Morgan O'Neill authorpic

Two authors writing as one, Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes specialize in recreating pivotal moments in history, epic adventure, and romance—with a time travel twist.  Cary and Deborah’s backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master’s Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They’ve traveled to Europe’s ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years.  The Morgan O’Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two finalist wins in the Booksellers’ Best Awards, two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second, and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest.

I’m so excited to have snagged the writing duo of Morgan O’Neill as guests on my blog yet again. This time to celebrate Book One of the fabulous Elizabethan series, The Thornless Rose. But it’s not all champagne and happy dancing. First they have to answer some questions!

I have read all your time travel series and each one has a brilliant plot and grips the reader from beginning to end. How do you keep coming up with such wonderful ideas and adventures? What is your process?    Two of the series – the Roman and the medieval Italian – were created based on Deborah’s genealogical research, while the Elizabethan series initially came from Cary’s interest in Queen Elizabeth I. A key factor in the creation of any Morgan O’Neill novel is the blending of two tales: the modern time traveler’s story with that of an actual historical couple. In the case of the Elizabethan series, we have two time travelers, Anne Howard from 2014 and Jonathan Brandon from 1945, who meet in 1560 in London. The fictionalized love story of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley is woven into the novels (fictionalized in that no one will ever, truly, know what happened between those two – but we did speculate!). 🙂

When I read your books, I try to pick who wrote which bit. But it is all so  seamless and appears to be written by one mind. Tell us how that works. How do you decide who writes what?    We’ve been writing together since 2002, and it’s still sometimes challenging to make our collaborative works a “seamless” blend, although the passage of time has given us a method to our madness. At first, it was difficult to get our individual brains to “join together” for the creation of something as intimate and personal as a novel. Frankly, it took several years for the finished product to emerge to our satisfaction. Nowadays, we approach scenes in a diverse fashion, by working together on some, or divvying up others so we can tackle that which interests us the most. Of course, after the writing comes editing, and we’ve found it imperative that egos be jettisoned during this process. We always keep an ultimate goal in mind – for the reader to be unable to tell where Deborah’s writing ends and Cary’s begins, or vice versa.

Do you set yourselves a deadline for each book in your series? I understand Entangled Publishing has already contracted you for the three books in this series. When do we see the next one? (Not that I’m impatient!)    We do have deadlines, but Entangled always wants a quality product ahead of a timely product, so there can be some leeway, if needed. With that in mind, the prequel to The Thornless Rose will be published in late 2015. It involves the story of Catherine, Jonathan, and Arthur Howard in 1945-47. The sequel to The Thornless Rose will be published in 2016. It follows the tale of Anne, Jonathan, Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, and our bevy of other characters from 1561 – on. We also promise to include some twists in time, as our characters from 2014 must change the path of history to avoid disaster. Fun stuff!

Before we go any further, here is the cover and blurb for their fabulous new book, The Thornless Rose!


No one ever knew what really happened to Dr. Jonathan Brandon back in 1945. He simply disappeared from a London pub, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and his fiancée—Anne Howard’s grandmother. Seventy years later, Anne herself is haunted by the strange tale, along with inexplicable hallucinations straight out of Elizabethan England. Including a scarred, handsome man whose deep blue eyes seem to touch her very soul…

Anne wonders if there isn’t something more to the story. Is it even possible that Jonathan disappeared into England’s dark past? And why does Anne keep hearing him whisper her name? Because now she too feels the inexorable pull of the past, not to mention an undeniable attraction for a man she doesn’t even know.

 It’s just a matter of time before Anne will step back into history, and face a destiny―and a love―beyond imagining…

What is next for Morgan O’Neill?    We’ve recently gotten the rights back to our Roman series, and we plan to re-release the trilogy in the near future. Our new covers are gorgeous, and we can’t wait to reveal them to the world. This is a very exciting time for us!

Thank you, Joanna, for hosting us on your blog. Our very best wishes to you and your readers ~ Deborah and Cary.

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