I am very excited to welcome my pal Loucinda McGary for my third week of hosting guest authors. Loucinda – who in another incarnation is Cindy or “Auntie Cindy” – is one of my oldest romance writer friends. Lucky for me (until now), she lives in California so we were able to connect on several occasions over the years, strengthening our friendship. On top of that, Loucinda’s novels aided in establishing my new-found passion for romance novels.
Today she is here as Cindy and Loucinda, sharing bits from her personal life and her writing life. Enjoy both interviews, and be sure to answer her question at the end for a chance to win one of two offered copies of her newest novel, The Mozart Murders.
Loucinda McGary has two great passions: writing and travel. To date she has visited 47 states, 34 countries, and taken 25 cruises. She likes to set her stories of romance and suspense in some of the exotic locations she has visited.
She has three traditionally published novels and seven that are Indie ebooks. Her stories have placed and won several contests and awards including the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest, the Australian Romance Readers Awards, and the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012 and 2013.
Follow Loucinda’s latest news on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loucinda.mcgary
She is also on Twitter @LoucindaMcgary
Contact by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Interview with “Cindy” ~
Q – What are your favorite books to read?
A – Romances, of course! I want my happily-ever-after.
Q – If you could live anywhere in the world besides where you now reside, where would it be?
A – I love travel and visiting all kinds of places, but I’m always happy to come home to California. I’m a California girl, born and raised and I love living here, though I wouldn’t mind having a house near a Central California beach.
Q – What hobbies or pastimes do you partake in to relax?
A – My mom taught me to knit when I was 14, and it is one of the few things I do right-handed. I also crochet, but I took a class in my early 20s to learn to do it left-handed. I find the repetitive motions of knitting and crocheting to be soothing. Also, interestingly enough, I can knit or crochet when I’m riding in the car, but reading gives me a headache. Truth is stranger than fiction. 🙂
Q – Do you have any favorite TV shows?
A – I don’t watch much TV but I’m hopelessly addicted to Downton Abbey. I started watching in the second season when Lady Sybil ran off with the Irish chauffeur. Since it is so long between new seasons of Downton Abbey, I’ve now started watching Call the Midwife. And I’m absolutely frothing for the new series based on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander!
Q – What kind of movies do you like to watch? Can you name your top five favorite movies of all time?
A – I love action/adventure, and if a little romance is thrown in, all the better. I don’t mind if it is historical, contemporary, or science fiction, as long as it has lots of action. Hmmm, narrowing it down to five favorite movies will be difficult… LadyHawke, Pulp Fiction, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Silence of the Lambs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the original Star Wars trilogy, Gone with the Wind… OOPS! Sorry, I knew I couldn’t stop at five. LOL!
Q – Do you have a favorite place you have traveled to? Or perhaps a place you long to visit?
A – I have found unique and enjoyable things everywhere I’ve travelled, and I’m always excited to go somewhere I’ve never been. One place I’d love to go is Egypt. I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids, and hope I get a chance someday in the not too distant future.
Q – If you could meet any person living or dead, who would it be and why?
A – William Shakespeare, so I could find out once and for all the identity of ‘the dark lady.’
Q – What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?
A – To date, I’ve taken twenty-five cruises and they often serve some pretty unique dishes, which I always try. The first time I ever ate escargot was on a cruise, and I LOVE them. I’ve also eaten (and liked) frog’s legs, alligator fritters, oysters Rockefeller, and tuna tartar. One thing I didn’t like (but I had tried once before) was caviar – Bleck! Too salty! When we were in Bangkok, Thailand, people were roasting big ugly bugs on braisers on the street, and passerbys were munching out on them. No way could I make myself try one!
Cindy’s “Off the Cuff” Responses ~
Tea or Coffee — tea, hot with milk
Chick flick or Mystery – mystery, preferably with a nice juicy murder
Beach or Mountains – beach, I am a California girl, after all
Porsche or Silverado – Porsche, I had one once, got it in the divorce!
Dog or Cat – dogs, I currently have two
Star Wars or Star Trek – Star Trek, I watched the original series as a kid
Summer or Winter – summer, don’t like cold weather
Paperback or Kindle – Kindle, love my Kindle!
Facebook or Twitter – Facebook
Salad or French Fries – Seriously?!?! French fries (from In N Out Burger!)
Apartment or House – house
Beer or Wine – wine, though I prefer soda
Forgive or Get Even – Are you kidding? I write suspense so get even!
Cake or Pie – cake, chocolate with chocolate frosting
Hobbit or Elf — elf, but nix the pointy ears
Sunlight or Rain — sunshine
Waffles or Pancakes – pancakes with lots of maple syrup
Loucinda’s latest novel is The Mozart Murders
A serial killer is stalking the donors of the San Francisco Philharmonic and it is up to police detective Phillipa ‘Flip’ Morland to stop him. With her partner in the hospital, Flip must team up with classical musician Professor Jeremy Burke to catch the madman they’ve dubbed ‘Amadeus’ for his penchant of playing Mozart while he commits his brutal crimes.
The Interview with “Loucinda” ~
Q – Your new book is set in San Francisco, a city I happen to be familiar with. You live in California, so did you choose San Francisco over another major CA city for a specific reason?
A – I live a couple of hours away from San Francisco and have had a long time love for the City by the Bay. I find it both beautiful and fascinating, which was one reason I chose it as a setting. San Francisco has a lot of very familiar landmarks that I thought readers would enjoy “seeing” through my characters. I also like to set my stories in exotic locales and I happen to think San Francisco is pretty exotic.
Q – Could you have set this story in, say, Los Angeles or Fresno and made it work?
