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Karen Harper | Meet THE IRISH PRINCESS


Karen Harper’s historical novel, THE IRISH PRINCESS, tells the true story of a woman who belonged to the Fitzgerald family of old Ireland, a family known as “The Uncrowned Kings of Ireland.”  Gera Fitzgerald’s story of loss, love, rebellion and reconciliation, set in Ireland and Tudor England, is out in time for St. Patrick’s Day—Erin Go Bragh!  And, the author says, the real-life hero is in the tradition of the swashbuckling heroes like Errol Flynn, Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp.

In Search of The Irish Princess

It’s a special challenge to research and bring to life a woman who actually lived, especially if most of the clues to her character must be found in her relationship with better known figures.  In Gera’s case, my search for her started with a trip I took to Ireland when I didn’t even know about her.  But I fell in love with the Kildare County countryside, the charm of Dublin and the people.  And I wondered how long the Irish love/hate relationship with the English went back.

Then, in researching Queen Elizabeth I for another novel, I found that for many years she had an Irish woman in her court, a beautiful redhead, who apparently was a good friend.  I learned that they frequently argued; the queen once even sent this woman, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, nicknamed Gera, “to the Tower for plain speaking to the queen.”  However, Gera was soon released and back in Elizabeth’s good graces.

How unusual!  Elizabeth had a lot of trouble with the Irish.  Besides, beautiful women made her nervous when she wanted to be the most lovely woman at court.  And to take someone back who has argued with her?  What gave here?

As I delved deeper into Gera’s life, I found she had a long love/hate relationship with a sea captain, Edward Clinton, who later because Lord High Admiral of the English navy.  She married him, and they had a long and turbulent relationship.  Ah, the perfect swashbuckling hero.

I studied her family and found that most of the Fitzgerald men, including her brother and uncles, were executed (yes, beheaded!) by King Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s father.  The plot thickens because of Gera’s marriage to Edward Clinton, this a dashing figure who worked for Gera’s enemies.  I located two paintings of her.  What must be the motives and power of this woman who stares defiantly out from these two still extant portraits (and later, from the cover of my book?)

Another example of digging out details:  After many turbulent, but happy years of marriage with her English sea captain and admiral (Gera once even took his place as ship’s captain and arrested a pirate!) her husband’s handwritten will shows how much he loved and trusted her, so much so that her stepson was really upset at the power and decisions the Irish spitfire was entrusted with.  And so, from little telling details are characters born, plots laid and novels written. 

I hope Gera and Edward, Elizabeth and that darned King Henry leap right off the page for readers, because that was what they did for me when I researched and wrote of their lives.  So this St. Patrick’s Day, I will dance a jig for Gera, just as she loved to do with Elizabeth Tudor, who could have been her enemy but became her lifelong friend.

About the Author

NYTimes and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper also writes romantic suspense for Mira Books, most recently a trilogy set in Amish country, DARK ROAD HOME, DARK HARVEST and DARK ANGEL. Visit her at her web site.




60 comments posted.

Re: Karen Harper | Meet THE IRISH PRINCESS

I haven't read anything set in Ireland yet but it sounds interesting. I read historical romances alot and like to read about different settings and countries and heritages.
(June Manning 3:15am February 1, 2011)

your books were my safe haven when my son was deployed to iraq. i could cuddle up and read a few hours n forget my worries. thank you
(Melisa Clark 7:44am February 1, 2011)

Your book sounds fascinating. Looking forward to reading it.
(Pam Howell 7:46am February 1, 2011)

This story sounds so interesting! Definitely going on my TBR list!
(Joanne Reynolds 8:01am February 1, 2011)

Cant wait to read this one!
(Julie Parrish 8:14am February 1, 2011)

i love love this story can't wait to read it!!!!!!
(Audra Holtwick 8:40am February 1, 2011)

I love the cover of the book. I hope I win!
(Renee Pajda 9:17am February 1, 2011)

I love everything about the histroy of ireland. The culture, the people, and it's many legends.
(Anthonia Sharp 10:36am February 1, 2011)

It looks like an interesting story.
(Maureen Emmons 10:46am February 1, 2011)

I really enjoyed hearing all the background to this book. My father always said our last name was spelled differently (RYON) because our families were "thrown out of Ireland".

