Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Member Spotlight on Cynthia Owens!

by | October 12, 2018 | 3 comments

Welcome to another edition of HTH Member Spotlight! Today I’m featuring Cynthia Owens.


Minerva Spencer: Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

Cynthia Owens: I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province ofb  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero. I have two adult children.

MS: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

CO: I don’t know if I ever actually realized it. It was just something I did, something I was. I’ve been writing since I was seven years old. I wrote plays for holidays, and sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. When I turned seven, I got a record album (yes, I’m dating myself here!) called Peter Pan in Story and Song. After I’d memorized it (I played it a lot!), I wrote out the entire thing, word for word, even the punctuation. I did it because I had to. My family was quite impressed.

But I didn’t always receive that kind of encouragement. In first grade, our teacher told us to write a sentence about Dick, Jane, and their dog, Spot.

I wrote a paragraph.

The teacher went from desk to desk, reading what the other kids had written, offering praise or criticism. I was incredibly proud of that paragraph, and I waited eagerly to see her reaction.

She scolded me.

She said she’d asked us to write a sentence, not a paragraph.

I was devastated. Talk about stifling a child’s creativity!

Now I realize I hadn’t exactly followed the rules. I’d written much more than she’d asked. But didn’t that deserve at least a word of praise?

I often wonder how much of my ambition to be a published author stems from that one childhood incident. Probably some, because years later, when I ran into that same teacher (now retired) she congratulated me on my books!

MS: What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

CO: I love historical romance. It can sweep you away into another time and another place.

It’s rather ironic, because when I was in high school, I absolutely hated history! I live in Canada, and Canadian history is a graduation requirement. But it was taught in such a dull way! We spent about three-quarters of the year talking about the fur trade—an important event, to be sure, but certainly not the only thing that happened in Canada! Memorizing names and dates just didn’t appeal to me.

But as a teenager, I enjoyed the old family drama show, The Waltons. I enjoyed the history the program showed in such an entertaining way. I call it social history. Not names of prime ministers or presidents, or the dates of battles, but how they affected the people who lived in those times. I wanted to know more about those long-ago times, and more, I wanted to write about them. And thus began my career in historical romance.

MS: If could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

CO: Micheál Collins, the Irish revolutionary, who was assassinated in 1922 when he was only 31 years old. fought the British to a stalemate, negotiated the first Treaty of Independence for Ireland, and oversaw the country’s transition to democracy. It’s said he died in an attempt to remove the gun from Irish politics.

MS: Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

CO: Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew books, had the greatest influence on me. I loved those books because they always kept me turning pages to find out what came next. Years later, I think when I was in high school, I read an interview with her in which she gave the greatest advice ever: Always leave a scene, or a chapter, on a cliff-hanger. Keep ‘em guessing!

It makes perfect sense, too. What better way to keep a reader reading?

The late Clare Lorrimer, a British author, also influenced me. I started reader her “sweeping historical romances” when I was 19, and I’ve read everything she ever wrote. I never failed to get lost in her storyworld, whether it was the French Revolution, Victorian England, or 18th Century Brighton. When I first started writing romance, I tried to write just like her. Of course, I couldn’t, our voices are completely different, but those exercises helped greatly in finding my own voice. And I knew I would never be satisfied until I was sure I could sweep my readers into a story the way she did.

MS: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

CO: I’m not sure you could call what I do a “process.” I’m definitely not a plotter…unless I need to be, and then I only plot a chapter or two in advance. I’m more of a pantser in that I let my characters tell me their story.

I usually start a story with a character—hero, heroine, and sometimes just a random secondary character—and a vague idea of the plot. Then I write down everything I know or can come up with about him or her. I follow that with short scenes of their past. For instance, when I was writing Deceptive Hearts (Wild Geese Book I), I wrote two pivotal scenes in the hero’s past, one on a coffin ship bound for America from famished Ireland, and a second when his mentor is killed. They really helped me get to know Shane, and from that, I worked up the plot.

Right now, I’m working on a character who was held prisoner for several years. I’m writing his entire time in captivity, from the time he was taken to the day he escaped. And in that way, I’m coming to an intimate knowledge of him.

These scenes may or may not appear in the story, but they’re invaluable to me in working up a plot.

MS: Tell us a little bit about your latest release.

CO: My latest release is A Claddagh Christmas (October 2018). It’s my first single-author anthology, a “duet” of two Irish Christmas stories. One of the stories, The Christmas Shop, is a stand-alone story, while the other, The Old Claddagh Ring, features lovable rogue Joe Donavan, who appears in My Dark Rose and Kathleen’s Mirror, two of my Wild Geese books.

Here’s the blurb:

Christmas. A time of joy and celebration, when dreams come true, and angels walk the earth.

A Claddagh Christmas ~ Two stories of Christmas, Irish-style!

The Christmas Shop ~ Maeve Brennan has lost everything she holds dear: her husband, her three children, and finally her home.

Micheál Lynch has one dream: bringing Christmas back to his three young children. He’ll do anything to achieve that dream, even if it means risking his own life.

Can some tiny Christmas angels unite these two lonely souls and bring them a real Christmas…and love?

The Old Claddagh Ring ~ Anna Clare Wycliffe has spent seventeen years longing for the twin sister torn from her arms when they were little more than babies. A surprise letter from California spurs a secret plan to visit her sister…but with no money of her own, and about to make her entrance into New York society, how can she carry it out?

Joe Donavan grew up on the mean streets of New York. He owes everything to the brother-in-law who gave him a job and a chance to become a man. He’s determined not to let him down. But what happens when a golden-haired, violet-eyed girl steals his heart and asks his help in fleeing her unhappy home? Will Joe sacrifice his most prized possession to give Anna Clare her heart’s desire?

MS: What’s the hardest part of writing?

CO: Two things: time and confidence. Time can get away so easily, with jobs and family and chores. And research, especially on the Internet. You start researching one small detail, and get distracted with a hundred other details, and before you know it, your writing/research time has been eaten up.

Confidence is a big one for me. Even though A Claddagh Christmas is my 13th book, I was still really nervous about how my editor would like it. I’ve been plagued with the “I’m not good enough” gene as long as I can remember, and unless I’m very strict with myself, it creeps into my writing. It’s tough to beat, but oftentimes, I’ll look at the shelf that holds my books, and then I go on and jump into my next story.

MS: Thanks for joining us today, Cynthia! If you’d like to find out more about Cynthia you can find her at the links listed below:





  1. Ana Morgan

    Great interview. It’s lovely to get to know you, Cynthia!

  2. Cynthia Owens

    Thanks so much for having me! <3

  3. Barbara Bettis

    Great interview! What a fascinating history you have. Yes, even your paragraph of Dick and Jane. I bet you were telling it in story form 🙂



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