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We all need mentors, people who inspire us and help us along the journey. Mine have often been within the pages of books and I have journals of notes from their collective wisdom over the years. But now I have one in person!
I have followed Orna Ross on her Creative Intelligence blog and then amazingly we bumped into each other in The London Library, a great creative space to work. In only a short time, she has helped me find some clarity about my own writing as well as kicking my butt in her truly wonderful Irish style. I'm excited to introduce you to her today!
Orna Ross is a novelist, non-fiction writer and poet. Previously published by Penguin, she is now exploring the delights of being an indie author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as adapting her last novel for screen. Her research interest is in creative intelligence – what it is and how to cultivate it.
In the video interview, we discuss:
- How Orna's publishing career progressed from being traditionally published with Penguin, a #2 bestseller and sold in the supermarkets to taking control of her books by going independent.
- How the publishing business has changed in the last 15 years so that it isn't so great for midlist authors. When traditionally published, creative control was taken away and particularly with supermarket sales, the author's opinion isn't taken into account. It was more about chasing the bottom line rather than investing in a writer over the longer term. Orna felt the book wasn't branded in the way the book was actually written. So it's very exciting to be able to independently publish now so she can reach the people who will enjoy the book.
- How Orna started with a meditation book and a poetry book in order to practice with the self-publishing formats, and now she is indie publishing Lover's Hollow which is now called ‘After the Rising' and will be out on the Kindle soon. It's focused on what happened after Ireland gained independence from Britain and the problems of a small village. It's part murder mystery, part love story that spans three generations. It explores silence and liberation, what happens after the moment of revolution and the story spans Ireland and San Francisco. It's literary in the tradition of great language, serious themes and a long time in the considered writing but the main aim was to write a good story which the reviews did bear out.
- Orna also writes a lot about creativity – check out her Creative Intelligence blog. The bond with the inner self is critical. You have to protect that side of yourself and nurture that. We are all creative, it's a human given. The key to more creativity is to understand what you need in order to feel connected to your inner life. Meditation is one effective way of doing that. Our education system is still grounded in the industrial revolution but we're now in the information age and we need to change the way we view creativity. Luckily we now have a lot of ways to learn online so we can change our patterns.
- What Orna has learned about marketing now she has to do it all herself. She started with blogging and has found it to be the most revolutionising thing she's done as a writer so far and it's been brilliant. It has given her a community and readers who get what she is about. She also loves Twitter @ornaross. But even as a traditionally published author, she did have to do a lot herself. Orna will do a slow 3 month launch process. It's great as an indie to be entirely in charge so she's going to launch the book in San Francisco as well as Dublin and London.
- Indie is so important because of the long tail and the fact nothing ever goes out of print and you can keep selling. This didn't happen before. A launch period is not so important when discovery can happen over time now and you can still be found years later.
My review from Amazon:
The book opens as Jo Devereux arrives in a little village in Ireland for her mother's funeral. She hasn't been back for 20 years and the internal conflict Jo faces mark the start of this saga than spans generations. This is a beautifully written story that will draw you in and make you desperate for the sequel.
Why read this book?
* You want to know Jo's story as the setting flicks from her years growing up in Mucknamore, her doomed love for Rory and her escape from the claustrophobic Irish village. Jo's need for independence resonated with me and her anguish in the present timeframe makes for compelling reading.
* There are mysteries in the book, open loops in the lives of the players that fascinate and make you read on.
* I'm not Irish and my knowledge of Ireland's civil war is practically non-existent. This is, in part, a historical novel about a time in Ireland that few speak of so it was fascinating to read more about it from the perspectives of the characters involved. I also appreciated the effective use of language which is accessible to non-Irish readers but still gives a lovely cadence to the read. The dialogue is expertly done.
Recommended if you enjoy contemporary fiction with a historical thread.