I've wanted to have the writing team of Morgan O'Neill (Deborah O'Neill Cordes and Cary Morgan Frates) visit
my blog for months. After a lot of pestering on my part,
I'm kidding, they've stopped by to talk about their
amazing Roman time travel series with us.
Q. Ever since I learned that you, Deborah and Cary,
write as a team, I've wondered how you manage it. The
nuts and bolts keep me guessing. Do you tag team by
chapter? Do you divide up the book by sections - who
starts it, who finishes it? Or, do each of you flesh out
specific characters and write from those viewpoints
then weave them together? Naturally that would
require a very firm plot plan to make it work. Now,
please, put me out of my misery. How do you make this work so seamlessly?
A. We write our novels by gut instinct after several plotting sessions, divvying up the scenes
as we go and then editing each other's sections, until the writing is seamless, to the point
where even our mothers can't tell who wrote what. We are guided throughout this process by
the actual historical record of the era we have chosen, as well as our natural proclivities and
interests. For example, Deb wrote the majority of the scenes with the witches because she
likes magic and mayhem, and Cary wrote a lot of the swordplay scenes because she studied
fencing and grew up with three brothers. :)
Q. How did you go about choosing Gigi's profession as a flutist? Your use of her
instrument, along with the ring on her hand, as the vehicle to transport her back in time
was ingenious. I love how she shimmers into being right in front of Magnus. Talk about
making an impression on a man!
A. When Deb saw the painting Melody on a
Mediterranean Terrace by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
she was intrigued by the two women in Roman dress, one
of whom was playing a flute, the other looking very
much like the historical Roman princess Galla Placidia.
Cary immediately connected with this as well, because
her daughter played that very instrument in her school
band. With such captivating visuals, it was a natural
step to make our time traveling heroine, Gigi Perrin, a
pop star flutist. We even worked that image into one of
our scenes. Look for it in our second novel in the series,
After the Fall.
Now all we needed was a worthy lover for Gigi, the man
of her dreams. Enter Quintus Magnus, Roman warrior
Here's the excerpt from that "shimmering" scene in
Love, Eternally, Book One of the Roman Time Travel Series. Our hero Magnus hears a
mysterious melody playing in accompaniment with music being performed by Emperor
Honorius’s slave-flutist, Horace.
Magnus squinted. Was it his imagination, or had the air begun to sparkle where Horace
stood? Rubbing his eyes, he cursed the effects of too much wine. This odd air reminded
him of trips to his family’s salt mines, where the briny haze twinkled in torchlight, and he
could smell it, taste it for days afterward, like tears upon his tongue.
By now, the extraordinary melody had faded, but something was still decidedly odd.
Magnus studied the flutist’s glimmering robes, the sparkles whirling around his brow. Was
this a dream? Was no one else seeing this?
Horace placed his silver flute to his lips, listening as the phantom melody rose again. He
tried a few notes, his attempt rough and too slow. Frowning, he took a deep breath and
blew true. For a long moment, the music meshed.
Troubled, Magnus looked at Princess Placidia, but she was conversing with several young
women. The crowd once again grew lively, unaware of the strangeness he perceived.
When Horace let out a yelp, Magnus spun back around. The flutist was nowhere to be
Magnus warily cast his glance about the room, looking for the absent musician, but the
sound of a gasp brought his attention back to the pulpit. The air sparkled as before, but
now a woman appeared, ethereal, glittering like the stars.
Magnus’s chest tightened.
She turned and stared at him, clutching a golden flute.
The air cleared and he let out his breath as she came into focus. Her wide green eyes
blazed with an emerald fire, the whites so clear they held a tinge of palest blue. Her
body was slim, her bearing regal, and he was instantly aware of her slightest movements:
the trembling of her fingers, the sudden flicker of doubt in her beautiful gaze.
Her vulnerability unleashed a thunderbolt that surged straight to his heart.
Q. Who got to write the more intimate sexy parts or
did you take turns?
A. We're generous. We take turns with our men. :)
Q. Did you picture anyone specific while writing Gigi
and Magnus or were they figments of your own
A. They are composite figments. We have differing
images of the "ideal man," and we even have a running
dust up on our Morgan O'Neill Pinterest page over
whether Hugh Jackman (Cary's choice) or Channing
Tatum (Deb's choice) best fits the bill for playing Magnus
in a feature film or miniseries. Ooo, make it so! As for
Gigi, we both see the gorgeous actress, Imogen Poots, in
the role. Ooooo, double make it so!
