The Elusive Finian Bracken

Posted By Carla Neggers

May 3, 2024

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Irish priest and whiskey man Finian Bracken has become a reader favorite. A man with a tragic past, serving a parish in a struggling Maine fishing village, he appears as a key secondary character in every Sharpe & Donovan tale.

And he started and has remained one of my most elusive characters.

The clock was ticking on my deadline for Saint’s Gate, the first book in the series and I took a three-week writing retreat in a little hideaway cottage on the southwest Irish coast, an experience it itself. I didn’t know at the time if Saint’s Gate would be a standalone novel or the first in a series. Happily it was the latter. I had to put any questions of the future of the characters aside and focus on the story at hand.

What better place to get my elusive Irish priest to come out of the shadows and take shape than on his home turf?

One particularly memorable afternoon, I abandoned my laptop and its frustrating blank screen and walked out to a historic cemetery. I wandered among the old graves and a church ruin and ended up taking steep stone stairs down to a holy well on the edge of the water.

That’s me sitting on those stairs. (Joe took the photo at a later date; I was alone at the time!). It’s an incredibly atmospheric spot. Fortunately my visit didn’t involve a dangerous investigation!

This adventure inspired a pivotal scene in Saint’s Gate. And when I got back to my cottage, it was as if Finian Bracken was sitting at my writing table, ready to have a cup of tea with me.

By the way, the photo at the top is in beautiful Ardmore, Ireland, near the fictional village in Declan’s Cross, the third book in the series. Emma, Colin and Finian return to Declan’s Cross in an upcoming novella. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks, and enjoy!