I want to welcome Loucinda McGary to Book of Secrets today! I discovered Loucinda's books while searching for stories to read for the Ireland Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year. I'm so glad I did! Her books are an intriguing combination of romantic suspense and paranormal romance, and they all count toward the challenge! (To sign up for the challenge, click HERE.)
Here is a brief look at her books, beginning with her latest release:
The Wild Irish Sea
Drawn together by a force they can't resist...The telepathic image of her twin brother fighting for his life sends Amber O'Neill rushing to the rocky shores of Ireland. Desperate to find him, she turns to reclusive local inspector Kevin Hennessey.
Bound together with a passion as relentless as the tide...His past full of pain, Kevin has withdrawn from the world. But when the rain-drenched American appears on his doorstep with her wild tales of danger, something more than her sensuous beauty makes it impossible for him to turn her away.
The wildness of the sea, the mystery of a selkie prince, and a dangerous band of ruthless smugglers bring two lost souls together in a connection of mind, body and spirit that can't be denied.
The Treasures of Venice
Somewhere amid the canals and palazzos of romantic Venice, a beautiful damsel is in distress. Held against her will, her fate depends upon unraveling a centuries old mystery. Also in this ancient city of love, two couples separated by over 500 years, defy both church and state as they challenge destiny to be together. And all find themselves inextricably linked to the Jewels of the Madonna.
The Wild Sight
He was cursed with a gift. Born with the clairvoyance known to the Irish as "The Sight," Donovan O'Shea fled to America to escape his visions. On a return trip to Ireland to see his ailing father, staggering family secrets threaten to turn his world upside down. And then beautiful, sensual Rylie Powell shows up, claiming to be his half-sister...
She's just looking for the family she never knew. After her mother's death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues that send her off to Ireland to find the man listed on her birth certificate as her father. She need the truth - but how can she and Donovan be brother and sister when the chemistry between them is nearly irresistible? Uncovering the past leads them dangerously close to madness...
Welcome, Loucinda (aka Aunt Cindy)!
1. Thank you for being with us today. Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you call home? How did you get your nickname?
Thanks so much for inviting me to be a guest on your lovely blog. I’ve been writing since I was in third grade… before that I printed! Seriously, I’ve been interested in stories and writing most of my life. Finally, at the end of 2003 I decided to get serious about pursuing publication, so I quit my DDJ (dreaded day job) and started to write the kind of books I like to read – romantic suspense with some light paranormal elements. In 2006 I was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest, and in Sept. 2007 I sold my first book. The Wild Sight was released in Oct. 2008. My second published book was actually my 2006 Golden Heart finaling manuscript and was released in Sept. 2009 with the title The Treasures of Venice. My third stand alone romantic suspense just hit the shelves on July 6th, The Wild Irish Sea.
I am a native Californian, born and raised in the southern part of the state. But for the past 30+ years I’ve called beautiful Northern California home, when I’m not gadding about to some travel destination.
In real life, I have only one son, but I have seven nieces and four nephews. Most of them are now grown and married, so they, their spouses and their children all call me Aunty Cindy. When a group of us 2006 Golden Heart finalists decided to form a group blog (the Romance Bandits), since so many people already called me Aunty Cindy, I decided to use it as my online persona.
2. When did your passion for writing begin?
Probably about the same time I learned to read, which was around age five. If I didn’t like the way a story ended, I made up my own ending. I guess I was writing fan fic even if I didn’t know it! I wrote off and on for many years, even tried to get a few things published back in my twenties. But I didn’t get really serious about writing until 2004 when I wrote the book that eventually became The Treasures of Venice.
3. Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I don’t know if this qualifies as a quirk, and it doesn’t happen with great regularity, but I sometimes dream scenes from my works-in-progress. Sometimes when I am really “into” my story and characters I’ll dream about them. This happened to me while writing The Treasures of Venice. I totally wrote this book by the seat of my pants, and had no idea how it was going to end. Oh, I knew they had to find the jewels but I had no idea how or where. One morning, I was in the middle of writing Chapter 6 when I woke up and knew the ending. BOOM! It was just there. Unfortunately this has not happened to me since, but I have dreamed other scenes while I was writing them, and sometimes even before I wrote them.
4. Your books are set in some beautiful, magical locations, including Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Italy. Why did you choose those settings? Are you connected to them in some way?
As I mentioned, I love to travel. At last count, I’ve visited 47 states and 32 foreign countries. So many of the places I visit are beautiful and magical and would make wonderful settings for books.
When I first started traveling, the top three places on my ‘bucket list’ were Venice, Ireland, and The Great Wall of China. I’ve now been to all three and have set books in two of the three. Guess I better get busy on a book set in China. HA!
