Today, we welcome Loucinda McGary to our happy blog to tell us about her latest release (which has one of the most striking covers I think I’ve seen in a long time…and hey, that nicely formed male has nothing to do with it…) and to tell us just how close she wants to be to William Shakespeare…
And to boot, Loucinda will give away an IOU for a copy of The Wild Irish Sea when it comes out, or any other book in her backlist to a lucky commenter!
Welcome to Happy Endings. Can you tell us a little about your latest release?
My third novel from Sourcebooks Casablanca is scheduled for release on July 6th and is titled The Wild Irish Sea. As with my two previous novels (The Wild Sight and The Treasures of Venice) this is a romantic suspense with paranormal elements and an Irish ‘hunk’ hero. Actually, The Wild Irish Sea is the most ‘paranormal’ of my books thus far because it centers on a pair of fraternal twins, Amber and Parker O’Neill, who have shared a mental connection since birth. When Parker inadvertently witnesses a murder, the telepathic image of her brother fighting for his life sends Amber rushing to the rocky shores of Ireland. Desperate to find him, she turns to reclusive local inspector Kevin Hennessey for help.
What inspired you to write romance? What romantic genre do you write?
When I was a teenager, my mother loved to read the great gothic romances of Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Stewart. She always had one or more of their books lying around and when I ran out of things to read, I picked one up and loved it.
Many years later, after reading a lot of other genres, I was browsing in a book store when I came across a book that was obviously mis-shelved in the science fiction and fantasy section. But the book looked intriguing so I bought it anyway and it totally changed my thinking and reading preferences. That book was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and when I finished it and the sequel, Dragonfly in Amber, I went out and read every time-travel novel I could find. Eventually, when I ran out of time-travels to read, I attempted to write one of my own, and that is when I became interested in writing romance.
Unfortunately about the time I became interested in writing with an eye toward publication, the market for time-travel romances had pretty much dried up. So I went back to my first love, the woman-in-danger books I’d read as a teen and I started writing romantic suspense – the kind I liked to read. When you read one of my books, I think you can see the influence the old gothic romances have had on me.
What is your biggest challenge as a writer?
I am a tinkerer. I constantly go through my manuscripts and find little things to change. I have a very hard time knowing when to STOP revising. My internal editor will not give me any peace! One of my biggest challenges is recognizing that I have reached the point of diminishing returns and I need to let my manuscript go. Deadlines have been a real help to me in overcoming this challenge.
What’s the weirdest or most fascinating thing you’ve had to research for a book?
This was a total accident, but when I was researching all things Irish in preparation for writing my first book The Wild Sight, I came across something called the Niall Marker. This is a gender specific genetic anomaly that scientists have traced all the way back to a 5th century High King of Ireland, Niall of the Nine Hostages who was the founder of the O’Neill clan.
I was fascinated to learn that the extensive research done on this genetic marker has led to the conclusion that 12—15% of all the men in Ireland have it. I decided I wanted to include the Niall Marker in my work-in-progress, and it turned out to be one of the key points in the story.
But the ‘rest of the story’ is that more than a year later, after I’d sold The Wild Sight and I was waiting for it to be released, I was watching a program on PBS about African Americans tracing their roots through DNA testing. Many of them were surprised by their genetic findings because most had far more northern European DNA markers than they expected. The host of the program, a professor of African American studies at Harvard, was shocked to discover he had ancestors from Ireland. How did he know this? Because he carried the Niall Marker!
Truth really is stranger than fiction.
Our characters often have characteristics of ourselves or others in our lives. What’s one characteristic you gave to a character that you know is either you or someone you know?
Thus far, all my heroes have had older sisters. In fact in both The Wild Sight and The Treasures of Venice, the hero’s older sister has played an important role in the story. And both these older sisters have tended to be… ahem, a bit bossy and over-protective of their younger brothers.
Well, I happen to be the oldest of four siblings and while I never thought I was particularly bossy, when my sister finished reading The Wild Sight, she called me up laughing and said, “It’s obvious where you came up with the character of Doreen!” Maybe I was a wee bit more bossy than I thought.
