#BlogTour #GuestPost After the Rising & Before the Fall by Orna Ross

After the Rising &Before the Fall Centenary Edition Blog TourToday I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the special edition of After the Rising & Before the Fall by the acclaimed Irish historical novelist and poet, Orna Ross. It marks the centenary of the Irish Civil War of 1922/3 the events of which form the background to the books. Based on Orna’s own family history, the book was an instant bestseller when it was first published by Penguin Ireland 20 years ago. It has now been reissued by the author and is also being made available for the first time in audiobook format.

I’m delighted to bring you a guest post in which Orna writes about the events that inspired the novels, including her own family history.

WinAnd there’s also a giveaway (open internationally) with a chance to win a signed paperback copy of After the Rising & Before the Fall. Enter before 30th June 2022 by following this link Orna Ross: After the Rising & Before the Fall Signed Book Giveaway


After-the-Rising-and-Before-the-Fall-Cover-EBOOK-scaled-1About the Book

A love forbidden by family. A feud spanning generations. A woman still yearning for freedom.

Twenty years after she was driven away from her family and the only man she ever truly loved, Jo Devereux has returned to the small Irish village where she grew up. And this time, she wants answers.

What happened to her family during the Irish Civil War? Did her great-uncle’s best friend really shoot him dead? And what did this “war of the brothers” mean for mothers, sisters and daughters?

Searching through papers bequeathed by her estranged mother, Jo uncovers astonishing truths about her grandmother and great-aunt – secrets of a cold-blooded murder with consequences that ricocheted down the generations into her own life.

Urged on by Rory O’Donovan, her lost love and the son of her family’s sworn enemies, Jo is tempted to reignite the fires of rebellion. Can she ever go back to the life she’d made for herself in San Francisco? Or will what she’s learning about her heritage incite her to cast off caution–and claim what should have been hers?

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After the Rising & Before the Fall by Orna Ross – A Guest Post

In William Faulkner’s words, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

In 1923, my father’s uncle was shot dead in the civil war known in Ireland as “The War of the Brothers.” I wrote this book because I wanted to know how but mainly to explore the deep silences around the event – why nobody talked about this civil war which I knew, from my fiery great-aunt, had been a “war of the sisters” too.

Silences

I grew up in a village in the south-eastern corner of Ireland, called Murrintown. Back then it was tiny – no more than a handful of houses, a church, a post office, and our shop and pub – but small as it was, an unspoken divide separated its few families.

As children, we knew who was one of ‘us’. Nobody put into words who or what ‘we’ were, but we carried the divide within us. We were born it and we passed it on, without asking why. I knew from my fiery aunt that it was something to do with being a republican, but I wasn’t quite sure what a republican was.

Our Irish school history books were full of our glorious Easter 1916 Rising against British rule, of the glorious War of Independence of 1918 to ’21, of our glorious admission into the League of Nations in 1924. But the Civil War of 1922/23? That was a blank page.  And, as my father’s uncle had been killed in that war (murdered, my great-aunt said), that was the one I wanted to know more about.

Was it true that he’d been shot dead by his best friend? That he’d been killed because he was in the IRA (the “old IRA” who were heroes, I was told, not the new IRA who were then bombing Northern Ireland and the UK)? How could this have happened? My persistent questions got vague answers. Nobody knew anything. Least said, soonest mended. Whatever you say, say nothing.

Someday, I told my friend who sat beside me in school, I was going to write a book about all this. Then I grew up, and rejected it all – the public, nationalist politics and the private family history. I left home, went to university, found feminism and a different way of thinking about everything.

When you reject something, though, you’re not indifferent – as I learned when, approaching middle-age, I set about fulfilling that long-ago vow to my friend, and beginning that long-promised book, though my aunt was now dead.

I turned to old County Wexford newspapers, old documents in libraries and archives, old books written by those who’d been part of the conflicts of that time. I began to make notes. And somewhere along the line, research and memory gave way to imagination. I never did find out what really happened to my great-uncle. It turned out that I was writing a novel.

In my book, I tell the story of another family, the Devereux-Parles, similar-but-different to my family. The narrator is a progressive young woman, Jo Devereux, similar-but-different to me, tracing her family history back to a similar-but-different event to the one that shadowed my childhood.

Centenary Edition

It’s now almost 100 years since the events they describe happened and today Ireland is at the end of a ten-year programme commemorating “the many significant centenaries” of the decade from 1913 to 1923”, including the suffrage movement, the trade union struggles, the Easter Rising of 1916, the foundation of the Irish Free State, and they promise, the Civil War.

