My guest today is fantasy author Cindy Lynn Speer. Cindy took some time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her latest book, a collection of fantasy/fairytale short stories entitled Wishes and Sorrows. She is also the author of The Chocolatier’s Wife, also by Dragonwell Publishing.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author, Cindy?
When I was in my early teens. I was reading a book and I realized, powerfully, that I could do it. That I could write the stories in my head down. It was an awesome moment for me, and I started writing (terribly) right away.
Do you have another job besides writing?
My putting-bread-on-the-table job is as secretary to a very busy university department. It’s rather fun because universities are rather progressive, so you hear all about huge ideas and world events…it’s neat.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I have always been a reader – my mum read to me all the time, not just Bible stories and Fairy Tales but James Bond and Star Trek and Asimov and Norton. She never stopped me from reading anything, either, she let me try out whatever I wanted. My favorites include Nancy Drew, the books of Christopher Pike.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.
This is actually a short story collection, with a ton of different inspirations! Some are inspired by fairy tales, for example, I finished Charles Perrault’s “The Fairies” and…sorry, spoiler…the heroine ends up being gifted with the fact that now every word she speaks is accompanied by a flower or a jewel. And when I got to the end of the story I was like, “What a horrible thing!” So I wrote a sequel. Some of my stories are inspired by other things…one was inspired by a train trip, another just came to me, an image of a dark haired girl walking through a village, scaring away ghosts with her bells.
Since these are short stories, they tend to come over the years, at different times. I don’t like outlines, I tend to get a grasp on the scene, on the person, and I just get writing. In the first person stories, once I get their voice in my head, I can steadily write until the end.
Who is your target audience?
My target audience is people who like stories with a bit of magic…re-told fairy tales, takes on old stories, brand new fantasy and mystery stories. I mix in horror and romance.
What type of writer are you — the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I am a mix! I daydream a great deal and fantasize…what else is one to do while waiting in the checkout line? *grins* But I also believe that everything we see and do goes into the compost heap in the back of our mind, and that is where we draw our stories from.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
You have to go into this understanding that people are people…I have a lot of wonderful reviews for one of my books – and they make me happy because I like knowing that I made other people happy. There are some reviews where I wonder if the people read my book at all, and a few that you can tell that they did read my book, but it just wasn’t their cuppa. Not everyone is going to like your book. Some people will be honest about that and you have to respect it and not argue with it, because they have a perfect right to not like your book. Some people will give negative reviews just to be trolling…they want to be mean, and they want a reaction. You’ve got to ignore those, too, and remind yourself that you and your editing team did the best they could, and all is well.
What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
I never used them. But I think they are a valuable tool. We often need encouragement, we need someone to help us motivate ourselves because life is busy and your own dreams are the easiest to push to the back burner. To help people hone their craft, to make people have to write because of a deadline…oh, yes! That is wonderful. But you do have to be careful, if someone is trying to crush your dreams, they have no right, and if you find people are trying to do that, do move on.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
Sometimes I do. And then I know I did something wrong in the past, turned right when I should have turned left, so to speak. So I go back and I work at it, try and figure out where I went wrong. This is a dangerous thing to do, though, and you have to be careful, because so many authors get stuck and re-write the beginnings so many times that they never get to the end. So push through the best you can, because getting to the end is super important, not just so you have that little victory, but because the end will also tell you where you need to go in the middle and beginning.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Keep writing and don’t stop. You need to write to get the garbage out before you find your true voice. You need to keep writing and finish your work. And when you are published you need to keep writing so that there is more for your readers to read.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
I am always thrilled to have readers visit me at www.cindylynnspeer.com!
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I am working on the sequel to The Chocolatier’s Wife, called (right now) The Chocolatier’s Ghost. It’s a lot of fun…Tasmin and William are in the early months of their marriage, settling in…but wise women keep going missing, which means long nights for both of them.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
I write, in part, to make people happy, to give them an escape hatch, so when I know that I have done that I confess, it is one of the most marvelous things in the world.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00MW6F49W]