Posted On February 2, 2011 by Print This Post

Journeys with Loucinda McGary

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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103 Responses to “Journeys with Loucinda McGary”

  1. Great interview! Aunty Cindy, we have the same process for starting a story. Only when I’ve chosen my characters and gotten to know them does a story begin to take shape in my mind.

    I know you love to travel, but I don’t know if all your adventures have been cruises, so I’m going to guess 17 cruises.

    Posted by Keli Gwyn | February 2, 2011, 12:56 am
  2. Morning Loucinda!

    I’m going with 14 cruises. =)

    Great post, and my question is about travel research. If you can’t actually visit a place what’s the best way to research it that you’ve found?

    Thanks for posting with us!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 2, 2011, 8:23 am
    • Morning Carrie!

      Hope you are staying warm there in the midwest!

      I think the best way to research and write about a place you haven’t been is to totally immerse yourself in the locale for a couple of weeks. I’ve only actually been in Venice once but pictures and descriptions of the place abound, including my own (very poor quality) photos. I looked at tons of pictures and read a lot about Venetian history, especially historical pieces of art (since part of my story took place in 1485). Luckily, all those photos and pictures transported me right back to my few days in Venice.

      For the Cemetery Isle, even though I hadn’t specifically been there, I’d visited some very old cemeteries in other locales, so I used some of my impressions of those places to fire my imagination of what the oldest sections of San Michele might be like.

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 12:26 pm
  3. Hi Aunt Cindy!

    Love your books and I’m so jealous of your travel experiences! I’m going to guess 9 cruises.

    Keep bringing on the blue-eyed Celts!

    Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | February 2, 2011, 8:50 am
    • Thank you, Tracey!

      I’m so glad you liked my books AND my heroes. 😉

      You’ll have plenty of time to travel one of these days, I’m sure. There are lots of GREAT places right here in the good ole USA. Last year I went to Arches National Park near Moab, Utah and it is one of the most breath-taking places I’ve ever been! Like I said, every place has something interesting, and most of the people are wonderful!

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 12:29 pm
  4. Hello, Loucinda!

    Welcome back to RU :). I’m going to guess 21 cruises.

    Can you share with us a place you traveled that far exceeded your expectations? Also – do you have plans to use some of your other travel destinations for story settings in the future?

    I keep trying to brainstorm a way to use all my travel to create a series, but just haven’t come up with the right hook yet!

    Best,
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | February 2, 2011, 9:43 am
    • Hi Kelsey!
      I sooo appreciate you lovely ladies having me back at RU!

      A couple of unusual places I have visited that FAR exceeded my expectations were Thailand and Turkey. I HIGHLY recommend both of them as a travel destination.

      Thailand is lush and tropical. For a big city, Bangkok is amazingly clean with gleaming white temples and ultra-modern high rises. The Thais are a very proud (justifiable so) people who are very welcoming and friendly.

      I’ve actually been to Turkey twice and I’d go back TOMORROW if I could afford it (the flight is a killer). Again, the Turks are extremely nice and will go out of their way to help you even if they don’t speak a word of English. Turkey has an absolutely amazing history and so many fascinating places where you can see 2,000+ years of it up close and personal. A trip to Ephesus should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list!’ If you want to see some pictures of my last trip to Turkey, check out my FaceBook page. 😉

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 12:37 pm
  5. *waves madly* Hi Loucinda!

    Jennifer – Thanks for a great interview! You came up with some brilliant questions!

    Loucinda is one of the few authors whose books I have actually read in order of publication. I’ve always been a sucker for romances that include some magical or paranormal features, and Loucinda’s books have fabulous heroes, too!

    I discovered her first book before we met, and now I’m always eagerly awaiting her new releases. I haven’t done nearly as much traveling as she has, but after reading her books I feel as if I know Venice and Ireland like a native.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a series centered around a cruise line. One of my best friends goes on several cruises a year, and my aunt and uncle have recently become addicted to exotic cruises. I’ll look forward to reading these books – any idea of a release date, or is it too soon to say?

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | February 2, 2011, 10:02 am
  6. Hi Loucinda,

    I’m not a big traveler, but I’ve been to Ireland. They thought I was a native with my dark hair and light green eyes. Developed a bit of a brogue while I was there too. I like the suggestion of not following the trends. Just write and let everyone else catch up.

    I say 15 cruises.

    Mary Jo Burke

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 2, 2011, 10:27 am
    • Hi Mary Jo,
      Guess I don’t have to tell you how FABULOUS Ireland is (both the Republic and the North)!

      My DH has relatives in Northern Ireland and when we visited one of his cousins (named Sean, what else?!?!), he said, “Are ya sure YOU aren’t our relation?” And quite honestly, he looked almost exactly like my youngest brother! Perhaps my DH and I are actually distantly related?!?!

      As for following the trends, I say if YOU (as the writer) are enthusiastic about the story, chances are other readers will be too.

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 12:45 pm
  7. Hello Loucinda,
    Sounds like you’ve seen some amazing landscapes! I begin my writing process with characters as well. I really enjoy character driven stories. I am happy to meet another panser. 🙂 The stories seem to write themselves sometimes. Thanks for the wonderful information. I say…12 cruises!

    Pauline Allan

    Posted by Pauline Allan | February 2, 2011, 11:21 am
  8. Morning Everyone!
    Yes, it is still morning here on the West Coast.

    BIG THANX to Jen for inviting me to be a guest on RU today. I love this site and all the great info you have here!

    And also thanx for the wonderful questions. I really had to stop and think before answering most of them!

    Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 12:13 pm
  9. Hi Loucinda!

    So glad you were able to join us today!

    I’ve write with a very fluid outline. As a panster, have you ever written yourself into a corner which required a major revision?

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 2, 2011, 12:21 pm
    • Hmmm, I think a VERY fluid outline is what I used with The Wild Sight…

      As for writing myself into a corner, I do that with great regularity. So far it hasn’t been so bad as to require major revisions. I’ve found the best method for getting myself out of the corner is to go to lunch with my best friend (who is a reader, not a writer). We seldom, if ever, discuss my work-in-progress, but usually on my way to lunch or driving home, an idea will occur to me. This happened to me four or five times while writing The Wild Irish Sea. I have NO IDEA why it works, but it does.

      Don’t question success! That’s one of my mottoes.

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 1:00 pm
      • I’m a pantser, too. It’s not so much that I write myself into corners – it’s more like I come up with plots so complicated they make the Da Vinci Code look straightforward. I’m trying to find a happy medium by working around anchor scenes now. Too soon to say if it will be effective.

        Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | February 2, 2011, 4:19 pm
  10. Hey, lookee here! It’s Jen and Aunty Cindy! How are you both? Lovely interview. It always amazes me how I find out new things about people in these blog posts!

    Cindy, sorry about missing out on your cruise. As you know, I did my first cruise ever this year when I went to New Zealand as the guest speaker on the Pacific Dawn. It’s definitely the cushy way to travel, isn’t it?

    I’ve never been to the Greek Islands either. Would love to go one day. And Turkey. I’d LOVE to go to Turkey. Love the sound of the books set on the cruise liner. Hey, think of the fun you’ll have researching! 😉

    Posted by Anna Campbell | February 2, 2011, 12:51 pm
  11. Hi Fo!!!
    (Aunty waves madly at her Bandita)

    Thanx so much for stopping by! And YES YES YES on cruising being a great and cushy way to travel. I was SOOO jealous of your cruise to NZ. As you know, we only had time to visit the North Island when we were there in June, so I’m dying to go back and a cruise would be perfect!

    Perhaps the two of us will have to book a cruise in and around the Greek Islands with a stop in Ephesus. Lots of cruise ships go there now.

    AC

    Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 1:04 pm
  12. Hi, Loucinda!

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your process. I’m guessing you’ve been on 25 cruises.

    I wish I’d known I was going to embrace writing during my travelling days. I’d have made notes and even developed the tons of pictures I took. It might be too late, but maybe I should check out the rolls of film I have languishing in zip lock bags. (Yeah, pre-digital stuff)

    Cia

    Posted by Cia | February 2, 2011, 1:16 pm
  13. Nice interview, Cindy. Take me with you on your vacations. I want to absorb some of your insites!

    Posted by Judy A | February 2, 2011, 1:38 pm
  14. YAY – Aunty is in the house… or in the University 🙂

    What a wonderful interview. I’m so in awe of all of your extensive travel and tripping around the world. What fabulous experiences. Almost as fabulous as your books, of course 🙂

    Posted by Tawny Weber | February 2, 2011, 1:40 pm
  15. I love all your books Aunty Cindy. Keep them coming. My guess for cruises is 32.

    Posted by Patricia Rickrode | February 2, 2011, 1:49 pm
  16. Hey AC! –

    Great interview! I must say – if anyone can do justice to a series based on a cruise line, it would be you.

    Wanted also to underscore Jen’s observation, you truly excel at capturing the authenticity of a setting. If I didn’t already know you, I would expect you to speak with an Irish accent. (grin)

    If you have need an assistance on one of those cruises, you know – to carry that adapter thingee? Give me a call.

    Posted by Donna MacMeans | February 2, 2011, 1:52 pm
  17. Hi Patricia!
    (Aunty waves madly at YET ANOTHER chapter mate) SVR-RWA is a FANTASTIC chapter!

    Appreciate you stopping by and thanx again for your kind words about my books. 🙂

    AC

    Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 1:54 pm
  18. Hi Cindy,
    This is soooo neat! Great fun and informative too!
    Dee

    Posted by Dee Brice | February 2, 2011, 2:12 pm
  19. Great interview Jen and Cindy. I always love hearing about Cindy’s inspiration for stories and her writing experiences.

