Out today: An Irish Promise

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Writing duo Liv and Val (a.k.a. Isabella Connor) are celebrating the e-release of An Irish Promise. We asked them to tell us a little bit about their second novel …

It feels quite strange – in a pleasant way – to now refer to our books. Plural. We’ve been incredibly lucky with Beneath an Irish Sky, with most of the feedback being very positive and encouraging. The downside (if it can be called that) is that it makes the publication of Book 2 quite nerve-wracking, wondering if it will fail miserably and we’ll be a writer’s version of St Winifred’s School Choir – one hit wonders.

But…c’est la vie!

An Irish Promise is not a sequel to Beneath an Irish Sky, although there is one character who is in both books. And no, we’re not telling you who it is.  Liv has a competition running on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone can guess. An Irish Promise is a story about bullying, and the effects on the victim and the bullies – and their families. Our heroine, Rachel, is full of anger and is driven by a desire for revenge. Fortunately – or unfortunately – romance gets in the way, and makes her question the wisdom of continuing with her plan, and at one point after an act of vengeance goes somewhat awry and events make it far more destructive than she’d actually intended, she is uncomfortably aware (excuse use of adverb!)  that it isn’t quite as satisfying as she thought it might be.

We’re looking forward to hearing how An Irish Promise compares to Beneath an Irish Sky. We feel that the story is totally different, but maybe we’re too involved to be objective.

In some ways, An Irish Promise was harder to write because whereas Beneath an Irish Sky is set half in Ireland and half in England, An Irish Promise is set totally in Ireland.  Fingers crossed that we’ve done it justice – Ireland, that is. We’ve avoided filling the novel with loads of ‘to be sures’ and ‘begorrahs’.

The Irish Promise itself refers to the Claddagh – love, loyalty and friendship. It’s surely the kind of gift most girls would want to receive from their man, and Rachel is no exception, but of course love has a habit (especially in novels) of being beset by obstacles. Can you keep a promise that was made before circumstances and events turn your world upside down?  Rachel’s plan for revenge has repercussions that she could never have foreseen. And let’s not forget the other – rather unexpected – suitor waiting in the wings.  Dun dun duuuuuun…

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Liv and Val welcome you to the fictional world of Baronsmere


One of the main settings in ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’ is a village called Baronsmere, but you won’t find it on any map. It exists only in our imagination, but it has come to seem very real to us, the writers.

In fact, sometimes we wish we could live there permanently!

It’s a small village of 800 people. It has a ‘mere,’ a small lake, and it came into existence after William the Conqueror rewarded a French baron with land in the years following 1066.

Baronsmere hasn’t changed much at all over the centuries. That’s part of its appeal. Everyone knows everyone there, which creates a strong sense of community, but it’s also a difficult place to find any privacy. The double-edged sword of country living.

Find out more about Baronsmere on our Isabella Connor website:


Visually, we imagine Baronsmere to look like the quintessentially English village of Castle Combe, which has surely come straight from a chocolate box lid. You just can’t beat the beauty of that honeyed Cotswold stone.

castle-combe-large-sizePhoto Credit: Saffron Blaze

Steven Spielberg obviously agreed with us because he used Castle Combe as the location for ‘War Horse.’

And it could just be our imagination, but Hobbiton in ‘Lord of the Rings’ bears a striking resemblance to Castle Combe, as does J. K. Rowling’s Hogsmeade.

Incidentally, the old rectory tearoom in Castle Combe apparently has a cushion-throwing ghost. That’s got to be a first!

Are there any other real-life places you think would make ideal novel settings?

Publication Day for Beneath an Irish Sky!

Never mind all the fuss about Prince George. Today, Liv and Val have been safely delivered of their debut novel ‘Beneath an Irish Sky.’ Book and co-authors are both doing well!


In honour of the Irish theme of our novel, it has been decreed that all shall wear green today. And drink Guinness. And play Westlife at full volume. And be happy.

Since the Kindle edition of our novel came out last month, people have been so generous with their reviews and their support. This, though, really takes the biscuit.


