Monday, November 22, 2010

Interview with Cynthia Gael

Today we have two guest authors, who write under the pen name Cynthia Gael. They've cleverly given their pen name a life, personality and chance to tell her stories in the young adult series The Balefire Chronicles. Let's give a Cynthia D. Witherspoon and K.G. McAbee aka Cynthia Gael a warm welcome!

Tell the readers about Cynthia Gael. (Bio of your ‘pen name’.)

Cynthia Gael lives in South Carolina in a small log cabin built in 1817. She writes in a loft described to her, years before she saw it, by a psychic, thus influencing her already vast interest in psychic phenomena. Her other interests include: all forms of paranormal phenomena, history, literature, the literature of history, the history of literature, and dogs. She is a firm believer in magic in all its forms, thus she believes she’s lived many times before. Cynthia often draws inspiration from these past lives, where she existed in ancient Egypt, medieval France and Victorian England, among other places and times.

Be sure to explore the Balefire Universe further in Book Two: BALEFIRE AND LODESTONE (coming soon) and visit her website at:

You’ve taken a pen name to a new level, creating an alter ego who writes for a living. What inspired you to do this?

CDW: In all honesty, because our names together are quite a mouthful. And there’s something mysterious about using a pseudonym, don’t you think? So very…1940s...

Tell us about your new series, The Balefire Chronicles. How many books are in the series so far? Please list the titles for the readers. How many do you have planned? Do you need to read them in order?

CDW: Oh, this is a great series! Mystery and magic, witches and the men who fall madly in love with them thanks to a deadly curse…what’s not to love? So far, we’ve gotten two books completed with the first one, Balefire and Moonstone available through the Gypsy Shadow Publishing website, Barnes and Noble, and The second in the series, Balefire and Lodestone, is coming out this next week, and we’re currently writing the third, Balefire and Bloodstone for National Novel Writing Month.

As far as how many we have planned, we don’t have a set number. It all depends on our ideas, and our characters, and what they tell us to write. I would say you definitely need to read them in order. After all, you can’t start a love story in the middle now, can you?

In Balefire and Moonstone, we meet Tommy Hopkins. Tell us a little about this character. Personality and what he looks like.

CDW: Tommy is our example of the classic hero. Torn between his love for Anya and his dedication to his family, he finds that the choice has already been made for him thanks to the curse placed on his ancestors. Personality wise? He’s a sweetie. He’s funny. And he’s devoted to those he loves. Looks wise? Tommy embodies the classic Witchfinder General look passed down throughout the generations. Tall, blonde, blue eyes. He’s a cutie!

Tell us about Anya Blanchett. What is her first impression after meeting Tommy? What is Tommy’s first impression of Anya?

CDW: Anya’s a Chosen One, a witch, who discovers her power is fire around the same time she meets Tommy. Sure, she grew up in a small Southern town, but due to the prejudices and fears of people, our girl is pretty isolated when she meets Tommy.

Her first impression of him isn’t about his looks. Or the money which his family has thanks to WFG. Instead, she’s afraid she will end up causing him to be isolated too. And that she’ll hurt him somehow. That said, Anya is drawn to him and does a binding spell to make him her own. Little does she know there is a much deeper magic working to force them together.

Tommy’s immediate reaction is to ignore Anya when he sees her during his first day of class at her high school because everyone else does. But then (without giving too much away) he meets her and when he gets a good look at her eyes, he is drawn towards her too.

How much research went into your series?

CDW: We research as we go. Most of the magic in the books (and the Chosen Ones) are based off pagan spells and beliefs. And there really was a Matthew Hopkins who proclaimed himself England’s Witchfinder General. We did research on him too.

As the story continues to unfold throughout the series, we do research where it is needed. Places, history, science. You name it, we’ve probably looked it up.

Do you have a favorite research book or website you’d like to share?

CDW: Google and Wikipedia are my mainstays. I don’t think I’d know anything without those two websites!

Do you cast your characters using pictures or actors to help inspire your writing?

CDW: We didn’t at first, but now that the world is growing larger by the second, we do. Check out our Character Studies page on and you’ll see what we mean. We’ve put up pictures to help our readers visualize the characters; to make the world a little more real for them.

What are your current projects and works in progress?

