Barbara Cerny on Oksana, Grays Hills and Writing
Grays Hill By Barbara T. Cerny
After her father committed suicide rather than face his mounting gambling debts, Oksana Wallingford knows she will have to work in order to keep food on the table and her younger brother, the new baron, in school. When her best friend finds her a position as the nanny of his brother’s children, it is the opportunity Oksana needs. But what she didn’t contend with was Rafe, the recently widowed Duke of Essex and her new employer.
Oksana and Rafe’s personalities are like oil and water. However, what begins as mutual hate slowly begins to change into something more. But what future can they have when Rafe has sworn off marriage for good?
As the mismatched pair struggles to come to terms with one another, a disaster that throws everything into question strikes them both.
After reading Grays Hill, I was really interested in talking to the woman who created Oksana, a character that I fell in Love with from the moment I met her. The person behind creating such an interesting, and strong woman intrigued me and I was looking forward to the chance to interview her and know her better.
Welcome and thank you for making the time to talk to me.
Q1 So tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, a dinky town of 30K when I lived there. The place was full of stories. Stories of the old west and ghost towns and back roads that led to nowhere and towns called No Name. The place was also full of beauty: The Bookcliffs where wild horses roamed, the Colorado National Monument with its rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens. It was a quiet place that was safe and easy to live in. It was a place where the imagination could run as wild as the juniper trees and sage brush. My parents were readers so I became a reader, too. I remember books being in my life from the very beginning. I have wanted to write since the second grade. I was always coming up with stories to tell my friends at lunch or on the bus rides to/from school. I wrote through high school – on the journalism team, in creative writing class, on the teen page for the city newspaper.
Q2 How much does the army and the IT background influence your writing?
Not much for my romances, which is kinda ironic. I know many current and ex-military romance writers (they have their own group http://www.romvets.com/) who do use the military as the backdrop for their romance books but I have never been the most “military” woman in the military although I love tactics and shooting very large weapons. I love history and I love researching that history. I am currently writing a book that takes place in the backdrop of the Thirty Years War and my military experience makes it much easier to understand the circumstances and make things like battles more realistic, but my ideas do not come from that background. The IT background (I am a geek) made my fantasy book, Shield of the Palidine (SotP), and its soon to be released sequel, Magic Thief of Gavolos, easier to write and I am an old Dungeons and Dragons player so the fantasy play was already laid deep in my psyche. One reader said of SotP that she often just skims over a battle scene but the final battle in that book drew her in and she read every single word.
Q3 Now Oksana, tell us about her and how did you come up with her. Generally heroines in this genre are typically bound by a lot of customs and norms. So what made you set her apart from the rest?
Oksana is a lot like me. I don’t tend to do what is customary or normal. I joined the military in 1980 when only 6% of the military were women and the Vietnam war was still bitter on everyone’s tongue. I got my first degree in law enforcement and went through the police academy at the age of 20 and spent a year on the street as a cop. I found it wasn’t for me, so what do I do? I join the ROTC program at school. I was a fat kid, OJ was a fat kid. She is 5’10” and I am only 5’6” so I wanted her to appear to be intimidating but it was a label she worked hard to defeat. She was a fish out of water and although the typical romance heroine is beautiful and petite and perfect, I want my gals to be REAL. None of us are beautiful and petite and perfect. We are just our wonderful, unique, and lovely selves, each and every one of us. I want to portray all our vices and our dreams. I am sure, in history, there were always REAL women with all their foibles and warts so they have a right to shine as well.
Q4 What is your favourite genre to read and who is your favourite author?
I love Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, and their brand of book best. The Stand by Stephen King is my ultimate. That book made me think more about the human condition and where we might be going than any other. And made me wonder if I would end up in Las Vegas or in Boulder. I hope I am headed toward Boulder.
Q5 Your most favourite Female Character?
Fiona from Shrek – that woman takes crap from no-one, has a great sense of self, and is as independent as they come. But she still can love and see the best in everyone.
Q6 Your Most favourite male character?
Sean Connery as James Bond. Hubba, hubba, hubba. And of my own characters – Pierre Tonnelier from Shield of the Palidine – I tried to make the most perfect guy ever.
Q7 After writing such strong women characters in historical fiction what is your opinion of the Role of a woman in Society. According to you where does a woman stand today a work in progress or a masterpiece?
All women are masterpieces in their own right, making decisions for their own destiny. We are all works in progress as when we stop progressing, we fail to live. We have come a long way as women in the US and other western societies but the world still needs to lift its women up. When the women are free, the country is free, and society moves forward. All persons, male and female, should have the right to an education, to make their own decisions, and to move freely about in the pursuit of their dreams.
Thank you so much for making the time to talk to me. Looking forward to read more of your work and wish you great success for your writing career.
Meet the Author
Barbara T. Cerny grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. She served twenty-two years in the US Army Reserves, retiring a Lieutenant Colonel in 2007. She is an information technology specialist and supervisor. Barb writes historical romances good for late teen and adults. She puts a lot of history and adventure into her work. Words are her passion, they do matter.
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