Literally. A biscuit. With our cover on it. The things they can do these days! Special thanks to our wonderful editor, Rachel D Skinner, for a most unusual publication day gift. We’ll keep it forever, Rachel – or at least until it starts growing fur. ☺

We share this day, of course, with our cast of characters: Jack, Luke, Emer, Kate, and Matt, to name but a few. They are like family to us now. We certainly put them into some tough situations – hopefully they forgive us!

Now, music is very special to one of our main characters, Luke, who remembers his mother singing by the campfire when he was a boy. In his honour, we’ve composed a song called ‘The Leavetaking.’ It’s a sad one, about the past and lost love, a major theme in the book. It’s really a song for our other main character, Jack, showing his doubt and regret and heartbreak.

So, imagine yourself in Galway, sitting by a campfire under the stars, the laughter and song of your friends and kin surrounding you. Read the lyrics and listen to the song.

And if you like it, we hope you’ll decide to read ‘Beneath an Irish Sky,’ and spend some time in the company of Luke and his friends and family.

    The Leavetaking

I’ve been thinking of you
And the day when you left
Do you know that there’s been no one else?

I’ve been longing for you
And the love we once had
Do you ever regret what we lost?

Were there tears in your eyes
On that long-ago day
Did you falter or dare to look back?

Were you thinking of me
As you were walking away
Did you know then you’d never come home?

Beneath an Irish Sky, song

Writing Buddies – Val & Liv

For a couple of weeks, we’ve been trying to come up with something original for W Wednesday. What we thought would be a piece of cake, proved otherwise. We did wonder if we could say one of us has a problem with our Rs, and then maybe we could get away with Womance or Wock and Woll.

But W it is – W for Who? W for Writing buddies; W for Without meeting.

So who the heck are these writing buddies, who have never met?  Collectively, Isabella Connor. Individually, Liv and Val. Val lives in Canada, Liv in England. That’s an 8-hour time difference and more than 4,000 miles in between.  We wrote a novel, working title Luke, now officially Beneath an Irish Sky, submitted it to Choc Lit, who accepted it for publication and here we are.

It wasn’t exactly easy to write a novel as a partnership, when we live on separate continents. But the internet (and the phone) made it far less difficult than it might have been, and we came to the conclusion some time ago that we do appear to share a brain. Cybermese twins, you might say, though it can get difficult if we both want the brain at the same time.

The internet didn’t just make it easier, though – it made it possible, as we actually met on an online message-board. From the beginning it became obvious that we shared the same feeling for the characters, the same direction for the novel. There have been times when we had to compromise, but even if you’re writing a book alone, there’s always a time when you have to deliberate on which route the plot or the characters should take.

Writing the novel together has been a pleasure and great fun. Sometimes a headache, but to expect no problems at all would have been totally unrealistic.

alicetweedledumtweedledee Partnerships/ pairings have existed since time began. Antony and Cleopatra, Napoleon and Josephine, Frodo and Sam, Marks and Spencer, and now there’s us …

We’re obviously Tweedledum and Tweedledee – they were the two who would finish each other’s sentences, right?

So are we a bargain? Kind of Buy one Get One Free – or Double Trouble. Time will tell!

There are other real-life writing partnerships, such as bestselling crime duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, writing as Nicci French, but we thought it would be fun to come up with some imaginary writing duos – ones that would be successful, and ones that wouldn’t last the day.

Successful Synergies

1. John Grisham & Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Clients and Punishment”

2. Jane Austen & Helen Fielding: “Elizabeth Bennet’s Diary”

3. Stephanie Meyer & Anne Rice: “Interview with the Vampire: the Cullen Chronicles”

Doomed to Fail

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald & Ernest Hemingway: “Jazz and Daiquiris in the Afternoon”

2. Ian Fleming & Charlotte Brontë: “The Governess Who Loved Me”

3. Enid Blyton & D H Lawrence: “The Naughtiest Girl and The Gamekeeper”

If you’ve any other suggestions, please share. 🙂

So, until next time then, it’s a goodnight from me … and a goodnight from her.