Tag Archives: Irish Faeries

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ciaran & Hamish

Bwaa haa haa! Caricature by J.J., SVG file by Gustavb via Wikimedia Commons.

Up to now, I’ve introduced you to most of the good guys in The Stone of Kings, with the exception of Mr. Reppenhaggan. The conflict of the book is primarily internal from the protagonist Ardan. However, there are a couple of villains, though they don’t show up till just before the dramatic high point at the end of the book. Since they mirror each other, I’ll talk about them both in this final “Meet the Characters” post. 🙂

What They Look Like

Ciaran is young, early twenties maybe. But he’s kind of scrawny. I imagined his back story to be a relatively good kid who got picked on a lot for his lack of muscle. That’s why he turns to drugs to numb the pain and the New IRA for acceptance.

As a side note, the current New IRA, aka Real IRA (classified as a terrorist organisation) does carry out vigilante work against drug dealers, but mainly through extortion and feuding. Times change, but bad judgment will always be bad judgment. Since this part of my story takes place in 2023, I didn’t see Ciaran’s drug addiction and IRA involvement as a very big stretch.

Hamish is a Scottish druid with an attitude. His attitude stems from being a Little Person in the 18th century so you can probably guess why he’s a bit grouchy. I really can’t blame him. Like the other druids, his hair, beard, and eyes are white.

Their Parts to Play

Ciaran is the literary foil for both Thomas and Hamish. (Still not quite sure how I managed to come up with that! 😉 ) He contrasts with Thomas, who has more right to hate the British than Ciaran. But Thomas knows how foolish it is to react as rashly as Ciaran does. Ciaran compares with Hamish, who identifies himself under the British crown, the very political power that Ciaran loathes.

I just love these kind of wild circles! 😀

Poor Hamish is just trying to make a better life for himself. He saw an opportunity to live a more aristocratic life in Ireland and jumped on it. Like Ciaran, he’s not all bad, just fed up with being picked on. He was partly inspired by the character Miles Finch from The Elf. 🙂

What They Mean To the Story

The name Ciaran means “little dark one.”  It’s probably meant to be literal for the Irish babies born with dark hair. But I gave Ciaran his name for figurative reasons. He’s a dark character and shows Thomas how not to react. Thomas is understandably upset that the English took his family’s land. His relationship with Turlough (whose family historically suffered the same fate) helps to keep his anger in check. Ciaran’s over-the-top violence proves to Thomas that he needs to let go of his anger. Then again, the faeries have even bigger plans for Ciaran and Thomas…

The name Hamish means “supplanter” or “representative,” which made it the perfect name for this character. Hamish represents England for the Irish Druids. Though the Irish welcome him into their number, he attempts to use one of their own weapons of power against them in order to make himself their leader. Let’s see how well that works out for him…

Their Failings

Ciaran is so wrapped up in having been accepted by the New IRA, he can’t see the forest for the trees. Even when the faeries make themselves visible to him, he believes that someone has set up some kind of elaborate “intervention” complete with holographic images.

Hamish gets too power-hungry. Due to his appearance, he would never have been able to life an aristocratic type life in Scotland, even with the help of faerie magic. He manages to pull it off in Ireland and the power goes to his head.

Their Strengths

In a warped way, Ciaran truly believes that he’s acting for the good of Ireland, even though he nearly kills his own cousin among many others.

Hamish is a talented druid. The fact that he can gain the wealth he has despite his appearance is a testament to that. If he could only remember what being a druid is all about…

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you ever feel kinda sorry for the bad guy? Do you know why they went bad, but you get frustrated because they go over-the-top with the meanness? Do you think there are really ALL BAD people, who have not redeeming qualities at all? Are they believable as characters?

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Jim Jam and His Troope of Faeries

I couldn’t find pictures of red foxgloves. But this is what faerie hats look like, only red. 🙂 Attribution: W.J.Pilsak at the German language Wikipedia.

When I told my husband about Irish faeries being in my book, I think it put him in mind of Tinkerbell and adventures in tiny faerie villages with smiling bugs for sidekicks.

Er, no.

Irish faeries, aka The Good People, are not Disney-esque in the least and you must treat them with proper respect. If you don’t, you may regret it.

This was a difficult post to write because I didn’t want to risk giving away too much of my story. Also, there are tons of different myths and ideas about the Fae Folk. It can be a fascinating study, and I highly recommend it. But here’s a general rundown of how I depict the faeries in The Stone of Kings.

