Truthfully? I’d rather be left alone to think through the next step in my nonexistent plan. I’m winging it. Not to mention I arrived here in County Clare, Ireland, yesterday. Jet lag has laid its sleep-deprived caul over me, but I couldn’t nap if I tried. Instead, I sit here in a medieval churchyard. The gravestone beneath “me arse,” as the locals would say, has long ago lost its engraved name to the ripping Atlantic winds. County Clare lies in the far west of Ireland. It’s a nothing of a county, desolate, and has little to lend itself except sheep, endless rock walls, crumbling ruins…
Actually, that’s not entirely true. County Clare is home to Lisfenora village and its annual matchmaking festival that starts next week. More importantly for me, this county is home to the charismatic matchmaker, Liam Donellan.
I have yet to meet him, but I shall. I must. It’s imperative. This is what I’m thinking about today, this man who has defined my life without my knowing it until a few months ago. I must get the lay of the land and figure out the best way to approach him.
He’s my biological father, you see. I discovered this fact under traumatic circumstances that I’d rather not get into right now. This new fact about my existence hit me like a two-by-four to the head, and I’ve still got the psychic lump to show for it. Suffice to say that I’m here under duress, compelled from beyond the grave and by memories of my mom’s life-long unhappiness.
I do know a few things about this famous matchmaker from my mom’s journal, which I also discovered a few months ago. She visited the festival as a travel writer during the 1970s. Liam started out as a subject for her article.
Liam the Lion, as he’s often called, plants himself in the plaza with a gigantic ledger on his lap. Gold leaf gleams under mild sunlight, and the calfskin cover creaks when Liam opens the book. Upon thick parchment he scribbles crucial data about each supplicant . . .
But soon enough she lost her journalistic objectivity. She used to meet Liam where I sit now, in this crumbling ruin of a churchyard. Our Lady of the Kilmoon Church the signpost reads, a tourist attraction without the tourists.
Kilmoon Church stood in genteel isolation, open air to the night as if shrugging off its Christian ties and embracing a more benevolent lunar goddess. The church seemed to watch us, indulging us our frail humanity and our unseemly trespass. We strolled around the site, taking in the uneven stones and skinny windows, the crumbling gravestones and tall Celtic crosses.
So here I sit within the church’s rock-wall perimeter trying to absorb the past, trying to gather my courage. Kilmoon hides many secrets. She’s a shady lady too well versed in death—could it be that her ancient stone walls pine for yet more burials within her grounds?
I pray not even as I sense shadows lurking, forces gathering from the past not to mention modern forces from within the village. Something bad’s about to go down. The bad lurks on the horizon like weighted storm clouds. I know this like I know that Liam, my new father, will be at the heart of it all.
You can find out more about Lisa’s KILMOON blog tour on her website.
You can read more about Merrit in Kilmoon, the first book in the “County Clare” mystery series, published by Muskrat Press. The series also features Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern, who has troubles of his own. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Book description: Californian Merrit Chase travels to Ireland to meet her father, a celebrated matchmaker, in hopes that she can mend her troubled past. Instead, her arrival triggers a rising tide of violence, and Merrit finds herself both suspect and victim, accomplice and pawn, in a manipulative game that began thirty years previously. When she discovers that the matchmaker’s treacherous past is at the heart of the chaos, she must decide how far she will go to save him from himself—and to get what she wants, a family.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6pm EST on March 21, and you will be entered to win a copy of Kilmoon. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.
Meet the author
Lisa Alber received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on an early version of Kilmoon, in addition to a Walden Fellowship. In addition, Ms. George asked Lisa to write a short story for Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery (HarperCollins). She featured Lisa’s story in an “Introducing…” section for up-and-coming novelists.
Hard to imagine it now, but Lisa worked in international finance and book publishing before exchanging the corporate ladder for storytelling. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Lisa lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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