What happened to Jo, her ancestors and descendants, has now grown into a three-volume saga, After the RisingBefore the Fall and In the Hour, covering the lives of five generations of women, across two continents. I will launch the third volume of the book next year, in 2023, 100 years after my uncle was shot.

As I look back over the writing of this trilogy, I see now why it had to be a novel. Only the inventions of fiction could contain the truths of that time – and its ambivalent legacy. Only fiction could recreate those people who’d been wiped out of the history books. I hope they, and their way of life, will live again for you as you read.

So, it felt timely to re-release a centenary edition of the first two volumes of this Irish trilogy in advance of publishing the third and final book of this story.


Orna RossAbout the Author

Orna Ross is a bestselling and award-winning independent author. She writes historical fiction – mostly multi-generational murder mysteries – inspirational poetry and, as Orna A Ross, creative and publishing guides for authors. Born and raised in County Wexford, in the south-east corner of Ireland, she now lives in London and in St Leonard’s-on-Sea, in the south-east corner of England. In 2012, she founded the award-winning non-profit organization, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), with her husband and business partner.

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#GuestPost The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

 

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves. My thanks to Najma Finlay at Cornerstone for inviting me to take part in the tour. Described as ‘a love story and a mystery, as well as a reflection on how to navigate a life in suspension’, The Ends of the Earth was published on 29th April 2021. I’m delighted to share with you a guest post by Abbie in which she reveals how the idea for the book came about. Personally, an author’s inspiration for a book is always something I find fascinating and I hope you do too.


The Ends of the EarthAbout the Book

Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.

Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’

Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere. That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim?

Format: Hardcover (416 pages)     Publisher: Century
Publication date: 29th April 2021 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Find The Ends of the Earth on Goodreads

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Hive | Amazon UK
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Guest Post by Abbie Greaves, author of The Ends of the Earth

“I had the first seeds of the idea that would later become The Ends of the Earth while commuting. As any commuter knows, it’s hardly the most glamourous of times or tasks, but for me, it was certainly fruitful from a creative standpoint! Every day, as I flew through the ticket barriers, elbow to elbow with other passengers, I couldn’t help thinking what it would be like to come to a complete standstill in the midst of this.

What it would be like to stop moving and just wait.

What sort of person would have the fortitude to go against the grain? Why would they be stationary in a place of such motion? And most importantly – who were they waiting for and why?

From there, I began to sketch the character of Mary O’Connor, a forty-year-old woman who has been waiting outside Ealing Broadway station every evening for the last seven years with a sign that reads simply: COME HOME JIM. I knew from the outset that her patience would seem superhuman to most (I say this as a deeply impatient person myself!) so one of my main challenges in writing the novel was to find ways to help readers relate to her unique predicament. The more I wrote, the more I came to believe that her fierce loyalty and resilience is something that we all share, when it comes to the ones we love.

My second big challenge with Mary’s character was how I would go about unpicking it, especially given that privacy is paramount to her. Her family are in Belfast, unaware of her station vigil, and in terms of her friends, as she herself says they are all very much circumstantial – her boss at the supermarket where she stacks shelves and the handful of volunteers at the charity where she spends her long nights of insomnia. It isn’t a case that Mary doesn’t want to be close to these people, more that she feels she isn’t worthy and that she has other more pressing concerns.

But from the first chapter onwards, I was determined to see this attitude crumble away. When Mary receives a phone call from a man she believes is Jim, it’s the catalyst for her walls to begin to break down. It isn’t an easy process for her, letting others in, and in showing Mary’s struggles to open up, I hope I’ve done justice to the reality of that process for so many of us. It’s one thing to say we should accept help from others, quite another to actually do so.

I don’t want to give much away, but it’s not a spoiler to say that Mary’s journey from those first few pages to the last is a testament to both her tenacity and the value of having reinforcements at the ready. It isn’t a case of either/or – self-sufficiency or dependence. Mary has all the tools to construct a brighter future within herself, but she’s been reminded of them by the people who have seen that at close-range.

Mary has a place very close to my heart and I can’t wait to hear what readers make of her – do let me know.”


Abbie GreavesAbout the Author

Abbie Greaves studied at Cambridge University before working in a literary agency for a number of years. She was inspired to write her first novel, The Silent Treatment, after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another before.  Abbie lives in Brighton.

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