Winning the RITA award for romance fiction is akin to winning an Oscar. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. The RITA is a Grammy, a Harts Trophy, a date with Brad Pitt. It’s the best of the best. It’s the trophy everybody wants. And Pittsburgher Gwyn Cready has won it. And rightly so. Her novels are sexy, funny, poignant and irresistible. They feature heroines you want to be best friends with and heroes you just want to BE WITH! Best of all, they feature our great city in some way or another. She’s the romance laureate of the Steel City!
And I’m lucky enough to call her a friend. 🙂 Thanks for the interview, Gwyn. I hope all you readers enjoy it!
1. 7 books. That’s a lot of writing. Lots of characters. Lots of ideas. It’s definitely a bit awe-inspiring. So first, how do you keep the stories fresh? Second, is it easier now that you have so many books under your belt; can you forge ahead and write more confidently? Or is it more difficult; is it harder to come up with something new?
It’s six, actually. But that still seems like a lot! More than 2,000 pages of entertainment! Keeping it fresh is easy, though. I’ve got a million ideas, each more fun than the last. But the actual writing… well, that’s a different story. The good news about me and writing is that I never, ever have writer’s block. The bad news is writing is hard and feels like work–satisfying work, mind you, like cleaning out the closet or weeding the garden, but work.
2. Oh, sorry Gwyn! Six books. And you’re right…that is a ton! But to continue with the “fresh” idea: as a writer myself, sometimes I find it difficult to remain, shall we say, enthusiastic about a current manuscript. How do you keep yourself motivated and focused? You’ve been writing for many years now. Has your mentally of how you approach writing changed?
I don’t write all the time. My life has a certain rhythm. I’ll write full-time for four or five months, then take a few months off from writing to promote or edit or review galleys or just read. I think the breaks are helpful. They refill the well.
3. Okay, let’s talk about some of your very popular characters. (Phillup Drummond from Tumbling Through Time comes to mind!). Anyone ever drawn from a real life person?
All of them–some from my life, some from the world of celebrities, some from characters in a movie or TV show. At least that’s how they start. But at a certain point they take on a life of their own
4. Your new story, Timeless Desire, will be published this July. Nervous? How are you preparing?
Nervous? Nah. I’m working with a new publisher now–Astor+Blue–and it’s been interesting to see what they do differently from my last publisher. TIMELESS DESIRE is the first women’s book they’re doing, and it’s sort of fun to be a trailblazer. They’re very excited about it. You’d think I was J.K. Rowling or something. They make me feel like a valued partner, which is always a pleasure.
5. Tell us about your story.
Two years after losing her husband, librarian Panna Kennedy battles budget cuts to distract herself from her grief. When she opens a long-locked door in the library, Panna finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of the handsome, eighteenth-century English war hero whose larger-than-life statue looms over her desk. However, Captain Bridgewater is not at all as she imagined. Under house arrest for betraying England, the dashing Bridgewater warms to his beautiful and unexpected visitor despite his belief she’s been sent to gather information. He pulls her into his escape and they share soul-baring secrets as well as a passionate kiss. But when he gives her a message that must be delivered to his secret allies and she is swept into the shocking intrigues that takes them from Hadrian’s Wall to a forbidding castle in Scotland, Panna must decide if her loyalties lay with the memory of her dead husband or the man whose life—and reputation—depend on her.
6. Sounds amazing! July 18 (sale date) can’t get here fast enough! J So, your heroine Panna goes through A LOT in this story. Coincidentally, in a class I’m currently teaching, I’ve been talking about conflict in stories. How do you come up with such wonderful conflict for your characters?
That’s relatively easy. Let’s take Flirting with Forever, for example, my third book. You create a goal for one of the two leads. In this case, XX wants to gather some scandal to spice up the biography she’s writing of the painter from the past. Then you just ensure the other lead has exactly the opposite goal. Peter, the painter, will do anything to keep the scandals from his life from being told. I won’t say the story writes itself (see question #1 above), but it certainly makes it a lot easier–and more fun.
7. Captain Bridgewater. Go!
Sexy as all get-out, of course. And troubled. Which just adds to his sexiness, of course. He’s been denied his rightful place in his family, and he’s set up his life so that he can try to repair what went wrong. Nonetheless, you can feel his longing. On top of that he’s a self-made man and dedicated to returning peace to the borderlands, which is a very unpopular position. Both the clans and the English army have an interest in the conflict continuing.Bridgewaterwas the name of the street where I guy I had a crush on in elementary school lived. I still get shivers when I think of it.
8. Ha. Good piece of trivia there. 🙂 Your stories deal with time travel. What sort of things do you do to research the different times, locales, customs and laws of those times?
So far I’ve tried to limit my time travel to the 1665-1705 time period, which helps. The research I started with applies book after book, and I can just keep adding on layers–sword fighting, water pumps, road building, painting, libraries, etc. I’ve got a whole world of details in my head at this point. You can always find experts online to answer questions. Usually people are very generous. The people who run the church where Peter Lely, the hero from Flirting for Forever, is buried, answered a number of questions for me. For Timeless Desire, I wanted to see what the library of an extraordinarily rich man might look like. Visiting the J.P. Morgan library inManhattanwas awe-inspiring. On a more working-library note, the Carnegie Library inCarnegie,Pennsylvania, a few miles from my house, is a great, old stalwart library with lots of community programs. The more you can visit real places, the more the story comes alive, I think.
9. What are you working on next?
I’m working on a time travel trilogy about three women in the borderlands ofScotlandin 1706 who become fast friends because each holds an unusual position of power. One is a fortune teller, one has inherited a shipping concern and the last is a clan chieftess. None has any expectation of finding love, for they know no man in 1706 could love a woman who exceeds him in power. But when the fortune teller’s magic unwittingly delivers to the helpmates they seek in the form of 21st century men, the women discover evolved does not equal easy, and the men have to reset their egos until they can figure out how to turn 21st century skills into something of 18th century value. The stories are funny and and wildly romantic.
10. That sounds marvelous. Okay Gwyn, last question. For all the writers out there: any advice for the newbie?
Read a lot. Read each book as if it’s a mini-course on writing. Write every day, even if it’s only a page. Don’t stop till it’s done. Repeat as needed.