    I’ve read all of Cindy’s books and they’re fabulous. She enriches the setting with such clarity and reality that you feel you’re there, without becoming heavy-handed with setting at the expense of the story or characters.

    Hmmm, I’m very jealous of Cindy’s many, many travels. I should know the number (bad Jo!), but I’ll have to guess and say 27.

    Posted by Jo Robertson | February 2, 2011, 2:17 pm
  20. Oh, wait! I want another guess. I misread the question to say “travels” rather than cruises.

    For cruises (and I’m still guessing lol), I’d say 22.

    Posted by Jo Robertson | February 2, 2011, 2:19 pm
  21. Wonderful Q&A, ladies! You know I’m a HUGE fan, Cindy, and aspire to the rich character development you’re so adept at. I’ve always been jealous of your spunky heroines, since they win the heart of their (fans herself) hunky Celtic heroes. I’m looking forward to your cruise series, and expect to be swept away once more!

    Posted by Madeline Olson | February 2, 2011, 2:36 pm
    • Thanx Madeline!
      (Aunty waves at yet ANOTHER SVR chapter mate!)

      Actually Jen asked me if my heroines were based on me since they were all pretty feisty. 😉 But the truth is, there’s a lot of me in ALL my characters. Can’t help it, it just happens. However, I will say the character who is closest to me is Donovan’s sister Doreen in The Wild Sight. I am most definitely the bossy older sister. LOL!

      AC

      Posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy | February 2, 2011, 5:42 pm
  22. This is the your captain speaking 🙂

    Don’t forget to guess the number of cruises when you comment!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 2, 2011, 2:38 pm
  23. AC, you take the most fabulous trips! I hope you get to go to Alaska. I’ve always wanted to do that.

    I’m not guessing the number because I already have all the books, a real treat!

    Posted by Nancy Northcott | February 2, 2011, 2:55 pm
  24. What a great interview, Jen, with our very own Cindy! I’m another big fan, and not just because she’s a Bandita. You know this is true because she writes fab Irish books and you know that normally they rank up there (or down there) with Scottish books for this English gal *g*.

    You know, AC, you need to start gearing your trips over this way! I’m sure England would inspire you!

    Posted by Anna Sugden | February 2, 2011, 3:12 pm
  25. Great interview! It’s probably much more than this, but I’ll say 11 cruises.

    Posted by Edie Ramer | February 2, 2011, 3:22 pm
  26. Terrific interview, AC!

    And what a great reason to take a cruise. It’s research!

    Posted by Linda Wisdom | February 2, 2011, 3:32 pm
  27. Hey AC! It’s great to see you over here! I do so envy your travels, you know that. :> I love how much of your travel lore you’ve used in your books. And you know how much I love your books, right? Grins.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the cruise line books!!

    Posted by Jeanne AKA The Duchesse | February 2, 2011, 5:56 pm
  28. Great interview, Aunty! You know me and traveling: as long as there is no flying, I’m good. 🙂

    Posted by Marie Force | February 2, 2011, 6:04 pm
  29. AC, what a great interview! I always love to hear about your travels and how your stories ambush you. 🙂 I don’t know that anyone could guess how many cruises you’ve been on, but I’ll say 28. It might even be more! I don’t think you’ve cruised to Antarctica yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

    Posted by Caren Crane | February 2, 2011, 7:08 pm
  30. Great interview, AC!
    Looks like I’m getting to the party a little late, but I’m guessing that along with writing three terrific books, you’ve been on at least 6 cruises since I’ve known you, so in your lifetime… hmm… maybe thirty?

    Posted by Cheryl Brooks | February 2, 2011, 7:43 pm
  31. Hi Ms. Cindy,

    Popping in just to say hello to my advise counselor. LOL. Loved your interview and have read two out of the three autographed books you sent me. I’d guess you’ve been on at least fifteen cruises. Brave woman. You are one traveling lady. I don’t think anything could hold you back from taking those most interesting trips. Looking forward to your next book. Take care, dear lady.

    Ginny

    Posted by Ginny Lester | February 2, 2011, 8:04 pm
  32. How many cruises has Aunt Cindy taken? Eighteen.

    Since no one guessed correctly, the gift card goes to Keli for guessing seventeen cruises.

    AND….

    The winner of an autographed copy of The Wild Irish Sea is Pauline!

    Congratulations ladies!

    Many, many thanks to Loucinda and EVERYONE for joining us today!

    Come by on Friday to take our RU poll and enter our drawing to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 2, 2011, 11:42 pm
  33. Thank you very much for the autographed copy of The Wild Irish Sea! I’m so excited to get it and start reading.
    ~Pauline

    Posted by Pauline Allan | February 3, 2011, 6:16 pm

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