I have a feeling that our ancestors were probably English but because of his story as a child I always wondered what they could have done to be made to leave Ireland. The mysteries of Ireland fascinate me and I'd love to read this story.
(Jeanne Miro 11:00am February 1, 2011)

The english court was not always a peaceful place to be. It depends entirely upon the the king and queen at the time. The kingdom often reflected the lords and ladies as well as the king and queen. However the church had more power and the people did at times rise up against trials.
(Anthonia Sharp 11:01am February 1, 2011)

Thank you for sharing some of your behind the book details with us. I found it quite interesting. Having married a dark Irishman, I have always found Ireland and it's culture facinating. One of the many beautiful places I would like to travel to. Your book, The Irish Princess sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it.
(Christine Stack 11:10am February 1, 2011)

This book looks and sounds to be a good read. Plus it sounds like adventure is at every step and turn. Thus establishing the relationship and bond between the princess and the captain.
(Anthonia Sharp 11:14am February 1, 2011)

This is one of the most fascinating times in history and I would so love to read this book. It has always been my belief that books such as these should be required reading in schools. Then, more people might have a better understanding and appreciation for history.
(Connie Fischer 12:33pm February 1, 2011)

I enjoy reading about this era whether real or fiction, I love it & can't wait to read this book!
(Sandi Wasson 2:09pm February 1, 2011)

Sounds fantastic - there's just something so compelling about Ireland and this one sounds really good.
(Karen Gervasi 2:13pm February 1, 2011)

I love learning bits of history about the lives of people that lived long ago... sounds like a very interesting book!
(Colleen Conklin 2:13pm February 1, 2011)

This looks like a great read and I LOVE the Tudor period.

in Germany
(Valerie Bongards 2:16pm February 1, 2011)

This book sounds great. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of it with us today.
(G S Moch 2:19pm February 1, 2011)

I would love to read this book! It sounds great!
(Nicole Choate 3:17pm February 1, 2011)

What an exceptionally strong woman! Gera sounds like a fascinating lady who lived through turbulent times. This is a book I will enjoy reading.
(Anna Speed 3:18pm February 1, 2011)

(Debbi Shaw 4:58pm February 1, 2011)

I love books that feature Ireland and Irish characters - always colorful and lush! I'm adding it to my wish list :)
(Amber Leigh Williams 5:07pm February 1, 2011)

This book sounds very interesting.
(Ann Garland 5:39pm February 1, 2011)

I've seen movies concerning the love/hate relationship between the Irish and the English but never read such a novel. Truly can't wait for this.
(Nan Zahar 5:44pm February 1, 2011)

Interesting challenge bringing a real and little known historical character to life. This is a book I'll look out for.
(Carol Drummond 7:08pm February 1, 2011)

I love the Elizabethan period. The story of Gera sounds fascinating.
(Phyllis Lamken 7:11pm February 1, 2011)

I am Irish American, so I know I will love this book.
(Barbara Ryan 7:14pm February 1, 2011)

It sounds like a most unusual friendship, but that is what it takes to make a book worth reading. All of those quirky details that are out of the norm seem to draw people to want to read details. Your research has panned out. I, too, am drawn in, and can't wait to read your book. She seems like a very interesting and possibly misunderstood person. Congratulations on your book, and thank you for taking the time to do the research. I'm sure the book will be a good read.
(Peggy Roberson 7:33pm February 1, 2011)

Wow, this sounds so interesting! I love Tudor history, but haven't read anything specifically about Ireland. When it comes to the Irish and Queen Elizabeth I, I always think of her saying "He is full of Blarney"!
(Ariane Little 7:46pm February 1, 2011)

The book sounds like a really fun read! Count me in!
(Brenda Rupp 7:47pm February 1, 2011)

Yep, research certainly pays off with leaps off the page. A redhead as an Irish princess sounds like competition for someone's desire.
(Alyson Widen 8:09pm February 1, 2011)

I'm sure it's going to be a great read. I am impressed by the amount of work you put into it!
(Pamela Stewart 8:11pm February 1, 2011)

I do like the author,Karen Harper, but haven't ready anything
by her for a while...would love to read this.
(Leanna Morris 8:15pm February 1, 2011)

I've always been fascinated by this period. Was watching a couuple of pieces on cable this week about Mary of Scotland, Elizabeth I, & Henry VIII. Would love to read this book.
(Diane Sallans 8:29pm February 1, 2011)

The book sounds great. I love anything with some history of Irland. It just sound like fun.
(Diane Castiglione 8:37pm February 1, 2011)

I like the Irish Princess's book cover design, it is fitting: flaming red hair, green eyes...
(Joy Johnson 8:44pm February 1, 2011)

