Cynthia Sally Haggard was born and reared in Surrey, England. About 30 years ago she surfaced in the United States, inhabiting the Mid-Atlantic region as she wound her way through four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer, and novelist.
Grandma Steffi in her 80s
Cynthia’s biggest influence was her grandmother, Stephanie Treffry, who had a natural story-telling ability. A widow in 1970s Britain, Grandma Steffi didn’t drive a car, so was obliged to spend time waiting for buses. Her stories were about various encounters she had at those bus-stops. Nothing extraordinary, except that she made them so funny, everyone was in fits of laughter.
Cynthia tries to emulate her when she writes her novels.
Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.
Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.
Her second novel, Farewell My Life, a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin, won a Pinnacle Award (2019) and a Distinguished Favorite (New York City Big Book Awards, 2019).
When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at http://www.spunstories.com.
Who is Cynthia Stranach?
A couple of years ago, I discovered that Grandma Steffi (see below) had been a bit naughty when she was a young woman.
She met Alfred Gamble Stranack in 1917, during the Great War. She was about 22. He was 51.
They lived together happily for several years, and I’m sure he would have married her. Unfortunately, he was married to someone else. As divorce was impossible in those days, Grandma Steffi changed her name by deed poll in 1926, from Stephanie Treffy (her maiden name) to Stephanie Stranack.
Tragically, Alfred Stranack died suddenly in June 1928 at the age of 62. Shortly thereafter, Grandma Steffi discovered she was expecting a baby. The executor of Alfred’s estate was one Andrew Henry Haggard, whom Stephanie married on 17 October 1928. My father, John Alfred Haggard, was born on 27 December 1928.
For more than 50 years, my sister and I believed that Andrew Henry Haggard was our grandfather, and we were related to the Haggards of Bradenham Hall, including the well-known writer H. Rider Haggard (Andrew Henry’s uncle).
Then, in 2017, my sister did a DNA test through ancestry.co.uk. It gave her a list of surnames of close cousins. The Haggards were no-where on that list. But the Stranacks were.
So, Cynthia Stranach is an alternative name I sometimes use for myself (spelled in the original Scottish fashion) to honor my grandfather, Alfred Gamble Stranack, who was born in Bangelore India in 1866. He comes from a line of Scots who inhabited Aberdeenshire.