Interview & Giveaway: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

The lovely Cynthia Ripley Miller is our second guest for the day and I am super excited to share our interview with you. We also have a chance for you to win a copy of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, so be sure to enter the giveaway!

Hello Cynthia and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Quest for the Crown of Thorns!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m the daughter of Italian-American immigrants. I’ve lived and worked in Europe. I hold two degrees and taught English and history. I love to travel and have been as far east as Istanbul, which helped when I was writing this book, the second in my series. My bucket list countries are China and New Zealand. I have an adventurous nature, and this has affected my writing. A well-known historical writer and friend told me that she admired the way my characters move through events and situations. Movement is a part of the plotting and action that I enjoy.

I’m a romantic by nature. I’ve read and studied some of the best writers in our time who wrote novels where romance plays a role in their stories from Bronte, Austen, to Tolstoy and Hardy. I also like the idea of ‘love at first sight.’ I did some research on this theme and found as many men claiming to have had this experience as women. My mother claimed when she first saw my father, she thought, I’m going to marry him. Consequently, my hero, Garic, has this experience after rescuing the heroine, Arria, from a dangerous attack. His desire and love for her carry them through their cultural differences, class status, and political upheaval.

My other passion is history. I like thinking about time travel to the past and what I would experience: the sights, sounds, smells, the grittiness, and beauty. I found the fifth century filled with plenty of recorded drama. An empire is dying, but a new era is being born that will lead to the medieval period. I’ve attempted to bring the fifth century, an untapped period of history in historical novels, and romance (with a touch of passion—a real part of life) to my novel series.

I also love mystery, suspense, intrigue, and twists, which are a part of my novels.

What research did you undertake when writing The Quest for the Crown of Thorns?

A lot. For my books, I network with experts, read books, go to the internet and libraries for information, and I especially like forums. Just a few of the forums I use are UNRV (United Nations of Roma Victrix) Germanic—L, Horse Forum, and All Empires History Forum. I’ve also interacted with experts on cultural and political aspects of life and weapons in Late Antiquity. A few of the experts read pages from my manuscript and discussed with me the point in question. I appreciate their time and interest and find it enjoyable. I feel like a detective.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Quest for the Crown of Thorns?

I’d like them to feel that they read a story with adventure, romance, mystery-suspense, and exciting history that helped them escape and be entertained for a while.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The climax. It’s what I’ve been building up to through my characters’ words and deeds. I try to make it strong and converge with events and any subplots that impact the story.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Fluid. No kidding. I usually use a timer, most often set in chunks of two hours. An understanding or rule of watercolor painting is not to get too close for too long to your work. The painter needs to stand back or leave it for a while. I try to do this with my writing. For example, I’ll write for a few hours and then walk the dog. Sometimes, I’ll come back to it several hours later, or I may work on marketing or research. Other times, I might spend an entire day writing.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

To push through the fads. For example, eleven years ago, I was at a conference where we were told by some editors and agents to avoid writing stories set in America or WWII, which is not true today. And to try and publish several books a year. I decided to focus on quality over quantity, persevere, and enjoy myself.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I admire the contemporary writers, Saylor, Gabaldon, Sienkiewicz, Renault, Penman, and Auel; the greats, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Bronte; the adventure writers, Sabatini, and Costain.

What was the first historical novel you read?

As a teen, a story about Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia

What is the last historical novel you read? 

Catilina’s Riddle by Steven Saylor

What are three things people may not know about you? 

I speak Italian, I like to cook Italian food and other ethnic cuisines, and I love painting with watercolors.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I like exploring, so I'm open to many periods, but I especially like the ancient world and the 1700’s in Europe.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Walks, exercise, and binge watch TV series, which are usually historical: The Crown, Victoria, Poldark, Outlander, Grantchester, The Last Kingdom, Medici, Marco Polo, and the historical exception, Big Little Lies. I’m also open to any suggestions.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m working on book 3 of this series, The Long-Hair Saga. Arria and Garic are caught up in another mystery and quest set in 5th century Jerusalem.

That sounds great! Thank you so much for spending time with us today!

The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages

Series: The Long - Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

AD 454. Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic's farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria's insistence, but against Garic's better judgment, they leave at once.

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object--Christ's Crown of Thorns--rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain.

But an even greater force arises to derail their quest--a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria's thoughts.

Arria and Garic's marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history's most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


“In this thriller, set in fifth-century Rome, rivals race to possess Christ’s crown of thorns. Ripley Miller (On the Edge of Sunrise 2015) astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse … The plot advances energetically, and the combination of political and romantic drama—spiritual as well—is rousing. The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third. Intelligent and artfully crafted historical fiction … Recommended.” -Kirkus Reviews

"From cover to cover a gripping read - in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!" -Helen Hollick USA Today bestselling author of the Sea Witch Voyages

"Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner." -India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom's Daughter, and Delilah.

"A passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!" -Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

"Readers will be absorbed by a setting of barbarian Gaul and the constancy of Arria's and Garic's destined love amid the strife of a dying Roman Empire." -Albert Noyer, author of The Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

"The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, is an elegant masterpiece of historical fiction. This book totally ensnared me in its clasps, and it did not release me until I had read it all. The attention to detail was exquisite The characterisation was sublime, and the romance was breathtakingly beautiful. I adored the world that Miller has created, as well as the characters in it. This is a sit-down and finish book and is one I would Highly Recommend." -Mary Anne Yarde author of the Du Lac Chronicles

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.

She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at 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 Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, August 14
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Thursday, August 15
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 16
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Saturday, August 17
Feature at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, August 19
Interview at Passages to the Past
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, August 20
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Unabridged Chick


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 1 paperback and 2 eBook copies of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Ebooks are available for international entries.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Crown of Thorns - Tour #3

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