Mary Gillgannon is the author of seventeen novels, including romances set in the dark age, medieval and Regency time periods. She’s married and has two children. Now that they’re grown, she indulges her nurturing tendencies on four very spoiled cats and a moderately spoiled dog. When not writing or working—she’s been employed at the local public library for twenty-five years—she enjoys gardening, reading and travel.
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Lady of Steel (Medieval Ladies Series Book 1)by Mary GillgannonPublish: Jan 10, 2018
The Conqueror (Hot Knights Book 1)by Mary GillgannonPublish: Jul 02, 2013
The Leopardby Mary GillgannonHistorical Romance
Devil's Own Bargain (London Lords Book 1)by Mary GillgannonPublish: Jul 05, 2012
I wanted to be a cat! Seriously, I went through a phase where all I thought about was turning into an animal. I think I thought life be be a lot simpler that way. When I got older I wanted to be an actress. I really didn’t begin writing until I was in college, and even then I didn’t write fiction. I thought authors were gods, and I couldn’t even dream of having the talent and ability to write a book. But I had a health crisis when I was 30, and I remember thinking, you can’t die, you can’t leave your children. Followed by, you can’t die, you haven’t written a book yet. That was really the catalyst for me to start writing creatively. At first it was poetry, then a historical novel, which I found I didn’t have the skill to research yet. Then I discovered historical romance and realized the important thing was telling a story that you were emotionally caught up in, and I’d been making up stories for years.How does it feel to live in Wyoming for over thirty years now?
I love the scenic beauty and the sunshine in Wyoming, but hate the dryness and the long winters. I think the thing I miss the most from the Midwest is everything turning green in the spring. It can be May here before it really greens up, and the growing season isn’t very long. A challenge for a gardener like me. How is it different from the Midwest where you were raised? Growing up I lived in the country and then a small town. I didn’t feel I really fit in, so that made my adolescence very difficult. I much prefer living in a bigger town with more social and cultural options. I’d probably move to a bigger city, but my husband would never leave Wyoming and Cheyenne is the biggest town in the state!Does your family enjoy reading your books? Which is their favorite?
My husband read my first book, but that’s all. Romance just isn’t his thing. But he was impressed with my writing and always promotes me and my stories to customers and acquaintances. My children haven’t read any of my books. They don’t want to think of their mother as having anything to do with sex and my love scenes are fairly steamy.You enjoy gardening, travel, and reading. What are your other hobbies?
I love clothes shopping and have far too large a wardrobe. But it’s a creative outlet for me. Also, growing up, my family didn’t have much money, so I never had many clothes and I’m making up for that. I also like to cook, especially desserts, and sometimes I really get into home decorating. I have a wonderful office and was able to plan every detail and pick out the décor and materials based on my own tastes. And we have five cats (and a dog), so I’d have to put “crazy cat lady” on my resume.Does travel inspire you to write? How?
Some of my trips are just for relaxation and to get away to someplace warm in the winter. (Mexico, Arizona, the Caribbean). But my journeys to Ireland and the British Isles are definitely for research. What I especially like is to get a feeling for the atmosphere of the places I write about: the weather, the landscape, the light, even the feeling of the air on your skin. But I also explore the history and visit a lot of museums and historic sites. Since almost all my books are set in the past, you need a lot of research to really create a world that doesn’t exist anymore, and anything that gives you a feeling for that world is really helpful.You work at the public library. How much do you enjoy your job?
I get to be around books and the people who love them—what could be more wonderful for a writer? I also order books for the adult fiction collection so I’m constantly reading reviews and paying attention to bestseller lists and popular trends, so that is helpful in career planning and understanding what makes books appeal to readers.How does your family inspire and contribute to your writing?
In a sense my family and my writing are two separate sides to my life. But that means that my family provides balance and forces me out of my head and into real human interaction, which I need. My husband comes from a big family who mostly live locally. They are lively and fun and very supportive of each other. I’ve always enjoyed spending time with them and admire their closeness, which has influenced some of the family relationships in my books.Your first novel, Strom Maiden came out in 2011 and was greatly praised. What was your inspiration to write the book?
