Today on 20 Questions With I have a special treat for all of you!
Joining me today is the awesome writing team of Morgan O’Neill!
Please help me welcome these wonderful ladies to 20 Questions With…!
About the authors…
Two authors writing as one, Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes specialize in recreating pivotal moments in history, epic adventure, and romance – with a time travel twist. The Other Side of Heaven is the first novel in their medieval Italian time travel series, published by Crimson Romance in 2013. Follow their twenty-first century heroine, Gwendolyn Godwyn, as she battles for acceptance, honor, justice, and love in war-torn tenth century Italy. Cary and Deborah are also the authors of the Roman time travel series (Crimson Romance, 2012).
Connect with Morgan O’Neill here:
The first book in Morgan O’Neill’s new Italian Time Travel Series, The Other Side Of Heaven, is available now from Crimson Romance!
Back Cover Blurb:
Californian Gwendolyn Godwyn seeks to learn her family’s history and hopes to restore the bond that once existed between her Italian forebearers and those who live in America. While visiting her ancestral Italian town, Gwen is caught in a violent earthquake and inexplicably thrust through time.
At first refusing to believe what has happened, she nevertheless uses her wits to survive, donning a monk’s cowl to hide her identity as a woman. Ripped apart from all she has ever known, Gwen finds herself in the midst of brutal territorial battles in an era she once blithely called “The Dark Ages.” When the golden Italian summer of 951 emerges from the strife and gloom, Gwen joins forces with a cadre of gallant men, allies in the struggle against the evil nobles, Willa of Tuscany and Count Berengar, kidnappers of Italy’s rightful queen, Adelaide.
Along with Father Warinus and Lord Alberto Uzzo, Gwen seeks to rescue Adelaide and restore her kingdom. In the midst of this great adventure, Gwen falls in love with the complex and passionate Alberto, to whom she reveals her identity as a woman. But can Alberto learn to love her strong and independent nature and help Gwen in her quest to discover her rightful place in time?
(In which our heroine gets her first good look at Alberto Uzzo, lord of Canossa, and also realizes she has somehow traveled through time…)
Gwen’s gaze shifted from Father Warinus to Lord Alberto. A tall man, his long legs seemed to stretch on forever toward the campfire. His black hair was pushed away from his face and fell in lazy curls to his shoulders. In the firelight, she could see silver strands scattered evenly throughout. Odd for a man probably no older than she, but the effect was perfection. She let her gaze roam on, to his jaw, his lips, recalling her sight of them as he’d dressed her wounds. Serious expression, bordering on moody, yet a sensual mouth…
Suddenly, she could feel his touch on her skin again, feel the heat his fingers had caused, and she longed to study him more closely. But she was still unwilling to look him in the eye. Now, more than ever, she felt as if every thought she possessed, every secret, would be uncovered as soon as they exchanged that first glance. It was illogical, because he hardly seemed to take notice of her and treated her like a nuisance when he did.
Gwen forced herself to look higher, to find his eyes, and was instantly aware of the long, slow departure of breath from her lungs. Beneath the dark slash of brows, his eyes were black pools, mysterious, endless. She felt drawn to them, as though she could dive in and never hit bottom.
Captivated, Gwen wondered what he was like in an unguarded moment. Did he like to smile or was he always serious? Did he ever laugh?
She doubted it. Still, she felt unable to look away. He seemed wiser than his years, more careworn, as though he’d lived a thousand lives to her one. The strength and control on his face stood in stark contrast to the softness of his hair. She sensed Lord Alberto was a man of deep passions.
She continued to watch as he leaned back on one elbow, still deep in conversation with the priest. But, when Alberto’s penetrating gaze leapt across the fire toward her, she looked away, terrified.
When she ventured to peek again, she saw a watchful man, a grave man, always on guard, his eyes constantly roving around the campsite, assessing, but no longer turning her way.
The men’s voices grew stronger, and both rose to their feet.
“I do not doubt Berengar poisoned King Lothaire,” Alberto said. “You will never convince me otherwise.”
“I understand, my lord,” Father Warinus said, “but since I come as an official emissary from Pope Agapetus to mediate between the factions, I must hasten to Pavia, to Queen Adelaide, and from there call for a parley. We must pray Berengar may yet see reason.”
The two men spent a moment more together, and then parted, each to his bedroll.
Gwen could only stare. Had she heard right? Lothaire? Adelaide? Pope Agapetus?
“No,” she whispered, stunned. “No! They… Agapetus… he was pope… in the Middle Ages!”
BUY IT HERE:
Deb and Cary, I’m so excited to have you on my blog today!