Karen, you spent a lot of time on research for this book. You make the history jump out at you without even reading the book. Please count me in for this contest. I would love to read Gera's story.
(Cathy Phillips 9:06pm February 1, 2011)

I'm having flashbacks of Erroll Flynn and Maureen O'Hara - the swashbuckler and the redhead. This sounds like a great book to read!
(Linda Leonard 9:09pm February 1, 2011)

I'm running out of books to read, hope I win.
(Deb Pelletier 9:13pm February 1, 2011)

..Ooooh! The Irish princess and the Tudor King & Queen!?!
This sounds good!! I've got to have this book, AND..
available in "Trade size"? Even better, easy on my eyes.:)
Like it even better when the characters really existed in
history, made it comes alive more. Thanks for your research,
Karen. Ireland, here it comes.
(Jk Vaid 9:23pm February 1, 2011)

I totally agree with Peggy Roberson! This book is going right to the top of my TBB list, and I plan on enjoying it right around the 17th of March (the middle of my Spring Break from classes).


(Lynn Rettig 9:39pm February 1, 2011)

This partly Irish lass would love to read the book you described so wonderfully.
(Sue Farrell 10:01pm February 1, 2011)

I love stories about the Irish, I love your books thanks for all the hard work
(Kathleen Todd 10:20pm February 1, 2011)

I really enjoy historical romance especially anything to do with romantic Ireland. This is going on my TBR list! Thanks for the contest.
(Teresa Ward 10:48pm February 1, 2011)

I am drawn to historical romances that are in Ireland and Scotland the most. Thanks for writing these!
(Debra Simning-Chapman 11:16pm February 1, 2011)

Sounds like a great book about a fascinating lady.
(Ginger Hinson 11:59pm February 1, 2011)

I've read your contemporary novels and I'm a fan! I don't normally read historical romances, but I am definitely interested in reading The Irish Princess. Thanks!
(Karen Cherubino 12:05pm February 2, 2011)

I'm very happy to see that you've got a new historical novel coming out. I read THE QUEEN'S GOVERNESS about 2 weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely. I've also read MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE, as well a number of the Elizabethan mysteries. I'm very much looking forward to THE IRISH PRINCESS. It promises to be as intriguing as the others.
(Sigrun Schulz 12:07pm February 2, 2011)

Another book of yours I know I will not be able to put down. THANK YOU!!
(Mary Preston 3:24am February 2, 2011)

Like Debra, I love anything to do with Scotland or Ireland. I love History and the fact that Gera lived makes the book a definite read for me. Thanks for sharing your research info with us.
Carol L
(Carol Luciano 6:05am February 2, 2011)

I love historicals and I love finding authors new to me. This one sounds right
down my alley.
(Sandra Spilecki 6:39am February 2, 2011)

It is always interesting to uncover bits of history that aren't well known. I would love to read this.
(Debbie Penny 8:35am February 2, 2011)

Your book sounds great I love Historical books of all kinds and I can't wait to read yours.
(Vickie Hightower 9:11am February 2, 2011)

I love to read historical novels, they are my favorite. I always go on a hunt for them and I look forward to reading this one because Gera was a real person!

(Joyce Bruner 11:16am February 2, 2011)

I've been interested in the Tudor period since watching the Other Boleyn Girl a little while ago. This book sounds really intriguing and I love the Irish setting.
(Susan Davco 12:15pm February 2, 2011)

Since watching the TUDORS on Showtime, I've become fascinated
with that era and the people. I've read and loved almost every
book I've got my hands on and are always looking for "one"
more. So this one is definitely going on the top of my
wishlist. Any chance there will be more in this time period?
(Lisa Richards 1:58pm February 2, 2011)

Sounds like the kind of book I would love to curl up and enjoy.
(Carol Conerly 6:20pm February 2, 2011)

Don't you just love it when history leaps at you & demands to be retold. We the readers are the ones who benefit, as we no t only learn history we are swept back in time to capture glimpses of actual people who maybe a little like us. (Of course we're not a Queen E. who can ban a pal to the "tower"!) Will certainly look for this tantalizing book. And thanks, I'm Irish, too! :)
(Jean Merriott 3:03pm February 3, 2011)

Ireland is one of my favorite places and I love to read all kinds of tales set there, from historical to comtemporary and your book sounds so well researched and written -- the cover dtaws you in--eyes truly are important. One day I hope to be able to visit again, but for now maybe I can travel there thru the pages of your book.
(Kelly Holt 12:49pm February 6, 2011)

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