Carnegie library's 'magical elements' inspire romance novelist

Romance novelist Gwyn Cready of Pittsburgh
Romance novelist Gwyn Cready of Pittsburgh
Doug Gulasy
| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Pittsburgh-based romance novelist Gwyn Cready says she gets a tingling feeling when she visits a setting that would be perfect for a book.

She had that kind of feeling the first time she experienced the “magical elements” at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall.

“I'm in Carnegie a lot, and I always saw that library on the hill,” said Cready 51, who lives in Pittsburgh's Mount Washington. “It looks grand in the sunshine, a little eerie in the twilight, and I went up because it's such a lovely institution and part of the heritage of Andrew Carnegie. I just walked through it and thought, ‘Oh, my God — this would be (great).'”

Cready, whose latest novel, “Timeless Desire,” takes place partly at the 112-year-old facility, will hold an author talk at the library at 11 a.m. Saturday. The program is free and open to the public.

Library director Erin Tipping said the book's setting, along with Cready's status as a romance novelist and the closeness to Valentine's Day, made it “a natural fit for an author talk.”

Cready, the author of six novels, specializes in time-travel romance, a subcategory within the genre. All but one of her books focuses on the subject, including “Timeless Desire.”

In “Timeless Desire,” librarian Panna Kennedy is coping with the death of her husband and struggling with finances at the Carnegie library when she stumbles onto a locked door at the facility.

The door turns out to be a time portal that takes her to the private library of a fictional 18th-century English war hero whose statue stands in the Carnegie library.

In true romance novel fashion, the two fall in love — but Cready says there are obstacles along the way.

“To be a romance novel by definition, the characters have to end up together in the end,” Cready said. “The journey getting to that happy ending is how you draw your readers in and can make or break a book. One of the great things that time travel does for a romance novel is the reader just thinks, ‘How will these two people who are literally from different centuries end up together? How can this even be?'”

Cready described her path to becoming a romance novelist as an “interesting journey.” Formerly a marketing executive at healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline, she began writing after her younger sister Claire died unexpectedly in 1997.

Her first book, “Tumbling Through Time,” was published in 2008.

“I do think my sister is aware of all this, and I think she thinks it's quite amusing,” said Cready, who is working on a memoir about her sister.

Cready will discuss her works and life as a romance novelist at the author talk Saturday.

While Tipping said she thinks Cready's work about the library looks like a “very compelling” read, she's not aware of any time-traveling portals in the building.

“There are a lot of doors, but I don't think any of them lead anywhere than more storage,” she said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or

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