10 Things I learned from my mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

This is my pretty, Irish mother. She taught me many things.
About karma….
1. Never speak ill of the dead.
2. Never kill a spider in the house.
About nutrition….
3. Fish is brain food. (She knew this 50 years ago. Why is it in the news only recently?)
4. Carrots are good for your eyes.
5. Never wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day. (If you are Irish, I think you know where she was coming from on this.)
Sex education….
6. Any man or boy will say or do anything to get into your knickers.
7. Any woman can look good on her back. It takes a real woman to pull off brilliance the rest of the time.
On growing old.
8. Red heads do not grey gracefully.
9. If you are confused…just smile!
10. I will always love you.

If your mother is still living, tell her you love her every chance you get. If your mother has passed, be thankful for the times she was your biggest fan, the times she fought to protect you, the times she told you what was right and what was wrong.

Thanks Mom.

Novel Ideas

Where did the idea for Butterfly come from?
That is how it happens…a news article, a stranger’s reminiscences, a song that sticks in my head and causes me to wonder what pain or joy the composer felt when it was written. The images, words, sounds coalesce and I start to form the story.

Butterfly was born very much like this. I love music, I’m a musician. Irish music, art, literature and culture are part of my DNA. For years a particular tune, a slip jig, The Butterfly, has been a favorite. I believe I first heard it as a flute piece. It is used in a film that touched my Irish soul, The Secret of Roan Inis. This gave me a focal point for my character, a theme to carry across the story, a sort of glue to hold the bits together. The theme also describes Flannery, the heroine in my story. “She was a butterfly, flitting from blade of grass to flower without a plan, joy and passion her only map.”

My husband and I raised a houseful of sons. They were exposed to music from the womb…literally. I would sing to my unborn child, play music, have a record on the stereo (back in the days of vinyl!) It seemed a natural progression to write a story about a family deeply steeped in musical tradition. The three Sloane siblings: Flannery, Tynan and Kerry were born from the seeds of imagination, but they have their roots in my memory as well.

I love stories that encompass family dynamics in a positive way. Each person, even born and raised by the same parents, in the same global environment, will have unique personality traits and values. A film that played in my head while coming up with the idea for Butterfly was Big Night. Two brothers, one with business sense, the other the artist/chef, open a restaurant. The theme is one of those “seven stories”…two people taking different paths to the same end.

In Butterfly, Flannery is the dreamer, the artist/music purest, she doesn’t care if she eats her next meal, buys a new dress or meets Mr. O’Perfect. At the beginning of the story, her music is her soul mate, in the Irish, it is her Anam Cara.

Butterfly, the first book in The Fadό Trilogy, a contemporary romantic comedy, is available now in paperback and digital formats. The second book in this trilogy is Angel’s Share, a romantic suspense that takes the reader from the pubs of Dublin to the dark and dangerous streets of South Boston. It is set to release March 2010. The third story in this series is Selkie’s Song. It is my work in progress and takes Tynan Sloane back to the land of his birth, Ireland, for a romantic tumble in this magical tale.

She never wore a watch…

She never wore a watch. This is the first sentence in my romantic comedy, Butterfly. The heroine of Butterfly is Flannery Sloane and that short sentence tells volumes about her attitude toward life.

I have been asked numerous questions about my novels, about writing, how I manage my time, where I get my ideas. The one question I have no trouble answering in one word is… “Are you Flannery Sloane?”

My response is a definite “No!” Sure, I have red hair, green eyes, I’m almost all Irish and can play the fiddle, but the resemblance ends there. Flannery never wears a watch…I’m neurotically punctual. She is twenty-three…I’m much older. And, to my chagrin, Flannery Sloane is a better fiddler than I could ever dream to be. On the other hand, I would love to be her friend. She is a bohemian free spirit. In a purely Irish expression…she can tell a man to go to hell and make him look forward to the trip.

To me, the joy of writing is all about make-believe. As a novelist I can invent, create and fantasize. Putting myself in the story would rip the fun right out of it for me. Flannery was great to hang out with while I wrote her story. She made the story easy to write and it was hard to say “The End.”

It has been gratifying to me that readers have had the same response. They want to know what happens to Flannery and Cade after the end of Butterfly. They ask if Flann will appear in the other books of the Fadό Trilogy. The characters seem to take on a living, breathing reality with a past and a future.

Here’s a bit of a spoiler for those of you who loved Butterfly and want more Flannery, Cade, Jamie and the rest of the Sloanes. Yes, they will be back. That is one of the best parts of writing a series. I can prolong the “good-byes.”
Butterfly is available in paperback and digital formats from most online booksellers.

Cover of Butterfly by Clare Austin

Buy a signed copy of Butterfly