Interview with Cynthia Ripley Miller
Susana: Tell us something about the time period you’ve chosen for your first novel.
Cynthia: The few years I taught history, and my travels abroad created my desire to choose a world somewhat familiar to me. I decided that ancient Rome would become my setting, but I wanted a turbulent and exciting time span that would cross cultures and usher in the Medieval Age. From a writer’s perspective, late Rome in the fifth century AD, and the Germanic barbarian Franks—who later became the French Merovingians—filled the niche for drama, intrigue and a fresh era. It beckoned me.
Susana: What inspired your title?
Cynthia: On the Edge of Sunrise earned its title through a meditative moment and the strength and transformation of the characters and their personal redemptions. My heroine, Arria, and hero, Garic, are nobility in their own culture. Arria’s a Roman senator’s daughter and Garic is a 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’ desires force them to cross cultural boundaries; however, both are torn by responsibility and duty to their countries and families. And against the odds, the hidden secret each carries with him.
Susana: What author or authors have inspired your writing?
Cynthia: As an undergraduate student of literature, I eagerly consumed classic fiction. Authors such as Hardy, Dickens, Tolstoy and Steinbeck awakened me to worlds and insights beyond my personal experience, but another side of me loved a historical novel with an adventurous plot. When I wrote, one might say I leaned toward 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 splash of fantasy. From these influences, I determined to write a historical and adventurous love story.
Susana: What flavor is your writing?
Cynthia: The combination of a chocolate energy bar with a pinch of cayenne might best describe my novel’s flavor. My story is fast-paced with more dialogue than narrative (although there is enough narrative for imagery and internal dialogue). I like action and conflict to keep the story fresh and some red-hot spice to make the plot tantalizing.
Susana: What is your favorite scene in On the Edge of Sunrise?
Cynthia: My favorite scene involves my heroine, Arria, being accompanied to Cambria, a Roman fort town, by the hero, Garic, a Frank warrior noble who has just saved her from a renegade group of barbarians. As they enter the city gates, they come upon a slave auction. Arria sees that in order to help save a mother and her child from slavery, she must buy them. Garic, encourages her and offers his help. The attraction between Arria and Garic has grown throughout the journey, and they share some tender moments. But just as they express their love, the commander of the Roman fort, Arria’s betrothed, interrupts them.
Susana: What books do you have in your TBR pile?
Cynthia: Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni and Roma by Steven Saylor.
Susana: What is something unusual that most people don’t know?
Cynthia: Many people don’t know that when I was in middle school I was ‘pen pals’ with Katie Kubrick, the director Stanley Kubrick’s daughter.
Susana: What are you working on now?
Cynthia: I’m working on book two in my Long-Hair Saga series, a romantic historical with strong elements of mystery and suspense.
About On the Edge of Sunrise
When love commands, destiny must obey. Against an epic background and torn between duty and passion, Arria Felix, a Roman senator’s daughter, must choose between Rome’s decadent world and her forbidden love—Garic, a Frank barbarian noble.
The year is AD 450. The Roman Empire wanes as the Medieval Age awakens. Attila the Hun and his horde conquer their way across Europe into Gaul. Caught between Rome’s tottering empire and Attila’s threat are the Frankish tribes and their ‘Long-Hair’ chiefs, northern pagans in a Roman Christian world, and a people history will call the Merovingians.
A young widow, Arria longs for a purpose and a challenge. She is as well versed in politics and diplomacy as any man … but with special skills of her own.
The Emperor Valentinian, determined to gain allies to help stop the Huns, sends a remarkable envoy, a woman, to the Assembly of Warriors in Gaul. Arria will persuade the Franks to stand with Rome against Attila.
When barbarian raiders abduct Arria, the Frank blue-eyed warrior, Garic, rescues her. Alarmed by the instant and passionate attraction she feels, Arria is torn between duty and desire. Her arranged betrothal to the ambitious tribune, Drusus, her secret enlistment by Valentinian as a courier to Attila the Hun, and a mysterious riddle—threaten their love and propel them into adventure, intrigue, and Attila’s camp. Rebels in a falling empire, Arria and Garic must find the strength to defy tradition and possess the love prophesied as their destiny.
About the Author
Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life.
Cynthia holds a master’s degree and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. She has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and writes a blog, Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus.
Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago. On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Sagas; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing.