Mary Cunningham’s Blog Hop Interview

Mary 2

Mary Cunningham is the author of time travel Cynthia’s Attic series–which we have discussed here at TC&TBC–and Ghost of Pine Mountain, the first book in The Adventures of Max and Maddie.

What are you working on, now?

Ghost of Pine Mountain: Adventures of Max and Maddie was released in April, 2013. I’m working on a new middle-grade series. Ghost of Pine Mountain is the first Max and Maddie adventure, with 4 more to follow. The first four stories will be released as Ebooks until the final. Then, all five stories will be combined in print.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

The whole Max and Maddie series combines supernatural elements with historical fact and fiction. The thirteen-year-old best friends travel back in time and have adventures with Native Americans and gold miners (Ghost of Pine Mountain), along with pioneers settling regions east and west of the Mississippi River.

What experiences have influenced you?ghost_of_pine_mountain-web

The biggest influence in my life was my dad. He was a journalist for a large city newspaper for forty years, and he also nurtured my love of fantasy. When he ran out of typical bedtime stories, he made up one of his own. He was an amazing writer, and I would sometimes go with him when he interviewed a subject for his human-interest column, Around Indiana, for The Louisville Courier Journal. Seeing the story process from beginning to publication had a great impact. Unfortunately, he died before I started writing my series, but, on occasion, I feel him looking over my shoulder as I write.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always been a time-travel buff beginning with H.G. Wells and “The Time Machine.” Nothing would make me happier than to be able to travel back in time and meet some of my characters. A previous series, Cynthia’s Attic, sends main characters, Cynthia and Gus, back in time where they meet and solve mysteries with many of their (my) ancestors.

How does your writing process work?

I wake up and have some coffee. Turn on my computer. Have another cup of coffee. Open my e-mails. Hit delete 75 times, or so. Have another cup of coffee…well, you get the idea. I try to write every day. I don’t like to force it, though. If the words aren’t flowing, I do something else and then go back to it. I love writing when my brain is working so fast, my fingers can barely keep up. I guess my only ritual is that (oh, this is going to sound really weird) I must have my shower and be dressed before I can write. I have a friend who writes in her jammies. Not me! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have to be in black dress slacks and white cashmere sweater! Jeans and a t-shirt will do quite nicely. Just so I’m dressed.

What is the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part, for me, is to stay focused and disciplined. I simply don’t have the ability to write every day whether I want to, or not. I’d much rather be in the mood to write “good stuff” than waste my time when I’m simply not feeling creative.


What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

I’ve started an adult mystery that I really want to finish. Writing for adults is a little more “freeing” than writing for younger readers, although no more challenging.

Who are the authors you most admire?

I’m a big Tolkien fan and have great respect for J. K. Rowling. In fact, it was Rowling who gave me permission to “write outside the box.” My favorite book: To Kill A Mockingbird. Perfect story, perfect characters, perfect writing. That’s the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned.

What scares you?

Since I’d have to write a book about extremists at both ends of the spectrum threatening world peace, I’ll make it simple and say, snakes.

Visit Mary online at and her blog at

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham (Review)

Cynthia and Gus are traveling through time again. Having solved many mysteries in the past, they soon discover something is very wrong and things are unraveling. Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! Is Blackie still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie?

The girls journey into a strange woods with disastrous results. They find scary creatures and dark secrets along the way. Though someone or something seems to have reversed the good work they have done during their previous time travels, the girls are determined to set things right again, meeting new friends along the way.

I haven’t read all the books in this series. Book 4, The Magician’s Castle, introduced me to Cynthia and Gus and the magic attic that helps them travel through time. Like the fourth book, this new one has tons of time-traveling adventure for everyone. From 2014 to 1964 to 1914 and hopefully back home again, Cynthia, Gus, Nicole and Leeza find themselves trying to track down what is happening when they discover Aunt Belle is missing again and great-grandfather Beau was never found.

This is a light and fun read. A perfect stand-alone story, but I’m eager to read the first three books now so I can see where Cynthia and Gus’s adventures started. Readers will enjoy unlocking this mystery along with the girls as they seek to make things right again. Mary Cunningham has created a fabulous set of characters with distinct personalities. They complement the engaging plot perfectly. This is a fantastic book. I’m sorry to see the Cynthia’s Attic series end, but I’m eager to see what Cunningham comes up with next.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Mary Cunningham Books



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See The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) Tour Schedule at


I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham

Author, Mary Cunningham, is excited to announce the release of the 5th and final book in the award-winning series, Cynthia’s Attic.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) Book Blurb

Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel.

Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! And now they are wondering if Blackie is still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie.

This time, the twelve-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers.

From Aunt Belle’s cottage to a small village in France, they meet new friends and discover a connection to New Orleans that may lead to the devious source behind these alarming developments. Or bigger trouble.

Read an excerpt from Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods

My back pressed against a small tree as I peered over one shoulder, then the other. More blackness. I pulled my knees tight to my chest to create as small a target as possible. If I could keep still until morning,  this place might be less formidable.

Those eyes …did they just move? Hair stood straight up on my neck as a low growl inched ever closer. I sucked in one last breath and hid my face waiting for a fatal blow or bite.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” My head jerked skyward. Yellow eyes hovered over me. “Cat got your tongue?”

The creature bent down and poked my upper arm with a furry finger. I wanted so badly to run, but sheer terror kept me plastered to the tree.

The hulking figure straightened and chuckled. “I’m not planning to hurt you. What are you doing in Lupin?”

Lupin? I tried to answer, but dryness gripped my throat as if I’d swallowed an entire sandbox. Plus, an ominous word jumped into my brain. I’d heard something that sounded a lot like lupin once before. It was at the movies! Wolfman. Oh, no. Lupine is another name for wolf! Was I in a wolf forest?

My eyes scanned the treetops. I might be saved if the sun rose soon, but light would have to pass through the dense canopy, and from where I sat, that seemed doubtful. The beast must’ve read my mind.

“If you’re waiting for sunrise, you’ll be disappointed.” It smiled–or made a weak attempt–revealing huge, pointy teeth. “Instead of night and day, around here we have night and black.”

I gulped and finally manufactured enough spit to choke out four words. “Why-am-I-here?”

Visit Cynthia’s Attic Blog for a schedule of The Legend of Lupin Woods Blog Tour!

Mary Cunningham, author

Cynthia’s Attic Series

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

The Magician’s Castle

The Legend of Lupin Woods 

Bio: Like Cynthia and Gus, my childhood best friend, Cynthia and I grew up in a small, Southern Indiana town…the setting for the series. Not one summer day passed that we weren’t playing softball, hide and seek, badminton, or croquet with friends in the vacant lot behind Becky’s house.

In my attempt to grow up, I joined The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. When giving my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I live with my husband and adopted furry, four-legged daughter, Lucy. Together we’ve raised three creative children and are thrilled with our 2 granddaughters.

At last count, I’ve moved 9 times to six different states (all after the age of 36), and aside from the packing and unpacking, it’s been a great experience, having made some very dear and lasting friendships. My non-writing time is spent showing power point presentations on gathering ideas and the writing process to schools and libraries.

Mary Cunningham Books



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Look for my review of The Legend of Lupin Woods coming tomorrow!

Guest Blogger: Mary Cunningham, Author of the Cynthia’s Attic Series

 Today’s special guest is Mary Cunningham, author of the Cynthia’s Attic series, which includes:

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

and The Magician’s Castle, which we reviewed here.

Brick by Brick (One author’s approach to series writing) by Mary Cunningham

The final proof for Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle, book four in my ‘Tween fantasy series, was finally ready for the publisher. 

The Missing Locket and The Magic Medallion had been a snap. Both completed in about a year, although editing and attracting a publisher took an additional four years. I wasn’t sure another book was in me after the first two, but a cliff-hanger, written at the end of each book obligated me to send Cynthia and Gus on more time-travel adventures. Curse of the Bayou soon followed the first two books.  

In the series, I intertwine old family stories and ancestors, so I knew there were more tales to tell. 

The Magician’s Castle was created from stories about my great-grandmother’s family, the Kistlers. Genealogy traces the family back to Switzerland in the late 1300s. The magician, however, was part of my early childhood memories of attending a magic show. I was chosen to be his assistant on stage and, to my mother’s horror, he gave me the rabbit I helped pull out of his top hat! Decades later, an entire book is based on that experience.