Have you ever created a villain or killed a character off who is based on someone you know? (We won’t tell.)
Okay, as long as this can remain our secret… I have quite a few nieces and nephews (both by blood and marriage) and I named a couple of minor characters in The Wild Sight after two of my nieces. One of my nephews-in-law told his wife, “Tell Aunt Cindy to put me in her next book.” The Treasures of Venice was already completed, so I told my niece, “I’ll name a character for him in my next book.”
Well, I kept my word. Unfortunately, that character meets a very nasty and untimely end in the first chapter. Yes, he is the murder victim! SHHHH! My nephew-in-law doesn’t know it yet. I told him he has to wait and read The Wild Irish Sea when it is released, but I’ll bet he never asks to be a character in one of my books again.
If you could possess the body of a historical person for 24 hours, who would it be, when would you choose to do it (in their time), and what would you do?
Oh no question! I’m a huge Shakespeare buff, so I want to be in William Shakespeare’s body, and I would do it at the time he was writing and acting at the Globe Theater in London.
I’d love to be there when he first performed (he played minor parts) in my favorite of his tragedies, McBeth. There are suppose to be a bunch of missing lines from the original text and some say that is one of the reasons modern productions of the play are cursed. So I’d love to go back and somehow preserve those missing lines, but I’d also like to find out once and for all the identity of ‘the dark lady’ to whom he wrote so many of his sonnets.
If all the romance authors in the world were to work in one building, in cubicles (like a normal job) who would you want sitting on either side of you? (Because you know we can hear everything that goes on…)
Oh my gosh! I’d want to move into different cubicles every week! But okay, to start, I’d like to have Jennie Crusie sitting on one side of me because not only is she a brilliant writer, but I’ve attended several of her workshops and she is absolutely hilarious and very down-to-earth. On the other side, I’d want my friend and Casa-babe sister Marie Force because she’s also a laugh riot, full of energy, and just an all-round fun person. I’m sure we’d be bouncing ideas and silly comments around all day long. Not sure how much work we’d get done, but we’d have a great time!
What was the last movie you saw and HATED? On the flip side, what movie have you watched more than any other?
I adore Netflix and I’m constantly watching movies. Last week I saw Couples Retreat and was extremely disappointed. The movie had a lot of potential, and I usually enjoy Vince Vaughn, but the whole premise just fell flat. The situations felt forced and not at all funny, and I did not care about any of the characters. Sorry to say, BIG thumbs down on that one.
On the flip side, my favorite movie of all time is Ladyhawke a historical romantic adventure from the late 1980s starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Rutger Hauer, and Matthew Broderick. I absolutely LOVE this movie about a handsome knight and his beautiful lady who are cursed by an evil bishop. By day she is transformed into a hawk and by night, he becomes a wolf. How they break the curse and live happily-ever-after with the help of a young thief is a superb piece of story-telling with all the pieces fitting seamlessly together. I can’t even tell you how many times I have watched it, but I still love it every darn time. If you’ve never seen it, rent it NOW! You are in for a special treat.
Because this IS Happy Endings, I have to ask: What is your favorite fictional romantic happy endings — either from a book, a movie or TV show. Why that one?
Probably the one from Ladyhawke that I mentioned above. This couple has everything stacked against them, and yet, somehow, they manage to do the impossible and live happily-ever-after. I’m such a sucker for characters who overcome long odds. Just when you think there is no way they can ever overcome all the obstacles they face, they do it. Any story with that kind of ending is my favorite.
I think this is what I and all romance readers enjoy and why romance is so popular – the big pay off! You watch a couple fall in love, you want them to be together, but it doesn’t seem like it can possibly happen. Then, in the end when it does happen, you share this wonderful, satisfying feeling. Life is tragic enough, I want my entertainment to end on an uplifting note.
Loucinda McGary left her ‘dreaded day job’ at the end of 2003 to pursue her twin passions of travel and writing. She likes to set her stories of romance and suspense in some of the exotic places she has visited.
To find out more about Cindy and her books visit her website at: http://www.loucindamcgary.com/
Or follow her on these blogs: http://www.auntycindy.blogspot.com/