It came to me today while watching my cat Zen mentally chase a mockingbird from inside the window, through the glass, and into the trees outside: The Dawn of Ireland books by my alter ego Erin O’Quinn are replete with birds. Birds don’t simply appear overhead, or in a nearby tree. Instead, they usually play a vital role in the story; or they are used as a symbol.
Take the mockingbird, for instance (the state bird of my adopted Texas). This self-assured, intelligent bird is the namesake of one of the “Little People” who figure prominently in WAKENING FIRE (Book 2 of the trilogy). Mockingbird Feather, also a prominent character in the forthcoming novel SILK & FIRE, is one of the mighty Feather Clan of dwarves—the sister of Jay and Raven and the mother of one of Caylith’s best friends Magpie.
In the first fantasy romance STORM MAKER, the handsome Jay Feather is a master manipulator of the feathered nation of birds. He summons a pair of owls, Speckle Wing and White Face, to play a vital role in finding the captive hero Liam.
A raven named Talon and a Magpie named Claw serve to embarrass Liam’s brother Lough, the next man in line for the throne of the High King. Raven grasps his leather thong while Magpie lifts his kilt-like skirt to reveal his nonexistent underwear.
Raven (left) and Magpie. These same two scalawags later terrorize a pair of scheming druids and play a part in the downfall of Caylith’s enemy Owen Sweeney.
A wonderful variety of smallish birds called corn crakes (below) are protected today; but in ages past they lived by the thousands on Ireland’s craffy coastland and on the small islands off present-day Donegal.
These birds figure importantly in the third Dawn trilogy, CAPTIVE HEART, as they serve as unknowing cover and call-signalers for Caylith’s rescue crew on Tory Island.
In a later book titled WARRIOR, STAND TALL, red kites, now the national bird of Wales, are a symbol of the scavenging, greedy Saxons who have come to feast on the homeland of ancient Cymru (Wales).