The Lighting Bolt That Helped Me Finish Shriek

With: Jennifer M. Barry

Giveaway Alert!

The idea for Shriek was the first lightning bolt, and it happened about five years ago. The first 30,000 words were easy; they flowed like water. I had ideas for a full series featuring five banshees—one for each of the five families the banshee sings for. I had a beginning and an end and a lot of stuff in between. What I didn’t have was the main puzzle piece that connected everything together.

Without that piece, the story languished for years. I’d pull it out on occasion and mull, fixing a comma here and there or changing the order of the plot, but the tie that could bind was missing. I needed a message delivery system that could withstand thousands of years. Something realistic and true to the period. The story of the banshee wouldn’t be in a library on paper, no matter how old that paper was.

What to do, what to do…

Then, my second lightning bolt. I saw a post from Irish hurley maker Scullion Hurls. I’d visited Scullion a few years before and watched as he created several hurls for members of our Irish sports club. Micheal Scullion runs an économusée inNorthern Ireland, which is a working museum. He’s dedicated to the craft of hurley making, but also to the history of Ireland.

In his post, Micheal shared a photo of a piece of wood with ogham inscribed. Ogham is an ancient Irish alphabet of sorts that was used up until the 5th century when Catholicism began to spread through the country. Of course, the banshee’s story would be preserved in ogham!

Now, I’d seen ogham before. I’d even touched some of the stones during some of my frequent visits to Ireland. I’d been to historic sites dating back to the Iron Age and had a smidge of understanding about the lives people would have led during the time ogham was used. That experience wasn’t enough to fill in the blanks. I needed that lightning bolt at just the right time from just the right source. Somehow, Micheal Scullion was the vessel.

I hope someday I get to thank him in person. He’ll have no clue what I’m talking about, but that’s okay. His timely Facebook post helped me finish a book that was five years in the making. And now, I get to lovingly present Shriek: The Legend of the Bean Sídhe Book One. I hope you have as much fun reading as I did writing it.


“I’m only three years younger than you. That’s not a lot.”The words burst forth before she could stop them or even realize they were the wrong answer to his question. 

He had her so twisted inside, with his flashing blue eyes filled with amusement at her expense, and his crazy-full lips curved in a kind smile. He must have had people staring at him all the time, because he took her stalking activities just a little too well.

“I know you are, Sara.”

Her heart skipped about four beats when he said her name.She wore a name tag at the diner, but why would he have ever had the reason to look at it? She forced her gaze up to meet his, and the humor there had changed to something softer, full of understanding and something like pity. 

She hated that look.

“You’re a sweet girl, but three years between us is more like ten. Your father treats you like a princess, and your mom’s the mayor, and you think skipping school with your friends is the worst thing you could do.I’ve never had what you have, and I hope like hell you never get anything thatI got.”

His warm hand closed over her shoulder and squeezed gently.Remorse filled the air, but it wasn’t enough to change his mind, just as Sara’s outright shame wasn’t enough to change hers. For just a moment, she forgot the real reason he was irritated and focused only on the fact that they’d just had a relationship—a full relationship, complete with awkward glances, learning names, sharing hopes and fears, and then deciding it just wouldn’t work—all within the shortest five minutes of her life.

With another sad smile, he pushed her away and turned to go. “I won’t see you again, will I?”

Since she couldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear, she didn’t say anything. He was almost to the end of the block, giving her one last wave goodbye, when she finally remembered why she’d followed him aroundBurnsville in the first place. 

“Someone wants you dead.” Sara blurted the words too loudly and cringed as they bounced off the concrete buildings.

He threw his head back and laughed, amusement easing the hard lines around his eyes and jaw. “Just one person? Damn, I’m not doing things right. I’ve got a reputation to protect.”


Sara Donovan is a banshee. Well, that’s what her father says. Her mom just thinks she needs a good psychiatrist. When she wakes the morning after her eighteenth birthday screaming her head off outside some stranger’s house, she’s inclined to believe her dad’s side of the story. She can’t control her shrieks – not when they happen or who dies – but things could always be worse. She could have a crazed madman determined to kill her, thanks to her newfound talents. Or, she could find out her long-time crush is the next to die.

Ridley O’Neill isn’t exactly unaware of Sara. As a long-time patron of her father’s diner, he’s watched her grow up. Now that she’s eighteen, she’s not the gap-toothed kid who used to serve him sweet tea. His current thoughts would send her mother the mayor into an apoplectic rage, since his family might as well have built the wrong side of town. Also, there’s a chance Sara is crazy.She’s convinced she’s a banshee and he’s on her hit list. Still, he can’t stay away from her, protecting her from a dangerous legacy, even knowing that her life saved means his is forfeit.

What can unbind the ancient banshee’s curse? With time running out, Sara andRidley must choose between chasing answers and chasing love.


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Jennifer Barry started her entertainment career on a stage but ended up behind a keyboard. The writer’s life is much better suited to her introverted nature, but she uses her opera training at karaoke on occasion. She lives in Nashville with her hilarious Irish husband, Liam, who’s found moderateInternet fame among Jen’s Facebook friends and blog followers. 



  1. interesting inspiration

  2. Jennifer Christensen

    I would love to be entered in to your contest, and even if I don’t win, I can not wait to read this book! Thank you for the kind opportunity.

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