I’m about to embark on a grand adventure, and I feel almost like one of my own romance novel heroines!
The West of Ireland is near and dear to my heart. Its ancient beauty, incredible landscape and mysticism have always fascinated me, so much so that when I wrote my first novel, I set my fictitious Irish village of Ballycashel on its wild, wind-swept coast.
As an author, I always have several projects on the go. At the moment, I’m writing a Christmas novella, plotting two stories—one for my Claddagh Series, the other for my Wild Geese stories—and researching an entirely new series.
This trip couldn’t have come at a better time!
Micheal Lynch, the hero of my Christmas novella, must make a visit to the Aran island of Inis Oirr, coincidentally one of the places I’ll visit on this tour, though I didn’t know that when I plotted that part of the story. What better way to be able to describe the place and the people than to visit the location?
We also visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on this tour. Again, excellent research. My next two stories will be set in 19th century Ireland, and the Folk Park is a traditional village of the time, with cottages, a doctor, and, of course, a pub. A perfect setting for my stories, and a chance to speak to some of the people from that era. And perhaps the setting for the Cork village near Skibbereen where Fiona MacDermott searches for her family.
When I visited the castle in 2009 with my family, I was mainly interested in the Folk Park. This time, though, it’s the castle that will capture my interest. It’s a 15th century tower house, and I think it will be a research goldmine for the new series.
This series is a bit of a departure for me. It’s a Medieval fantasy historical romance series, with a lot of magic and mythology mixed in. The setting will be a kingdom based loosely on the magical land of Tír na Nóg, the Land of the Ever Young, and the ancient kingdom of Tara (which I was lucky enough to visit after my WWIT Signature Tour last summer). The castle, as well as the other sites we visit, will no doubt appear—in one form or another—in all of the stories.
I’m actively plotting the story that will eventually become Book 8 in my Claddagh Series, and I know some of the places we visit—and maybe some of the people I meet!—will become part of that story. I’m considering sending Deirdre O’Brien and her Colin to the magical Burren.
But it’s not just the sites I’m looking forward to. They say a people’s heart is in their music, and I’m a firm believer in that. My collection of Irish music is extensive (some would say massive) and in listening to some of the songs of Ireland’s history, I often find myself conjuring up scenarios that eventually become scenes in a story or backstories for a character. The Fields of Athenry is a prime example. When I was writing my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, I needed a backstory for Siobhán Desmond, the heroine of the story. In listening to Athenry, I came up with a similar backstory for Siobhán, which spiraled into all sorts of conflicts for her and Rory O’Brien. I look forward to the many opportunities I know this tour will offer to hear some Irish music—and they might just spawn a story or two!
When I took the WWIT tour last year, I was incredibly impressed by all of the guides that took us to so many off-the-beaten-path places. All were so very knowledgeable about their various subjects, and all of them were more than happy to answer any questions or explain anything we didn’t understand—even to identifying the local flora! With the Clare-Connemara-Galway Tour, I can’t wait to meet a whole new set of guides who will share their knowledge, their stories, and all the wonderful little details that make the places of Ireland so fascinating.
I can’t wait to share my adventures with all of you!
DISPATCHES FROM THE WILD WEST:
About Cynthia: 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 17th century “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there. My late father was born in a tiny eastern Quebec fishing village called Irishtown. I recently had an Ancestry DNA test done, and received my results just a few days before leaving on my first Wild West Irish Tour. I learned that I have 16% Irish DNA. Perhaps that accounts for my fascination with Ireland. 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 World War II. 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, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two young adult children.