My thoughts have been eastward all day as the transnational One Book One Community Reading Project is officially launched in Derry.  Readers in Northern Ireland, Co. Donegal and New England will be reading “Exile”, the first book in my historical-fiction series “The Chronicles of Iona”, at the same time.  Donegal County Council and Libraries Northern Ireland set this up as a way to promote a common history—in this case the life and times of Colmcille, their shared 6th-century saint.  The fact that the endeavor is cross-border is particularly meaningful to me and, I know, to them.

Colmcille/Columba hails from Co. Donegal, and founded Doire/Derry/Londonderry, amongst other monasteries.  So, a true local hero.  As they have said, “Colmcille or Columba was born 1500 years ago in Gartan, Co. Donegal and yet his life and legacy is still remembered in both Scotland and Ireland.  His story spans the islands, the culture and the language.  Such is the influence of Colmcille on Irish, British and European history during his own lifetime and today that he can be singled out as one of the truly great figures of the early Christian church”.

We had the New England launch at the Irish Cultural Centre here in Canton in January.  And now, Derry and Donegal.

This week is Columba’s week—his feast day, the day commemorated as the day of his death, is June 9.  Both Ireland and Scotland are hosting a number of major events to celebrate the occasion, especially since 2013 is the 1450th anniversary of his founding of the monastery of Iona and probably Derry (although that may have been a bit earlier).

The One Book project runs from now through August.  The program of events is below, or visit or  I’ll be there for the finale during Heritage Week.  Wish I could be there for all of it! 

If you’d like to join the ongoing conversation, there is an online book group discussion at  Look under bookgroups, online, and you’ll see the conversation already started.  As I said there, I’m writing Book 3 in the series (in which Columba returns to Ireland in triumph), so your thoughts about Columba, Aedan mac Gabran, et al., would be particularly useful.  And more than a little fun.

On this side of the pond, don’t forget to come check out the Boston Irish Festival this weekend in Canton, MA.  (June 7-9).  For the lineup of musicians and to get tickets, go to

I’ll be in the author’s tent all weekend with a number of excellent local authors.  We’ll be doing book readings on and off over the course of the festival.  I’ll read from “Exile” and its sequal “Prophet” and talk about the medieval world which inspires the series, complete with slides and photos!, on Saturday, June 8, from 1:30-2:30 and then again on Sunday, June 9, from 11:45 to 12:30. 

Copy of Colmcille_leaflet_Page_1





Great news here—I’ll be part of the Author’s Tent at this year’s Boston Irish Festival at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton next weekend, June 7-9.

The Boston Irish Festival is the largest Irish Festival on the East Coast.  There are lots of fun events lined up, including three days and three stages of non-stop Celtic music

I’ll be doing hour-long readings and signings in the Author’s Tent, on both Saturday 6/8 (from 1:30-2:30) and Sunday 6/9 (from 11:45-12:45). 

Come on by, say hi, support Boston’s Irish community and the Irish Cultural Centre, and have some fun.   It’ll be great to see you!

Boswell's Books Shelburne Falls Mass

Hey, did you hear that beautiful little Shelburne Falls has just been voted by as one of the top five dream places to live in Massachusetts?

Doesn’t surprise me!  One of the hill-towns in the western part of the state, just south of the historic Mohawk Trail (Route 2), Shelburne Falls is one of my all-time favorite places. 

And Boswell’s Books, the independent bookstore which has been a staple in this artsy town for nearly twenty years, is one of my all-time favorite bookstores!

Which is why I’m delighted to be reading there this Thursday night, May 9.  This will be my first reading from my new book, “Prophet”, the second book in my historical-fiction series set in 6th-century Scotland and Ireland, “The Chronicles of Iona”.  I’ll talk a bit about the history underpinning the series, show some photos of the sites in Scotland and Ireland where it takes place, and read a bit from “Prophet”.

