Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with mystery / YA / non-fiction author Cindy Davis. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Cindy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Cindy: I live in southern New Hampshire. I’m married with 11 kids, 28 grandkids, a dog, a cat and a guinea pig (that the grandkids thought I couldn’t do without. Personally, I think Mom said they couldn’t have one.)
Morgen: Wow. You literally have your hands full. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Cindy: Mostly I write mysteries. I love constructing clues and red herrings and watching how the plots play out. I have dabbled in fantasy and have a women’s fiction that’s just been released.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Cindy: I have a mystery series set in upstate New Hampshire, several standalone mysteries, a women’s fiction, several non-fictions and a YA fantasy trilogy that I co-authored. I do use a pseudonym—one the publishers for whom I edit, talked me into an erotica series. Smile. Sorry to say, erotic romance sells better than mysteries.
Morgen: I guess it certainly does since the arrival of Fifty Shades of Grey. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Cindy: Yes, all my books are available in e formats. At this time, I don’t have an e reader.
Morgen: I was very slow getting one but I bought a Kindle which I love but have just bought an iPad 2 which I actually prefer as it shows both pages, more like a book. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Cindy: I think, as a story, my women’s fiction Cold as Ice is a favorite. It took 8 years to come together into a cohesive story, so it’s near and dear to my heart. If made into a movie, I picture a younger Glenn Close in the part of Claudia. For the leading character in my Angie Deacon mystery series, though, I would love Cameron Diaz.
Morgen: Two great choices. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Morgen: Perhaps from the curly font? Covers are hard to gauge, especially for eBooks. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Cindy: The fifth in the mystery series, titled Rest in Pieces. Relax, it’s not about dismemberment, it’s got a jigsaw puzzle. I am also working on the erotic series and a ghostwriting project.
Morgen: I like writing dark so dismemberment sounds good to me. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Cindy: I do not write every day. Used to but I am an editor and if clients need me, I’m there. I rarely suffer from writers block but do suffer from a lack of motivation on occasion.
Morgen: I think most writers do; when the washing up calls… Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Cindy: Plot. I have a terrible memory and need to have the clues and red herrings right there so I can remember when and where I left them.
Morgen: So do I, which is possibly why I’m more of a short story author than novelist – it’s the consistency threads I find hard in novels. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Cindy: Method for creating characters? No. What makes them believable? Real life situations and deep inner goings on.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Cindy: Being that my day job is as an editor, I can’t turn that off, so I edit as I go.
Morgen: That’s probably very sensible. I’ve written for the past four NaNoWriMo as it’s all about quantity not quality but I still find I reign myself in when I can feel myself waffling. Do you have to do much research?
Cindy: On occasion.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Cindy: Usually third. Sometimes first. Never second. Too hard for me. I have a hard time even reading it.
Morgen: Second person is hard but again it’s best for shorter pieces. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Cindy: I have a pair of non-fiction books featuring hiking trails in our area. I have the erotica shorts. Six of them so far.
Morgen: I write very little erotica but not for any particular reason – I think I should try more. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Cindy: Probably, but I hope not.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Cindy: Never had a rejection. Okay, stop laughing, I’m lying. I’ve had dozens, hundreds. They don’t bother me any more. Now and then, I used to take them personally. Depended on the hormonal time, I think.
Morgen: A handful of authors I’ve spoken to haven’t had any rejections but usually because they write very little or don’t submit… or of course have had everything they’ve submitted accepted. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Cindy: Yes, I have two agents—one fiction, one non-fiction. I think it was more important to have an agent in years past. Now, self-publishing is so easy and e readers are so prevalent, that you can put out your own (following all the editing rules for quality, etc) quicker and stand the possibility of just as good sales, plus you don’t have to pay out the 15%. I’ve heard many stories of mega sales in e formats—ones that agents or the big four had nothing to do with.
Morgen: Indeed – John Locke, Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath are three that spring to mind. How much of the marketing do you do?
Cindy: Most all of it.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Cindy: I know they’ve heard it before but—keep on trying. If you really want to be a writer, don’t let anyone stop you. Keep learning, keep improving.
Morgen: Absolutely – I won’t (stop). Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Cindy: I teach a lot of workshops, both online and in person. I love that aspect of the writing world.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Cindy: I am an avid knitter and crocheter. I love gardening, hiking, sports and spending time with my grandkids.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Cindy: I am on several. I haven’t noticed specific sales increases because of them.
Morgen: It’s hard to know what to do for the best; I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Thank you, Cindy.
I then invited Cindy to include an extract of her writing and this from the first of the mystery series ‘A Little Murder’…
Stepping from the tree cover, yet remaining in shadows, Angie and Val moved toward the road. Angie still gripped Val’s hand, which was good, because when she sneaked to the door of the Camaro, Val tried to pull away. The passenger door was still open; the dome light shone like a beacon. Angie put a hand in the small of Val’s back and gave a little shove, then rushed to the drivers’ side.
Inside, in a single movement she shifted, gunned and twisted. Two tires spun in the gravel, but two tried to grip pavement. The powerful motor obeyed, squealing in an abrupt circle and onto Route 28.
Val knelt on the seat, fists gripping the back like a kid on a circus ride. “I don’t see them yet. Oh, yes I do. Here they come.”
Angie turned off the headlights. Val screeched.
With one streetlight for guidance, Angie raced a few hundred feet south, took her foot off the gas and wrenched the car right, praying this car handled sharp corners better than the Escort. She jammed her foot on the gas. They sped along the narrow bumpy road. She let go of the steering wheel one hand at a time, to dry her palms on her slacks.
“They should be coming up any second.”
Angie pressed the car for more speed. “Those kids didn’t lie about this car’s power.”
“There they are.” A second later, “They went past. I didn’t see any brake lights.”
“Hold on.” Angie slowed the car so quickly they were both thrown at the windshield.
Val caught herself just before sliding backwards to the floor. “Whoa, Nellie.”
Angie pulled onto a two-rut logging road. “Tell me when you can’t see the road any more.”
“I haven’t seen it for a long time.”
“Well, open your eyes and keep watch.”
The car bounced and jolted, bottoming out twice in the deep ruts made by huge log trucks.
“You go any further, you’ll shake the teeth right out of my head.” The car rolled to a stop.
“What’s the plan now, Nancy Drew?”
And the following is the synopsis for ‘Rest in Pieces’.
When a popular sixteen-year-old girl is murdered, it devastates residents of the tight-knit communities surrounding NH’s Lake Winnipesaukee. But when the jury sets the accused man free, it shakes people to their very core. Detective Colby Jarvis blames himself for the verdict—his testimony wasn’t strong enough; he didn’t do enough to pull the case together. But he won’t take the murderer’s release sitting down.
Angie Deacon wants to help Jarvis through his troubles, but she’s mired in her own set of problems: her partner Tyson has just been offered his lifelong dream—a part in a Broadway show. Angie faces running the theater on her own. But that’s not the worst of it; her mom is back in town. And she’s brought her a boy toy—a twenty-something surfer from LA.
Cindy Davis resides in the green / white / brown—depending on the season—state of New Hampshire where she spends most of her time at the computer either editing or writing. When she’s finally released upon society, to autograph her latest book, teach a workshop, or research the next in the Angie Deacon series—heaven help the people she meets. Shutting her up becomes tantamount to stopping a volcano! Personally, she’s addicted to coffee—particularly raspberry / chocolate flavor. And don’t anyone dare get between her and her life-loves Ben & Jerry. Other than that, she’s pretty laid back. You’d have to be with 11 kids and 28 grandkids.
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