What part of the Victorian era/setting do you write in? What is it about this era that intrigues you?
Hello, ladies, I’m so glad to be here! Thanks for having me as a guest at Slip Into Something Victorian Blog!
For the most part, my novels are set in Victorian Ireland. The Victorian era was a time of great change and great progress – except in Ireland. In Ireland, it can be said that time stood still for centuries. English landlords owned the land, and Irish tenants worked that land, tiny tenant farms of a single acre. There was not middle class. For a time, the Irish were little more than slaves to their landlords. It’s true that some of these landlords treated their tenants – helped with the planting in the spring, or forgive the rent during lean times. Others however, would raise the rent for something as small as putting up a few sticks to shelter a pig, and evict a family and tumble the house if the rent was late.
Of course, the main reason I write in this time period and setting is because I love Ireland and everything about it, and have since I was a child. From her many and varied shades of green, to the misty rainbows that appear as if by magic, Ireland touches my heart and calls to my imagination.
Where do you get your information?
Anywhere I can! I have an immense research library that includes such varied subjects as Irish mythology, the American Civil War, and fashions of the Victorian era. The Internet has been a Godsend, too – there’s so much to be found there.
I also listen to a LOT of Irish music – there’s a story in nearly every song! Case in point: The Fields of Athenry is a lovely ballad that tells the story of a man transported to Botany Bay for stealing “Trevelyan’s corn.” As I listened to that song, I came up with the backstory for Siobhán Desmond, heroine of my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow. Listening to Thomas Moore’s The Minstrel Boy, I thought of Cavan Callaghan, hero of my upcoming release, Coming Home, and the warrior he’d been fighting with the Irish Brigade during the American Civil War.
I think that’s called channeling!
What are you working on now/what’s next for you?
Right now, Playing For Keeps is under consideration with Highland Press. It’s the third O’Brien story. Katie O’Brien (sister of Ashleen, heroine of Coming Home,) is in Baltimore to meet her mother’s family. She never dreamed she’d fall in love with an actor who has an extremely mysterious past.
I’ve also begun plotting another story for Shannon Flynn, a close friend of the O’Brien’s and Rory and Siobhán O’Brien’s god-daughter. And Ashleen has several very interesting siblings who just might have stories of their own to tell.
You can check out my website http://cynwrites1.wordpress.com/ to keep up with all my news.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming release?
Coming Home is very much a book of my heart. It’s about fathers and daughters, family, and returning to your roots. It’s about the healing power of love, and learning to trust your heart.
“A woman’s love is strong, more powerful than all the ghosts in Ireland…”
Daughter of a village girl, step-daughter of an Irish landlord, Ashleen O’Brien was never certain where she belonged. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.
War and betrayal had taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade’s Antietam campaign, he’s seeking the Irish family he never knew.
Love and treachery await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.
The Atlantic Ocean, 1867
He was going home.
Home. Such a simple word. And for so long now, such an unattainable dream.
Yet as he stood on the deck of the Mary O’Connor, he thought maybe he’d finally find a real home once again.
When Johnny comes marching home again . . .
He looked seaward. The salt wind tugged at his hair. Spray stung his eyes. Gulls wheeled and shrieked overhead. Open water lay beyond the horizon, and beyond that still, his new life. In a few weeks, the Mary O’Connor would dock in Galway Bay, and from there he’d head for the small village his parents had spoken of with such love. He felt a stirring of emotion, the first spark of excitement since—
Deliberately he cut off the thought. He was no longer a soldier. There would be no more Rebel yells, no more guns, no more battles. He was no longer Captain Callaghan, so-called hero of the Irish Brigade.
He was just plain Cavan Callaghan, an Irishman searching for peace.
What would Ireland be like? For as long as he could remember, he’d heard his parents speak wistfully of the country they’d left behind. The green fields and sea-swept coast. The heather-strewn countryside filled with wild strawberries and prickly gorse. They’d spoken of the people, too, but especially of his father’s brother.
The last of the Flynns now, except for himself.
His mother had said the village of Ballycashel lay some nine miles from Galway City. What would he find there? He knew about the Hunger, of course. Had any of his family survived?
Or would he find the same devastation he’d confronted on his return from the war?
A ripple of sound floating on the briny breeze told him he wasn’t alone. Recognizing the delicate notes of a penny whistle, he glanced around. One of his fellow passengers, obviously an Irishman, lowered the instrument from his lips and smiled, his foot tapping in jig time.
The piper began playing anew, and a raw slash of anguish ripped through Cavan’s gut. He knew the words well, and the tune the man played so effortlessly and with such emotion.
He’d prayed never to hear them again.
The minstrel boy to the war has gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him . . .
He squeezed his eyes shut, the ‘ranks of death’ marching through his memory. So many friends, his comrades-in-arms, who would never return . . .
With a hard shake of his head, he strode away from the haunting melody.
He was going home. And there he would find peace.
There would be no more war.