Please help us welcome intrepid world traveler and author, Loucinda McGary to RU today! Loucinda aka Aunt Cindy, is the author of three contemporary romantic suspense novels, The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice and The Wild Irish Sea.
Jen: The locales in your books are from places you’ve visited. Do you visit these places with a story in mind or does the story come later?
AC: Unfortunately, the story comes much later. There will inevitably be something or somewhere in the locale I’m writing about that I did not see. For example, in The Treasures of Venice, I wanted to set some key scenes on San Michele en Isola, the Cemetery Isle. Venetians have buried their dead on this little island in the Lagoon for centuries. Of course, the one time I was actually in Venice, I didn’t set foot on the place. Never in my wildest dreams thought I’d have a reason to, since this was several years before I started writing seriously.
Lucky for me, I have a good writer-buddy (yes, YOU, Tina Ferraro) who has family near Venice and she just happened to be visiting them the summer I was writing the book. Not only did Tina force her three teenagers to accompany her to the Cemetery Isle so she could take pictures for me, but she also bought me a map that highlighted all the famous people (like Ezra Pound) who are buried there. She also read and critiqued the chapters set on the Cemetery Isle to make sure I got it right. What a pal!
Jen: I’m amazed by the authentic flavor of the locale in your books. Your latest, The Wild Irish Sea, which encompasses Irish folklore and history with paranormal elements and suspense, is a wonderful example of your ability to capture the essence of the setting. How much time did it take to research the book?
AC: I hate to admit that most of what I researched for The Wild Irish Sea was the folklore about selkies. I’d already done quite a bit of research on Irish history, art, topography, you name it, for The Wild Sight, and even though they are not set in the same counties, Ireland really is a pretty small island. The spectacular scenery in the north is present whether you are in County Antrim, Derry, or Donegal.
I did spend the better part of a day at the Giant’s Causeway, and I tried to render it as accurately as possible in The Wild Sight. But most of the descriptions in The Wild Irish Sea were based on personal memories that were often spurred by pictures, and of course, my own imagination.
Jen: Which comes first, your characters or the story line?
AC: Definitely the characters. They usually arrive in my mind with their looks and full names intact. Once they start revealing their backstories, then I start to formulate the story line too.
Jen: I’ve noticed all of your heroes all have dark hair. Is that a conscious decision?
AC: They are all of Celtic heritage, and true Celts have dark hair and blue eyes. I’m just sticking with genetics.
Jen: What are you working on now?
AC: What I hope will become a series of books centered around a cruise line. The first one, predictably, has an Irish hero.
Jen: With three books under your belt, did you use the same approach for each of them?
AC: I’m sorry to say that each book was an entirely new writing experience. Sorry because I keep thinking it would be much easier if each book happened the same way. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
My first published book, The Wild Sight, was actually the third one that I wrote, and I did a lot more planning on it than I’d ever done before. I can’t say I really plotted it out, because the story kept going off in different directions than I’d planned, but I always had the basic framework in mind.
My second published book, The Treasures of Venice, was actually the first book I wrote with the express intent to publish. I’d messed around with writing for years and even finished a couple of other books, but when I started writing Treasures, I’d made up my mind that this was IT! I wrote the book that I wanted to read, and I totally pantsed the whole thing. I didn’t even know how it was going to end until I was in the middle of chapter six and I dreamed the ending!
The Wild Irish Sea was a different experience yet again. My editor told me she wanted another Irish book. I’d become fascinated with the subject of twins, and mental telepathy. Then I remembered a beautiful film from the 1990s called The Secret of Roan Inish and I tossed all those ingredients around in my mind and the ultimate result was The Wild Irish Sea. I was very nervous because it was the first book I’d written under contract, and only one of my critique partners was able to stick with me through the writing from beginning to end which was about ten months. Even though my CP told me it was my best work yet, I was still plagued with doubts until I submitted it to my editor and she email, “Congratulations on a beautiful book.”
Jen: I’m sure everyone wants to know…what’s the most important advice you can give to an aspiring writer?
AC: Besides Finish The First Draft ( FTFD)? Find yourself a good critique partner or group. Honestly, a good CP is invaluable! Finding one can sometimes be a challenge but once you do, you’ll wonder how you wrote without one. We all know the “real” writing happens during revisions and a good CP will give you the feedback and encouragement to help you to turn out your absolute best work.
Jen: Write to market or write from your heart?
AC: Honestly, do a bit of both. I’d never recommend following a trend because they can come and go so quickly. By the time you recognize something is “hot,” write and submit your book, even if it is accepted, it will easily be another year before it hits the shelf. By then, something else will be “hot.” Or even if you were lucky and got in at the beginning of a trend, unless the book is something you enjoyed writing, I believe your lack of enthusiasm will show.
But on the other hand, if the book of your heart is set during the American Civil War, you should be aware that you will have an uphill battle trying to sell it right now. So an awareness of the market is not a bad thing.
Jen: Would you ever consider writing outside of the romance genre?
AC: Possibly. I hadn’t really considered it. Romance is what I like to read – I must have my Happily Ever After!
Jen: I’ve noticed that all three of your books are available on Kindle. What’s your take on the future of e-books? Do you believe e-books will eventually replace books in print?
AC: Yes, I believe e-books probably will replace print books, but I hope not in my lifetime. There’s just something about the feel and smell and weight of a print book. An electronic reader will never be able to replace that for me.
Okay, enough of the serious stuff! I’ve got three travel-related quickies for you.
Jen: Your favorite travel accessory.
AC: Those handy little adaptor plugs so that my hair dryer and curling iron work in any country.
Jen: Your next travel destination.
AC: Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have one yet. We were scheduled to go on another cruise in January, but the ship was the Splendor – yes, the one that had the engine fire back in November and had no power for like three days. The repairs took longer than the cruise line anticipated and they had to cancel all the December and January cruises.
My DH is talking about another cruise to Alaska at the end of May. He tends to book things at the last minute to get the best deal. That’s how we ended up going to New Zealand last June. Air New Zealand had a two day sale around the middle of May, and we left on June 2nd!
Jen: Your top three favorite places.
AC: I love every place I’ve visited. Each one has something unique and wonderful to offer, and most all of the people I meet are great! So my favorite places are the ones I haven’t visited yet, like the Greek Isles (I’ve only been to Athens), Croatia, Japan (I’ve only been to the Tokyo airport) and the Panama Canal… OOPS! That’s four, sorry.
Travel and writing are two of Loucinda’s great passions. Do you have any questions for Loucinda about writing, researching exotic locales or travel?
In honor of having Loucinda as our guest on RU today, we thought we’d have a little fun.
How many cruises has Loucinda taken? The first person who guesses the correct number of cruises wins a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Post your lucky numbers and we’ll announce the winner later in the week.
Wait! There’s more! Loucinda’s generously giving away an autographed copy of her latest book, The Wild Irish Sea, to one lucky commenter today.
Loucinda McGary is the author of three contemporary romantic suspense novels, The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice and The Wild Irish Sea. Loucinda blogs regularly with Romance Bandits (www.romancebandits.blogspot.com) and on her personal blog Aunty Cindy Explains It All (www.auntycindy.blogspot.com). Please check out her website: www.LoucindaMcgary.com
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