Friday, March 23, 2012

CHRW Meet The Member:

Cynthia Owens

How long have you been a member of Celtic Hearts?
I joined CHRW in July of 2004, as soon as I heard about the chapter.

What prompted you to join this chapter?
Ireland has always inspired me, so when I decided to writes historical romantic fiction, Ireland just seemed the place to set my stories. CHRW just seemed the best place to interact with others who had similar interests. I’ve made so many friends thought this chapter and, although I’ve never met any of them in person (yet!), they’re very dear to me.

What place inspires you the most?
The sea. It’s so timeless. Walking by the sea and feeling the spray of the waves against your face, tasting the salt on your lips, hearing the scream of the gulls overhead, has always been one of my favorite experiences. I spent most of my summer holidays as a child on the GaspĂ© coast, visiting my grandparents on my dad’s side, and I spent as much time by the sea as I could. I’d take a notebook and pen and just sit on the rocks, watching the tides come in and go out, and scribbling down my dreams. Those were the halcyon days of my childhood. One day, I’d love to have a small cottage on a wind-swept cliff on the west coast of Ireland. A girl can dream, right?

Have you ever been to Ireland, Scotland, Wales etc? Tell us about this trip and what you came away with afterwards.
I’d dreamed of Ireland for so long, and finally I was able to visit the summer of 2009. It was an amazing trip, but the highlight had to be the day I visited Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, Galway. The cover of my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, features a lovely castle on a brooding autumn day. The minute I saw that picture, I loved it, but all I knew was that it had been taken “somewhere in Galway.” But shortly after reading the book, an Irish friend of mine identified it as Dunguaire, so naturally it had to be one of my must-sees.

How can I describe my reaction to finally seeing the castle I’d begun to think of as “mine?” A thrill, of course, but more than that. It was joy and sadness and excitement and something very close to tenderness. I “knew” this castle. It was part of me, as no other place had ever been, or ever could be. It was me, somehow, and in some strange way, it was the people of Ballycashel. And as we toured the castle, all the way up to the towering battlements, I found myself imagining the battles that had been fought for this beautiful land, and the lives and loves of the people of this place. And I wished I could stay forever.

Share 7 fun facts about you that most people don’t know.
1. I collect music boxes. But not just any music boxes. The music boxes I collect have to speak to me, to mean something special. Some of my favorites are a limited edition sleigh that plays “White Christmas,” because I love Christmas and Bing Crosby; a glass unicorn that plays “The Impossible Dream,” because the first musical my husband and I saw together was Man of La Mancha; and a bird cage that plays “O, What a Beautiful Morning,” because my mom used to wake me up singing that song.

2. I once fancied myself a female Andrew Lloyd Weber. When I was 18, I wrote a musical set in World War II Paris, using some of my favorite songs from the Big Band era.

3. I took a fencing class once, figuring it would let me get in touch with my Medieval side. I wasn’t very good, but it was fun.

4. I hated history in school – rather ironic, since I now write historical romances. It wasn’t until I learned about my ancestors that I began to enjoy history. One of my ancestors, Thomas Aubert, is reputed to have been the first to discover Canada, and another was a 17th Century “King’s Girl,” a young woman sent to New France (now Quebec) to marry the habitants (settlers) here.

5. I love watching the rodeo, especially bull riding – totally out of character for this girlygirl. I watch the Calgary Stampede on TV every year.

6. I drink Coca-Cola like other people drink coffee. At 5:30 a.m., when most people are plugging in their coffee makers to start their day, I’m popping the top off a can of Coke.

7. Unlike a lot of my fellow Celtic Hearts, I haven’t a drop of Irish blood in my veins. I “discovered” Ireland the summer I was 15, when on a boring, rainy day I flipped on the television (I was alone in the house) and discovered a soap opera called “Ryan’s Hope,” about a working-class Irish family in New York City. I developed an immediate crush on one of the actors on the show (I particularly liked his Irish accent), and from there I started studying Irish history, mythology, politics, etc. That crush developed into a lifelong love for Ireland. Years later, I was able to contact that actor, and he helped me immensely with research for a character who is also an actor.


Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Cynthia! Nice to meet you. Isn't it funny how something once hated becomes a passion? Enjoyed your post.

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Dawn, thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed my post. I don't think we really appreciate history in school, since it's not always taught in the most interesting way. Field trips and personal stories are so much more interesting than dead politicians and dates of battle!

Victoria Roberts said...

Hi Cynthia! *cyber wave* It is odd how the funniest things seem to inspire us. I figure any inspiration is good for the muse.

Renee Vincent said...

Cynthia, you and I are so much alike. The sea is VERY inspirational to me and I, too, hated history in school. Now I love it!!!

Great meeting you and getting to know you!

Cynthia Owens said...

Waving back Victoria! You're right, any and all inspiration is welcome at my door! Thanks for dropping by!

Cynthia Owens said...

Renee, we really are kindred spirits! I can't wait to get back to the sea, and there are a few historic sites I want to visit this summer! Thanks for visiting!

Pat McDermott said...

Cynthia, I would never have guessed you have no Irish blood! I always vicariously enjoy your recollections of your first visit to Ireland, and I've read your wonderful stories, so your revelation surprised me. No matter, 'Irish' is a state of mind :-) Best to you, my friend.

Cynthia Owens said...

Pat, that's the nicest compliment I could hear! I always called myself "Irish in spirit." I did recently discover an Irish ancestor on my dad's side. Very distant, but maybe that's where I get my deep connection to Ireland from. Hugs!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

So fun getting to know you better since we've been hanging out in the same places for years, Cynthia. I love the sound of your music boxes. I have two that play Music of the Night, a song that will always stir my heart and emotions.

I remember Ryan's Hope. That was a fun soap opera and how fun you got to work with the actor you liked so much. It's amazing how life goes around in circles.


derekd said...

Hey Cynthia, good to get to know you better. As long as you are getting your caffeine, I'm not sure the mode of delivery matters.

I love that you studied fencing! No doubt your experience has helped you write fight scenes. I wish you continued success with your writing.

Cynthia Owens said...

Paisley, "Music of the Night," really?!? I LOVE "Phantom of the Opera!" Okay, gushing aside, it's nice to get to all our fellow Celtic Hearts, isn't it? And I can't believe we were both "Ryan's Hope" fans! Hugs back!

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Derek, yes, fencing was fun. As I said, I wasn't particularly good at it - most of the guys in the class were way too competitive - but it was fun. And yes, I hope it has helped a little with fight scenes. Thanks for the well-wishes, and thanks for stopping by!

Alexa said...

Cynthia, I totally agree with you on the feel of the sea. I grew up in New England and now live a few hours away from a beach. I miss it terribly.

Cynthia Owens said...

Alexa, I miss the sea too, and always feel rejuvenated when I visit. Maybe this summer. Thanks for visiting!

Sarah Hoss said...

Cynthia dear! It was so good to get to meet you and I am sorry I am late in greeting you.

I, too, am a pop addict!!! It's the first thing I want in the morning too!