Author's Notes Carnal Gift

Carnal Gift was my heartbreaker. It was my second novel, and like many authors I found the second novel much more difficult to write than the first. For Sweet Release, I had seven years to get it right. For Carnal Gift, I had nine months. It ended up taking a year. And then when it was done, it so exceeded the page limit that 100 pages had to be cut, dramatically (in my opinion) altering the book.

For some people, Carnal Gift is their favorite of the Kenleigh/Blakewell Trilogy. However, those lost pages stick in my mind. But until it was cut, I loved this story. It had very prominent secondary characters, who had their own romance, and took us out of Colonial America for the first and only time so far.

This story gave me a chance to research Ireland extensively, a self-indulgent pursuit in some respects as our family has a strong Irish heritage. My brother lived in Dublin for two years and Celtic music makes up a huge percentage of my playlists.

I decided early on to make the Irish parts of the story authentically Irish and not stereotypically Irish. That meant working with someone who spoke fluent Irish Gaelic.

I was lucky that Mick Bolger, the lead singer for Colcannon, lived only an hour away. He eventually sat down with me and did the translations, teaching me bits and pieces about Irish Gaelic as we went along. I found that to be truly enjoyable.

However, I don't translate everything that's in the story. There are sections in which Jamie, who doesn't speak Gaelic, is hearing Bríghid and her brothers Fionn and Ruaidhrí speak. It would be a break in point of view to translate those conversations into English; the reader isn't meant to understand them.

Some people complained about the Irish names and such, and, in response, I wrote up a guide to the Irish Gaelic pronunciation in the story and emailed it to hundreds of readers. That guide is being added to the reprinted edition, which comes out in October 2008.

One little tidbit: While I was writing this book, my house was invaded by mice. I did my best to get rid of them by humane means. However, it became clear they were winning the battle. I would sit and write and watch as five or six mice ran around my kitchen as if they owned the place. So references to mice in this story come from the fact that I was surrounded by them at the time.

I hope to visit Ireland again, both literally and in a fictional sense. And I hope that one day the book will be printed in full with those 100 pages restored.

For those of you who ask about that young "rapparee," Ruaidhrí, yes, I very much want to write his story and even have an outline for it. But given that he's lived in the Colonies for some time, he'll be known by an anglicized version of his name — Ruary O'Neill.

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