My Immortal

Years ago I read a book called THE DEFIANT by Mary Canon. For me the novel was memorable not because it was some great literary work, for it wasn’t really. It was simply a compelling read about the Irish battle for freedom under Queen Elizabeth I.  The book has remained on my “keeper” shelf for years because the hero, Rory O’Donnell, stayed in my head long after I read the last page.

Something about that character haunts me.

Perhaps it’s the way he arcs throughout the story from brash youth, to courageous Irish rebel, to weary refugee.  Or the way he sacrifices his personal desires and the love of his life for a cause bigger and more noble than his own happiness.  

But what really intrigues me is that the character was based on a real person – Rory O’Donnell, the last king of Tyrconnell.

After I read THE DEFIANT, I felt compelled to do some research. This particular period of Irish history really fascinates me; maybe because in some ways it parallels Cherokee history.  I learned that Rory was one of nine children. Born in Ireland in 1575, he became king after his father abdicated in favor of Rory’s older brother, Hugh who died in 1602. Along with Hugh O’Neil, Rory fought the English crown to maintain Irish sovereignty. Sadly, he and O’Neil lost that war. Their loss set the stage for years of bloody struggle that lasted up until a few years ago.  

In 1607, Rory O’ Donnell, Hugh O’Neil and about 90 followers fled Ireland when Rory and Hugh discovered they were about to be arrested. Their escape became known in Irish history as the Flight of the Earls. Tragically, Rory never saw his beloved Ireland again. He died while in exile in Rome in 1608. Silly, but when I read that fact over twenty years ago, I grieved as though he was a family member. To this day, on St. Patrick’s Day I say a prayer for Rory’s soul. Wierd, I know.

So? you wonder.  What does this have to do with writing? I write paranormal fiction and romance. On another blog I post spooky stories. My fans write often that my tales keep them up at night. And that’s a wonderful compliment, one I truly treasure. After all, that is my goal, to scare my readers.  But the thing I want the most is to create a character that will haunt my readers long after they’ve set the book aside, someone like my immortal, Rory O’Donnell.


12 thoughts on “My Immortal

  1. Oh, yeah. Creating a character that your readers will remember for years is (or should be) every authors goal. Mary Canon should be very proud of that book. Is she still alive? It’d be great to contact her and let her know how her writing affected you.

    Btw, I LOVE your Scary Monday’s blog. You’re a great storyteller!!

  2. The more I write, the smaller my world becomes. When I started in critique, I wanted nothing more than total world domination with my words. These days all I want is to make my CP’s proud or touch their emotions with the characters I’ve created.

    I’m happy with the audience I have. If it grows, it’s all good. If it remains the same, I’m still good. The CP’s teach me tons and I am really happy just to have someone listen to the crazy crap I dream up.

    • Hey RD,

      As one of your CP’s let me just say that we are so very proud of you! You have a unique voice and real gift. I know your audience will grow. I love to read the so called “crazy crap” you dream up. But it’s not crap, sister!

  3. Lynn,

    I love this post. It made me walk past my ‘keeper’ shelf and just touch the bindings of the novels with characters who haunt me. When I think of a character like Rory, I am probably going to point at Honor Harrington or Prince Roger from David Weber’s series. These characters come so far, through so many obstacles. They are so challenged and as they rise to the challenges, they grow and learn and blossom.

    What you said about Rory being based on a real character really resonates. I live in the real world, where there are real heroes and so often, I’m in a fictional world in my head. If we look around us, there are tons of great stories to be told. spw

    • Sandee,

      Thanks. Yeah, I think it’s too easy to overlook real everyday heroes in our lives. When we open our eyes to them, like you said, they can spawn wonderful stories. I love fictional characters who are challanged and lift themselves up to meet that challenge. But I so admire real people who overcome the obstacles and hardships in life, the ones who take a stand, or fight a good fight,because its the right thing to do. Or the ones who overcome their personal demons to morph into a better human being.

    • Marilyn:

      To this day I still cry when I read the second book in the series, THE SURVIVORS, when Rory dies.

      BTW, do you know what happened to Mary Canon? There was supposed to be another book in the series, a fourth called THE EXILED. But I have never been able to find it.

  4. Lynn, how lucky you are to have been touched by a character like that. It’s a testament to the power of the words we play with, isn’t it?

    • Marilyn,

      Oh yeah. I so love when characters resonate like Rory did. I feel like I expand my circle of family and friends each time. I know that sounds a little weird, but, it is an example of the impact a writer can make, crafting characters that just haunt the mind.

      And how I envy you because you’ve created some new family and friends for me through your writing. I’ve been meainng to talk to you about Anamaria. You know someone with a “gift” like hers is right up my alley.

      • I loved Anamaria! I think she was one of the easiest characters/books I’ve written in a long time. She just came to me with everything I needed to do that story. She was a gift!

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