But, back to the writing. I sailed through the first half of the story and then hit a wall. Not a wall that could be easily punched through with a couple days rest and diversion. This wall was solid brick—about five feet thick. I wrote. I deleted. I wrote more. I deleted. I paced. Had I ever written a decent paragraph in my life?  

Desperation consumed me. Deadlines approached. But, then I turned to my alternate source of creative energy. My husband—my biggest cheerleader, and idea person. Although it would be difficult for him to ever write an entire book, his imagination is boundless.

We sat on the deck one evening throwing out ideas. “What if Cynthia and Gus…?” he’d ask. “Or…oh, this is even better!” Although, ultimately, the storyline went in a slightly different direction, each idea represented a sledge hammer blow…dismantling that wall brick-by-brick.

Then, another wall. Our 16-year-old canine daughter, Molly, died and devastated both of us. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to write again. That’s when a friend suggested I write Molly as a character in the book. My excitement at that prospect allowed me to finished The Magician’s Castle in about a month, and Molly is one of my favorite characters. 

Did I write another cliffhanger at the end of Book Four? Guess so, because I’ve started work on Cynthia’s Attic Five. 

Oh, and for those of you wondering, Fluffy the Rabbit, found a good home on a nearby farm and, to the best of my knowledge, lived a good, long life!    

Cynthia’s Attic Series

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

The Magician’s Castle 

Mary Cunningham is author of the award-winning tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic that was inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that the dream took place in the home of her childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began. Four books have been published in the series: The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, and The Magician’s Castle.

She is also co-writer of the humor-filled lifestyle book titled, “Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF),” along with a published short story, “Ghost Light,” and a “Cynthia’s Attic” short story, “Christmas With Daisy.”

Cunningham is a member of The Georgia Reading Association, the Carrollton Creative Writers Club, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. When she gives her fingers a day away from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband. Together they’ve raised three creative children and enjoy spending time with their granddaughter. 

Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle (Book Four): Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancée, Kathryn, disappears through the magic trunk, vows revenge. If Cynthia and Gus don’t find a missing page from the “Book of Spells,” Cynthia’s family could face financial and personal ruin. 

The twelve-year-old best friends walk through miles of tree tunnels, stumble on an enchanted garden ruled by a cranky rock monster, and receive clues from an eccentric fairy named Eloise Elloway. They get the surprise of their lives when they’re sent fifty years into the future, have a shocking encounter with another set of best friends, and gather a fresh set of clues that could lead to breaking the magician’s spell.   

Mary Cunningham Books

Cynthia’s Attic Blog


Echelon Press


Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle – Amazon Link:

Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle Blog Tour 2011

Feb 23, 2011 – Quake Blog

Feb. 28, 2011 Book promoJennifer Wylie Blog

Mar 2, 2011InterviewWriter J. A. Campbell Blog

March 2, 2011 Inspiration The Writing Mama Blog

March 3, 2011 Brick by BrickThe Children’s & Teens Book ConnectionTC & TBC

March 4, 2011 Cynthia’s Attic, Werewolves and VampiresThe Candid Canine Blog

Featured Author Interview-Summer 2011 issue of Stories for Children Magazine –V.S. Grenier, Editor V S Grenier

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Cynthia’s Attic: Christmas with Daisy, an Echelon Short by Mary Cunningham

It’s not too late to pick up a fun, short Christmas read with “Cynthia’s Attic: Christmas with Daisy” by Mary Cunningham.

It’s Christmas, 1964, and a reclusive aunt nicknamed “Crazy Daisy” is spending the holidays with Cynthia’s family. But is she really crazy? Gus and Cynthia are determined to find out, but are unexpectedly transported back to 1914, where they learn a quick lesson on the dangers of jumping to conclusions, and where compassion and friendship give new meaning to the spirit of Christmas.

Having recently finished, The Magician’s Castle, Book 4 in the Cynthia’s Attic series by Mary Cunningham, I was eager to read this short story download from Echelon, which I won during the author’s virtual book tour. 

As delightful as the series, we follow the girls on their latest time-traveling adventure, learning more about them and their family as we go along. Cunningham has added a new aspect to this book by having the girls sent back in time without the assistance of the magic trunk in Cynthia’s attic, so it will be interesting to see what the author plans for future books in the series.

