Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Few Questions And Answers

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

It's March, and that means I now have LESS than six months before my next book is released! The Treasures of Venice is another romantic suspense with some paranormal elements. It is actually the first romantic suspense novel I ever wrote, and it was a finalist in the 2006 Golden Heart contest.

Recently, I was hanging out on an online forum where a lot of young aspiring writers were asking published authors questions specific to their latest works. This seemed like a good place to start blogging about my new release.

Here are my answers to the top five questions they asked:

1) What gave you the idea for your book?

I heard a piece of music on the radio. I listen to classical music and when an unfamiliar piece came on that I liked, I listened and then the announcer said, “That was the incidental music to the opera Jewels of the Madonna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.” I went home and googled the opera and the composer, who happened to be a Venetian.

Venice is such a romantic city, and I loved the idea of setting a book there. After I started reading the summary of the opera (which is actually set in Naples!), I started thinking “what if…” and the idea for The Treasures of Venice was born.

2) Did you have a tough time coming up with character names and personalities?

No. Generally my characters show up in my imagination with their names and personalities fully intact. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get to know them. Yes, they really do “talk” to me, and I know far more about their lives than is ever written in their particular book.

I will say that coming up with authentic sounding Italian names for many secondary characters was a bit of a challenge. I try not to name my characters the same name as people I know. But I happen to know a lot of people with Italian last names, and I did ‘borrow’ a couple of them just for fun. I’m happy to report, the people involved got a real kick out of it, too!

3) Are any of the characters like you? Why or why not?

All of my characters have certain aspects that are like me, even the villains! I can’t help myself, because all their thoughts and feelings are filtered through me. I purposely think, “If I were a young woman who’d never had a father, and her fiancĂ© had just jilted her, how would I react if…?” Or, “If I were a guy whose sister has been kidnapped, what would I do if…?”

So in some respects, they are all me, but then again, not really. I would never do some of the things or get myself into the situations that happen to my characters! Thank goodness.

4) While writing, are you always focused, or distracted?

I’m easily distracted, but I need to stay focused. That’s why I have set writing times and a writing routine. I don’t listen to music (like so many writers do), and I can’t watch TV or carry on conversations (in person or online) while I’m writing. Rewriting and revising are a totally different story, but getting down the first draft requires a lot of concentration.

5) Did you ever think your story would one day get published?

I wrote it with the express purpose of submitting it for publication. I had just about despaired of it ever being published because it received many rejections over the course of two years.

To be honest, it did have a few things working against it, the setting of Venice, Italy for one. Editors really want tried and true settings, and all of Italy is not used that often (the DaVinci Code notwithstanding) in novels. It also has a dual storyline set in both contemporary and Renaissance time periods that editors and agents weren’t quite sure how to deal with.

But as the saying goes, “it only takes one yes” and I was thrilled when my editor finally said yes to this story! She loved the setting and the dual storyline and ultimately, I think readers will too.

Now it's your turn! You can answer one or more of these questions, or ask another question or two of your own.


  1. Hey Cindy! I liked the story of listening to a piece of music that took you to Venice. It's a fun thing about writing. You never know when a door will pop open, and you'll enter an unexpected reality.
    I'll tackle to your question about whether my characters are like me. Funny you should ask, because I've been thinking about it a lot lately.
    If I think about my SEAL heroes, the answer is "Obviously not." I don't think I have what it takes to be a SEAL, even if I were a man.
    And yet I cannot deny that they sprang from my consciousness, and I draw on my experience to flesh them out.
    Ultimately, I think every writer is depending on the fact that though everyone is an individual, at the deepest levels we are all far more alike than we are different.
    Writers AND readers can understand another person's feelings, and why they are motivated to certain actions, even though we might not make the same choices.

  2. Hi Aunty,
    Great post! I too was once inspired by a song. In my case it was Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. Listening to the song in the car, it gave me just the right atmosphere for the story I'd had running around in my head for some time. The opening line in that book is, Tupelo Honey played on the jukebox. Sets the tone just the way I wanted it.

    Looking forward to your Venice book, and I enjoyed the insight into your writing process.

  3. Count me in with those who love hearing of writers inspired by music. I wonder how many writers listen to music while writing? (I don't, but often think about doing so! LOL!)

    I also love the fact that you were so committed to this story, looking for that one "yes." Congratulations and best wishes for great success!

  4. Songs have inspired me many times, and there is even the occasional snippet of the lyrics in my books. However, the FEELING a song gives you is often very difficult to translate into words, but I keep trying.
    I have to stay focused. There are times when I just have to shut off the Internet browser completely and just write. I have written with music playing in my headphones, but it was usually in an attempt to block out something else!
    I've always wanted to travel to Italy, so I'm really looking forward to reading your book!

  5. Cindy~

    I love Italy. Venice is gorgeous and though I haven't spent much time there, the time I have spent was wonderful so I can't wait to read your book.

    Music is always an inspiration especially if I have a hard time getting my head in the book. I have a soundtrack for each book, for all my Domestic Gods books, it has music that reminds me of Brooklyn. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, (because my grandparents used to listen to all the greats in their house there) also some more modern songs that for some reason, bring me home.

    I usually listen to music when I write but if I find myself thinking more about the lyrics than what I'm working on, I close iTunes down and do without until I go absolutely crazy and I try it again-- I can't stand the sound of silence. I find that for the most part, I need music to keep the other side of my brain occupied while I write.

  6. Morning everyone,
    YAY! It's a beautiful sunny day here in Nor. Cal!

    MM, I agree totally about the universality of certain feelings. I think that's why so many people read and love romance. And being able to understand why a character acts and reacts a certain way is what makes them enjoyable.

    And don't sell yourself short! I'll bet you have a lot more of what it takes to be a SEAL than you know. ;-)


  7. Hi Tupelo Honey... I mean Marie!

    You hit it spot on, my Evil Twin! It's all about the atmosphere created by the music. That's what caught my attention to the music from "Jewels of the Madonna" and everything else just started to fall into place from there. Can't say I've had that happen to me again... at least not yet! But writing is indeed a mysterious process.


  8. Great to see you, Libby!

    I don't usually listen to anything when I'm writing, but I do listen to music or books on tape while in the car.

    Trust me, there were times when I felt like I should BE committed before I sold this book! :-P I'd like to say it was that fine line between genius and madness, but it was more like too stubborn to quit. LOL!


  9. Morning Cheryl (or Afternoon, where you are),

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one draw by the Siren Song of the internet. It truly is addictive! That's why you haven't seen me on the blogs or loops much lately. Once I start, I can't seem to stop, and this is NOT GOOD when I have a book to write. Like I said in the post, focus is critical for me when I'm writing first draft. Once I have something down it's not as essential, but still helps.

    Hope you enjoy Venice in TToV!

  10. Robin,
    I've only been in Venice once, but it is such a special place that it really leaves a lasting impression! I just LURVE Italy, and would go back TODAY if I could. :-)

    I heard a lot of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra growing up, but I don't think I truly appreciated them until I hit my thirties. I do, however, find myself distracted by lyrics (esp. when sung by the likes of Sinatra) so that's why I like to listen to classical. Not many lyrics there. ;-)


  11. Cindy, I'm so glad we get to see another book from you. I really enjoyed The Wild Sight.

    I think the inspiration around your second story is awesome. I wrote a blog this past week about lyrical inspirations.


  12. Renee,
    Thanx for popping by and I appreciate your endorsement of The Wild Sight!

    As MM said, you never know when something will just strike a chord. Writing truly is a magical process!

    I'll be posting a lot more about TToV in the next few months. I hope it will whet your and other readers' appetites!