The Heirloom – a treasured inheritance

heirloom twitterBooks, I am learning, have a life of their own. Long after the story has left my pen, I watch it dip and rise on the tides. It amazes me – the power of a book to go on its own journey, as if the author is but a distant spot on the horizon.

Such has been the experience with my debut novel, The Heirloom (which is conveniently 99p at the moment on Kindle!) When I first published this timeslip story, I just couldn’t get any traction with it. I was a first-time, self-publishing author and no-one knew I even existed. I hadn’t a clue how to reach readers or where to promote my book.

Fast forward a few years and The Heirloom has now become my most popular selling title! I cannot tell you how happy it makes me, to know that people are not only discovering this story, but really enjoying it!

I spent waaaaay too long researching this novel, but judging from the reviews, it seems to have paid off. It all started when two completely different ideas collided. I love history and was interested in the Spanish Armada ships that crashed into Irish shores during one of the worst storms in history. Miraculously, a letter from one of the knights who survived, has outlived its author and gives a harrowing account of his time in Ireland. In Galway (where the book is set) there is still a monument to the 300 Spanish sailors who were massacred by the English on Fort Hill cemetery. Through the kindness of strangers, Captain Francisco de Cuéllar was given shelter and managed to return home to Spain (after many adventures!) Here is a trailer for a short film based on his time here, which is kind of amazing because I like to pretend this is a trailer for my book!

Armada 1588 : Shipwreck & Survival (Film Trailer – English) from Omedia on Vimeo.

But of course, that’s not the end of my story. Given my love for timeslip novels (it began with Kate Mosse, blame her!) I wanted to write the story in a format that brought the reader into the present day. I feel so strong that our past is the answer to all of the mysteries we face in our lives and I love exploring those links in fiction. So, when I discovered a book called Many Lives, Many Masters written by the American psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss, I knew I’d found my key.  It tells how one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas and through the use of therapy and hypnosis, they resolved to cure her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks.

Well, I’ve always had an over-active imagination and the idea of remembering past lives really intrigued me. I wonder where I lived, or who I was, in previous lives? Books like Cloud Atlas ignite my passion for this idea and the beauty of it is, no-one can really say for sure whether or not it’s possible… In more recent times, there have been increasing studies into inherited trauma and whether transgenerational inheritance can really affect a person’s biology. But that’s for another story.

For now, I’m just delighted to see my story about past and present lives colliding on the wild shores of the west coast of Ireland finally charting a steady course to a whole new readership. These reader reviews have made my heart soar and reminded me that stories can go on forever and heirlooms are made to be passed on.

“I loved this book! Following the history of Miguel and Annora was fascinating.”

“It almost seemed like two books in one, which is great for avid readers. Skillfully the author links the life stories of four well-developed characters across centuries.”

“Once I started this book I found it difficult to put down. I like the way it slips easily from modern Ireland to the time of the Spanish Armada.”

“A beautiful story of love, loss and courage . This beautiful story wraps history and a great love into one. Good read!”

“Anyone who likes a mystery that takes you to another country plus searching for family tree i could not put this down. 3 o’clock in the morning is not a good time to go to sleep!! loved it.”

Ye Olde Kindle Countdown Deal

Cross collage - Copy

It’s summer.  You all want a good read.  Something you can really get your teeth into, historical fiction with a modern twist?  I’m only too happy to oblige!  Get your peepers over to Amazon UK and Amazon US where you can download a copy of my novel, The Cross Of Santiago for only 99p/c until June 7th.  It’s got it all – Spanish knights, battles at sea, mystery, family ties, heirlooms and a love story that spans four centuries.  

Adopted as a baby, Amanda Morrison knows nothing of her biological family. But when a lawyer reveals that she has been bequeathed a mysterious heirloom from a long lost aunt, she unlocks the door to a distant past and a secret love. Can her past life really be haunting her present and what can she do to put things right?

The Cross Of Santiago is a tale of two women living in different centuries, whose lives seem to be entwined by fate. A perfect read for Outlander fans.

But don’t just take my word for it!  Readers have left the following reviews….

5 stars

Very good read and also an interesting change of times

Published 2 months ago by christine gaster

4 stars

An epic romance across the centuries!  This book has two settings and I loved both.
If you know nothing about the Spanish Armada and how so many of the ships were shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland and Scotland; then worry not, this book will fill you in. I had forgotten so much of this part of history that it was fantastic to revisit it and I ended up having great discussions about the battle and their mission with my husband who is a history fiend.

Trish @ Between My Lines

5 stars

Really enjoyed. Kept my interest.

Published 12 months ago by Martha Smith

“The Cross of Santiago” is an intelligent and well written historical romance book. I love historical fiction with a bit of romantic story-line thrown in and this book sure fits the bill. full review here.

4 stars

This book has a lot of mystery. I was adopted and so I can relate to Amanda as a character. She wants to know about her past, about her birth family, and her family’s history. I have been there and so this book was a good read for me because I could REALLY relate to her. I think books that the reader can relate too are the best kind. They help you feel that the story is more REAL, rather than it just being a story that is being read.

Boundless Book Reviews

4 stars

The historical parts based around the Spanish Armada seem particularly well researched and it was interesting to hear the story of the Armada crashing around the coast of Ireland. The characters all feel fleshed out and interesting enough to want to read about and the story doesn’t get bogged down by too much history, there is a nice balance.

