Friday, August 17, 2012



The title I chose for my universe was not really a poetic choice, but one based on actual historic events. In ca. 432, a youngish priest was named Bishop and sent to heathen Hibernia by the Pontiff in Rome. Probably in his 40s, the man named Patricius soon became known as Patrick--in Irish Gaelic, Pádraig--and history literally began in a beautiful, isolated place named Ireland.
My imagination conjured up an 18-year-old woman named Caylith Vilton, who had run from the destruction of her villa in Britannia after it was torched by freebooter Picts. She had the foresight to find an Irish shipbuilder named Michael who was able to build a fleet of small, skin-clad boats called currachs. In those flimsy little boats, 300 immigrants arrived in what is today the harbor of Belfast and made their way to Armagh where Bishop Patrick had set up a growing monastery.
The three books that comprise THE DAWN OF IRELAND tell the story of Caylith and her eventual lover Liam, the sensuous clansman, son of the High King Leary MacNeill. Other characters enliven the series--conniving druds, cattle barons, a high king, and a brooding, mysterious man who follows her throughout all the novels.
What could an author possibly find in those rough-and-tumble days of cattle rustlers, wildass clansmen and Saxon mercenaries? How can a passionate young couple find love and fulfillment in the badlands of Old World Ireland?

Liam O'Neill meets beautiful, willful, naive Caylith--and a storm begins! In Storm Maker, the young couple fights their natural passionate nature trying to stay reasonably “pure” in the wake of a promise to Father Patrick, to stay chaste for the marriage bed. But as they try to start a life together, waiting for Patrick to join them in marriage, an implacable enemy plots their undoing.
G-rated excerpt:
Liam was so close to me now that, even in the dark, I saw the moonlight reflected back in his laughing eyes, and I saw the insolent smile playing around his mouth. He leaned into me, and I suddenly remembered all over again the sweet honey of his tongue and moving lips. I knew even before he started that I would answer his insistence, for we had been apart too long. 
I knew not when Michael left, but I was past caring. I knew only that Liam’s mouth had been created to join with my own, to probe and discover until we were breathless with the intensity of it. 
A chuisle,” he murmured at last. A-koosh-la. It was as though a song had just been written for my ears alone.
And then I left him as I had the night he sang me his love song, running into the night, not looking back.
The ship was rolling and pitching. I could see the galley of rowers in the moonlight, straining against the wind and the relentless waves. I was trying to find a small harbor, a niche where I could curl up and sleep, but suddenly I lost my balance and fell—hard—on the slick deck.
Then Liam’s arms were around me, lifting me up and to the safety of the curving planks of the ship’s side. He set me gently against the smooth timbers and knelt next to me, his eyes asking a thousand questions. 
Even if we could speak each other’s language, what would I tell him? That I had missed him, but in a place so deep I did not discover it until a few minutes ago? That the very sight of him excited me so intensely that I could not control my fierce desire? That I ached for him, but for another man at the same time?


The Wakening Fire finds Liam and Caylith just beginning to discover the secrets of passion they have not yet revealed to each other. As those fires burn, other blazes threaten not just their lives but the future of Ireland itself. An old enemy resurfaces, and his own secrets will mean a major upheaval in the lives of all the characters. And Bishop Patrick has decided to light giant ritual fires in direct defiance of the high king himself, as he attempts to win men's hearts to the promise of the gospels.
G-rated excerpt:
He lay there looking up at the thatched ceiling for a while, silent and thoughtful. “I…told ye once, Cat. I never hold ye back. I love your freedom. But…not know such a small butterfly…hurt me so much.” 
The candlelight reflected back the tears that stood in his eyes. “Oh, oh, my darling husband. A chuisle mo chroí, a Liam, I am so sorry.” I rested my head on his chest. My shoulders began to heave with the sobs I tried to keep lodged in my stomach.
He reached out and embraced me, blanket and all, and drew me back down onto our bed. “Hush, hush,” he said, caressing my hair. “Ye did nothing wrong, Cat. Ye be guilty of loving too much. Even your enemies. Ah, Cat, I understand ye.”
I kissed his dear face, licking the saltiness from around his eyes and in his short, soft beard. I could feel his readiness even through the blanket. “Liam, make love to me. But slow. Silent. Even, oh, even in the dark tonight. All right?”
Tá go maith,” he said, and I barely heard him. He rose up a bit and seized the candle on the table and blew it out. I felt his body in the sudden darkness, a heat I felt more intensely now, with no flame to light his presence. 
It was almost as though we were back on the road somewhere leaving the Lough Neagh, in the shadow of a shadow of a moonless night, under a nameless tree. He was lying on his side, facing me. Then his tongue was in my ear, soft and slow, a timid animal, and he drew my fingers into his mouth and suckled them in the same way, unhurried and gentle.


