"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
bestselling author, Cindy Miles grew up on Georgia's haunted coast. Forging her
love of storytelling with tales of restless spirits has become a dream fulfilled.
With inspiration from Charles Dickens, she adds a touch of whimsy to her ghostly
romances. Once she discovered centuries-old castle ruins in the blustery north
of England and Scotland, fierce warriors from bygone years--who may still be lingering–-came
to life, as well as the women hard-headed enough to handle them!
An Interview with Cindy Miles
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Cindy M.: Well, I used to read like crazy when I was a kid. Nancy Drew, any mysteries I stumbled across, and ghost stories—my favorite to date being The Ghost of Dibble Hollow by May Nickerson Wallace. Once I hit late-middle school years, books were not as appealing as boys, and that lasted throughout high school. Once I finished college, I picked up a romance novel and found the love of reading once again. The more I read, the choosier I became, until I decided ghosts and time travels weren’t just fun to read, they were fun to think of on my own. Once I decided to try my hand at writing, I was hooked!
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Cindy M.: I still work full time as a registered nurse in a busy cardiac unit, but on my off days I split my writing time up. Typically, I get up at 4am—mainly because no one else in my house is crazy enough to want to get up that early, so I find the peace and quiet I need. I break around 6:30am to see my daughter off to school and do the usual housework stuff, walk/exercise (okay, so maybe not every day) and shower, and then I get back to writing. I’ll work until my daughter gets home, around 4-5pm. I work night shift at the hospital, but on my off days I flip back to day-time mode. I’m not really a night owl! When I’m not writing, I like movies, reading, and optimally, traveling. Scotland, England and Wales are hauntingly beautiful places filled to the gills with inspiration—crumbly old castles, abbeys, and wicked-cool cemeteries!
PNR: Being a new author, who or what has been your biggest influence? Who has been your biggest support?
Cindy M.: I love the quirky wit of Charles Dickens. He’s so magical and Londony! As far as support goes, I’m very lucky. I have the biggest, goofiest, nuttiest circle of sister-friends a girl could ask for (Betsy leading the way!). They’ve been with me since before I sold, and they make a huge deal out of every book release. My critique partner and fabulous author-pal, Kim Lenox, has encouraged me for years. She is always there for me, and she just has a sweet, funny soul. And, she’s a nut. I think I’m drawn to nuts! My mom, Dale, has believed in me from the very first time I mentioned wanting to write a book. She’s a great gal!!
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Cindy M.: Giving my characters their own identities. I’m drawn to big, loud, arrogant, loveable heroes, and witty, fun-spirited heroines, so it’s a challenge to maintain that side of their personalities and yet make them stand out as their own individual characters from book to book.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Cindy M.: For me, the first biggest element is the characters. The plot can be fantastic, but if the characters are flat or mediocre, for me, so is the story. The setting is important—I love a fresh, realistic setting! Lastly, witty dialogue.
PNR: You made your writing debut in May 2007 with SPIRITED AWAY, which spent more than three weeks on the Barnes and Noble best seller list. You have received a great deal of recognition and reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Cindy M.: Wow, the response I’ve received from readers is simply phenomenal. So many people have taken their time to write to me, and I have to say it is uplifting and an amazing feeling to know my stories have caused laughter and tears! That’s the biggest compliment, to me—a satisfied reader.
PNR: Congratulations, readers are excited about the November 2007 release of INTO THIN AIR from Signet Eclipse; this is the second in your Knights series. Could you tell us what inspired this popular fantasy series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?
Cindy M.: While not an actual series, I do plan to reunite readers with familiar characters. I guess I simply fell in love with so many of the knights! They took on their own personality, and it reminded me of just a big, loveable group of guys who are just a lot of fun to hang out with! I have my favorites, and for those who have read Into Thin Air briefly met Christian of Arrick-by-the-Sea. He’s definitely on my list, along with a few of the Dreadmoor Knights from Spirited Away. My third book, Highland Knight, involves a new set of medieval fellas, but I have a feeling readers will not be disappointed in meeting the Munro gang! And, I simply love the romance and chivalry of knights. Sure, they may have been a bit dirtier and scruffier than we like to imagine, but still—they were strong, fearless, and I love any guy who can ride a horse, swing a sword and hack off an enemy’s head at the same time!
PNR: Readers are captivated by the fantasy world you have created. Tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
Cindy M.: Again, the readers are fantastic and I am so grateful for their support! I guess I just write what I love, and what I love is the thought of me, stumbling across a fun, and sometimes grumpy, sexy knight from times past. My research is the traveling. Exploring castle ruins and imagining the people who built them, lived in them, protected them, gives flight to my ideas. I’m surrounded by a fun, crazy bunch of friends, and so I try to envision the people who lived long ago as having the same sort of personality. Sure, someone had to clean out the cesspit every now and then, but I’m positive they had a few jokes to tell about it later on. So I guess I just take the ruins I’ve explored, add my own walls, and let the characters take over. I have done a lot of research on medieval armor, fighting, weapons, etc. As far as historical elements goes, I usually add very little simply because I try to keep the story about my characters and their personal issues. But I do make sure that if something historical comes up that the facts are accurate.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Cindy M.: Mine are definitely character driven. The balancing comes after I get to know my characters, and see how they’d react to certain situations. Yes, the plot does need to be gripping and believable, but for me, that won’t happen unless I have the characters as 3-dementional as possible. When I read a book, I like to come away from it feeling like the characters were real. That’s what I strive for in my own stories.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Cindy M.: I usually get a grain of an idea about my characters first. Then, I fill out a character analysis chart. It’s a 3 page questionnaire of sorts, asking details of not only their physical appearance, but their habits, bad and good alike, their likes and dislikes, their family, friends, and their specific goals, motivations, and conflicts (that part thanks to Deb Dixon and her wonderful book on GMC!) Once I have that chart completed, I feel I really know the character. I do one separately for the hero, heroine, and a smaller version for my active secondary characters. Nicklesby, from Into Thin Air, is a favorite of mine, along with the hero, Gawan of Conwyk. Actually, the heroine, Ellie, was quite a lot of fun to write. Andi, from Spirited Away, was quite challenging in that her profession required a lot of research to make it seem realistic. Forensic Archaeology is a fascinating field! And of course Tristan is one of my favorites.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the hot love/sex scenes that readers demand?
