Two of my grandfather’s favorite characters were Pete and Joe, shiny swordfish who jumped and played in the ocean. Most often, these humorous and naughty boys would get into all sorts of trouble that ended in a twist, and a lesson learned. Like my grandfather, I like telling stories to family and friends but, even more, I enjoy writing them.
In first grade, I found reading difficult. I heard Italian spoken every day, but spoke English. A tough Catholic school nun, Sister Mary Ernest, took me under her wing and I soon began to read. As a young girl, I would often shut myself in my bedroom, and devour a book. Reading classic novels was an early passion for me. While in high school, I decided to become a teacher, and was torn between English literature and history. Throughout my college years and after, I read extensively. I eagerly consumed the classics, English, American, European, and Asian fiction, poetry to biographies, political works, and religious philosophies. Consequently, my desire to experience the world grew.
After three years of college, I took a break from the university to experience a new adventure—backpacking and working my way through Europe. Through these travels, I developed a fondness for certain countries, especially Switzerland, France, Italy, and Greece. I learned a lot about different cultures but the most amazing thing I learned is that, at the core, most people share a set of shared values. We want to learn, love, and experience. Our cultural perspectives and traditions shape us with a unique imprint. After six months abroad, I returned and graduated with a degree in Secondary Education. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.
In time, I married, began a family, and taught high school English. Over the years, I earned a master’s degree and studied creative writing. I attended writer’s workshops and conferences throughout the country. I joined writing groups, and wrote short stories but, when I acquired a laptop, I felt prepared to start the novel I’d dreamed of writing. Then, I looked for a historical novel with an adventurous plot.
One might say I turned to the dark side—genre fiction. Anne Rice’s vampires brought historical settings to life, and demonstrated a diversity of human traits despite their undead status. Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series captured my attention with her vibrant characters, Scottish history, and a splash of fantasy. I felt compelled to move in the direction of a well-researched romantic historical, and sought to create a new setting for my novel.
The few years I taught World History, and my travels, inspired me to choose a turbulent and exciting time. One that would cross cultures and usher in the Medieval Age, an era when barbarian warriors and nobles began to flourish and dominate the European landscape. From a writer’s perspective, fifth-century Rome, and the Germanic barbarian Franks—who later became the French Merovingians—filled the niche for drama, intrigue, and a fresh era.
On the Edge of Sunrise earned its title through a meditative moment, and in some part, based on my personal experiences. My heroine, Arria, and hero, Garic, are nobility in their cultures. Arria’s a Roman senator’s daughter and Garic is a Frank tribal counselor. Arria is raised unconventionally, and carries the title of Roman Envoy. Garic mirrors this distinction as a highly regarded warrior, honored for his wisdom as First Counsel to his tribal chieftain. Their ‘love at first sight’ (my parents had a similar experience) desires force them to cross cultural boundaries. However, both are torn by responsibility and duty (another facet of my upbringing and culture) to their countries and families—and the dangerous secret each one carries (we all bear secrets, don’t we?).
I believe that hopes and dreams, desires, and secrets are aspects of the human condition, and travel as far back as the dawn of man. After all, isn’t one of the first dramas recorded set in a garden called Eden? I attempted to bring to life threads of experiences, understandings, and flashes of truth in my story from the lives of people who’ve traversed history and the fifth century. I learned from my travels abroad if real people share common values and attributes that transcend time, then why not fictional characters from the past, as well as the present?
Sometimes, I pinch myself to make sure I’m awake. I’m a published writer of romantic historical mystery and adventure novels. Dreams do come true!
On the Edge of Sunrise: Book One
The Quest for the Crown of Thorns: Book Two
On the Edge of Sunrise weaves, twists and turns at a tremendous pace, and the characters leap off the pages, which simply keep on turning.”
– Marilyn Sherlock, Historical Novel Society
In this thriller, rivals race to possess Christ’s crown of thorns. Ripley Miller astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse … The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third.
– Kirkus Reviews ~ The Quest for the Crown of Thorns: Book Two of the Long-Hair Saga
Cynthia Ripley Miller is the author of On the Edge of Sunrise and The Quest for the Crown of Thorns: Books 1 & 2 in the Long-Hair Saga, a series set in late ancient Rome and France. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist and A Circle of Books Award winner, Cynthia has lived and traveled in Europe, Africa, North America, and the Caribbean, taught history and English. Her short stories have appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, The Scriptor, and at Orchard Press Mysteries.com. Cynthia blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus and on her website, www.cynthiaripleymiller.com. She lives outside of Chicago with her family, along with a sweet German Shepherd and a cute, but bossy, cat.
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