The Bearded Bookworm

While you’re at it, you may as well pick up a copy of The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, also at the delectable price of 99p! 

Treasures underneath the sea


Imagine having a treasure trove of 16th century artefacts on your doorstep and doing absolutely nothing to preserve them.  This would appear to be the stance of the National Monuments Service and their Underwater Archaeology Unit regarding the Spanish Armada wrecks being lost to our ferocious Atlantic currents.  But what’s this got to do with me?  Well, my first novel, The Cross Of Santiago was inspired by the events of 1588 and the Armada’s demise along the Irish coast.  Just recently, I wrote about the discovery of wreckage washing ashore following some severe winter storms here (the very latest being a small cannonball), but a recent article in the Irish Times has got my blood boiling again!

Hiram Morgan from the University of Cork points out in his article the many benefits of a government led project of recovery, conservation and ultimately display of the untold artefacts currently under threat.  The image above is a just a sample of the rich treasures found on La Girona, a ship that sank just off the Northern Coast and is currently on display in the Ulster Museum and generates great interest among locals and tourists alike.  When I was researching this time period for my novel, I couldn’t believe how Ireland had been the setting for such an important time in European history.  I have no recollection of learning anything about this at school and I have to agree with the author of the article, that we are really missing out on something historically unique and valuable if we lose these treasures to the sea.

Morgan praised the efforts of locals, who have become ‘citizen archaeologists’ in an attempt to monitor and report the situation.  A local group – Grange and Armada Development Association are hoping to establish Grange as the Armada Centre for the whole of the Island of Ireland.  Now of course, the ship in my own story wrecked in Connemara, but I doubt whether there is anything left of the Falcon Blanco de Mediano, so I’ll give them this one!  But seriously, it’s important that we create a heritage site somewhere that commemorates the souls lost on our shores and an interpretive centre for locals and tourists.  Even in Galway, the vast majority of residents are completely unaware that around 300 soldiers and sailors were executed in Forthill cemetery on the order of Governor Bingham.  There is a plaque which was erected in 1988 by members of the La Orden Del Tercio Viejo Del Mar Oceano, the oldest marine corps in the world, but it is hidden behind the cemetery walls, quietly keeping watch over the sacred ground.  The memorial is only written in the Irish and Spanish language as an intended snub to the language of the perpetrator.


tracy's mugshots 063





22 DE JUNIO DE 1988


We really need to preserve our history and that of our European neighbours, so I hope that by highlighting the issue and making people more aware of the history that is right at our fingertips, we can lobby our government to invest in this priceless endeavour.

You can read the Irish times article here:  A race against time to save Spanish Armada wrecks before they are lost forever.

And if you like historical fiction, why not read my book?  The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy

Spanish Armada Wreckage Washed Ashore

I love my Armada history, which conveniently forms the backdrop for my debut novel The Cross Of Santiago (shameless plug!).  It’s amazing to think that one of the greatest battles in maritime history ended in a violent and unforgiving storm off the coast of Ireland.  All of that history hidden underneath the waves and resting silently on the sea bed – keeping its secrets for over four centuries.  And so I am always intrigued to read any news stories concerning the archaeological wreck sites around Ireland.  It has been revealed that recent storms on the West Coast of Ireland have washed up some amazing finds at a beach in County Sligo.  A local maritime historian has warned that one of three Spanish Armada wrecks off the coast of Streedagh in Sligo may be under threat following the discovery of what appears to be ballast from one of the galleons on the beach.

This is an excerpt from The Irish Times explaining the find:

Donal Gilroy from the Grange and Armada Development Association (GADA) said the discoveries underlined the fragility of the wrecks, described by one expert as “the best archaeological site for this time of maritime archaeology in the world”.
The National Museum and the heritage office at Sligo County Council were notified yesterday about the finds, which follow the discovery last year of part of a 20ft rudder from one of the vessels on the beach.
About 1,100 sailors died when three Spanish galleons were wrecked in violent storms off Streedagh in 1588. An interpretative centre is planned for the nearby village of Grange but there have been calls for the vessels to be excavated and housed in a purpose built local museum.
Mr Gilroy said it was possible that scheduled low tides this weekend may expose more wreckage.
“These have been buried off Streedagh for nearly 430 years. It is lucky they were not carried out by the tide,” he said.
He said that at the request of the county council he was placing the two pieces of wood, one found on Thursday by a member of the GADA, and the other yesterday, in salt water at an undisclosed location to ensure they are properly preserved pending a visit next week by experts from the National Museum.
“One piece is 13 feet long and the other about 16 feet long and they are well preserved oak. They both look like they came from the rib of a boat”, he said.
Thee three wrecks are located about 60 meters from the low tide mark in 15 meters of water.
“This is a protected site but we worry that these boats are being moved by storms. They have thrown up more in the last two years than in the previous 40,” said Mr Gilroy.
He said that there was a fully intact gun carriage and a number of cannons which were taken from the city walls in Palermo, on the vessels at Streedagh.

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy

The Cross Of Santiago is a mystery that will lead you far into the past, through the eyes of a young woman who is searching for the missing pieces of herself.  Unlock the secret to an ancient love story, destined to find its happy ending in the present.

Buy your copy here:

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