Cindy M.: In a market where sex sells, I feel really lucky that I’m allowed to use sexual tension throughout my story before the actual sex scene occurs (at the end). Again, it’s what I love to read—the building of the relationship, that fire between two people destined slowly roaring to life—plus I’m slightly old-fashioned, and while not all of my heroines are virgins, I like them to be particular toward the hero. And so to date, there’s always a wedding first. J So far, the readers who like my books seem to prefer it that way. I guess I’d describe my sensuality level as very, very toasty warm. J With one big hot scene waiting at the end. J
PNR: There is something about a knight in shining amour that makes romance readers weak in the knees, and captures our imagination. Why do you feel the dark ages and the icon of the chivalrous knight hold such a broad appeal and are such a popular theme in the romance genre?
Cindy M.: For me, it’s because everything that makes up a chivalrous knight is virtually extinct. Of course, delving into that topic in detail could probably get me into trouble with the male gender! J But the dark ages were by far a pleasant existence, unless you were vastly wealthy. The plague, lack of toilet paper or running water…not too appealing! Yet the darker and more difficult the times, the stronger and fearless the men had to be. Knights were tough! They had a code (I’m sure not all stuck to it!), and they were protectors of the weak. They fought hard and dirty, poking sharp swords into bodies and hacking off heads—it takes a lot of guts to do that! So I guess maybe one big appeal might be the guts. I personally love guys with a lot of guts and nerve, and no fear. And, speaking for myself, a big, strong guy who will protect and stand next to me and adore me is a fine guy, indeed!
PNR: What is it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Cindy M.: I guess I am fascinated by the What If factor in the paranormal aspect of romance. It allows the imagination to envelope a vast amount of possibilities, making the characters that much more fascinating. For me, the balancing of the paranormal factors with that of the realistic factors is important. Yes, it’s crazy to think a guy could live a thousand years as an earthbound angel, but give him traits of the present and it seems a bit more believable. As far as another genre that interests me, Horror. J But I’m such a goofball, I’m not sure I can keep my own personality from slipping into a supposedly-scary story. J I’d probably end up doing a lot of snorting and laughing. J
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Cindy M.: June 3rd is the release date for my third book, Highland Knight. It involves a burnt-out bestselling mystery novelist who heads for the Highlands of Scotland to try and find her mojo before she loses her publishing contract. At the 14th century, supposedly-haunted tower house she encounters a group of enchanted Scottish warriors, neither dead nor alive, who have no idea why they’ve been hanging around for centuries. Amelia (the heroine) helps Ethan (the hero) and his men solve the mystery of their enchantment and hopefully find the perfect story to write. Along with falling crazy in love, of course. The project I’m working on now is one I am so excited about! Set in present-day Scotland on the northwestern coast, it involves a haunted inn and pub, a handful of zany ghosts from various centuries, a sexy but gloomy hero haunted by his dead wife, and his mischievous seven year old son, along with the ghostbuster the hero hires to oust the naughty spirits driving away the potential buyers of his establishment. For all those Gerry Butler fans, he is the solid inspiration for my hero, Gabe MacGowan. J This book is due to release in February 2009.
PNR: Thank you, Cindy, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Cindy M.: Thanks so much, Dee, and to everyone at PNR for inviting me! I love reader and writer email alike, and they can find me at www.cindy-miles.com . Come by and visit, check out the photo gallery, and read a few excerpts! And I invite you all to email me via my website. I’m working on a new Newsletter, where I’ll have monthly updates and contests. Thanks, and happy reading to you all!
November 6, 2007
A twelfth-century warrior-turned-Guardian Knight, Gawan of Conwyk is about to finally become mortal. But then he finds a beautiful woman by the side of the road near Castle Grimm-she is his soulmate, and it's up to him to save her life.
Ellie doesn't remember who she is or how she got to the north of England. Together they set out to solve the mystery of her almostdeath, but neither Ellie nor Gawan is prepared for the soul-searing passion they discover...
May 1, 2007
Knight Tristan de Barre and his men were murdered in 1292, their souls cursed to roam Dreadmoor Castle forever. Forensic archeologist Andi Monroe is excavating the site and studying the legend of a medieval knight who disappeared. But although she's usually rational, Andi could swear she's met the handsome knight's ghost.
Until she finds a way to lift the curse, though, love doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.
June 3, 2008
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