Boswell’s is located at 10 Bridge Street, Shelburne Falls, MA, 01370.  We’ll start at 6 p.m. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Saltwater Celtic Music Festival - logo


This just in!  It’s been confirmed that I’ll be the Writer in Residence for the Saltwater Celtic Music Festival, Brunswick, Maine, this July 20-21, 2013!  I am exceptionally honored to have been asked to represent Celtic literature at this amazing Celtic music festival and can’t wait to hang out and listen to all these fantastic musicians, including Enter the Haggis, Young Dubliners, Prydein, Maeve Gilchrist, and more! 
I’ll be hosting the Saltwater Lit Tent and will also be featured on the Saltwater Lit and Pubs tour the week preceding the festival.  I’ll keep you posted as to details, but if you are in the area that weekend, this event is a must!  

For tickets and details, visit: Saltwater Music Festival 2013.  For a limited time, anybody purchasing 2 or more two-day tickets will get to choose a free CD from one of four Saltwater 2013 performers: Maeve Gilchrist, Enter The Haggis, Young Dubliners, or The Paul McKenna Band. Saltwater is also waiving the usual $5.00 S&H fee for all orders.  So do it now!  TICKETS

Another outstanding review for The Chronicles of Iona: Prophet, this time from ForeWord Clarion

Giving it 5 STARS, ForeWord Clarion calls Prophet a “thrilling and fast-paced epic” which will “appeal to fans of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales, readers of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and any who enjoy stories of King Arthur or the Dark Ages”.

“As wonderful and elegant a saga as Chronicles of Iona: Exile was,” says ForeWord Clarion’s Mark McLaughlin, “Paula de Fougerolles’s sequel is even better”.

Here it is!

The Chronicles of Iona


Clarion Review (5 Stars)

As wonderful and elegant a saga as Chronicles of Iona: Exile was, Paula de Fougerolle’s sequel is even better. The first volume in the series took its twin protagonists from boyhood to early manhood; the second brings them to their full adulthood standing as holy man and warlord. While the term “epic” is often too casually bandied about, there is no doubt that this series is deserving of that epithet.

While Chronicles of Iona: Prophet is enjoyed best after the previous volume is devoured, this second installment is hearty enough to stand on its own. It is a thoroughly researched and historically sound novelization of the story of the two founding pillars of the Scottish nation: St. Columba and Aedan mac Gabran. With elegant and lyrical writing, de Fougerolles has composed a thrilling and fast-paced journey that cuts through the mists of legend without losing the magic and wonder of myth.

Set thirty years after the death of King Arthur, de Fougerolles’s book is nonetheless Arthurian in scope and feel. The author, a noted linguist and scholar of the era, has packed in everything fans of the genre could want. There are raids and rapes, seductions and sodomies, battles and ball games, drownings and decapitations, rituals and races, storms and stolen kisses, and even some religious debates. The Loch Ness Monster (whom St. Columba is said to have bested) is thrown in for good measure. All of these make for grand fun, but the story is hardly lighthearted, for as Columba warns a young novice monk, “There are horrors here of which you have never heard.”

The narrative is an adventure with heroes great and small, villains evil and mean (both in character and in stature), princesses wild and demure, and many other characters fair and foul. Except for recounting events of the first book, very little is told here—in fact, most of the action is shown in great, bloody splendor. As such, it will appeal to fans of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales, readers of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and any who enjoy stories of King Arthur or the Dark Ages.

Readers unfamiliar with the crazy and confusing patchwork of clans and kinglets sprinkled about Ireland, Scotland, and the remnants of Roman Briton may have some initial difficulty figuring out who is who, let alone on which team they are playing in this royal game. The author does her mightiest, however, to make that as clear as possible. There are extensive notes and guides in the back of the text, although most readers will, unfortunately, not notice these aids until they finish the novel. Additional notice up front (beyond the listing in the table of contents) that these resources exist would have been helpful, and some of the explanatory material could have been relegated to footnotes.