Let’s get started…
1. How did you come up with the title for this book?
Deb: Nighttime seems to be title time. My subconscious works overtime while I’m asleep, and I open my eyes with the title as my first waking thought. This has happened to me four times, with two titles in the Roman series, After the Fall and Return to Me, and with the Italian series titles, The Other Side of Heaven and Time Enough for Love. Lucky for me, Cary has liked the titles, too.
Cary: Deb and I were brain-storming over the first title in our Roman Series, since the original single book title was After the Fall and we’d moved that to the number two slot. I wanted to evoke both the time travel aspect, and the timelessness of our hero and heroine’s love, and Love, Eternally came to mind. Somehow, putting the comma in made it a statement of fact, rather than a dictate or destination. In our current work-in-progress, which takes place in Elizabethan England, I took the name from the (possibly) fictional “rose without thorns” Henry VIII had developed for one of his wives (whom he later beheaded!).
2. What did you learn from writing this book?
Deb: I learned I should follow my heart and not listen to critics. That being said, a thoughtful critique is a wonderful thing, but ultimately you must decide what is best for you and your work.
Cary: Every word I write furthers my education, but the dearest thing is learning about the true historical characters we write about. They were all pivotal and strong and awesome in their own right, and it’s such a privilege to get to know them, and then to re-introduce them to the modern world.
3. What made you become an author?
Deb: I was a secondary school teacher for many years, and while lecturing I always told detailed, epic stories that looped around full circle. Either I was going to write for Seinfeld (and/or the wonderful Larry David), or write novels and screenplays of epic proportions. I chose the latter – although Mr. David, if you’re listening, I’m available for a guest post on your show. 🙂
Cary: I have had stories running through my head all my life, and I’ve always enjoyed creating word-pictures when telling a tale to friends. I think they were relieved when I started writing them down, instead of insisting they sit and listen.
4. How do you get the ideas for your books?
Deb: My genealogical research sparked the initial ideas for the Roman time travel series (King Alaric of the Visigoths is my 50th great-grandfather – no kidding), and also the Italian tt series (King Otto and Queen Adelaide are my 32nd great-grandparents). The Morgan O’Neill series have time traveling heroines interacting with real historical couples, and the Roman princess, Galla Placidia, and the Visigoth prince, Athaulf (King Alaric’s brother-in-law) had a compelling relationship that begged to be retold via our Roman series. The same can be said for our medieval Italian series; King Otto of Germany and Queen Adelaide of Italy had an exciting and romantic life little known to modern readers and perfect for our novels.
Cary: Years ago, I wrote a solo book about Elizabeth I (unpublished). With that research as a starting point, and because of the ongoing interest in Elizabeth’s complex relationship with Robert Dudley (did they or didn’t they?), we decided to write an Elizabethan time travel. The Thornless Rose was actually the first book in our collaboration, and still holds the top spot in our hearts. We will begin the sequel shortly, with possibly a third book to follow.
5. What’s your favorite book on the craft of writing?
Deb: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It’s a fantastic book that can be used by novelists and screenwriters alike.
Cary: Any expertise I have in my writing, as in my painting, comes primarily from studying those artists I most admire and want to emulate, i.e., Carolly Erickson, Margaret George, Mary Stewart, Sharon Kay Penman, and Vermeer, Rembrandt, John Singer-Sargent, Frederick, Lord Leighton.
6. What’s the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?
Deb: In all honesty, I can’t think of any rough or tough criticism. I did receive some good advice long ago from another novelist: you must write at least one million words before you can reach a “publishable” status. And I’ve found her advice to be correct; the more you write, the better you get. The best compliment? I received the following compliment for my screenplay “Conjurer” – You have written one of the top five screenplays I’ve ever read (from a producer in Hollywood who has read thousands of scripts). Even if my movie is never made, I will hold that compliment close to my heart forever.
Cary: Putting my work out for scrutiny was by far the hardest thing, and thankfully, I’ve never had a cruel critique, or even a bad one. Every “constructive” critique is fine, because they teach me how to be better at my craft. The best compliment? Whenever someone says, “I cried,” or “I laughed,” or “You had me at the edge of my seat.”
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Deb: Never give up.
Cary: Be sure to study your craft, but study all by itself won’t get you anywhere. Write, write, write; admit to any who will listen that you are a writer (lacking confidence, I hid the fact for years); then hand your work off to someone you trust to give you an honest evaluation, and use their assessment to fine tune your work. Lastly, believe in yourself and never give up.
8. Who are your favorite authors?
Deb: James Clavell, who wrote Shogun, and James Michener, who wrote Hawaii and The Source. I read those novels in my teenage years and they have stayed with me for decades. When I read Clavell, I remember saying to myself, “I want to do that someday.”