What He Looks Like

Most of the time, the faeries are invisible. If you are worthy enough to be able to see them, you’ll find that they disguise themselves to look like foxglove (or lusmore) flowers. Like the others, Jim Jam is tiny and green. He wears clothes styled like the aristocracy of 1715, but all in green hues. The only thing not green is his hat, which is tall and pointy like a foxglove blossom. It is specifically red, because red is a magical color in the faerie world. Jim Jam also has delicate wings which is an aspect that I chose to use for my book. Some of the faerie myths have them to be wingless.

His Part To Play

Each immortal druid deals with a specific faerie troope. Jim Jam is the chief of the troope that deals with Bresal. We really only see them at the beginning and the end of the story, but they are central to the plot, nonetheless. Like with the other druids, Jim Jam and his faeries have given Bresal his magical spells. But the law stands that he must not write down the spells. Jim Jam kind of knows that Bresal will break this law, and lets it happen.

Jim Jam has his reasons…

What He Means to the Story

I found Jim Jam’s name in the story “Frank Martin and the Fairies.” I don’t think there’s any great significance to his name other than that. I just liked it. 🙂

His Failing

The Fae Folk don’t have failings, in my opinion. 😉 But if you want to call it a failing, they like to make trouble for people who don’t respect them.

Respect the faeries!

His Strength

Jim Jam and his troope of faeries are extremely intelligent. They understand human nature better than humans themselves. They gift worthy people because they recognize how these people can make Ireland a better place than it already is. If you’ve ever been to Ireland, it’s hard to imagine it to need improvements (such a gorgeous country!), but the faeries know how to pull it off.

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some faerie myths that you’ve encountered? Have you ever seen a faerie rath? Do you have a faerie inspired story to share?

Join me this week for Wednesday Welcomes! We get a sneak peek at E.A. West’s brand new release, Pressure.

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – John Grady

Journey prank kidWhat He Looks Like

Always smiling. John is a man who takes everything in stride. It takes a lot to crush his spirit. It doesn’t really matter what he looks like because he’s simply likable.

His Part to Play

Turlough knows that Bresal is right. He needs to be sober for this particular journey, but he’s not used to soberness. John’s lighthearted candor helps distract Turlough better than Bresal’s deep intellectual knowledge. But Bresal sees John’s company as problematic because they can’t tell him anything about immortal druids or faeries. But John has a secret of his own…

What He Means to the Story

John is a supporting character. Though his role is small, he is significant. He is observant and without him the story might have ended very differently.

His Failing

John loves a joke as much as Turlough. Sometimes, it’s a bit inopportune. He and Turlough pull a prank on Breasal and while it hinders the start of their day’s journey, it does attract somewhat helpful attention.

His Strength

John loves a joke as much as Turlough. Here again is a character who’s failing is also his strength. We would all slide into deep depressions if we could not see a glint of comedy in the most dire of adventures. It’s the fun in life that gives us purpose and makes us keep going. John reminds Turlough of this many times.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Do you have a friend like John? Someone who always seems to smile no matter what? Do you have a friend who’s antics sometimes get in the way? How dull will your life be without them?

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Turlough O’Carolan

Oh! to have been one of those people in that audience! What fun it was making him a character! 🙂

I have done my absolute best to keep myself from going on and on about this fascinating historical figure for this post. It wasn’t easy. But if you’d like to learn more, other than by reading my book (which is a fictitious account), here is the link to his biography.

What He Looks Like

I didn’t have to imagine too much here. Turlough is the only character who was based on a real person hence the above image. I did TONS of research on this fascinating man from Irish history. I chose to illustrate him as a he was in his forties, fully recognized throughout Ireland and yet before he was married.

His Part to Play

The research I did for The Stone of Kings included William Butler Yeats’ book Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. What does that have to do with Turlough? Here is the crucial line from the chapter on the Trooping Fairies, “Carolan, the last of the Irish bards, slept on a rath, and ever after the fairy tunes ran in his head, and made him the great man he was.”

BOOM!

There was my story. A “rath,” by the way, is a fairy home or fort. Ideas blossomed in my head about Turlough’s music, his relationship with the faeries and druids, and how he influences both them and his fellow Irishmen. But I tried to stay as true to who he really was as I could, so I also read Donal O’Sullivan’s Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper.

A big chunk of my research is found right in the prologue which is in the Amazon sample. 🙂 As a little side note, I was crushed to realize that I wrote “County Mead, Ireland” when I know there is no such place. I obviously meant “Meath,” however, after further research realized that it should have been Roscommon (the prologue was added during editing). I blame gluten. But it doesn’t change the story anyway. 😉

What He Means to the Story

Turlough is, of course, the famed blind harper of Ireland. He had many guides to assist him in his travels, and at the time of my story, his guide is Thomas. Turlough is very fond of Thomas because they have a similar background, and he treats him as family. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a meaning for Turlough’s name, which doesn’t matter in the slightest. But he was occasionally known as Terrence, which is the alias that Hannah gives to Thomas while they stay at the Bed and Breakfast in 2023.

