I’m thrilled today to welcome Bonnie McKernan, an author whose debut novel has received some impressive accolades, including Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality award, and was voted Best Up & Coming Author (any genre) by Affaire de Coeur magazine reader/writer poll.
Duchess Eileen: Those are wonderful compliments to your work, Bonnie. Please tell us a little about your historical novel Cliff of the Ruin.
Bonnie McKernan: First off, Eileen, thanks very much for inviting me to this wonderful site.
Cliff of the Ruin is a nineteenth century adventure that tracks the mysterious disappearance of a woman’s husband and the heroic lengths her lawyer, a Civil War veteran, will go to help her. When the investigation is shifted to Ireland, answers are found in an ancient castle ruin, along with murder. The story incorporates Irish folklore but also draws parallels from very real challenges of the time period, in post-Civil War New York and post-famine Ireland. The third main character, a handsome Irish fisherman, serves as both foil and catalyst to a love affair that has only started to bloom.
Eileen: Oh, how I love to read about love affairs. But don’t we all?
Bonnie: Romance is one of my favorite genres, but I slide this story into the category of historical fiction “with romantic elements.” I don’t write sex scenes, but I love writing sexual tension!
Eileen: Let me assure you, sexual tension is right up my alley!
What compelled you to include Ireland in your story?
Bonnie: My husband’s job had us living there for a time. This experience gave me much more raw material to work with than if I’d merely been a tourist for a week or two. Also, Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world.
Eileen: And Ireland has such a very rich history of storytelling. Was it challenging to try and get your hands around it all?
Bonnie: My goodness, yes. I write like I shop: I have to see everything (research, every story angle) before I make a decision. Not the best method, certainly, given how precious writing time is. I’m now trying to approach storytelling the same way my husband shops—with a list of what’s needed and nothing more.
Eileen: I’m more like your husband—I shop with laser-focused intensity. I just wish I wrote that way!
Who are your favorite authors?
Diana Gabaldon made me want to write. Nearly two decades ago, when I read Outlander for the first time, I was in awe. She managed to skillfully combine all my favorite things into one story: romance, history, fantasy, humor, a compelling plot, Scottish accents, and, of course, a handsome highlander. Other favorite authors include Ken Follett, George RR Martin, CS Lewis, Jane Austin, Margaret Atwood, Tom Clancy, the Bronte sisters, Celeste Bradley, more recently Susanna Kearsley—an eclectic list that goes on.
Eileen: Gracious, we share so many favorites. No wonder I felt such an instant connection when we met at your first Valley Forge Romance Writers meeting!
Before you go, could you share a teaser of your novel with our readers?
Bonnie: Certainly. Here’s an excerpt from a scene where two of my main characters take a breather from the crazy mystery that surrounds them.
Mae refocused. “There’s nothing to establish perspective… like a boat or buoy or breaking surf on a beach. Standing here, we ar
e aware of the scope, and that’s what brings the splendor—but in a painting there can be no such assumptions. Without a point of reference, beauty is lost.” She pointed to his hands. “Besides, I’d much rather paint those.”
Mr. Teague looked at his hands incredulously.
“Would you sit for me?”
“I don’t think—”
“Lawyers don’t say no to their clients—not if they want to be paid.”
Mr. Teague stood up straight to tower over her. “This sounds like coercion, Miss Kendrick.”
Mae smiled up to the tranquil sky. “Yes, it rather does, doesn’t it?”
He gnawed on his lip. “Do I have to stay in one position for twelve hours?”
“Some clients can be very demanding.”
“No. Demanding would be full body, no clothes.”
Mr. Teague’s jaw dropped—before the giggle Mae was holding back escaped her.
He laughed. “One hour. What could be easier?”
You can read more about Bonnie at her website, bonniemckernan.com