Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest blog: Pat McDermott on the writing process

Pat McDermott, author of A Band of Roses,stopped by today to make a guest post about the writing process. Be sure to read her interview and my review of A Band of Roses!

Guest Post by Pat McDermott

Every writer goes about crafting stories in unique ways. For me, the first step is gathering research, a process much like setting out the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I link the straight edges together to form the outline, and little by little, different pieces fill the empty middle as only their exact colors and shapes can.

Missing pieces are always a problem. For a jigsaw puzzle, I usually find them on the floor. A missing piece in a plot means I’ve hit a spot that requires more research. I usually find what I need online or at the library—unless what I need concerns Ireland.

Then, I visit my aunts. Both have been avid collectors and readers of Irish books for as long as I can remember. Their frequent trips to Ireland over the years have filled their home with other treasures—Belleek pottery and Waterford crystal, copper sculptures and paintings of the Aran Islands—but it’s the books that draw me.

From Aunt #1's side of the shelves, my choices include poetry, literature, ancient laws and customs, music or mythology. Aunt #2's section displays modern history, biographies, politics, and current events. All the puzzle pieces any author of Irish fiction could ever want are there.

I’m grateful for my aunts’ generosity in sharing their bibliophilic jewels. My current “check out” is an antique whose thick yellowed pages overflow with wonderful old Gaelic names like Gormflaith, Meave, Macha, and Dervorgilla. Pirate Queen Grace “Grainne” O’Malley, the inspiration for my current writing project, has her own chapter.

My efforts to create my own Irish library have lured me across the sea. Sadly, many of the small Irish bookshops my aunts once haunted are gone, but I’ve discovered wonderful new bookstores in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Killarney, and Westport. I’ve brought home titles I’d never find in New Hampshire, or even in Boston.

Despite my many acquisitions, I doubt I’ll ever achieve a library comparable to the collection my aunts have amassed. Yet the hunt is exciting, a great adventure that not only helps solve my research dilemmas, but inspires new ideas as well. As they say in Ireland, “Seeking one thing often finds another.”


  1. Leaving such books is a lasting legacy!

  2. Hello, Linda. I certainly agree! Those old books are a reminder of what life was like before radio, television, and the internet. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Your aunts' home sounds like a treasure chest for lovers of Ireland! I sighed reading this one. I could only dream of such an amazing collection of Irish books in a comfortable library in my home in Ireland of course!

  4. Hi there, Scully Love Promo! When you have your home in Ireland, let me know. I'll get the house next door and we'll swap books :-) Thanks for visiting Jennifer's blog!

  5. Jennifer, Thank you so much for being such a lovely host these past few days. The cast of A Band of Roses and I have enjoyed our visit to A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book.
    Best wishes for your future endeavors,
    Pat McDermott

  6. Thank you for being such a great guest! Best of luck in sales on your novel, and I hope to do this again for #2!

  7. PAT--how perfectly wonderful to have aunts who have a rich store of treasures. You don't know how lucky you are--and I appreciate it because I love historical items and stories.I have nothing tangible, and little in my memmory, because it doesn't go back as far as I would like. Maybe that's why I make up so much. The Irish bent to your tales seem all the more precious becasue of your family history.Celia