These small complaints aside, de Fougerolles’s book is a thoroughly engrossing tale that provides entertainment and insight into the legends and history of the Irish, Scottish, and British people.

Mark McLaughlin
March 7, 2013

With so many other wonderful things going on here, I haven’t had time yet to post some fantastic reviews for “Prophet”, the second book in my historical-fiction series, “The Chronicles of Iona”. 

Here’s Kirkus!  Kirkus Reviews’ The Chronicles of Iona: Prophet



by Paula de Fougerolles

This historical fantasy novel, the second in a series, continues the adventures of warrior Aedan mac Gabran and monk St. Columba in sixth-century western Scotland.

In her debut novel, 2012’s The Chronicles of Iona: Exile, (one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012), de Fougerolles recounted how Columba founded his famous monastery and helped set the stage for warrior Aedan’s rise to power. This second volume picks up some four years after the first, in the year 567. Aedan has been living among the Picts, his former enemies and now his in-laws; he’s learned their language and customs, and while he may not deeply love his Pict wife, he adores his small son. But now his brother, Eogan, needs his help. Saxon invaders threaten many small kingdoms, prophecies thicken the air, and Aedan and Columba work to restore a strong, wise kingship amid political, ethnic and religious strife. As she did in Exile, de Fougerolles, a medieval historian, reveals sixth-century Europe in vivid, brutal and beautiful detail—a place where myth, legend and history mingle. Her characters are fully rounded and psychologically complex, not just hack-and-slash warriors. The political intrigue is made more complicated by the tangle of unfamiliar people and places; for example, the names Elmet, Gwallawg, King Yffi, Catraeth, Kynfarch, Cair Ebrauc, the Oenaches and Din Guoaroy, among others, can all be found on a single page. (The author helpfully provides a glossary, maps and a timeline.) The appealing Columba has less to do in this installment, and Aedan sometimes seems to have little agency as circumstances back him into corners. That said, this book provides a rich feast, and fans will likely look forward to the series’ third book, forthcoming later this year.

This historical fantasy series’ latest installment once again brings myth, history, magic and religion to warm and vivid life.


If you find yourself in lovely Lawrence, MA next weekend, 3/23/13, pop on by the Heritage State Park at 2 p.m. where I’ll be presenting on the world of The Chronicles of Iona and signing books.  It’s all to benefit the Irish Foundation of Lawrence, so a great cause, and should be lots of fun.  Hope to see you there!

There’s a fantastic event coming up in Boston next weekend—an Irish History and Genealogy seminar hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA).  

I’ll be talking about the history and archaeology of medieval Ireland and Scotland that inspired my series, The Chronicles of Iona.  

Marie Daly, founder of TIARA and long-time NEHGS Library Director, will present on “Tracing Irish Domestic Servants” using case studies from the Boston area.

It’s being held at the NEHGS Library, 99 Newbury Street, Boston, on March 23 from 9:30-12:30.

This event is always sold out, so get your tickets now!

ForeWord Reviews

Dear Friends:

Exciting times here!  Got word on Monday that ForeWord Reviews has named my first book, The Chronicles of Iona: Exile, a Finalist in the category of Historical Adult Fiction in its 2012 Book of the Year Awards! 

Here’s the press release. 

I’ll keep you posted.  Keep your fingers crossed!   The winners will be announced at the end of June.

March 11, 2013—ForeWord Reviews is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2012 Book of the Year Awards. The finalists were selected from 1300 entries covering 62 categories of books from independent and academic presses. These books represent some of the best books produced by small publishing houses in 2012. For a full list of the finalists, searchable by genre, visit:

Over the next two months, a panel of sixty judges, librarians and booksellers only, will determine the winners. Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction, will be announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago, Friday, June 28th, 6pm at The Pop Top Stage. Winners will also be announced on our website; on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+; and in our weekly email newsletter, ForeWord This Week. The winners of the two Editor’s Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each. ForeWord’s Independent Publisher of the Year will also be announced.

ForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards program was created to highlight the year’s most distinguished books from independent publishers. The awards announcement provides an additional publicity opportunity for publishers long after a book’s initial publication date. After months of perusing the list of submissions, librarians and booksellers eagerly anticipate this announcement of finalists—a valuable resource for discovering obscure titles from the world of indie publishing.

ForeWord Reviews, a quarterly print journal dedicated to reviewing independently published books, was established in 1998 to provide booksellers, librarians, agents, and publishing professionals with reviews of the best titles from small, alternative, and academic presses. ForeWord also provides a myriad of services to publishers, including international trade representation, Book of the Year Awards, Clarion fee-for-review services, and an interactive website for the reading community.


Posted by: pauladefougerolles | February 5, 2013

Book 2, The Chronicles of Iona: Prophet, is here!


The Chronicles of Iona: Prophet by Paula de Fougerolles

The Chronicles of Iona: Prophet by Paula de Fougerolles

The second book in my historical-fiction series The Chronicles of Iona, called Prophet, is now out!

The story picks up where the first book, Exile, left off, beginning in the year 567 A.D.  Four years after journeying with Scottish warrior Aedan mac Gabran into the land of the wild Picts, Irish abbot-prince Columba is forced back there to seek Aedan’s aid for an epic battle.  Aedan must leave his Pictish wife and child and return to his first love, now married to the brother whose princely power he has vowed to help save.

Yet once home, the friends’ struggle to quell the chaos of the western shores only unearths even more secrets and prophecies that test old loyalties and faiths of all kinds. While Saxon invaders spread from the east and the Britons’ many kingdoms battle for sovereignty, the Scots’ ancestors from Ireland also enter the fray, and Aedan and Columba must fight enemies both political and personal in a desperate attempt to protect everything they have come to love.

Thank you for your patience while I finished preparations for the book.  In many ways (all good!), Prophet was the victim of Exile’s success and had to wait while I travelled around doing Exile-inspired events. 

What a fun year it’s been!  Especially since Kirkus Reviews named Exile one of the Top 100 Indie Books of 2012. 250,000 books were independently published in 2012, so that’s quite an honor! (Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012)

It was the culmination of many happy occasions for Exile. After receiving great reviews from both Kirkus (starred review) and ForeWord Clarion (5 stars out of 5), it was launched at the Boston-Northwest Ireland 2012 Golden Bridges Conference here in Boston.  That was a lovely evening.

A big thanks to Donegal County Council in particular for featuring Exile in its Donegal Diaspora project (Columba/Colm Cille was born and bred in beautiful Donegal!) and its One Book One Community International Reading Project which aims to foster connections between Donegal, Derry, Scotland and New England by organizing events around the book. I’ve already kicked off the New England arm of the initiative with a wonderful evening at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England ; more exciting events will follow.

You can get a print copy or eBook of Prophet here.  All the international Amazon sites are also selling it (Prophet Amazon UK for my friends in the UK).

(If you don’t have a Kindle device for reading the eBook, you can download a free Kindle Reading App for your smartphone, tablet or computer.)

If you like Prophet, please consider posting a review on its Amazon Page, or simply “like it”. (Prophet Amazon UK for the UK, etc.)  This helps tremendously to get the word out.

Or like and share the series’ Facebook Page.

And please tell your friends!

Do let me know what you think of the book!  The series is ongoing so your input really does matter!  Besides, who doesn’t love to “talk story”?

And now I’ll be able to get back to writing Book 3 , entitled Island-Pilgrim (set almost entirely in Ireland)—but first a trip to Scotland next week to attend the sold-out Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s International Conference on Scotland in Early Medieval Europe

While there, I’ll be conducting research for forthcoming books in the series, which will mean hiking up quite a few Dark-Age hillforts …  Can’t wait!

In the meantime, enjoy!

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