Author Interview: Cynthia Ripley Miller


 

 

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Cynthia. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

CRM- I live in a suburb of Chicago on the northwest side of the city. I actually like to cook with a preference for baking. I belong to an Italian Meetup group to experience my Italian heritage and language skills, and I walk and exercise. In the summer, I like to decorate my outside deck with a variety of flowers and plants. It’s my ‘Zen’ escape. My perfect day is a rainy morning in Spring, and I’m in the kitchen baking cookies, cake, or Tiramisu with classical or Celtic music playing in the background. My perfect sunny day is spent in a hot climate, on a chaise lounge under an umbrella on a beach.



JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

CRM- I find the Roman Empire fascinating. As a child, I grew up watching movies and reading books set in ancient Rome. While teaching history, I became intrigued by late ancient Rome and the barbarian groups, especially the clash of these cultures in the years before the fall of the western empire. I discovered that the Roman Empire in the fifth century was an era of violent change, filled with drama, and ripe for storytelling. What a perfect setting for conflict, classic themes, and an adventurous plot that stemmed from my roots. Also, signs along the way propelled me into this era with a sense of purpose and direction, which I cannot explain but followed, but that’s another story!

JMR-Who is your favorite female historical figure? Why? If you could ask her one question, what would it be?

CRM-When I was younger, I would have said Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, my daughter’s middle name is Elizabeth because I read books about the queen and viewed her as quite unique and bold for her time. Later, I read Antonia Fraser’s book, Mary Queen of Scotts, and was captivated by her as well. Two strong women caught in the world of conniving men, political agendas for domination, and both desperate to hold onto the realm each believed belonged to them. If they were living today, it’s possible, one might be a successful CEO and the other a famous actor, or perhaps, they would each be a leader of a country. The one question I might ask them—Did you ever wish you could be ordinary women for a short amount of time and just be friends and not enemies?

JMR- You taught history and now teach English. Is it only natural that you write of historical fiction? What was your path to publishing your first book?

CRM- I’m infatuated with all kinds of literature and history. Both are compelling interests for me, and so it does feel natural that I should write historical fiction. As my series progressed, I also felt motivated to move from the added element of political intrigue in my first novel into mystery/suspense-thriller in my second and third novels. I could feel my genre interests expanding and harmonizing with my historical setting because history is laden with intrigues and mysteries.

The path to my first book began while I was teaching high school. For years I had a book brewing in my head. Also, at this time, I was reading Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon. I loved the combination of their well-researched history surrounding an exciting plot and a strong element of romance, intrigue, and adventure. I felt inspired to write my own story set in a turbulent time in history, which would provide plenty of drama. One night, I just sat down and began to write. I had no outline, only a time period, two main characters, and a sense of where I was headed, just like a real adventure. After three and a half years and hundreds of hours spent on research, editing, and several drafts, I completed my first novel.

While working full-time and growing a family, I wrote queries, submitted to agents, and learned about the publishing world through organized conferences geared for writers and readers. It took me almost four years to find a publisher. In 2013, I was offered publication at Knox Robinson Publishing-London & Atlanta, an independent publishing house. I signed a contract for a three-book deal, and in 2015 my first novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, was published.

JMR- On your website, you have an article about the evolution of the Romance Novel, which I really enjoyed. I was intrigued by your use of the term ‘Romantic Historical Novel’. Can you explain to our readers what you mean by that?

CRM- I believe there’s an aspect of historical romance that has grown and evolved into a hybrid that I refer to as the ‘Romantic Historical.’  This term is a way of defining historical romance novels that have developed and moved beyond the traditional perception of a historical romance as a ‘bodice ripper’ set in a historical setting used as a backdrop, such as a castle, two lead characters, and a few supporting players.

These novels are broader than traditional historical romance. They include not only a love story but also well-researched historical events and persons, intrigues that link to multiple supporting characters and plots, and true to life sexual expression at varying levels. I view these novels as romantic historical. The first of these stories that became a compass for my own book was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The romance between the two main characters in Outlander drives them through time and love scenes that depict their intense, true-to-life attraction. But the story also covers prominent events in history through a multitude of characters, plots, and historically accurate outcomes. I think the term romantic historical novel best describes for readers a story with a broader sense of history, drama, adventure, and romance.

JMR- As a writer of Romantic Historical fiction, what’s your take on the Alpha Male lead? Love him? Hate him?

CRM- I can’t help it—I love an Alpha male but in a special way. I want him to be strong, courageous, and smart. He should stand up for his beliefs and those he loves, have a kind, sweet side to him, have moments where he shows emotional vulnerability, and like most people, have a few faults. In the ancient world, an Alpha Male would be an ideal partner to have because of the daily dangers and rigors of life that existed. My male lead character, Garic, also has a quiet inner strength that offsets my heroine, Arria, who can be quite feisty. A supporting character, Vodamir, is another sort of Alpha, he’s a warrior, loyal, and quick on his feet, but he has a bit of the “Bad Boy” personality running through his veins, until he meets his match in the Hun healer, Basina. Can a Beta be a hero? Absolutely. In my story, I created a Beta male character that supports and parallels the Alpha male lead in his own heroic ways.

JMR- Cynthia tell us all about your novel, On the Edge of Sunrise.

My novel is set in Late Ancient Rome before the fall. It’s a turbulent time. The Huns are threatening the empire and the barbarian tribes are aligning either with the Romans or Huns. Most of the Roman empire is Christian, except for a few pagan tribes that include the Franks, better known to history as the Merovingians.

Duty calls my heroine, Arria Felix. A young widow and Roman senator’s daughter, Arria, longs for a purpose and a challenge. She’s been raised unconventionally and is well versed in politics and diplomacy as any man. When the emperor sends her as an envoy to the barbarian tribes in Gaul (France), where they will meet at the Assembly of Warriors, Arria is honored. She must persuade these warriors, especially the Franks, to help Rome stop the savage warlord, Attila the Hun, from sweeping down on the empire. But when Arria faces a brutal kidnapping, a mysterious riddle, and a barbarian warrior vowing to win her love, her world is turned upside down, and she finds herself torn between duty and desire.

Garic, a Frank barbarian noble, is the hero. Called Long-Hairs, Frank nobles wore their hair long to establish their rank from the commoners. He’s also a member of the elite warrior clan within his tribe known as the Wespe (wasp). While traveling to join the Assembly of Warriors, he saves the feisty envoy Arria from renegade barbarian raiders and a vicious warrior. Afterward, Garic’s instant attraction to Arria weighs on him and defies his tribal beliefs. He’s the First Counsel to his chieftain, and Romans are not to be trusted. Yet, he cannot resist her. At first glance, Arria has captured his heart, and he’s determined to win hers. On the Edge of Sunrise is an adventure that begins in Rome and culminates on the bloody plains of Catalaunum (Chรขlons) in Gaul. Arria and Garic are rebels caught in a falling empire where they must find the strength to defy tradition and possess the love prophesied as their destiny.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

CRM-I just completed the third novel in my Long-Hair Saga entitled A Sword Among Ravens. This follows On the Edge of Sunrise (Book 1) and The Quest for the Crown of Thorns (Book 2). It should be available sometime in December in paperback and ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Mobi, and most print and electronic retailers.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

CRM- Readers can find me at:   http://www.cynthiaripleymiller.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaripleymiller/  

Twitter:  @CRipleyMiller  

**My books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Nook, Mobi, and Apple

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

CRM-Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

 


 JMR- Thank You Cynthia for a great interview. Readers, I know you'll be interested in seeing more about Cynthia's books, so I've include a link to Amazon. 



Comments

  1. You're welcome, and thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed the interview.

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