Interview with Author Gwyn Cready on Playing with Time

Gwyn Cready is my guest today at Reading Reality. Of course, Gwyn’s not really here to talk about reality, she’s here to talk about time-travel in romance. I’ll confess that the heroine of her latest time-bending romance, Timeless Desire, has an extra-special place in my heart, because Panna is not just a heroine, she’s a librarian! What could be more awesome? (The story is terrific, too. Check out my review and see for yourself)

Now let’s hear Gwyn talk about time-travel and Pee-Wee Herman…but not, thank goodness, at the same time.

Marlene: Introduce yourself to us. Tell us a little bit about Gwyn Cready, and what she does when she’s not writing.

Gwyn: I love movies. My husband and I pop out to films all the time. One of our favorite theaters is a single-screen theater in Dormont, Pennsylvania, called the Hollywood. They pop their own popcorn, and they even have a balcony. You just don’t see that a lot anymore. We just saw the third Indiana Jones movie there. Next up: PeeWee’s Big Adventure!

Marlene: You’ve written several time-travel romances. What draws you to time-travel romances in particular?

Gwyn: I love the idea of playing with time. It opens up so many possibilities for characters. In a romance—at least a properly written one—you know the story is going to end with the characters in a happy ever after. But a time travel romance adds a whole other layer of tension for the reader by making you wonder which time period will win out for the couple and how. Moreover, you want your hero and heroine to clash. What could be more clash-inducing than coming from different eras?

Marlene: And what inspired you to choose the Scots border in the early 1700s for Timeless Desire?

Gwyn: A lot of my books have characters from or action that takes place in the borderlands of England and Scotland. The dawn of the 1700s was a very interesting time. Scotland is teetering on the edge of losing its independence. The Age of Enlightenment is pushing the men who live and die by their swords into a world where thinking and science are revered. The clans are at their peak. And, of course, the kilts.

Marlene: Libraries are gateways to magical worlds, but was there a specific library (or librarian!) that you were thinking of when you set the modern-day parts of the story in a public library?

Gwyn: To be fair, I’ve been helped by so many librarians over the years. This was a little shout-out to all of them. I know a lot of people, including me, who think librarians are among the luckiest people on earth, since they spend all their time around books. My cousin, Donna, is a librarian, and she always seems aglow when she’s at work. Another close friend, Manuel, is a music librarian at UC Berkeley. He’s my go-to person for special research needs—and not just ones involving music. Many an article that resulted in an interesting plot twist or essential character attribute have come winging their way into my in-box from him.

Marlene: What do you think about the inevitable comparisons between Timeless Desire and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander?

Gwyn: Outlander is the book that inspired me to become a romance novelist. No writer will ever come close to creating the world and hero that Gabaldon did. That won’t stop us from trying.


Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Gwyn: My mom loved to read. Her two great joys in life were reading and playing bridge. I think I failed her on the bridge front, though. I do not have the brain for bridge. My husband, a casual player, will be watching me struggle to figure out which card to play. He’ll finally say, “For goodness sake, please play the jack. Everyone knows you have it.”

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

Gwyn: My younger sister, Claire. It was her unexpected death at age 31 that make me want to become a writer.  She was the artsy one in the family—a poet and photographer. I was the upright businesswoman. I wanted to do something to honor her memory. I started writing the month after she died. Eleven years later, my first book was published. It’s dedicated to her.

Marlene: What book would you recommend that everyone should read, and why?

Gwyn: Outlander, of course. Jamie Fraser is the most romantic, honorable and well-crafted romance hero ever written. The entire Patrick O’Brian Master and Commander series. The New York Times called it “the best historical fiction ever written.” I agree. I’ve read or listened to each of the twenty books at least three times.  And I’d throw The Time Traveler’s Wife on the list as well.

Marlene: Speaking of good books, there’s something in Timeless Desire that made me wonder about this. Have you read Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series?

Gwyn: I have not. And now I’m very curious as to what made you wonder that.

