A true historian, Cynthia Owens has taken her love of history and her Celtic heritage to create Irish historical romances that warm the heart. Her Claddagh Series has gotten rave reviews. The fifth book in the series, Reluctant Betrayer, is no different. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate and Wine welcome to Cynthia Owens.
Author Interview with Cynthia Owens
1. How did you come up with the idea for Reluctant Betrayer?
While I was writing Everlasting, (Claddagh Series, Book 4), my hero, Liam Collins, had a younger brother, Aidan. As a child, Aidan worshipped Liam, but when Liam fled Ireland after a raid on the local landlord, the burden of looking after the family fell on Aidan’s shoulders. Aidan felt there were better ways to bring peace and prosperity to their small village of Trasnavan, and during the course of Liam’s story, they argued bitterly. So when the landlord’s agent died at the end of Everlasting, I decided that Aidan fit the bill nicely. And so Reluctant Betrayer was born.
Of course, Maura Riordan, born into a family of rebels, is horrified that the man she loves has committed this ultimate act of betrayal.
2. When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?
I like to think it’s a joint effort. I create the characters, using a detailed character sheet, and I interview them in order to learn their backstory. Then I put them where they need to be, both in time and place.
And that’s when the fun begins. I start the story as I think it should be written, but sometimes the characters jump up and say, “Hey, this isn’t where we want to go!” When that happens, I take a step back and listen to what they’re trying to tell me. Sometimes I have to rein them in a bit, but usually I allow them to tell me their story, and I follow their lead.
3. Why did you decide to become an author?
I never really made a conscious decision to become an author. I was an author as soon as I discovered the utter joy and satisfaction of stringing a few words together into a sentence, putting those sentences into a paragraph, and putting the paragraphs into a sentence.
Of course, sometimes that joy and satisfaction got me into trouble. In high school, I was always getting caught writing during classes (particularly math class!). But even before then…
I was in the first grade, and I must have been about seven years old, when my teacher (who shall remain nameless) asked us to write a sentence about Dick, Jane, and their dog, Spot. I think she gave us about 15 minutes to complete the assignment. Well, in that time, I wrote a paragraph of about four and a half sentences. I was so proud of myself, until my teacher looked over my shoulder and began to scold me for not finishing that last sentence! Talk about stifling a child’s creativity!
4. What books can we expect to see in the near future?
I’m thrilled to announce that Yesterday’s Promise (Wild Geese Series, Book 4) will be released from Highland Press. It’s Declan Morrissey’s story, in which he’s reunited with the beautiful battlefield nurse who served beside him during the American Civil War.
I’m also hard at work finishing up Wishes of the Heart, another Claddagh story. The hero is Tom O’Brien, second son of Rory and Siobhán O’Brien. It’s Cinderella-with-an-Irish-twist. The heroine is Neave Devereux, the beautiful, if misunderstood village healer. It also features my first non-human character, an intrepid and very loving magpie named Bron (Irish for sorrow).
5. If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to travel through time. I think it would be wonderful to visit all the historical times I’ve read about, and to mingle with the people who made that history. I’d love to meet and talk with some of the Irish heroes of old, such as Brian Boru, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stuart Parnell, and of course, Michael Collins. But I’d also like to sit with the village folk on a cold winter evening by the turf fire and listen to the local seanachie spin his stories.
6. How would you describe yourself in five words?
Shy. Adventurous. Dreamy. Creative. Romantic.
7. What is your favorite film? Music? Color? Food? Smell?
Favorite Film ~ Casablanca.
Favorite Music ~ Traditional Irish.
Favorite Color ~ Lavender or plum.
Favorite Food ~ Chicken with French fries and cole slaw.
Favorite Smell ~ A winter morning after a fresh fall of snow.
8. What’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
No question there, it has to be Ireland, the true home of my heart, land of legend and song, of mist and magic. I’ve only been there once (at least up to now, but a return visit is in the works in the very near future), but the minute we drove off the ferry in Dublin, I felt I’d come home. There’s so much history there, so much tragedy and struggle, yet the people are the friendliest I’ve ever met, and the land…well, it really is forty shades of green.
9. What comes first—characters or the plot?
Usually the characters…and with two series, that’s become even easier! ;)
When I wrote In Sunshine or in Shadow, (Claddagh Series Book 1), I intended it to be a stand-alone story—just one. But as I was writing it, Katie and Ashleen, the two young girls in the book, began to demand their own stories. So I considered turning it into a trilogy…and here I am on the seventh Claddagh story!
