Gwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.
Advice I Would Give My Hero and Heroine at the Start of the Book
When I thought about what would make a good blog subject and this idea popped into my head, I laughed. Darn right, it would. The trouble with heroes and heroines in general is that they don’t listen much to advice, certainly not at the start of a book, when they’re both spending a lot of time thinking that they’re in the right and not a lot of time wondering what they can do to be better people or see a different point of view.
I love to write characters who have a flaw. It doesn’t have to be a big one. They’re a little self-centered. They’re a little inflexible. They’ve given up on something for the wrong reason. They can’t see what’s obvious to everyone else. The thing about flaws is it helps make the characters seem real to us. Everyone has flaws, even me. (Don’t tell my husband.) And with just the right set of circumstances, even minor flaws can really trip us up. And who better than a romance novelist to concoct just the right set of circumstances?
I like to write a story where each character has a flaw he or she must overcome in order to earn the right to be in love with the other. Overcoming the flaw usually involves facing some adversity or challenge, usually alone at the start, then by reluctantly accepting the help of the other person, then by coming to depend on the other person, then by trusting the other person.
In the Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands trilogy, the men are the ones who time travel from the twenty-first century back to the past. When the idea for the series first came to me, I asked myself, what would a man who’s at the top of his profession do if he suddenly found himself in a time where his skills meant nothing, or at least very little? The whole idea made me smile, which is usually the first big sign it’s something I should pursue. In the first book of the trilogy, Just in Time for a Highlander, Duncan, the hero, is a Scottish bond trader. My second hero, Gerard, is an American advertising executive in First Time with a Highlander. And in Every Time with a Highlander, Michael is a British former stage actor and star who left the limelight to become a theater director. All three of them are massively handsome, talented, and smart, and it’s a big change for them to find themselves no longer in control of every situation.
Michael and Undine, the heroine of Every Time with a Highlander, clash from the moment they meet. Undine is a fortune teller and spellcaster who spies on those who wage war in the Borderlands. She needs someone who can play a part for her, and casting her spell too hurriedly, ends up with Michael from three hundred years in the future. She’s doing all she can to avoid being forced into a wedding ceremony with an English army officer whose offer of marriage she foolishly accepted in order to get closer access to his orders for battle from Queen Anne and her advisors.
If I could give Undine advice, I’d tell her she’s going to need someone on her side, that her confidence in her ability to fend off the officer’s advances is perhaps misplaced, and that she would do well to trust that her spell brought her exactly the person she needs.
To Michael, on the other hand, I would say, your plan to retire from the theater and begin a life of re-reading Dickens in the cafes of Barcelona is premature. Yes, you lost your wife. But you certainly haven’t lost your joie de vivre. Undine’s spell calling you to the past is part siren call, part wake-up call. You are being thrust into life of action and emotion that you’ve avoided for years. You’re like a phoenix rising from the flames. Of course, it’s going to hurt a little—especially when you find yourself falling for Undine. But it’ll be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
Well, there’s my advice. I’m sure they won’t take, at least not at the beginning. But you watch, as the story carries on, they will see just how right their author is.
What advice would you give the characters at the start of your favorite romance?
She can work her magic on any manIn a quest to bring peace to her beloved Scottish borderlands, fortune-teller and spy Undine Douglas agrees to marry a savage English colonel. Desperate to delay the wedding long enough to undermine the army’s plans, Undine casts a spell to summon help and unexpectedly finds herself under the imperious gaze of the handsome and talented Michael Kent, twenty-first century British theater director.But in this production, he commands the actionThough he abandoned acting years ago, Michael will play whatever part it takes to guard Undine’s safety—he’s used to managing London’s egocentric actors and high-handed patrons, after all. But not even Shakespeare could have foreseen the sparks that fly when the colonel’s plans force Undine and Michael into the roles of their lifetimes.
Check out the Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series:
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