Friday, September 20, 2013

Featured Author: Ciar Cullen

Virtual Writers Inc. brings Ciar Cullen here today with her historical/paranormal book, Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man, published by Boroughs Publishing Group. After you leave here, check out the Facebook party page and the Goodreads event page.

About the book:

At the cusp of the twentieth century, an heiress turned detective enters a world of deception and danger and must learn to trust her nemesis with both her life and her love.

Tormented by a tragic past, Miss Lillian Holmes nonetheless found the strength to go on, to become the greatest female detective of her time. To make her uncle proud. Except...he was not truly her uncle. Sherlock was a fictional character, and Lil was less a true detective than a sheltered twenty-six year old heiress with taste for mystery...and morphine. But then she saw him. Leaping from her neighbor’s second-story window, a beautiful stranger. With the recent murders plaguing Baltimore, here was a chance to reveal the truth.

Except, the Leaping Man was far more than he seemed. A wanton creature of darkness, an entry point to a realm of deception and evil, and to a Truth she had waited countless years to uncover, he would threaten far more than Lillian’s life. He would take both her heart and soul. And she would rejoice in it.


Ciar, by my count, this is your sixteenth published book. Wow. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started writing about 7 years ago or so. I’d done a boatload of nonfiction writing in the day job (I was in publishing for years), but no fiction. I think what I first wrote was actually Lord of the Rings fan fiction, but I didn’t know what fan fiction was or what to do with it, so heck, I just subbed it to a publisher. Ha ha! Sometimes it’s best to be naïve. I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, and literally sat down and started writing on a whim. I suppose in some deep recess of my psyche, it was more than a whim, but that’s how it felt at the time.

What do you like best about writing?

Because, as Nora Roberts so eloquently put it, “writing is hard,” I’m pretty happy when a book is finished. But there are moments, sometimes many of them strung together, in which time and space go away and you’re really in the zone, in the characters. I love that feeling. It’s difficult to come back to the real world after one of those “episodes.” I hate promotion. Simply hate it. And the worry about sales. I think a lot of writers are introverts (not shy, there’s a huge difference), and we’d rather just enjoy the quiet around us, and listen to the noise in our brain.

I totally agree. How did you come up with the title Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man?

Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man originally had “mysterious” in there too. It’s a nod to the era, to Sherlock Holmes stories, which obviously figure heavily here, and as for the leaping man? That’s a secret, for sure.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I do. I am a bureaucrat at an ivy league school. It’s a nice environment, but I’m surrounded by scientists and often feel the lone dreamer in a crowd of 500. It’s a big department.

How did you create the plot for this book?

Um, what’s a plot? One page at a time. And I think that answers the next question as well.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

Seat of the pants, the whole way. My editor, Chris Keeslar, asked me to tell him what happens in the next two installments. Holy moly! I’m not sure what happens in chapter 2 until I open my computer and see what the characters have been doing while I’ve been at work.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

For this book, I used a lot of family names. As it is set in my birthplace, Baltimore, my Irish, German, and British ancestry worked out fine. Schneider, Twamley, Cullen, Lillian, George, Phillip, Henry, Harry, even Aloysius (Al-u-ish-us)…all family names. For other names, I often simply look around at work and recombine first and last names. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Your secret's safe with me. What would your main character say about you?

Lillian would likely say that I’m a bit melancholy, like she is, but would be best to put my energies into something concrete, and stop all that dreaming. “Do not spend your time waiting for a handsome suitor, Miss Cullen. There are crimes to solve, adventures to be had. Now get dressed!”

I love her! Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

This book is about my family, in ways I can barely get my head around, much less describe. My grandmother was born in 1890, so her stories of growing up as a Victorian child still resonate loudly in my brain. My grandmother, mother and aunt were all “repressed adventurers” in a way, born into the wrong centuries. My Lillian is very much the embodiment of that longing. I am also Lillian myself, because as I wrote this, I had recently lost all members of my immediately family, and felt a bit of an abandoned orphan, as she does. This book is very close to my heart, and parts of it were actually quite painful to write.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

This is so cliché, I know, but my hero George Orleans would identify fully with Coldplay’s "Viva la Vida." Brooding, disillusioned, fall from grace and all that.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

I have to cook for you? Um, we’re having Nutrisystem out of a box, is that okay? Actually, my specialties are spaghetti and meatballs (go figure, this Irish girl makes a mean sauce), or sauerbraten. Can we invite someone else cool? Nah, I prefer small groups. Or I can make some great Baltimore crab cakes and bake a pecan pie. That’s the ticket!

I'm totally there! How do you handle criticism of your work?

From my editor, I’m good. All good, and I’d like to think I’m easy to work with. I enjoy edits. From readers, as long as it’s sincere and sensible, also all good. I’ve actually learned a lot about what to improve upon from reviews. I take them to heart. The ones that drive me bonkers are things like “there are gay men in this book” for a M/M, or “not sexy enough” for an inspirational…

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I live in a teensy place so my writing spot is actually a cubby in the dining room. It’s just a little desk, my laptop and my hazelnut coffee. Oh, and usually a cat or two on my lap.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I think I mentioned I’m an introvert, so I’m happy knitting away, reading, going to the beach in the evening (while the husband surf-fishes), easy stuff. I do like travel, but time… ugh.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing Lillian Holmes and the Final Solution, in which my heroine continues her quest to find… I can’t give too much away… and to take on all the evil that besets her beloved city, and her beau.

Puleease come back and tell us about it when it's published!

Book trailer:

About the author:

Ciar (KEE-er) Cullen hails from Baltimore, Maryland. She started her academic life as a theater major, but when she learned she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag she turned to archaeology, another love. She earned her degree at Indiana University, summered on digs in Greece and England, landed a gig in New Jersey, and eventually went into nonfiction publishing. Her third career is as a bureaucrat at a university. She is married to a photographer and has two cats. Eventually she hopes to retire to a small cabin, with the same husband and more cats.

Ciar is not one of those authors who dreamt of writing since childhood. She took up virtual pen on a dare in mid-life and forgot to stop. She loves reading just about anything, but especially nonfiction. Some of her favorite novelists are Mark Twain, E.L. Doctorow, and Nora Roberts. When she¹s not reading or writing, she loves to knit, to study all things Major League Baseball, and to jog.

Connect with Ciar:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon author page 

Buy the book:
Amazon | Boroughs Publishing Group