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Mine is historical romance, and it took me a few research dives into Irish history in the early 20th century before my plot started to reveal itself. My cookie is a prequel to my family saga series, First Light, which starts at the beginning of World War II and follows two families who consecutively own a piece of land on Chappaquiddick Island, part of Martha’s Vineyard. The parents of the female protagonist in the first book are Irish immigrants, which is why I went back to Ireland for the prequel. Catriona Scannell has the “voice of an angel,” which results in her being offered a scholarship to a convent school in Dublin in 1904 and the expectation that she will take vows as a nun when her education is finished. At the school, she is mentored by a vibrant young nun whose brother is involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an underground organization that ultimately is behind the 1916 Easter Rising. Catriona gets pulled into the cause for independence, falls in love with Liam Keaney, renounces her intention to become a nun, and flees with Liam to America when he is wanted for his revolutionary activity.
I tend to go down rabbit holes when I first start writing, but I find such nuggets that I can’t resist. Who knew how active nuns were during the fight for Irish independence? Not only were they educators of future revolutionaries, but they acted as spies, couriers (it’s amazing what you can conceal under a nun’s habit), and providers of havens for escaped guerillas and their ammunition.