A fun and inspiring story of the season, your tween will enjoy “Christmas with Daisy”.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Echelon Press
  • ISBN: 1-59080-711-1
  • PDF or HTML-Web formats
  • Price: $2.50

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Cynthia’s Attic: Book 4, The Magician’s Castle by Mary Cunningham

 Cynthia and Gus return in Book 4 of the Cynthia’s Attic series, The Magician’s CastleThe time-traveling duo return to the year 1914, this time to a Swiss Castle, in order to prevent Cynthia’s family from financial and personal ruin.

Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancee, Kathyrn, disappeared through the magic trunk vows revenge if Cynthia and Gus don’t find the missing page from the “Book of Spells”. Traveling back in time to 1914 to meet with Sebastien’s grandmother, Eva, Cynthia and Gus find clues that lead them to an enchanted garden ruled by a rock monster and into the Alps.

But when the girls travel fifty years into the future, not only do they get the surprise of their young lives, they also encounter another set of best friends, and discover new clues that could lead to Kathyrn’s return.

There is much to enjoy in this imaginative and delightful time-traveling tale. Gus (real name Augusta Lee) and Cynthia are two best friends who couldn’t be more different if they tried; yet their friendship works, even when they get on one another’s nerves from time to time. This book opens in 1964, and many of the historical references were familiar to me, so that made it especially fun. 

With The Magician’s Castle, Cunningham has created a uniquely woven tale of lost love, jealousy, mystery, and strange discoveries. Though this is the first book of this series that I’ve read, I was certainly able to climb into Gus and Cynthia’s world right away. Cunningham sprinkled in enough backstory so that I had a some idea of how Gus and Cynthia had discovered the magic trunk in Cynthia’s attic and learned a bit of their previous adventures, while not slowing down the pace of the current day events. 

Once the reader opens the cover of The Magician’s Castleshe won’t want to put it down until she reads the final page.  With numerous twists and turns, this is one time-traveling adventure that is sure to please readers and find them impatiently waiting for the next Gus and Cynthia adventure.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Echelon Press/Quake
  • ISBN-10: 1590806565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590806562
  • SRP:  $10.99
  • Find our interview with Mary Cunningham, author of the Cynthia’s Attic series, here.

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    Interview with Mary Cunningham, Author of the Cynthia’s Attic Series

    Joining us today is Mary Cunningham. Mary is the author of the Cynthia’s Attic series, a set of fantasy/mystery time travel books for tweens. Book 4 in this series, The Magician’s Castle was recently released by Echelon Press. We’ll talk to Mary about this series, the challenges of writing for tweens, and what the future holds. 

    Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Mary. We’re thrilled to have you with us. Can you start off by telling our readers a bit about yourself? 

    So happy to be here, Cheryl! Here’s sort of a Reader’s Digest.

    I’m the author of the award-winning ‘tween fantasy/mystery series, “Cynthia’s Attic,” and am proud to announce the release of book four, The Magician’s Castle, DEC 1. 

     I’m also co-writer of the fabulously funny (No! Seriously, it really is) women’s lifestyle book titled, Woof: Women Only Over Fifty, and am especially proud of my newly  published short story, “Ghost Light” and my first “Cynthia’s Attic” short story, “Christmas Daisy”.

    I’m a member of The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club (A crazy-good bunch of writers!). When I give my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I make my home with my husband.

    How long have you been writing and what is it that made you put pen to paper? 

    I guess I inherited the desire to write from my dad. He was a journalist for over 40 years and my inspiration. In fact, I’d go with him, on occasion, when he interviewed an interesting character for a story. Wish he’d been around to see the books! 

    From the time I was in 3rd grade, I was told to never stop writing.  And, sure enough…40 years later, my first book was published! I have written all my life, but never considered writing fiction until I got the idea for “Cynthia’s Attic.” The first story was prompted by a recurring dream I’d had for over 20 years about playing in a mysterious attic. Once I realized that the attic was in the home of my childhood best friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began. 

    What about writing for the tween market is appealing to you? 

    I guess the best answer is that this age group is so open and honest. I do writing and idea presentations at elementary schools and I find the students to be so enthusiastic, not only about reading, but also about writing. I love the questions and the excitement on their faces when they describe a particular scene in one of the “Cynthia’s Attic” books. If I can inspire even one student to write, then I’ve done my job. 

    What is the greatest challenge of writing for this market? 

    Being on your toes! If you’re not completely factual, then this group will catch you. 

    Tell us about the Cynthia’s Attic series.  

    Disappearing stairs and a spooky attic filled with dusty antiques–what more could two adventurous young girls ask for?  Best friends, Cynthia and ‘Gus’ are as “different as bubble gum and broccoli”. They discover a magical trunk in Cynthia’s attic, and are swept through the trunk back in time, into the lives of their ancestors, including their twelve-year-old grandmothers. So far, there are four books in the series, The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou and The Magician’s Castle. 

    Did you plan this as a series from the very beginning?  

    Not at all! It began as a simple, 5-page memoir about playing in Cynthia’s attic. That didn’t satisfy my muse. So I started writing a fantasy/time travel story that turned into a 160 page book that led to the second book. Each story ended with a cliff-hanger leading to another Cynthia-Gus adventure. 

    Can you talk briefly about the first three books in this series and Cynthia and Gus’s adventures? 

    Each story is loosely based on family stories and ancestors. In The Missing Locket, Cynthia and Gus travel back to 1914 and are compelled to help find a missing heirloom, a gold locket. During their search, they meet their 12-year-old grandmothers who are also best friends! An unexpected trip across the Atlantic Ocean brings danger and friendship with a young ghost. 

    The Magic Medallion finds the girls in the middle of a family’s battle for a precious magic medallion. They journey to a circus where they are forced to perform with the clown troupe, get caught in the swirling waters of an underground river and then a forest fire! 

    Our time-traveling duo find immediate danger in the Louisiana Bayou. They’ve traveled back to 1914 in Curse of the Bayou searching for Cynthia’s great-grandfather who disappeared while taking a boat load of produce down the Mississippi River. Pirates, shape-shifting puma, an old Cajun guide named Mudbug and a hungry alligator keep them on the move. 

    What is it about Cynthia and Gus that readers will like and relate to?

    Great question! Since the characters are based on me (Gus) and my real childhood friend, Cynthia, I’d love readers to embrace the loyalty and unquestioned friendship between the two girls. Although they argue from time-to-time, they always have the other’s back. Older readers will also enjoy the different time periods detailed in the books.   

    In Book 4, The Magician’s Castle, a magician whose fiancée has disappeared through the magic trunk is seeking revenge against Cynthia’s family. What year are we in during this book and where is it set? 

    Cynthia and Gus travel back to a 1914 Swiss castle searching for clues to the Kathryn’s disappearance, then move unexpectedly forward to Southern Indiana in 2014, where they get the surprise of their lives when they meet another pair of best friends. 

    In addition to Cynthia and Gus, there is a long list of characters featured in the front of the book. Do you have a favorite character(s) from this book? 

    I have favorite characters in all four books, but in The Magician’s Castle, I guess my favorite character is Molly. When I began writing the fourth book, Molly, my 16-year-old adopted mix doggie was a huge part of my life. Halfway through, I lost her to old age. During my grieving process, a friend suggested I write her into the book. What a great idea! She plays such a significant role, in helping Cynthia and Gus discover clues, that I can’t imagine the story without her, and am satisfied that I’ve honored her memory for years to come.    

    Where can readers purchase a copy of The Magician’s Castle and the other books in this series? 

    The books are available in paper back on Amazon and just about any online bookstore. They’re also available as downloads on Kindle and through Fictionwise. 




    Quake/Echelon Press  

    Do you have website and/or blog where readers can find out more? 

    Mary Cunningham Books and Cynthia’s Attic Blog. 

    What does the future look like for Cynthia’s Attic? Any news you would like to share with fans of Cynthia and Gus? 

    Although I’ve written another cliffhanger at the end of Book Four, I haven’t decided on a storyline or even who the main characters are going to be! Stay tuned. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add? 

    I’m excited about a Cynthia’s Attic short story that’s coming out at the same time as The Magician’s Castle, titled, “Christmas With Daisy.” All buy links for short stories and books can be found on my website

    Thanks, so much, for having me as a guest author. I’ve enjoyed the interview and hope readers of all ages will want to discover the time-travel adventures of Cynthia and Gus. 

    Thank you for spending time with us today, Mary. We wish you continued success.

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