Finally, in Captive Heart, Caylith must face the history of her mother's past captivity by slave dealers, all the while being shackled by the unseemly love of her husband's own kinsman. Caylith and Liam are joined by friends trying to save a group of captive women, traveling to the desolate, lightning-racked north shores of what is now Donegal and to the rugged, remote Tory Island. Finally she confronts first the man who had enslaved the women, and then the man who has tried to bind her to his fevered heart.
G-rated excerpt:
Brigid and I rode home at a slow canter. I thought about today’s practice, how I had won not a match the whole day. The best I could do, as with Magpie, was to settle for a draw. I thought she knew that I was deliberately slowing the pace, and she rode quietly beside me, waiting for me to speak.
“Bree, I have made a huge mistake.” She was silent, but she looked at me with her wide, clear eyes, inviting me to continue. “A man’s heart reached out to me, but I was not free. Instead of slaying the monster, I allowed it in. This happened not once but twice. Two different men. Same mistake.”
“How did you let it in, Cay?”
“I found a beautiful woman for each of those men, thinking that would set me free. And set them free, too.”
“Yes, I see how that was a mistake, a chara. Those beautiful women were but a reflection of you. You still gave yourself to them.”
I thought about her words, and tears began to flow down my face. “I see it now,” I said, barely above a whisper. “Now they are bound not to one heart but two. And I am bound to three.”
She stopped her little white mare, who began to browse the roadside.... “Ah, Cay. The human heart is too complex to rein in, to teach tricks, to bind and set free at will.”
“What can I do, Bree? How can I undo all this hurt?
“As I said, it is not a matter of untying a knot, of letting the butterfly flutter free from your hand. It is something to be done slowly and carefully, so the hearts do not break. How you do that is what will define you as a real person. As an adult woman and as a wife.”
Adult. Wife. At last, after nineteen years of the imaginary fairy-princess life, I was being forced to see the vicious thorns under the soft-petalled rose. I thought I was teaching that lesson to others back when I was a willful sixteen-year-old playing warrior games. Now, somehow, I had to go back and undo the hurt I had caused. And if I did not do it right away, I stood to lose the one man in the world I loved beyond all others, the one whom I must never lose.

Lightning over the Fanad Peninsula, northern Ireland,
as experienced by the characters in CAPTIVE HEART

OQ Erin O’Quinn’s Gaelic blog:
Erin O’Quinn’s Manlove blog:
Storm Maker:
The Wakening Fire :
Captive Heart:
Fire & Silk:
Warrior, Ride Hard:


  1. Love those sky views! This whole trilogy is like lightning striking. I just bought the third book and can't wait to dive in. Good luck with it, Erin.

  2. Thanks, Miriam, first for letting me "take over" your beautiful Celtic Rose blog today. I'm grateful for the space and the opportunity to show off my work.

    Thanks also for being a fan of Caylith and her friends. Her story, and that of Liam, his father the high king, her old enemy Owen, her best gal-pals and all the others--those stories are waiting for eager readers to find them and love them as I do.

    Slán, Erin :-)

  3. Thank you, Miriam, for giving Erin a showcase for her wonderful tales. Love this time in history, and so glad to find a writer who sets her stories there. All the best, Erin!

  4. Thanks for tuning in, Pat.

    I would give my Erin, my go, and my bra to live there and be able to write from more than imagination. :-) ...Or, for that matter, to write as well as eilther you or Miriam!