Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cynthia Selwyn

What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing? I love to read biographies. Fictionalized biographies are great fun, but biographies about people who did unusual or amazing  things are something I always seem to grab at the library. Right now, I'm reading a book called, Ivy League Stripper by Heidi Mattson. To fund her education at Brown University—only partially covered by scholarships and loans—she became an exotic dancer. She got an education about life outside small town Maine in more ways than one.

Prior to that, I read a biography about James Thurber that included his own letters and diary entries. I also read a fascinating book about Emily Dickenson…you can see, I tend to gravitate towards the lives of  writers. But I also enjoy learning about people like Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII, Vincent Van Gogh…there are too many to name.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
One of my sisters once asked me, "When are you going to write a real book?" After all this time, I still don't know exactly what she meant by that. Did she mean my books are worthless?

I've finally decided—my books may not be "real" by my sister's standards but if I can help a reader escape her problems for a little while, then my books have value. I hope that's what my readers take with them: a warm and fuzzy feeling they can carry around with them for a while.

How long have you been a writer? 
Well, let's see…I'm forty-six and I started being able to write words at about five…I'm really bad at math, though. How many years is that? J

I can't remember a time when I didn't write stories. You know how adolescents lock themselves in their rooms and write bad poetry?  I wrote bad stories. And when all my friends were buying records (remember those round, black vinyl things?) my favorite way to spend my baby sitting money was on a ream of lined paper and a package of medium point black pens. (Geesh. What a geek.)

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?
Well…my first book never did get published. And it won't EVER be published. Never, ever, ever. For one thing, it was written in so many points of view, you couldn't follow it. And it was just…well. It still lives on a 3.5" floppy disk in my bureau drawer. If I ever find a computer that still has a floppy disk drive, I might pull it out and read it. Maybe.

My second completed book is still unpublished, too. I pull it out every once in a while, look it over, make some notes, and put it back. It's just too raw and needs too much work.

My third completed book took me five years to finish and one year to polish before it was finally published by The Wild Rose Press. Kissing Trick was written using my former pen name, C.D. Yates. (I changed it because that sounds too much like a mystery writer's name to me.)

It still takes me a long time to write a book. Except…well, not that long. I've gotten smarter about plotting and planning. And I've learned how to write through to The End. (Just keep writing. You can revise bad writing, you know. You can't revise a blank page, though.)

Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Yes! My thanks. ;) If you liked my books, tell your friends.

What sound drives you crazy?
Oh boy. The sound of my husband’s spoon hitting his back teeth whenever he eats cereal. Click, click, click—it makes my insides curl. Shiver. Ugh. (He’s doing it, right now! Auuuugggghhh! The hair on the back of my neck is rising.) I wish I knew why it bothered me so much. I wish--after nineteen years of marriage!—he’d have learned it makes my skin crawl.

How much do you want to bet he’s doing it on purpose?

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Warning: This product contains gas and other hazardous materials. Avoid contact with open flame. Do not feed to children or pets. Do not use while sleeping.

If you were a superhero, what special power would you have?
I am a superhero. I’m a mom. ;) Faster than a speeding toddler. Stronger than the smell of a teenager’s gym bag. Able to leap piles of laundry in a single bound. It’s a woman, it’s a multi-tasker, it’s--the Momminator!

So other than wishing for the ability to block out the demands of three children and one husband and get some writing done (the superpower of deafness?), I’d like the power to become invisible.

Come to think of it, though, the kids would still find me. I try to hide with my netbook in a locked bathroom, but they find me there. So even if I was invisible, the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard would tip them off; they’d still claw at the door or worse-- climb in the window to find me.

No. As a superhero, I don’t need a superpower. I need a Fortress of Solitude, just like Superman’s. A really good place to hide—and write. Oh, and stash my snacks.

If you could have three wishes granted, what would you wish for?
In keeping with my former response, I’d like a cone of silence. As I write, my four-year-old is asking me which superhero everyone in the family would be...and he wants to go visit Hogwarts…and can he go to the dentist today? (Hogwarts, dentist—whut?) And my thirteen-year-old is complaining she can’t find her eyeliner. Sigh. Yes. Please…a cone of silence, just like the one in Get Smart. Only, mine would work

I’d also wish for an unlimited supply of money. Of course, I’d use it to make my life and the life of my family better. But I’d like to be able to just give it away to people in need. Wouldn’t that be great? To be able to say, “You can’t pay your mortgage this month? Here’s mortgage money for the next three months.” Or, “Your medical bills are too high? Here, let me help.” And I’d like to buy a big farmhouse with a wraparound porch in Vermont, with land for horses and a big barn. We’d hold writer’s retreats and raise horses…sigh. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

After that, what else is there to wish for? Except maybe World Peace. ;)

If you could be a shapeshifter, what form would you take and why?
I think it would depend on my mood or my purpose. As a shapeshifter (at least the ones I’ve read about or watched on television—True Blood!) a true shapeshifter can be any living creature they want to be.

Right now, I’d love to be a hawk. The sky is bright and blue—I’d love to soar over everything and watch what’s going on below. My fear of heights would be gone because the power of flight would be in me and there would be nothing to be afraid of…the sun would be warm on my wings and the wind would whistle through my feathers…oh, look! A rabbit!

Where does the instinct end the humanity begin? How far does the shapeshifting go? I’ve never written a shapeshifter book, but maybe I will, just to explore this idea…

I’d better lock the bathroom door. Shhh...don’t let them find me!

*Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.
Right now, I’m working on polishing up a book requested by The Wild Rose Press. It’s about a teacher and a bagpiper. (Complete with Scots burr and kilt.) Keep your fingers crossed for me that they’ll accept it. J

I’m also working on building a side business. In addition to being a writer, I’m a content and line editor for several e-pubs. I’ve noticed that there are many indie authors out there (some of whom are my critique partners—and myself). I’ve also noticed that professional editors offer their services to these writers for an outrageous price. So I’m trying to create an editing business to help these writers polish their prose for a reasonable rate. You know, starving writer meets hungry editor…Better, my friend and fellow author, Silke Juppenlatz (who wrote a great book titled, Howl) is working on the project with me. She’s an IT wizard, and a fantastic artist. She designed the cover for my indie book, Madonna of the Horses. Besides hiring me for reasonably priced edits, independent authors can hire Silke to create their covers. We’re calling it Author-Wise Editing and it will be your one stop independent publishing shop. ;) (Incidentally, if authors are interested in editing but still want to submit their books to publishers, I’m there for that, too. I love to write and edit queries, synopsis and blurbs. Call me weird…)

Please share any links you would like listed in the Interview. Website, Myspace, blog, facebook, yahoo group etc.

Other website:


  1. Great interview, loved your label, Cyn, and hope those wishes come true - count me in for the writers retreat!
    Good luck with Author-Wise.


  2. Thank you for hosting Cynthia. Great interview.
    Marketing Director with Breathless Press

  3. Hilarious! I'd like a cone of silence too!

  4. I'd like an eyer on my little finger. Then I could check out who was around the corner/ in the next room and decide if I want to go on!
    (And you could check your nose for bogies without hunting for a mirror!