Well, the day has finally arrived and, quite frankly, I think the fairies were having fun with me whilst I was trying to set up this post because nothing would go right!
Please welcome Ellie O’Neill whose debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed, is due to be published in October by Simon & Schuster.
Ellie has kindly offered to take some time out of a really busy schedule to share with us her journey to publication, the inspiration for setting her novel against the lush backdrop of Ireland and what motivated her to write Kate’s story.
Please don’t forget to visit all the other great bloggers who are taking part in this tour, Schedule here.
Ellie O’Neill took the long way round. She sold spider catchers in Sydney, flipped burgers in Dublin and worked in advertising in London. All the while, she had that niggling feeling she had stories to tell. So, at thirty-something, she made the brave leap and moved back in with her parents to get the job done.
Swapping the dizzy disco lights of London for their suburban Dublin house, she scribbled away knowing that there was something about Irish fairies she needed to share with the world. Then, most unexpectedly, Ellie fell madly in love. The only catch was he lived in Australia. True to form, she couldn’t ignore the magic and followed her heart to Oz for what was supposed to be a long holiday. Five years later Australia is home to Ellie, her Joe and their fabulous baby (with an Irish name no one can pronounce). They live in Geelong and Ellie is currently working on her second book.
I am a massive celebrity obsesser. I love the ridiculous, insane world that celebrities live in, the self-obsession, the selfies, the love affairs, the paparazzi. On writing Reluctantly Charmed I wanted to put someone ‘normal’ into that culture, someone who didn’t choose to go in (because surely if you’re normal you don’t choose that life) I wanted to see how she’d ( my normal heroine) survive with all eyes on her, telling her she’s something that she’s pretty sure she’s not. Celebrity stories always seem to be based on the slimmest fragment of truth, and that fragment can propel someone into infamy no matter how much they protest.
The supernatural element originally came from my granny. She was superstitious, and carried out a lot of the rituals that I mention in Reluctantly Charmed, left a little bit of milk in the end of a glass for the fairies, washed the steps at the front of her house for the fairies to sit on as they were trooping past. Granny was also a keen poker player and before any game she’d check under the table to see if anyone had hooves – a sign that the devil is at the table and will win all the money! Bizarre I know but growing up, for me, that was normal, that was just what granny did. When I started getting a flurry of ideas, for Reluctantly Charmed (I never got a light bulb moment) I felt that there was something interesting, and romantic about Irish folklore that was worth exploring. The more I investigated the more I fell in love with the idea.
Those two elements, the fairy world and the celebrity world were the raw ingredients for the story. And then Kate McDaid came along to marry them up. The story had to be set in Ireland to lend the folklore element credibility, also being Irish, it’s the back drop that I’m most comfortable and familiar with. I’m not peering in and commenting as a foreigner, I live it. And I am very proud to be Irish, it’s a very important part of who I am, I plan to continue to write books set in Ireland.
And Why? I don’t know. Why does anyone want to write? It’s a very difficult road to take, so I’m not quite sure why I thought it was a good idea at the time! I have to say though, I love re-reading what I’ve written (if it’s good) and if it makes me laugh, I’m delighted with myself. I love the idea of being a story teller, I had a great-grandmother from a tiny village in Kerry, who was a seanchaí and apparently people used to travel from all over to hear her tell a story, no mean feat considering they’d be travelling by donkey so she must have been good. I’d love to think that some of her talent has been passed down to me.
When I had a clear view of the story, I did something that I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do, I quit my job in London and moved back in with my parents in Dublin. There were the obvious problems of living with your parents as an adult, they watch the TV really loud, and my mum showers with the door open (!), and then the new and frustrating problem of trying to be a writer even though I’d never written anything substantial before. But I got there, and then I discovered that the road to publication is just as difficult as completing a manuscript. It has taken me years of door knocking and rewrites to get here, and I am savoring every delightful minute of being a published author. More than anything, I really just want readers to enjoy the book, to get lost in the story, to smile, maybe laugh, and feel good.
Ellie loves to connect with her fans, so you’re welcome to do so by following the below links:
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About the Book
It’s Kate McDaid’s birthday and she’s hoping to kickstart her rather stagnant love-life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great-great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.
Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Instantly, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil the final, devastating step of the request . . . or whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.
Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities… and a little bit of magic.
You can pre-order Reluctantly Charmed from the following links: