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Local authors to come out with medieval Italian time-travel series

“The Other Side of Heaven,”  by Deborah O’Neill Cordes (left) and Cary Morgan Frates comes out May 13. - Courtesy of Crawford’s Photography
“The Other Side of Heaven,” by Deborah O’Neill Cordes (left) and Cary Morgan Frates comes out May 13.
— image credit: Courtesy of Crawford’s Photography

Crimson Romance is set to release “The Other Side of Heaven,” the first book in a new medieval Italian time-travel series by Morgan O’Neill on May 13.

Writing duo Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes — whose pseudonym was created through combining their maiden names — met at a Pacific Northwest writing conference 13 years ago and joined forces two years later. Frates is a born and bred Washingtonian from Redmond, while Cordes has lived in the greater Seattle area since the late 1980s.

The chance meeting brought together their love of writing along with history, travel, language and genealogy and then “one thing lead to another,” Cordes said, and “the rest is history.”

Previous projects include: a three-part Roman time-travel series, published in 2012 and an Elizabethan England time-travel series, which the authors still consider a working project.

Their latest book combines their passions into a world where modern-day heroine Gwendolyn Godwyn gets caught in a freak earthquake, thrusting her back in time to medieval Italy.

Gwen finds herself caught in the midst of hidden identities, kidnappings, gruesome battles and intense new loves. In a world where women are inferior to men, Gwen’s strong personality gets her into more trouble than good and makes for some nail-biting scenes.

“(It’s) a lot of fun to see the path through a modern person’s eyes,” Cordes said. “It’s something that everyone’s dreamt about.”

This series also goes beyond what many time-travel authors address in their writing: the language barrier.

Italy circa 951 A.D. spoke a version of Italian quite different from the modern dialect. So, to overcome this technicality the authors created a heroine with a background in the study of linguistics in which she speaks and understands both Latin and ancient Italian. And although she is a figment of the authors’ imaginations, there is attention to detail surrounding this character that makes her seem acutely real.

“I think you’ll see glimpses of me,” Cordes said of Gwendolyn. “(There is a) blending of the two of us.”

This merging of imagination and reality means the characters become all the more real.

“You live and breathe these people,” Frates said. “You create a kinship with them.”

However, despite such vested interest, they do deem some of the book’s more tragic events (without giving too much away) “a necessity.”

As far as historical accuracy goes, this book stays as true to form as possible. The series consists of two books and took approximately three years to complete, mostly due to the constant research that takes place throughout the writing process.

In describing the overall product, Frates said, “90 percent of the characters are real characters and 80 percent of the events are real events. (But) behind closed doors, it’s 100 percent imagination.”

Gwen’s love interest, Lord Alberto Uzzo, acts as an example of this. Historically speaking, there are records of a real man existing by this name and the adventure Frates and Cordes take him on mostly follow real events. However, the inspiration for Alberto’s physical beauty was taken from a sexy skier who caught Frates’ eye a few years ago during the Winter Olympics.

Although Frates’ and Cordes’ ideas and writing styles are compatible, their individual experiences bring diversity and depth to the story.

They have created a formula in which they each write a scene, then pass it back and forth for editing and additional thoughts.

“We each have a feel for certain themes,” Frates said. “It was difficult at first, but the end product is always better.”

Yes, the time-travel theme has been done many times before, so the book’s theme doesn’t necessarily break new ground in this regard. It is easy reading — the sort of book that is perfect for taking on vacation and relaxing with. But, the authors’ writing formula and combination of reality and imagination makes it unique.

The next book in the series is ready for release on July 8 and looks to conclude the cliffhanger ending from book one, with a “happily ever after.”

For more information, visit www.morganoneill.com. “The Other Side of Heaven” is available through Crimson Romance ebooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes.

Ruth Whyman is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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