A – I’m not as familiar with LA or Fresno, so I would have needed to do a lot more research. I’m also not sure the story would have been so interesting because I try really hard to make my setting another character in the story and accentuate unique elements about each place. I visit San Francisco several times a year so I had a lot of experiences to draw from.
Q – Is there a particular San Francisco landmark or location that figures into the novel?
A – Several, and I had a lot of fun working them in. The hero drives over the Golden Gate Bridge to get to work. The heroine lives on the edge of Chinatown. Plus, I couldn’t resist throwing in a scene at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Q – Music figures prominently in this novel, as it did in one of mine. I have a long ago musical background, but basically had to crash-course and call upon a pianist friend to write correctly. How was it for you? Do you have knowledge of music? Or was this a new area for you?
A – When I was a kid, I played the flute for five years, so that’s why my hero is a flautist. I’ve always loved classical music and Mozart is one of my favorite composers, but I did spend a lot of time on YouTube finding just the perfect pieces for different scenes in the story. I hope readers will be equally interested and search out some of the music for themselves. Here’s the famous Aria by the Queen of the Night from “The Magic Flute.”
Q – Why Mozart for the villain’s favorite music? Why not Bach or Beethoven?
A – I believe Mozart’s music is more recognizable, except for maybe the opening of Beethoven’s fifth symphony (which I joke about in the story). Plus, I’ve always loved the film “Amadeus” since it was first released in 1984 (It won the Best Picture Oscar that year). I actually saw a stage production of “Amadeus” about fifteen years ago, and that memorable story inspired me to create my villain who, like the character Antonio Salieri, is obsessed with Mozart and his music.
Q – Your novels, in general, are contemporary but also have historical aspects in some cases, such as The Treasures of Venice. Do you find that getting facts correct is more difficult for the contemporary or historical portions? Or does each have its challenges?
A – They both definitely are challenging! I have to laugh when I hear someone say, “I’ll just write contemporary so I don’t have to do any research.” Boy, are they gonna be in for a rude surprise! If you get details wrong, readers will tell you about it. I’ll never forget the novel by a multi-published author that had the hero taking a long motorcycle ride west of Los Angeles. I hope that bike had water-wings, but I don’t know because I stopped reading after that egregious error.
In Mozart Murders, I chose to call my heroine “detective” even though I discovered in my research that the San Francisco Police Department uses “inspector” for their officers who investigate major crimes. However, I consulted with several law enforcement professionals before I made my decision, and I made sure I noted my “mistake” in the front matter of my book.
Q – When did you begin writing?
A – When I was in third grade. Before that, I printed.
Q – Who are your writing inspirations? Which authors influence your story choices or literary style?
A – In my teens and early twenties, I loved the great gothic romances like those by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A.Whitney, and especially Mary Stewart. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received was when a reader said the opening of “The Treasures of Venice” reminded her of a Mary Stewart novel.
Q – What was your first published novel?
A – A romantic suspense with paranormal elements called “The Wild Sight” in Oct. 2008.
Q – Are you traditionally published, independent, or a hybrid? Why have you made these publishing choices?
A – My first three books are traditionally published, but I decided to try Indie publishing in 2011 and I’m so glad I did. I love the control I have as an Indie author! I get to decide what to write, when to release it, what title and cover I use, and what price to charge. I also love that I no longer have a “middle man” between me and my readers.
Q – Was the first book you wrote published, or is it still lying in forgotten shame under your bed?
A – I played around with writing for many years before I finally decided to get serious at the end of 2003. The very first book I wrote after I started to seriously pursue publication was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2006 and was eventually published as “The Treasures of Venice” in Sept. 2009.
Q – Do you have beta readers and/or critique partners? Or are you a lone wolf writer?
A – I’ve always had critique partners and beta readers, and depended on them to keep me on the right track. I met my current CP Jo Robertson in 2006 when we were both finalists in the RWA Golden Heart contest in the romantic suspense category. (Jo went on to win with her book “The Watcher.”) Turned out we only lived about 12 miles apart, and we have been critique partners ever since. I think we mesh well with our strengths and weaknesses, and I can’t imagine doing this very difficult work without her.
As for beta readers, I had a very dear friend I’d known for over thirty years who used to read all my work even though the racy parts embarrassed her, and the paranormal elements annoyed her. J She passed away in March, 2012 only two weeks after her husband of over 50 years. The last book of mine she read was “High Seas Deception” and she loved it. Currently I have two beta readers: my best friend who is a voracious reader, and another friend who is an aspiring romance writer.
Q – How greatly do your life experiences and the people you have known influence your novels? Do you write characters based on people you have known? Have you ever killed off a character based on a real person?
A – I believe all writers use their life experiences to bring authenticity to their work. I draw on my own emotions and feelings when I create my characters and write their stories, and yes, I base characters on people I know. Usually my characters will have traits from several different people, and sometimes I will name minor characters after people I know. So far, everyone has been flattered, even the husband of one of my nieces. He jokingly asked “put me in your next book, Aunt Cindy,” so he became the murder victim in the prologue of “The Wild Irish Sea.” Luckily, he has a good sense of humor and thought it was hilarious that I killed him off.
Q – Tell us what is next on your writer’s agenda.
A – My current work-in-progress is another “Dead Girl…” story. This one is set on Maui and is called “Dead Girl in Paradise.” The hero is Sloan Madison, the younger brother of Tate Madison, the hero of my 2013 novel “Dead Girl in a Green Dress.” I also purposely gave my heroine Flip Morland two single brothers so will eventually have their own books. Finally, I have not completely ruled out another romantic suspense story with Flip and Jeremy.
Thank you so much, Sharon, for hosting me on your blog today! I love sharing info about my books and my travels. I’d like to ask readers: Is there a setting you haven’t read but you’d like to? I’ll give free downloads of “The Mozart Murders” to two random commenters.