The most important thing about Turlough is that he underscores the idea of uniting the Irish despite creed, which is a major theme of the story and his own history. Turlough was a person I would LOVE to have known. He was a friend to anyone who did not oppress people. My kind of friend!

His Failing

He is a bit of a drunk and has a temper. In the story, he forgets that there is a time and a place for drowning your troubles in the drink, and not when you are on a rescue mission with an immortal druid. His temper, while justified, gets him in some tight spots. He also doubts his own usefulness while they attempt to rescue Thomas and Ardan. After all, he is merely a blind bard…right? Hmm…

His Strength

Like the others, he is loyal. Both to his friends, especially Thomas, and to his country. He also harbors no prejudices. He is kind and courteous to the English family they encounter, despite the fact that the English government continue to oppress him and his people. He allows the English family to prove that they are not an oppressive sort, and therefore judges them to be kindred spirits.

And, of course, there is his magical and mysterious music. But how can music bring Thomas and Ardan back to the year 1715 or save Bresal from the judgement of the druid council?

Have you ever heard of Turlough O’Carolan? Do you find him to be a fascinating character too? Are you familiar with his music? What is your favorite Carolan song?

Next week…meet Hannah!

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Bresal

Long lost cousins, maybe? 🙂 Image attributed to “GANDALF” by Nidoart – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GANDALF.jpg#mediaviewer/File:GANDALF.jpg

What He Looks Like

I’ve got a blending of Gandalf and Dumbledore in my head when I think of Bresal. Definitely a long, white beard. But it’s the eyes and clothes that make Bresal different from the two wizards. Bresal’s guise is of a simple 1715 Irish farmer. But it’s his eyes – if one was to question the pale blue color of his eyes, they might discover a taste of what makes Bresal so extraordinary.

His Part to Play

Bresal is an immortal druid. In The Stone of Kings, the Irish druids are given magic by the faeries for the purpose of keeping mankind distracted from a desire to worship the faeries. It is the knowledge of the magic gives their eyes such an extreme color. By 1715, Christianity is firmly rooted in the Irish culture, so that druids, like Bresal, had little purpose but to keep faeries safe from mankind and vice versa. Most of the druids are hermit-like, but Bresal has preferred to raise and educate foundlings – hence his fatherly relationship with Ardan. Even more disturbing to the druid community is Bresal’s love of written words – hence his creation of the illegally written book of faerie spells. *wiggles fingers mysteriously* Whooo! 😉

What He Means to the Story

Bresal’s name means “pain” or “war.” Well, there’s a big clue. By creating the book of spells, he inadvertently creates the conflict for the plot. Little does he know that his book will help highlight the war that mars the beauty of the Irish people and their history. As for the pain, well, Bresal himself knows that losing his little red book means certain death. Yet he is determined to compel the druid council to rescue Ardan and Thomas before the pain starts. He just doesn’t quite know how he will accomplish it.

His Failing

He breaks druid tradition and falls in love with the written word. Historically, druids never wrote anything down, which is why we don’t really know much about them. But Bresal can’t seem to stop himself from breaking this druid law, even though he knows he would be put to death if the council finds out about it. He also breaks tradition by fostering orphans. This habit isn’t illegal, but it is frowned on by most of the council and puts him in an unfavorable position within their ranks.

His Strength

He breaks druid tradition and falls in love with the written word. Yes, I said that was his failing. But it’s also his strength. Bresal recognizes that the changing world requires knowledge and that some traditions should be challenged. His ability to adapt and change allows him to acquire allies – even allies of different creeds and backgrounds. They unite for a common purpose, and unity = strength. But is it strong enough?

Have you ever broken a tradition? Did it make your situation better or worse? Did you ever find yourself writing or doing something even though you knew it could cause trouble?

Next week, meet Thomas!

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ardan

TheStoneofKings_500X750

What He Looks Like

Ardan has attributes that I wish I had. Curly, red hair. Blue eyes. Wide mouth. Probably freckled. Since I’m writing the screenplay, I tried to find an actor who I would cast in this role, but I’m a busy mom and just not in the know. Does Rupert Grint have a little brother who can do an Irish accent?