Marlene: Can you tell us a little bit about your next project? What is next on your schedule?

Gwyn: I have two next projects (ah, a writer’s life, eh?) One is a memoir about losing my sister and finding her again through her friends. The other is a time travel romance trilogy about three extraordinary women on—where else?—the borderlands of England and Scotland.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Gwyn: Location, location, location? Kidding. First, the heroes are always smart, wry and totally dedicated to the heroine’s happiness. Second, the heroines are real-world, kick-ass women, very much like the women who read my books (and me, might I add.) Third, there’s always that hint of Colin Firth in the air.

Marlene: Coffee or Tea?

Gwyn: Oh, coffee. Perfect cup for me: an ancho chile mocha latte. Ooh, I can almost feel my tongue tingling.

While I never did quite get Colin Firth, I’m totally behind The New York Times on Patrick O’Brian’s series, also known as the Aubrey-Maturin series. 

All I’ll say about Lymond is that Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles are also set in the Scots border country, and at a period a bit earlier than Timeless Desire. But the endings have something in common. And I’ll leave it at that. 

Thanks so much for answering all of my questions. Being a librarian myself, I just had to know every pesky detail!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 8-19-12

It’s so hard to believe that we’re sliding down towards the end of summer, isn’t it? But we really are.

High temperatures in Atlanta seemed to have finally dropped out of the 90s. Only down into the high 80s, mind you, but out of the 90s. It’s some kind of progress. Less beastly. I love winters in the South, but the summers are probably a foretaste of Hell. (I reviewed one of Eve LanglaisHell books this week, I loved it, but her Hell sounds like the U.S. Deep South for climate)

It’s good to be home. The cats missed us. They’ve mostly forgiven us for leaving them. (If you are owned by cats, you know exactly what I mean!)


So what’s happening at Reading Reality this week? Let’s get out the old calendar (actually Google calendar) and take a look…


After Monday’s Ebook Review Central feature, which is the June multi-publisher post, this week we have…drumroll please…

Tuesday I’ll be reviewing Only Scandal Will Do by Jenna Jaxon as part of a tour from Sizzling PR. Only Scandal Will Do is a terrific historical romance romp which starts with the absolutely opposite of a “meet cute”. The heroine gets sold to the hero at an auction in a whorehouse! This shouldn’t end well, and it doesn’t in the beginning, but of course it does in the end!


Wednesday is for The Memory of Roses. That’s not a commemorative, it’s a book by Blaire McDowell. Ms. McDowell also wrote Delighting In Your Company, a ghost/historical romance that I found, well, absolutely delightful when I reviewed it in June. So I couldn’t resist The Memory of Roses when it popped up on this Bewitching Books Tour.


Thursday I’ll be interviewing Gwyn Cready, the author of Timeless Desire. Since I’ve already reviewed Timeless Desire, I’ll be very interested to see what she has to say. The book was very good, a kind of Outlander-lite. And that feels right to me, after all, the subtitle is “An Outlander Love Story”.


Speaking of cats (well, we were a few paragraphs ago)…on Friday, I’ll have a guest post from Jacqueline M. Battisti, the author of The Guardian of Bastet as part of a tour from Bewitching. I’ll also be reviewing the book. I couldn’t resist. Bastet is the cat goddess.

And that all makes for one busy week!

But looking ahead to the next week, there’s one big event already on the calendar. Susan Wiggs’ will be here for an interview on Thursday, August 30 to celebrate her new book, Return to Willow Lake. And I’ll be doing a review. Naturally.

And then, and then, and then…it will be Labor Day. And Dragon*Con. Where did the summer go again?

Review: Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

The Urban Dictionary defines an “outlander” as:

Any individual who does not belong in a social setting; an intruder; an interloper

But for readers of time-travel romance, using the subtitle “An Outlander Love Story” as Gwyn Cready does on the cover of Timeless Desire, and specifically setting that romance on the Scottish border in the early 1700s, is bound to invoke comparisons to Jamie Fraser and Clare Randall.