CDW: Right now, we’re working on the third book of The Balefire Chronicles: Balefire and Bloodstone. But we have a steampunk series of novellas we’re working on based out of the Balefire universe, and short stories, and…and…You know, there’s just too many ideas between the two of us. But we’ll get them all down someday!

Tell the readers where they can find you: (website, facebook, twitter, blogs)

CDW: Our website is, of course. But we are also on Facebook (visit our website and click on the ‘befriend us’ button at the very bottom of the homepage) and Twitter…and we have a blog, too. Its at

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

CDW: We’d like to thank all of our readers, and especially our friends in the UK! They helped Balefire and Moonstone reach #65 on’s Bestseller list for Young Adult Romances this week, and we’re so thankful to them!

Don’t forget to add the ‘to buy links’.

We’re also on and Barnes and! I didn’t add the links here simply because they are so long.

CDW: We’d love to hear more from our fans. Currently, if you have read Balefire and Moonstone, and will be kind enough to leave us a comment on either or, send us a note to say you’ve done so. We’ll send you a personalized thank you card (a real one if you give us your address!) signed by Cynthia Gael herself!

Very cool indeed.

Thanks so much for coming by and chatting with us today! It’s been a real pleasure.


Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Welcome to KMN Books.

I'm so glad the both of you could come by and share your new series with us. It sounds fascinating. I can't wait to read it.

You also have a steampunk series of short stories. Care to tell us a little about it? What exactly is steampunk for those who may not know what genre that is?

Maeve said... Best Blogger Tips

Fantastic interview and the books sound intriguing. I'm definitely going to check them out.

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Of course, Ms. Karen!

The steampunk novella series is also set in the Balefire Universe - way back in 1887. WFG, the company which has been capturing witches since 1667, is just coming into its own as it uses great minds (such as Tesla) to create the technology to drain energy from witches, and store it into lodestones.

Yet, Sir Eli Hopkins (the Witchfinder General) is very aware of the curse placed upon his blood by the Bridget Sinclair since he lost his beloved wife Isabel to it some two months before. He believes it is all connected to a single volume passed down from the original Hopkins, and it must be stored away.

Enter Lady Abigail Moran, her collaborator Simon Throne, Cynara des Jardins, and Henri d'Estes. They are tasked with securing this volume in a desolate place to keep any future Witchfinder Generals from finding the book. Thus, begins their adventure from England to the Outback!

Steampunk is a genre which is based in the Victorian era, but where Newton's Second Law holds true and physics is king. Steam power runs just about anything in this world.

Airships, steammen, magic, romance, even a love triangle...its great stuff!

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks so much for your kind comments, Ms. Maeve! If you'd like, I can post an excerpt here, or you can read the excerpt from the prologue at

Information regarding the second in this series, Balefire and Lodestone, is up as well.

Thank you again for your interest!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for sharing about your steampunk novellas. Just more to add to my 'to buy list.' lol

Short excerpts welcomed!

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

lol But of course!

This is a bit from the Prologue of Balefire and Moonstone:

Colchester, England, 1646

The water . . . I’ve got to reach the water . . .

My thoughts raced like a whirlwind. I stumbled, quick to catch myself as I fell against the needle covered path I had memorized carefully in previous days. I pushed upward and ran; heavy branches slapped against my flushed skin while I raced through their gauntlet.

Silence. The first thing I shattered as I barreled down toward the water’s edge, my feet pounding as I snapped the less fortunate branches. At last, the shore spread out in front of me. The relief made me careless. I could almost forget the sounds of hooves and the howls of the dogs following so close behind me.

At the last, the roots captured me, not the Witchfinders. My ankle twisted and tangled with one so thick it snaked upward off the ground. I slammed to the earth; the sound of a bone snapping in my foot reminiscent of the branches broken behind me only moments before.

My pursuers, dogs and men alike, were on top of me before I could move. The men who prided themselves on capturing the evil witches of England grabbed me up with rough hands. Their leader pulled his steed to a halt before us.

No introductions were needed between us. For I knew to fear him for his great evil . . . even as well as he knew to fear me for mine.

Matthew Hopkins. England’s one and only Witchfinder General.
His thick blonde hair showed beneath a hat askew from his ride. His dark eyes glared down at me before he spoke.

