Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Story Behind Playing For Keeps

I have a confession to make. Playing For Keeps, Book III in The Claddagh Series, was … well, something of an accident.
When I wrote In Sunshine or in Shadow, Book I of The Claddagh Series, I wrote it as a stand-alone story. I never planned to write a sequel to it, let alone two or more.
But something happened while I was writing that first book. I like to think of it as a sort of magic. The people of Ballycashel, my fictitious village on the Galway coast, became very dear to me. They were flesh and blood, not figments of my imagination, and I grew to love each and every one of them.
And they demanded that I tell their story.
Katie O’Brien, the heroine of Playing For Keeps, was the first to demand a story of her own. A lonely little girl in In Sunshine or in Shadow, she was unsure of her father’s love for her until one day, they went for a ride and found themselves at the edge of Ballycashel land, where lush green grass gave way to cold, damp, pitiless bog.
It was there that Rory told Katie the story of his past. It was there that he confessed his deep love for his daughter. It was there that he told Katie that he planned to marry Siobhán Desmond, then Katie’s governess and friend.
And it was there that Katie demanded her own story.
Katie held out her hand, then hesitated. “Papa?”
“Yes, my love?”
“Does this mean I can stay here?”                                                                           
He paused, frowning. “Stay here? You said you thought the cottage was haunted. Why would you want to stay here?”
She shook her head vigorously, her eyes downcast. “Not here at the cottage. I mean at Ballycashel.”
Stay in Ballycashel? Where else would she be staying?
“Kathryn?” He hooked a finger under her chin, forcing her to look up at him. “Of course you’ll be staying here. We’ll be living at Ballycashel with Ashleen and her mother.” A thought struck him. “Are you saying you want to go back to Baltimore?”
“No! Oh, no, Papa, I love Ireland. I was meant to come here. It’s so beautiful, being close to the sea, and the people are so happy and friendly. I love listening to Paddy Devlin play his tin whistle, and Liam Brady’s fiddling is magical.”
Kathryn’s lower lip trembled, sending fissures through Rory’s heart. A terrible suspicion entered his mind. He gazed soberly into her eyes. “Kathryn? Where do you think you’d be staying?”
“Then you won’t send me away?”
He shook his head firmly. “No, Kathryn, I won’t send you away. Although one day, if you want to go, I’ll send you back to Baltimore. But only for a visit. You still have cousins there, you know.”
I’ll send you back to Baltimore for a visit. As soon as I wrote that line, I knew Katie had to have her own story. And I knew it had to be set in Baltimore.
And now Katie’s story is here. She’s visiting her aunt and uncle, meeting them again for the first time since she was eight years old. She has cousins, too, Felicity, eager to experience her first social season, and sweet, innocent, sheltered Lissa.
And she’s about to meet Lucas Howard, a man with a secret he’s not ready to reveal.


Debby said...

Sometimes the bet things are accidents. It sounds good to me.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Cynthia Owens said...

Thank you, Debby, that's certainly been true for me! :)

Tamara Carlisle said...

I just bought Book III based on your later post. It sounds like I will have to go back and get Books I and II! Nice sounding series.

Cynthia Owens said...

Thanks, Tamara, hope you enjoy the entire series! :)