His Part to Play

Everything hinges on this kid. Ardan is a twelve-year-old orphan who is being reared by his mysterious foster-father, Bresal, who found him stuffing grass and sod into his mouth when the boy was two. As rich as I found the Irish landscape to be when I was there, eating grass and sod could only be a good thing. 😉 He has no memory of where he comes from and no desire to find out. Hmm, there’s something wrong with that… *wink wink*

What He Means to the Story

The name Ardan means “high aspiration.” My Ardan aspires to meet a real faerie. Perhaps if he had thought about the meaning of his name, he’d be more careful about what he wishes for. His desires distract him to the point of not only becoming involved in faerie magic, but he finds himself involved in a dangerous adventure, the likes of which he could never have anticipated. Nothing in his knowledge of the fae folk prepares him for dealing with a future time where carriages power themselves, bones are visible without cutting the skin, and eating altered grains can make him terribly sick.

His Failing

Ardan is a smart kid – when he can focus. Unfortunately, this is also what he must learn, how to focus better. Not only does his lack of focus lead him to the wrong conclusions, but he also finds himself to be rather clumsy because he’s not paying attention to where he puts his feet.

His Strength

Ardan is also fiercely loyal. When he realizes that his actions have put not only his new friend’s lives in danger, but also Bresal’s, it cuts him deeply. Ardan develops a deeper appreciation for the man who provides him with a home and education.

But is this really all the faeries want him to learn – a better appreciation for his foster-father? It’s an important lesson to be sure, but was it necessary to send him three hundred years though time to teach him that particular lesson? What else is he supposed to know?

Have you read The Stone of Kings yet? What parts of Ardan’s character can you identify with? Would you react to his situation in the same way? What would you do if you ever met an Irish faerie?

Next week – meet Bresal!

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3 Things I’ve learned about Screenwriting…So Far

They're doing their best imitation of Mommy.

They’re doing their best imitation of Mommy.

At the time of writing this post, I’ve got about 32 pages of my screenplay written. The goal, so I’m told, is to keep it around 120. While I’m having fun with this project, I’m also learning why books always seem better than their film counterparts.

I love details. I love the ins and outs of knowing why things happen. I love knowing exactly what motivated  a character to say or do what they said or did. I’ve always kind of known why movies can’t portray this as well as books, but I’m “getting” it better.

On the other hand, I also love the “Behind the Scenes” features. So this experience (whether or not it gets produced) is a real treat. 🙂 I feel like I’m getting a blast of “Behind the Scenes” for all the movies I’ve ever watched, by learning how they were originally created. So for all you “Behind the Scenes” junkies like me, here are some things I’ve learned:

1. Writing “meanwhile” scenes is tricky.

Okay, so maybe there’s a technical term here that I haven’t learned yet. You know when important things happen at the same time? That’s what I’m calling “meanwhile” scenes. Like, in The 5th Element, when Leeloo fights the Mangalores during Diva Plavalaguna’s concert. The way those scenes are presented would be very confusing to read if a novel presented them that way, and it wouldn’t have the energy.

So I’ve got two scenes where Thomas and Ardan discover Bresal’s book of faerie spells while Bresal is out with Turlough in the garden having a secret chat with a faerie chief. The scenes are written separately, but that doesn’t work visually. Figuring out how to chop them together so that they both end when the boys vanish in a flash of light was an interesting task.

2. Killing darlings is tough. 

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, I believe it was coined by Stephen King. He uses it anyway in his book, On Writing. Your darlings are the passages of text that, in the words of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, rarely have the words pour from your penny pencil with such feverish fluidity. But rather than having readers go over your work with the Romeo and Juliet theme playing in the background, their likely to give your beloved words a 2 star review (translated in my mind as C+). 

I killed many darlings already in the The Stone of Kings, but the slaughter continues, not only for the sake of time, but also for losing visual interest. In my book, I have Turlough play two songs that help to encompass who he is. But describing the performance is much shorter than presenting it. So he only plays the song which helps to set the tone of the story. I’ve read how the inciting incident (in this case, when the boys find the magic book and promptly send themselves 300 years in the future), is supposed to happen around page 30 of a screenplay. Killing more darlings helped me to be on track. 🙂

3. Research starts anew.

I thought I’d put my biography of Turlough O’Carolan away when I got the major edits done on the novel. But then there were things that I didn’t bother mentioning in the novel, that I had to mention in the screenplay.

After Turlough wakens from his fever with smallpox and realizes he’s blind, the scene in the book is written from his point of view, so I didn’t bother to talk about Mrs. MacDermottRoe’s appearance. She’s the lady who eventually has him trained as a traveling harper. But I didn’t think that having an entire scene from Turlough’s blind perspective would work for the movie, so I had to give some description so that if this gets produced, they could cast an appropriate female for this minor role. Mrs. MacDermottRoe was, in fact, only about 5 years older than Turlough.

Do you like “behind the scenes?” Are you frustrated when movies don’t quite capture the book? Are you understanding of filmmakers when they leave out your favorite scene from a book?

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