priorities – sometimes for years (and , yes, people are still hassling me about getting the next Beara out!). Unfortunately, that’s the cost of maintaining control over your own work while you’re still involved in another career and immersed in other circumstances. Still, like any creator, you can grow your portfolio over the years and eventually end up with a body of work you can be proud of.

This year. I’ll finally see the fruition of three projects I’ve been working on (on a part time basis) for over two years. Liath Lauchra: The Seeking is already complete, Dark Dawn/Camhaoir Fuilsmeartha is coming out in May 2021 and Liath Lauchra: The Metal Men should be avalilable a few months later.

There really is no greater satsifaction for a creator than that.

———————————

This was all triggered from a Facebook “memory” from four years back:

THE COMPLETION OF TWO PROJECTS, THE START OF ANOTHER
The first batch of hardcopies for FIONN: The Adversary arrived this morning. Fifteen copies and they’re already gone, mostly committed to people who’ve helped with the production, editing, reviewing etc. I think I have a single copy left which is remaining here on the home shelf.

Even after all these years, there’s still a great thrill and satisfaction in seeing all your intellectual work captured and consolidated into physical form. Digital copies are fine but I still prefer the tactile experience of flipping pages and the tangible weight of a book in my hand when I’m reading. [Full article at: Completion of Two Projects]