Search Google for “outlander”, and Jamie Fraser’s name comes up as a related search, along with Diana Gabaldon (duh), the unrelated 2007 movie, and the Mitsubishi SUV.

But the heroine of Timeless Desire is Panna Kennedy, not Clare Randall. She’s a librarian and not a nurse. A time-travelling librarian who is the heroine of a romance novel. Okay, I was hooked from the description right there.

Totally incapable of an unbiased opinion, mind you, but completely hooked.

Panna thinks, acts and sounds like “one of us”. Us librarians, I mean. Her budget is being slashed, her staff is under-appreciated, her library is underfunded, and as much as she loves being the head librarian in a small town, occasionally she wants to escape.

Mostly she escapes into a good book. Her husband died two years ago, and she still hasn’t gotten over it. Panna’s spirit of adventure seems to have died with him.

Until she goes searching through the under-basements of the library for something to sell. Something that might keep the budget axe from chopping quite so close to the bone. And she sticks her hand through a locked doorway and into blackness. Not darkness. Blackness like her hand has been cut off, except she can still feel it, she just can’t see it.

She pulls it back like it was on fire. But the fire is back in her soul. She has to see what’s on the other side of that formerly locked door. Was it real? Is she crazy? Why is it there?

There’s a statue in front of the service desk in her library. Colonel John Bridgewater, the founder of the library, or at least the funding angel. (One gets the distinct impression that the statue, albeit fully clothed, is nearly anatomically correct–Panna has certainly fantasized about Bridgewater often enough!)

Panna goes back to the library in the evening and steps through the door into nothingness. She finds herself in the 18th century. What’s more, she’s in England, on the Scots border. She can see Hadrian’s Wall. The library she left behind was in Carlisle, PA. In the USA.

The first person she meets is Colonel John Bridgewater. In the very warm and living flesh. And he thinks she’s a whore. Not to mention a spy. It’s not a very auspicious start to their relationship.

And what a relationship it turns out to be. Nothing on the Scots borders is ever simple. John Bridgewater is the son of two countries. His father is an English Earl and commander of the English forces on the Border. But John was forced to make his own way in the world, because his father neglected to marry his mother, who was the daughter of a Scots clan chief. John’s loyalties are divided.

Each side is sure he must be a traitor. All he wants is peace. Or at least, less pointless bloodshed.

He sees Panna as either an angel or a temptress. John makes Panna feel alive again. But as they drag each other deeper into the tangle of secrets and lies, he discovers that she is telling the truth, and that there is more danger in the knowledge she holds than he ever imagined.

Escape Rating B: There are two ways of looking at this story. One is to attempt to consider how it works on its own merits, and the other is to look at how it deals with the long shadow cast by Diana Gabaldon’s classic tale, Outlander.

Timeless Desire is a solid time-travel romance. Panna’s desperation to solve the budget crisis was very real, and rang true (Been there, done that, and I’ve known too many library folk in that same boat). Her grief over her late husband also “felt” right. Everyone grieves in their own way and time.  Going back in time, while contrived, made for a terrific adventure. It shook Panna out of her rut in every way possible. Fighting for your life will do that. And because the circumstances were extreme, falling in love happened fast and hard.

It was easy to get caught up in Panna’s story.

On the other hand, the title invokes one of the truly great stories, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and that’s a dangerous comparison to make. Jamie Fraser is positively beloved. The two romance heroes whose names I wouldn’t get near with someone else’s barge-pole are Jamie Fraser and Roarke. Naming another Scots hero Jamie in a time-travel romance is simply bad juju. IMHO.

There were a few too many times when I read a scene in Timeless Desire and knew what was going to happen because either the same thing had happened in Outlander, or it happened before but with an opposite twist. (Spoiler alert) For example, the wedding was in extremely similar circumstances, although Bridgewater was not (thank heavens!) a virgin. The ending worked opposite but had a lot of similar characteristics. In this case it depended on who had a home to go to in which time.

As Outlander-lite, Timeless Desire works very well.