Cindy, thank you for being today’s guest author. I see that you are not from the United States, why don’t you tell about yourself and your books?
I am English, and live in a market town Gloucestershire. As soon as I could read, I knew that writing was what I wanted to do. Making up stories is something I've always done, but it was a long, long time before I had a book published. I was born in 1951, and my first title, Sebastian's Quest, came out in 2001. My first 'publicly' recognized piece of work was a play, which I wrote at the age of ten. It was put on by my classmates at school, and our parents came to see it. From then on, I definitely thought of myself as a writer.
After trying lots of different jobs, and having a family, I eventually took a day a week off from running my business selling books to schools, and wrote Sebastian's Quest for my son. It was accepted by Barry Cunningham, the person who discovered J K Rowling. Since then I have published over twenty books, most of which are still in print in England and throughout the world. In the USA, most are still available through Amazon and as eBooks.
Tell us about the genre of your work.
Most of my work is series fiction, and tends to be inspirational stories about school, ambition and friends.
Why did you choose this genre?
I enjoy writing series fiction for this age group because it's an age at which if you can engage with them, you can encourage children into becoming lifelong readers. There are so many conflicting activities for children these days, and reading has to compete more than ever. A good series will have such strong plots and interesting characters that every story will be collected and read over and over again. This helps to develop reading stamina and the reading habit, which has to be good!
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I'm best known for Fame School, a series that eventually ran to 14 titles. It has an ensemble cast of characters who appear in every book, although each book concentrates on one person. The children in the stories are at a boarding school that teaches them how to make it in the music business as well as having a good academic tradition. There are lots of snippets of information about the music world, including working in a recording studio.
What about your latest series?
My latest series is about a young girl who wants to be a journalist, and gets some work experience on a girl’s magazine. She finds that it’s not quite as she expected, but she has an amazing time at a magazine that is to die for. Heart Magazine Series.
What ages do you direct your books?
They are mostly for ages 7-14
Can you tell us more about your books and where we might find them?
All my books can be found through my website on Amazon, and in the UK and many other countries in good bookshops. There are so many that a list of ISBN’s would be tedious, however, the series titles are Fame School, Stadium School and Heart magazine. There is also my stand alone historical fantasy Sebastian’s Quest, which is not available as a paper edition any more but is available through iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sebastians-quest/id342436820?mt=8
There is also a child’s history of the city of Gloucester available. Searching Amazon under my name will pull them all up.
Do your books have a teaching objective? If so, what is it?
They don’t have an overt teaching objective. I write to entertain children. Along the way, I expect they’ll pick up all sorts of information, some of which may be very useful. It’s through good fiction that we come to understand more about ourselves and others. For children in particular, learning that the feelings we have are shared by others, through finding them in fiction, can be a real help while growing up.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
I really have no idea! Mostly they simply pop into my head. Occasionally I have trouble finding the right name. I have been known to use the name of something on my desk…but usually the name comes along with the character.
How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books (If you have more that one)?
You have to get to know your characters by degrees. They don’t often fall fully formed into my mind. Usually it’s like meeting anyone new. You say hello, look them up and down a bit, wonder a bit about them. Of course, all this goes on without the character being an actual person, but that’s what a fertile imagination is all about! The longer I walk with my characters the harder it is to let go of them. Sometimes it can be a matter of real sorrow when I have to leave them and concentrate on a new set of characters.
What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
Seeing them safe and sound on my bookshelf is wonderful…and a matter of real relief as each one arrives. It’s a long process, making a book, and hard work. It’s lovely to have the finished article there.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?
Probably the greatest problem about getting anything published is that it’s such a crowded marketplace. There are so many people wanting to write, some of whom would happily pay the publisher to print their work, so it’s hard to get noticed, and extremely difficult to make a good living as a writer.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I’ve always been a writer, since I could hold a pencil and make up stories, but it took a long long time to be published. I gave up lots of time throughout my life, but always came back to it, and eventually, in middle age, it finally happened.
What is your writing schedule?
I base my life on the working week, and try to spend at least half of each day actually writing rather than all the other stuff that goes with being self-employed. But actually, writing might not be putting words down. It might be research, thinking, editing,...there are lots of different parts to making a book. If I’m actually working on the words, writing a first draft, my day can become quite different. If it’s going slowly not many words might get written as I struggle to find a way forward, but if it’s going well I can work from early in the morning until late into the night.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
At the moment, I’m working on a historical novel, which is a bit of a change from recent work. But I started off writing historical fantasy, and I’ve always wanted to get back to history again.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
The best advice I think is to read as widely as possible. Read outside your comfort zone, try everything. And as well as enjoying the story, try to see how the writer is manufacturing it. Why does the first sentence draw you in (if it does) is the ending satisfying…why? And alongside that of course is to write. Write something every day, and don’t worry if it feels like rubbish, just get the words down. You can alter the piece later. Practice, practice, practice.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Don’t give up!
What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot, garden, travel, and try to spend time with my family, which isn’t easy as we’re so far flung these days! I also like to spend time in galleries, museums, coffee shops and going to the theatre. At home, I listen to music quite a lot. I’m getting back to classical music after bringing up a son who was into indie rock, which I also enjoyed!
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
There has been nothing to compare to getting my first book accepted! That was amazing. And appearing at the Warsaw book fair some years ago was fantastic. I was wonderfully well looked after by my Polish publisher, Akapit, and signed hundreds of books for excited children. It was a wonderful experience. Appearing at the Bookaroo children’s book festival in Delhi India was also a wonderful experience.
Here are some links where you can learn more about Cindy and her books.
Facebook page http://t.co/c5OIM6S
You can visit my other blog at: http://love-faith-and-guts.blogspot.com/ that features a preview to my new book that will be released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.