Written by
March 2012
Written by
March 2012


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Hello Ciji, thank you so much for allowing us to interview you. It seems after reading your biography that you have come for an extremely long line of writers. Do you think this is the reason you chose to write or is this something you have always wanted to do?

Absolutely, I think was very influenced by having been born into a family of professional scribes in the same way children of doctors or lawyers or horse-trainers often find their way into the “family business.” Recently, I found this publicity photo shot of my parents, my dog and me as a twelve-year-old for the “Contributors” section of the now-defunct magazine, The Saturday Evening Post that was famous in its day for publishing short fiction by some very well known mid-century writers. Not only did I grow up around authors and Hollywood screenwriters who were friends of my dad, Harlan Ware, but my two uncles, Leon Ware and Darrell Ware were also published and produced writers. (Uncle Darrell was nominated for an Oscar for “Tall, Dark, and Handsome” the year I was born). No wonder I tend to write historical novels that always have a solid love story in them!

You have held a number of titles from reporter, lecturer, on-air host, and even Emmy-Award winning television producer. Can you tell us more about some of your amazing achievements?


Well, it’s true, I’ve had a pretty varied career, but when you get down to it, everything I’ve done has been in the field of some form of communication. My first job in radio was as a lifestyle/health reporter, basically telling TV and radio audiences “How to freeze fish safely,” or “How to get your maiden name back after divorce”….but in the midst of all this “How To,” I always knew I wanted to write historical novels. However, growing up in a writer’s household, I also new I had to have a way to “support my novel writing abit” while I was learning the craft, writing the book, and getting that first advance. I decided not to go the simple ‘day job’ route, but to remain in the media field, which paid much better than other work-for-money activities. My speaking career, for example, has tended to be better paid than one would think. Whatever I did in these related industries, I tried to give it my best work, and I guess, looking back, I can say channeling all that energy into attempting to do a good job—whatever the endeavor-- paid off by way of honors and awards.


[Ware, a much sought-after event speaker, won the Dorothy Parker Award of Excellence for her historical novel, Island of the Swans; an Emmy as the producer of a public affairs show, Parents Who Kidnap Their Own Kids, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel for her magazine work, and the John Harvard Award for service to Harvard University]

Has history always been a subject you were interested in, or have you thought about writing in other genres.


I grew up reading Daphne du Maurier and Anya Seton, to say nothing of seeing scores of swashbuckler movies that my dad and I adored, so gravitating to writing historical fiction was basically in my DNA. Fortunately, my husband, Tony Cook (whose father told us the family name had originally been MacCook) were both what we fondly term “Scot-o-maniacs” from early on in our marriage, so I had great support for tending in this direction in my writing. However, as a result of my “other” career in journalism, I’ve done two nonfiction books based on magazine articles I wrote on the subjects: Rightsizing Your Life about simplifying one’s surroundings, and Joint Custody After Divorce, a prescriptive nonfiction book about making shared parenting work.

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You have been extremely successful with your writing. Who are some of your inspirations in the literary world?


I fell in love with Cornwall, England, from the first page of du Maurier’s Rebecca and then proceeded to read every thing she ever wrote. It’s no surprise, I guess, that I set my own A Cottage by the Sea in the same general territory! Of course, what historical novelist doesn’t love Jane Austen and, a century or so later, Georgette Heyer? But I also remember devouring James Michener, Irving Stone, and Mary Stewart. I also had an incredible ancient history teach in high school named Juanita Bray who made learning about the past a total joy.

When you have time to read, what are your favorite books, and why?

I’m still working my way through all the Georgette Heyer, now reissued by my publisher, Sourcebooks-Landmark, because of her wonderful depth of history and ability to weave fact and fiction so compellingly. I also like a good mystery, such as PD James or the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. As a reporter, one is basically a sleuth, trying to ferret out the facts and figure out what really happened, so I enjoy reading about others doing the same—whatever the century they’re writing about.

What are some of the most important pieces of advice you have been given throughout your career?


Ciji:I remember my father preaching that for a writer to be a true professional “…and make a living at it, you have to be able to do it all!” He had written for newspapers, magazines, film, [link to] radio (the long-running NBC radio drama “One Man’s Family”- link to’s_Family ), and growing up, I think this nimbleness-in-the-face-of-imminent-starvation made a deep impression on me. One minute, we were eating beans, the next we were boarding the Super Chef with our own double stateroom and a champagne bucket in the corner, heading across country for New York. As my mother used to joke, “Darling, a writer’s family lives from hand-to-mouth in a BIG way!” I think that attitude that writers must be prepared to tolerate the financial roller-coaster and be willing to ply their craft in whatever medium will pay the light bill carried me a long distance.

If you had to choose one of your books as your most favorite to write, which would I t be and why?


By far the most fun to research and write was my first “time-slip” novel, A Cottage by the Sea. My writer pal, Cynthia Wright, was researching an historical romance that year--also set in Cornwall--so we decided to pool our resources, rent a National Trust Cottage, and head for the wilds of the West Country. We had a glorious couple of weeks in a converted stone lime kiln, piloting a little motor boat that came with our digs in and out of the town of Foy when the tides were cooperating. Daphne du Maurier had actually walked along the path near our cottage on her way to get married at a small church nearby. My book was one of those few projects that practically wrote itself. I mean, what could be more perfect than that? Sourcebooks issued it in 2010 with the most wonderful cover and it seemed to strike a chord with a lot of my readers…

(8) When can we expect your next novel to be out?


Well, Sourcebooks is publishing A Light on the Veranda in March, so that’s my latest effort to date. However, I’m in stealth-mode about my next project. Expect something that ties in with one of my earlier works. That’s all I’ll say!

You and your husband have been together for over three decades. In a world where marriages seldom last even ten years, what would you say are some of your secrets to keeping a marriage alive?

In a word? Humor! My husband can make me laugh even when I’m furious with him! Like any marriage of long duration, we’ve had some bad patches, but somehow we’ve both been able to see the ludicrousness in many aspects of life. And we’ve endured because of a solid friendship we’ve forged based on common views, common interests, and a shared sense of adventures. We both were journalists in our younger years who traveled the world chasing after stories that took us to some very fascinating places. In other words: we had some lucky breaks and we also worked at it.

Now your son Jamie Ware Billett is also a young man of achievement. What is some of the most important advice you remember giving him?

I know this is his mother talking, but Jamie is a very talented photographer, editor and video shooter…and we had quite a “discussion” when he was in college because he wanted to major in something called Visual Studies and I insisted that he major in a heavy-weight academic concentration. I felt he could learn the mechanics of film or video later, and could certainly take classes as electives, but that he needed a solid grounding in history, government, literature, etc. I wanted him to learn to be a critical thinker who could evaluate things based on the facts, not just emotion. If he had those skills to bring to his art, he’d be better for it. I don’t know if he’d agree, but I think I was proven right.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other aspiring authors? And please give us your links so we can learn more about you and your works:

In the words of my sainted father who always encouraged me to be an author, “Writing consists of writing. Do it everyday in some form or other. It keeps the fingers and the brain limber.”

I love to hear from readers of fiction atwww.cijiware.comFor more information about my nonfiction work, visitwww.rightsizingyourlife.comand if it’s ‘Live” by the time this blog posts:www.jointcustodyafterdivorce.comThanks for having me as a guest on this lovely blog!

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