Actually, my first book was The Dragon of the Island, the first book in my Dragon series (There are four books.) It was published in 1994. I knew I wanted to write a romance set in the King Arthur era (a time period I love). During my research, I came upon a historical Welsh warlord named Maelgwn the Great, who one of his contemporaries described as “the dragon of the island”. This obviously “larger than life” character inspired me and came alive for me on the page and kept me writing. Storm Maiden is a much more personal story, as the hero, Dag, is based on my husband and the two share a lot characteristics: Tough on the outside but really soft-hearted. A lover of animals and has a special rapport with them. A natural salesman/trader, always making deals and making things happen. The heroine of the book, Fiona, isn’t based on me, but represents my husband’s Irish side (he’s actually much more Irish than Scandanavian). She is hot-tempered and determined and fierce and strong, which balances out Dag’s actually more civilized nature.“Lady of Steel” has a very powerful and impactful title. Tell us more about the book and the series.
Women in the medieval era had very little power. They were literally the property of men. I wanted my heroine to find a way to make her own way and get what she wanted, but without her doing anything anachronistic or inappropriate to the time. Nicola is truly strong and stands up to abuse and cruelty. And she will do anything for the people she loves, which makes her a true heroine. Fawkes is more of an idealist and a dreamer, at least as the book begins. But he is a warrior (that was one of the titles I considered for the book), and uses his strength and military prowess to protect those weaker than himself. So you have kind of a modern woman who has overcome abuse, so she is wary and suspicious of all men, meeting a Navy Seal type guy, who is gentle underneath but because of his military background comes across as tough and ruthless. They have to gradually learn to understand who each other is and learn to trust each other.How many books are planned for your latest series – Medieval Ladies Series?
I’m planning to write at least two more books for the series. I’m finishing up the second one now. It’s set on the Welsh/English border and features two characters on opposite sides of the battle for power between the two groups. So there is a lot of conflict. It’s a much different story than Lady of Steel. My heroine is hot- tempered, impulsive and rather immature. My hero is well-matched to her because he is patient, careful and logical. But they are both are very determined, so it is kind of a battle, but of strategy and words. I’ve also included a few supernatural elements. It is set in mystical Wales, after all.Why do you choose to write historical novels with Celtic influences? Are you trying to give something specific a voice through your books?
The Celts believed we are intimately connected to nature and that the spirits of the land and of animals are real. They were also very tuned into the cycle of life, the wheel of the seasons and the fluidity of life and death. Indeed, they saw death as simply another realm and thought spirits could flow back and forth between the two realms. It’s sort of like the idea of reincarnation, with the idea that there were things you needed to learn in life, and if you didn’t get it right, you had to go back and repeat the process. I find their perspective resenates with me much more than more traditional religious beliefs. I also think that with our poor planet under attack, and technology and the “non-real” dominating our lives, we need to remember our primal connection to the land and our fellow creatures and take action before it’s too late.Of the many series of books you have written, which one was the most difficult to write and why?
The second book in the Dragon series, Dragon’s Dream, took a tremendous amount of rewriting. It features the same hero as the first book but a different heroine. I did the unthinkable and killed off the heroine of the first book. (She dies in childbirth between books; some romance readers have never forgiven me.) It happened partly because the actual historical details supported him having a second wife, and also because the second heroine’s story came to me so clearly that I simply had to write it. My first heroine was based on me, so perhaps I killed her off to free myself to write someone very different. The heroine in the second book is an abused, basically damaged woman, who has to learn to trust again and come to understand her female power. There are a lot of supernatural elements in the story, which convey some of the Celtic beliefs I’ve discussed. There are also many emotionally wrenching aspects to the book, and that made it incredibly intense to write.If you could be one character from one of your books in real life, who would you choose?
Oh, that’s hard. I suppose it would probably be Fiona, the heroine in Storm Maiden, because she gets to be with Dag, who is based on my husband, both physically and tempermentally. There’s a reason I’m married to him!Your books have been published in Russia, China, the Netherlands and Germany. Which languages other than English do you know? Do you write in any of them?
I know a tiny bit of Spanish from high school classes and traveling to Mexico and a bit of Welsh from all my research (although I could never speak it or understand it spoken). I always wondered whether the Russian books captured my stories at all. But I did get a note from the translator of one of them, and she loved my story, so that was gratifying. Although she told me not to bother writing her back, because she would probably never get the letter. That was sad.
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