Q. Now, you go into some of the foods eaten during the height of the Roman Empire.
Did you ever try to recreate anything you researched in your own kitchens and if so, how
did that go over?
A. We've each made desserts based on ancient Roman recipes: Cary a Pear Patina; Deb a
Savillum (Roman cheesecake). Not being dedicated chefs, we both like Cary's recipe the best,
because it's delicious, easy, and has wine in it. Deb's recipe is also delicious, but quite
complicated, and once she was done, she definitely needed to hit the sauce. :)
Very amusing! For the recipes, see the following links:
Romance Recipes Blog by Jennifer Lowery ~ Morgan O'Neill Modern Pear Patina
Romance Recipes Blog by Jennifer Lowery ~ Morgan O'Neill Savillum (Roman Cheesecake)
I'll have to check it out!
Q. What will you miss most about this series now
that it's concluded?
A. Concluded? Well... we have left some openings, so
perhaps, with a bit of nudging, we just might write a
sequel to the third novel, Return to Me.
Q. Will you be working on another time travel series
together? What's next on your horizon?
A. Yes, we are putting the finishing touches on our next
two time travel series, one of which takes place in
medieval Italy and the other in Elizabethan England.
About Morgan O'Neill: Two authors writing as one,
Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes
specialize in recreating pivotal moments in history,
epic adventure and romance––with a time travel
twist. The Roman time travel series marks their debut as published authors. Their trilogy
includes Love, Eternally, After the Fall, and Return to Me.
Book Blurbs ~ The Roman Time Travel Series by Morgan O'Neill
Love, Eternally, Book One of the Roman Time Travel Series
A witch's ancient curse propels talented flutist Gigi Perrin back to A.D. 408, to the court
of the depraved Roman Emperor Honorius and his admirable sister, Princess Galla Placidia.
There, Gigi grapples with her disbelief about what has happened, and with the strange,
new world of violent politics, social upheaval and barbarians straining at the very gates
of an empire. Through it all, she must struggle with her powerful attraction to a pagan
senator and military commander, Quintus Magnus, a man exotically different from anyone
she has ever known. On the brink of a dark and war-torn age, Gigi joins forces with
Magnus, battling to save a princess and her people, and ultimately finding love amid the
chaos, before the fall of Rome.
After the Fall, Book Two of the Roman Time Travel Series
After the Fall ratchets up the tension as time traveler Gigi Perrin and her husband, the
Roman warrior Quintus Magnus, join forces with the Visigoth King Alaric to march on
Rome. There waits Princess Galla Placidia, the admirable sister of the despicable Emperor
Honorius. About to be forced into an arranged marriage by her brother, Placidia fears a
bleak future, trapped in a loveless union.
In an attempt to save Rome from barbarian invasion, Placidia puts aside her troubles and
meets with Alaric’s delegation, which includes Gigi and Magnus, and the king’s second-
in-command, the Visigoth prince, Athaulf. The attraction between Placidia and Athaulf is
instantaneous and overwhelming, but theirs is a forbidden love, destined to fail because
of implacable politics and impending war.
Bound by a friendship that transcends time, Gigi and Placidia must do whatever they can
to protect the men they love, after the fall of Rome.
Return to Me, Book Three of the Roman Time Travel Series
Return to Me finds time traveler Gigi Perrin happily settled into twenty-first century life
with her husband, the former Roman senator and military commander, Quintus Magnus.
Gigi has resumed her successful musical career, playing the flute for her adoring fans,
while making her first foray into Hollywood by creating the musical score for a feature
film about the Roman emperor Nero.
At the film’s wrap party, Gigi is presented with a gift to commemorate her work: an
ancient Roman ring depicting the goddess Victoria. Stunned, she and Magnus recognize
it as the very ring that brought them together, and the one subsequently stolen from her
and lost in A.D. 410. How did it make its way back to them? Magnus believes the
answer is clear; Victoria sent it as a warning about their dear friend, Princess Galla
Placidia. They start researching what happened to Placidia after Gigi and Magnus time
traveled from the barbarous fifth century. To their shock, they discover Placidia's life took
a series of terrible turns, culminating with the murders of her children.
Realizing they have no other choice, Gigi and Magnus prepare to embark on a perilous
quest to go back in time and rescue them. But one ominous question remains – how can
they save the children without altering the course of history?
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Author Links: For more about Morgan O’Neill: website; Facebook; Facebook (book page)
Hopeful scribe and word-aholic. Loves reading, loves writing, loves my family and friends, and is tickled beyond measure that you've stopped by.
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