With the Wild Geese Series, it’s a bit more finite. There are five heroes, and I’d planned five stories for them. So I put them in New York City, and the stories went from there (though there may be a few spin-offs there, too!).
But it’s always about the characters, either the hero or the heroine, and sometimes even about the villain. And I build the plot around them.
About books you've read or written
10. Favorite hero (include book title/author name)?
I’ve had a secret love affair with each one of the heroes I’ve written (just don’t tell my husband! ;) ), but my favorite is Cathal Donnelly from Keeper of the Light (Wild Geese Book 2). A tortured soul, he dreams about the Ireland he left, a land stricken by famine that he knows he’ll never see again. He’s a dreamer, a story teller and a singer of songs. He’s romantic, mercurial, and a hard-edged rebel willing to do anything for the Irish cause—and he does! In fact, it’s because of his activities with the Fenians that he meets Laura Bainbridge, the beautiful Loyalist who’s eager to travel to London to be presented to Queen Victoria, the woman the Irish call “The Famine Queen.”
11. Book that made you cry.
Probably my own first book, In Sunshine or in Shadow. I put my heart and soul into writing that story, and I lived it with my characters. It was always my dream to become a published author, and when I held that book in my hand for the first time, I burst into tears.
Sweet deception and hidden passion…
Trasnavan…a west-of-Ireland village bursting with charm, intrigue and treachery.
Aidan Collins grew up in the shadow of his heroic older brother. The steady one, the responsible one, he burns with anger against the landlord and vows to change the desperate straits of the village folk.
Raised in a family of rebels, Maura Riordan is horrified when she learns the man she loves has committed the ultimate act of treason.
But Aidan has his own reasons for taking the position of landlord’s agent. Will those reasons destroy him? Will Maura’s deception tear them apart?
Can their love survive the lies they’ve both told?
Review for Reluctant Betrayer
Cynthia Owens is an excellent storyteller and Reluctant Betrayer, had everything to please lovers of Irish tales! Aidan and Maura's story is filled with tenderness, betrayal and hope! Amazon Reviewer Nicole Laverdure
Excerpt from Reluctant Betrayer
Pity stirred Maura’s heart. “She was my bosom friend, Neil, even before she was yer intended.” She touched a tentative finger to his iron-hard jaw. “I loved her too.”
“Then how can ye even think o’ a man like Aidan Collins? Sure, he’s serving the enemy!”
“Can f-feelings just w-wither and die because you w-will them?” Her voice rang with defiance.
He caught her wrists in his hands, his fingers biting into her flesh. “Ye’ll no’ see him again, Maura.”
“I love him, Neil. And—and I know he loves m-me.”
His eyes widened, his mouth became a snarl. “And how are ye knowing that?”
“Because we’ve an understanding between us!” The words burst from her, and she clapped her hands to her mouth. Oh, why had she told him now, like this?
“Without me knowin’ about it?”
“‘Twas nothing s-sordid, Neil.” She stared appealingly up at him, her heart shrinking in her chest as she saw his unyielding anger. “‘Twas a few walks in the woods when we were going the same way, a stroll by the strand...”
“Ye’ll no’ be seeing him again.” He caught her shoulders, shook her roughly. “He’s one o’ them now. And if he were to learn of...”
“Of what?” Caught by the sudden tension in her brother’s voice, Maura stared at him, horror chilling the blood in her veins. “Neil, wh-what are you k-keeping from me?”
“Nothing. Ne’er ye mind. Just remember, ye’re no’ to see Aidan Collins again.”
“No, ‘tis not nothing.” A terrible conviction swept over her, weakening her knees and scalding her throat. She knew. “Dear God, Neil, no! You’re not—oh, Mary Mother of God, tell me you’re not involved in—in—you’re not m-mixing with a secret s-society, are you?”
“Don’t ask me that, Maura, fer ye know I can’t be tellin’ ye. I’ll no’ be putting ye in danger, love.”
“Dear sweet God!”
He shook her again, until her rich auburn hair tumbled from its pins and bounced around her shoulders. “I’ll no’ be tellin’ ye again, Maura Brigid Eileen Riordan. Ye’re no’ to see Aidan Collins again. D’ye understand me now?”
“And if I d-disobey you?”
Neil stilled, his blue eyes, the exact same shade as her own, boring into her. Angry. Passionate.
“If you see him again, Maura, then I’ll have to kill him.”
About Cynthia Owens:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.
My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.
A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.
I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.
I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
Cynthia's contact information