Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Cindy Thomson

authorpiccindy-thomson-LR-2I am so excited to introduce you to a friend of mine I met through chapter meetings of ACFW. Cindy Thompson writes historical fiction set in ancient Ireland and early 1900’s America. I highlighted her nonfiction book, The Roots of Irish Wisdom, back in March. Since my focus this month is on historical fiction, I am very pleased Cindy had the time to answer questions about her genre.

Me: Welcome, Cindy! My first question is why did you select ancient Ireland and the American immigrant experience of the early 1900’s for your novels?

CindyI love history and there are many time periods that interest me. I got interested in the early Christian period of Ireland when I started learning about St. Brigid at an Irish festival. The Ellis Island series, on the other hand, was recommended to me by my agent at the time. He knew there were publishers interested in that subject so he thought I should write about Irish immigrants.

MeWhich comes first – research or storyline?

Cindy: For me the history comes first. I start learning about a time period and the people who lived during that time, and then the story comes after.

 Me: What resources do you rely on for research?

Cindy: Whatever I can find. Researching 5-6th century Ireland wasn’t too easy, but there are books about the social history of the time. Whatever books I can find, biographies, novels in that time period, and for later time periods newspapers and personal accounts.

 Me: What is the most unusual resource you have used?

Cindy: For Sofia’s Tune I wanted to learn about people who lost their twin. I discovered there is a national group called Twinless Twins, and they put me in touch with someone who was willing to tell me her story. She influenced the formation of my character Sofia. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t spoil the story too much for those who haven’t read it, but I would say that was a pretty unique resource.

 Me: What advice would you give to someone interested in writing historical fiction?

Cindy: Make sure you have a passion for it and you enjoy research. Do your research thoroughly so that you don’t make glaring mistakes. There will always be readers who will nail you if you use a place name that is modern rather than historical or use inventions that had not yet been invented at the time your novel is set. These anachronisms will leave readers wondering if you’ve done any research and cause them not to trust you as an author.

You should feel a connection to the people who lived during the time you are writing about.

Enjoy. It’s my favorite genre and historical fiction fans are always eager for the next intriguing tale!

Me: Thanks so much for your insights and advice!

Please visit Cindy at the links listed below.


Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, releasing this summer. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she also writes articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy lives in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families.




Writing Tip — Favorite Stories

IMG_0238For my favorite story this month, I chose a book to suit St. Patrick’s Day. Cindy Thomson, my friend from my writer’s group, wrote The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning from Ancient Voices. She recounts the lives of Ireland’s most famous saints, Brigid, Patrick, and Columcille. She also has shorter biographies of “The Apostles of Erin.” Other chapters cover “Celtic Learning and Art” and “Celtic Prayer.”

It’s interesting to read her nonfiction account of Brigid since she also wrote a novel based on the saint. Her research showed her that some of the attributes of the Celtic goddess Brigid were assigned to the Irish nun.

Ancient Irish history fascinates me, perhaps because it developed differently from the rest of Europe. Since Rome never conquered and then abandoned the island, it entered the Dark Ages with a different tradition. In her chapter “Celtic Prayer”, Cindy writes  that “Christianity developed differently in Ireland … because the faith had a monastic base.” This “took root … because  ancient Ireland consisted of a system of tribes, groups of family members ruled by a king.” The Roman style of organization with a bishop in charge of a city “was unnatural to the Irish.”

I enjoyed the chapter on prayer because of the wonderful rhythm to some of the prayers and the images from the natural world.

At only 84 pages, this well-researched book is a quick read. So if you want to curl up with a book while you sip Irish breakfast tea (I hate coffee) and snack on Irish soda bread on March 17th, The Roots of Irish Wisdom will not let you down.

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