“Bridget Sinclair. You are hereby placed under arrest by order of his Royal Majesty for the crimes of witchcraft, sorcery and consorting with the Dark One. You are to come with us at once.”

As if I had a choice in the matter. As if my woman’s voice had a place amongst them.

The fear coursing through me revived my strength, helped me forget about my broken ankle. Such a charge was not unexpected. Nearly every unwed woman in Colchester had been named as a witch; falsely accused, near all of them.

Except this time, the Witchfinders had found what they sought.

A Chosen One. A true witch.

But to go to my death with ease, without struggle, was something I could never do.

I would not do.

They tied my arms behind me with sleek leather bonds, but my palms opened as I called forth to the waters lining the shores to my back. I could hear the waves churning behind me.

Rising at my Lady’s command.

If I had ever needed the Great Goddess, it was at this dire moment.

The waters responded to my pleas for help. They rose until the waves were crashing against the sloping shore, rising far enough to slap against the boots of the men who held me in place. I would drown these men, all of them, if I could, if I must.

I had little choice. I knew what was in store for me if I failed.

Torture. Confession. Death. And not a quick one, either.

Hopkins pulled back, his men jerking me with them as they scrambled to dryer lands.

“Gentleman, stop her, I pray you! She is calling upon the Evil One to aid her!”

I saw the large fist coming; it met the side of my head and left me dazed, unable to focus. The waters receded at once to their former placid state.

I had already begun the desperate attempt to call them forward once more before another blow struck me; the world shifted, then darkened into blackness.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, what a powerful excerpt. Oh, I must find out what happens.

Thanks so much for posting a sneak peek.

Cathy said... Best Blogger Tips


This does sound really good. I loved the excerpt.

I know the book is rated young adult, but what age would you think this book is appropriate for?

13 and up okay?

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Have you ever been to a steampunk convention? If so, what would someone who's never been expect to see there?

What drew you to the steampunk genre?

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Hiya Cathy!

13 and up would definately be appropriate for this story. There's really no adult situations other than a few graphic scenes, which we kept as PG as possible.

=D I hope this helps!

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh I love Steampunk Conventions! In fact, I just returned from one on Saturday afternoon where Gail and I gave a talk on how to research and write steampunk. For those of you who've never been to a convention (of any kind), I highly recommend them!

Steampunk Conventions are great because of the costumes. Where else are you gonna see a man dressed to the nines (top hat and all) with goggles and makeshift weapons made out of old clock parts? And the vendor room! Don't even get me started....

The best part about these conventions is that the participants truly become works of art themselves in their costumes and their creativity. It seems like a strange mix, but the results are something else to behold.

Did I mention they had a swordfighting demonstration?? Oh, it was too


Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

I can honestly say what drew me to the steampunk genre was my love for a)the Victorian Age, b) how mysterious it was, and c) the free reign it allows me to play with the paranormal. It's a fascinating combination - Victorian beauty and technology.

That said, it should always be noted that no matter what world a writer choses to put their characters in, the same emotions we have today existed back then. Unrequited loves, heartbreak, the sadness of loss...

When a writer portrays these things well within their characters, it doesn't matter if they live in our modern age or in a Victorian setting driven by steammen and carriages. After all, a good story is just that; a good story. Steampunk just happens to be one of our genres to express them in.


Debra St. John said... Best Blogger Tips

I am always intrigued by authors who work together to write one story. Sounds like you're mastered the art!

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Hiya Debra!

I apologize for my late reply. =D G. and I have worked out a system between the two of us, and it does work very, very well for us. The best part? Having a friend to throw ideas around with. Being a writer is a lonely life. So being able to collaborate balances that out.

Thanks so much to everyone who commented and visited with us today! Happy reading, and may you always believe in magick!!



Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks again for coming by and sharing. I wish you the best of luck with your series!

P.L. Parker said... Best Blogger Tips

Great concept and loved the excerpt.

Cynthia Gael said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey ya P.L.!

Thanks for stopping by, and the kind words you said about the Prologue/Concept to Balefire and Moonstone! I gotta say, this was a fun book to write, and the series is coming along so well!

Have a great day and I hope you check out our series!!