But seriously, being of Irish heritage myself, I’ve always been fascinated by the auld sod. My DH has relatives who live in Northern Ireland (his maternal grandmother immigrated in 1912), and visiting them is what first inspired me to set The Wild Sight there. I’ve always felt that Venice was one of the most romantic cities in the world, so that’s why I set a book there. And my editor actually asked me for another book with an Irish setting so I was happy to oblige with The Wild Irish Sea (which, actually takes place on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, not the Irish Sea).
5. Would you categorize your stories as paranormal romantic suspense? Why were you drawn to this genre?
My mother read the great old gothic romances of Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart. As a bored teen, I picked up some of my mom’s books and quickly became hooked on these authors myself! When I sat down to write my first romantic suspense novel, I wanted it to be something like the books I always loved to read, but with a more contemporary style.
I call my books romantic suspense with paranormal elements. They aren’t true gothics, but I do think they are very atmospheric and probably more heavily weighted toward the romance than a lot of contemporary romantic suspense novels. I also don’t shy away from rather graphic love scenes, which you would never find in the old gothics, but since I like to read love scenes, I include them in my books.
Because all three of your books would count toward the Ireland Reading Challenge, I want to ask you a little about each one:
6. In The Wild Sight, the hero Donovan has the gift of clairvoyance, and many of his visions take him back to ancient Ireland. Did you learn any interesting facts about the ancient Celts and Ireland from researching your book?
Well, one of the most interesting things to me was that the Bronze Age Celts really did fight naked! They wore helmets and sword belts and carried shields, and other than some body paint, that was it. Considering the wet chilly climate Ireland has most of the year, all I can say is YIKES! No wonder the Celts were such ferocious fighters.
7. The Treasures of Venice sounds like a thrilling adventure mixing scenes from 15th-century Italy with present-day. (This story's hero is the Irish rogue Keirnan.) Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?
As a matter of fact, this story was inspired by an opera. I listen to a lot of classical music and one day I was listening to my favorite classical station and heard an intriguing piece of music, which turned out to be the incidental music to the opera The Jewels of The Madonna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.
I’d been toying with the idea of setting a story in Venice (one of my favorite and most romantic cities), so I went home and googled the opera, read the libretto and discovered that Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was actually Venetian. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I started playing “what if” around the whole concept of stolen jewels and a 500 year old mystery/legend. The eventual result was the book that became The Treasures of Venice.
8. Your latest release, The Wild Irish Sea, features telepathic twins. Are the characters or their experiences based on people you know, or events in your own life?
Ten years ago, my niece gave birth to fraternal twin boys, the first (and so far only) set of twins in our immediate family. Seeing my grandnephews grow and change peaked my interest in twins and their relationships, so I did some research and discovered a lot of fascinating information.
When my editor asked me to write another book set in Ireland, I thought it would be fun to have a set of twins as main characters. So in a way, my grandnephews inspired me to write about fraternal twins Amber and Parker O’Neill. The mental telepathy was strictly my own imagination, however.
I have named very minor characters in The Wild Sight after my son and two of my nieces, and a minor character in The Treasures of Venice after a good friend who has a wonderful Italian name. My nephew-in-law (father of the twins) asked me to name a character in my next book after him. As a joke, I gave a murder victim in The Wild Irish Sea a name similar to his. I’ll bet he never asks to be in one of Aunty Cindy’s books again!
9. When you're not writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
Besides travel and reading, I don’t have a lot of time for much else. I do know how to knit and crochet and used to do a lot more of it back in the days before I was published and had no deadlines. I need to get back into needlework a little more because one of my nieces is expecting her first baby in November and she’s asked for a crocheted baby blanket.
10. What are your current writing projects?
My current work-in-progress is a bit different from my previous three books. It is a more traditional romantic suspense with no paranormal elements. It’s also the first book in what I hope will be a series centered on a fictional cruise line.
11. What are a few of your all-time favorite books that would count toward the Ireland Reading Challenge?
My writer-buddy Kris Kennedy has a new historical romance called The Irish Warrior that would be a fun read for the challenge. One of my personal faves set in Ireland is a wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery, Haunted Ground by Erin Hart.
12. In closing, is there anything you would like to pass on to your readers?
In spite of all the frustrations and hard work involved in writing and publishing a book, READERS are what makes everything worthwhile! I’ve always wanted to entertain people with my stories, and nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers. A simple card or email can completely turn a ‘bad’ day around, so please, do not hesitate to tell me (or any other author) that you enjoyed reading one of our books!
So can you tell me what you like most about your favorite books? Is it the hero? Heroine? Plot? Setting? Something else?
Loucinda, thank you so much for being with us today! You can find her at her website here: http://www.loucindamcgary.com/
* The contest is closed. The winner will be announced shortly.
* The contest is closed. The winner will be announced shortly.
Loucinda is giving away a signed copy of one of her books (winner's choice)! To enter, in a comment answer Loucinda's question and/or ask her a question of your own. Please provide me with a way to contact you if you are the winner. The contest is open internationally. Entries will be accepted until Wednesday, July 21st, at 11:59 pm Central Time. Good luck!