Cary: In addition to those stated: Homer (yep, love, love, love), and Shakespeare (duh).
9. What’s the funniest experience you’ve had so far in your writing career?
Deb: Last year, at a writers’ conference, there was a mix-up just before the book signing event, and we did not receive the paperbacks of our novel from the bookstore. Well, thankfully, I had ordered some copies for my own use and had ten books at home. I phoned my husband, who was just finishing up doing yardwork (it was a Saturday and we’d gotten a load of beauty bark, which he was racing to get spread around the yard before bad weather hit). I caught him just before he hopped in the shower, and he drove over to the conference hotel (twenty minutes from home, through a torrent of rain). He arrived at the hotel parking lot, covered the books with his jacket, and ran over to me (I was waiting under the awning in my Roman costume). I kissed him, then realized he was covered in beauty bark (and of course dripping wet). Poor baby! He laughed at his state, told me I looked fantastic in my get-up (he’d never seen me in costume… grin), then got back in his car and drove away, to go home and clean up. When I got upstairs to the book signing, it had just started. Cary and I raced to place our novels on the table and away we went. And then someone asked, “Why didn’t you invite your husband to come up here and meet us?” I laughed, remembering the beauty bark plastered on his wet brow, and explained he had a date with a hot shower.
Cary: Last summer my twenty-year-old daughter waxed rhapsodic over a certain scene in a book we’d written – it was a sex scene! (blush) – and she was 15 when she read it!! – arrrgh, the horror!! (Okay, as a mother I was horrified; as an author I was pleased, haha. Horror is still winning out …)
10. What are your new releases/projects on the horizon?
Deb and Cary: The sequel to The Other Side of Heaven, titled Time Enough for Love, will debut on July 8, 2013 from Crimson Romance. Our current work-in-progress is an Elizabeth time travel trilogy, tentatively titled The Thornless Rose Series.
Great, ladies! And Now For The Fun Stuff:
11. Morning person or night owl?
Deb: Night owl.
Cary: Morning. I’m up by 5am at the latest and off to my 90min workout by 5:30.
12. Favorite color?
Deb: Either turquoise or aquamarine. I love the ocean.
Cary: Yellow. For years I considered red to top my list until I realized my house, car, coats, multiple purses, etc. were all …..yellow. Guess what – even the UPS zone I’m in is “yellow.” 🙂
13. What’s your comfort snack?
Deb: My mom’s baked macaroni. I think my entire family will agree with this; it’s the ultimate comfort food.
14. If you had to be an animal, what would you be?
Deb: A Westie or Cairn terrier. I’ve had them both, loved all of my doggies to pieces (I have two darling Westies now), and I would like to see the world through terrier eyes (ha!).
Cary: A wild horse – love the speed, power, freedom, although I’d also love to spend the occasional day as an eagle. In my heart, running is akin to soaring, but experiencing the real thing now and then would be cool.
15. What’s your favorite writing location?
Cary: The kitchen table, looking out on the backyard. If I didn’t have the glare to deal with, I’d write outside.
16. Top three songs on your I-Pod right now?
Deb: I don’t own an i-pod, but I listen to Pandora. My current favorite tunes/music are “Faster” by Within Temptation, the soundtrack from the film “Gladiator,” and the ethereal “Somewhere,” as sung by Barbara Streisand.
Cary: I don’t know if I have a top three, but Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, and The Zack Brown Band (among SO many others) top my list of go-to artists.
17. E-books, paperback or hardcover?
Deb: E-books are wonderful (and besides, the bookshelves in my den are full and I hate to dust them!).
Cary: Any and all. E-books are easy, paperbacks are friends, hardcovers are companions for life.
18. Best vacation spot?
Deb: I have a tie: Kauai for swimming, snorkeling, and romance (with my dear hubster), and London because it’s… London.
Cary: Greece. No, France. Or maybe poolside with a gorgeous waiter….??
19. If you weren’t a writer, what else would you be?
Deb: An archeologist (emphasis on paleo-Native Americans), or a geneticist (studying paleo-DNA, particularly Neanderthal and/or Denisovan).
Cary: Crazy. Or a vagabond sailor. Or both.
20. What are three things in your refrigerator right now?
Deb: Diet Ginger ale, Macintosh apples, and bagels. Oh, I also must add Hershey’s Kisses with Macadamia nuts (from Hawaii). Can’t forget those little gems!
Cary: Um, said comfort food (beer), ice for scotch (another comfort favorite) and a block of cheese for cheap-n-easy hors d’oeuvres. Actually, I’m not that debauched, but one must keep up a writerly front. 🙂
Yay! Great interview, ladies!
Thanks so much for joining me here today on 20 Questions With!
Until next time… Happy Reading! 😀
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