Tell us about your book. It takes place in Ireland in the fifth century, at the time Patrick brought the Gospel there, and tells the story of Ciara, a young Irish princess who is training to become a druidess but has a deadly secret: she doubts the gods she is learning to serve. In the 5th century, that type of secret could get you killed.
Can you give us a sneak peek at your new release? Ciara didn’t want to be a druidess.
But though she longed to speak of it to someone, she kept her silence. Certain death waited if that secret escaped.
Her maid gasped behind her and Ciara flinched, wondering if she’d spoken the dreaded words aloud. But Eabha had only uncovered a field mouse cowering in a dusty corner. She whisked the intruder out with her broom and bustled about the sleeping chamber, humming while she straightened the fur blankets.
Ciara sighed and finished plaiting her hair. Her father had summoned her this morning, on a matter of great import. Perhaps he’d finally realized why she remained silent whenever he spoke of the calling on her life.
She left the sleeping chamber and walked through the ringfort hall. A sprig of rowan flowers hung above the doorway for protection against evil spirits and she touched it before starting down the worn path to the sparring fields.
A new seed of doubt had rooted during the dark nights of winter. And now as Beltane approached to celebrate the returning sun, the secret threatened to burst out of her like the shoots sprouting from the awakening earth around her.
What if the gods weren’t as all powerful as she had been taught from her childhood?
If anyone suspected that she doubted the ancestral gods of her people, she would be condemned as an outsider and cast out.
Her tribesmen would blind her, and set her adrift on the sea in a coracle with no sail or rudder. And if she survived the sea to wash half-drowned upon some hostile shore, whoever found her could claim her as their slave.
Ciara shivered. She could never let the secrets escape.
What inspired this book? I read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization and George Hunter’s book The Celtic Way of Salvation. And then I happened to read part of Patrick’s confession, in which he mentions bringing a beautiful Irish princess to salvation and the story was born.
How did you know you were called to write? I didn’t know until I started writing after a bad day at work and one of the doctor’s I worked with told me that Harlequin was always looking for writers.
Are you a panster or do you outline? The plots of my first two books were very research driven. Now that I am working on two more recent historicals, I’m trying to learn more about plotting. And it’s hard! It doesn’t come naturally to me.
How long have you been writing? Since 2004
Tell us something silly about you. Sometimes when I’m alone I sing songs in Latin. Gregorian chant. I learned how to do this when I attended Catholic grade school.
What was the first book you ever wrote? This current release is the first one.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book? That God always has a plan, even though we can’t always see it.
What is your favorite season? I especially love autumn.
If you could travel back in time when and where would you go? I would love to travel to ancient Rome and Egypt.
What project are you currently working on? I’m working on the story of an Irish girl seeking to make reparations for her father’s sins against his own countrymen during the time of the Great Potato Famine. And I’m working on a Gilded Age novel, too.
What has been your most challenging experience writing a book? Finishing it!
Where is your favorite place to vacation? I love to travel to new places. I have gone to England, Scotland, and Ireland to research the first two books I’ve written and it was wonderful!
What is a fond childhood memory? Going to the library on summer vacation and coming home with 15 books to read.
What book are you currently reading? I just finished reading Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem by Anthony Bozza.
What are your hobbies (besides writing)? I’m an archaeology nut.
Renee has kindly offered to giveaway 1 free copy of her new book. At least 10 people need to leave comment with email addresses OR email me at email@example.com and put "contest - secret hope" in the subject line. Winner announced April 18th