Interview by YA Author Medeia Sharif: Cynthia Watson, author of WIND
Eighteen-year-old Flynn Flood is a Boston college student whose world falls apart when her beloved father dies of the "Irish Cancer"— alcoholism—and her once-vibrant mother, descends into a paralyzing depression. After a seemingly accidental encounter, help arrives in the form of earthy-looking Dante, an international student from Italy. Dante seems perfect, but when Flynn finds herself descending into a rabbit hole of frightening, inexplicable mystical occurrences, she quickly deduces that Dante is no ordinary boyfriend.
In the meantime, Flynn's sixteen-year-old sister, Kevan, suddenly sheds her sweet, little girl chrysalis, and becomes a dark, brooding butterfly, transforming from Hanna Montana to Marilyn Manson, (with an attitude to match). Flynn soon finds that being a "mom" isn't as easy as it looks. But, when Kevan falls for Dante's "eternal" adversary, Flynn will have to start making choices that weigh her newly found love for the heavenly Dante against her loyalty to her kid sister. Together, Flynn and Dante must ensure that Kevan's first love is not her last!
A coming-of-age tale with humor and unexpected violence, WIND explores the complex bonds of sisterhood, romantic longing, and the possibility of the existence of an unseen world all around us!
I felt sympathetic towards the main character, Flynn. Her alcoholic father passes away, her mother suffers from the depression that goes along with grief, and her sister transforms into a dark, moody Goth. When Flynn meets Dante, a delicious romance ensues amid angel warfare. Dante is not an ordinary young man and Flynn’s sister, Kevan, enters the dark side in more ways than her outer appearance suggests. This was a suspenseful read and my favorite part was the dark, haunting atmosphere.
I'm glad I had a chance to read this. I've been following Cynthia's blog for a while, and she's stopping by today so that I can interview her. Everyone, give her a warm welcome.
Tell us a little about your publishing journey with WIND.
WIND started out as an adult paranormal story, but I've always wanted to write something my children (Matthew 21 and Anne Marie, 17 at the time) would read. When I began writing WIND in 2009, my kids and their friends were heavily emersed in the Twilight saga. I would walk by their rooms, and hear them dissecting it to death. It piqued my curiosity. My daughter suggested I read the first book, so I did, and thought it was great! I loved the voice (I was sure a teenager wrote it, which is, I guess, the whole point!), and the desperate passion of the two main characters. Also, I could totally relate to the confusion of Bella's long-suffering father, Charlie. The dialogue between Bella and Charlie sounded very familiar (and my daughter hasn't even dated a vampire, to my knowledge!).
Anyway, I decided to incorporate more young adult characters into WIND, and ultimately, it totally morphed into a Young Adult Paranormal Romance, narrated by eighteen-year-old Mary Flynn Flood, just called Flynn by her two best friends, the charmingly gay, David, and boy-crazy, Siobhan (an Irish name pronounced "Shivon.") Then I added, Kevan, Flynn's sixteen-year-old sister, and the YA feeling was complete. I loved creating the dynamics between Flynn and Kevan; frustrating, but loving at the same time. Often, they can't stand each other (typical sisters!), but they both eventually learn, the hard way, that blood is thicker than water!
For Flynn, I always think of Evan Rachel Wood (with red hair, of course!). She has an intelligent, sad beauty, and I see an old soul in her eyes, just like Flynn!
Italian actor, Riccardo Scamarcio, was my model for Dante from the inception of WIND. He's absolutely DDG (Drop Dead Gorgeous)! If there is ever a movie version of WIND, it just wouldn't be the same without Riccardo - he IS my Dante!Great picks, Cynthia! What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
I conducted a fair amount of research for this novel. Flynn is studying Art History in college, and she has a part-time job at the Museum of Arts in Boston, and so I spent a lot of time on their website. Her favorite painter is John Singer Sargent; I'm pretty familiar with his work now. Also, I did a lot of reading about angels and demons. WIND is the first book of "The Eternal Symmetry Saga," loosely based on Dante Alighieri's epic poem, Dante's Inferno. Needless to say, I'm very well versed (so to speak!) in that poem now.
Without spoiling WIND for those who didn't read it, what's up ahead in the sequel, SAND?
I'm currently writing the second book in the saga, SAND. It begins at the Cape Cod cottage belonging to the Flood family, and without giving too much away, the story will take readers to another country, and allow them to experience another culture. Some of the characters from WIND will reappear, and some won't. The mood is much darker, and the romance really heats up, as Flynn reluctantly embraces her unexpected life. Her journey will continue in the next book, WATER, and finally, FIRE.
Anyone with a first novel out has lessons learned. What are a few things you learned about both writing and publishing with this book?
Writing WIND was an absolute joy! I was shocked when it just poured out; the novel almost wrote itself, as though I had been subconsciously plotting the story line, and thinking about the characters for years! As far as self-publishing goes, I highly recommend it. I've always been a proactive person (okay, so I'm a control freak - LOL), and it felt great doing it all myself. I self-published WIND utilizing Amazon's CreateSpace, and I have to say, it was easy, and the folks there have been absolutely fabulous - they're so service-oriented - they couldn't have been more helpful!
I love it when a story pours out. Thank you for stopping by my blog, Cynthia.
I love it when a story pours out. Thank you for stopping by my blog, Cynthia.
The following interview was posted on WOW! Women on Writing - September 23, 2011:
Friday Speak Out!: Making It Into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, Guest Post by Cynthia Watson
Making It Into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest by Cynthia Watson
I haven’t won a lot of prizes in my life, which is surprising, given my Irish heritage. They say the Irish are an especially lucky lot, but not this Irish girl. I remember winning three small items in my entire life. I recollect winning a beige coloured, plastic statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Gabriel’s grade school — grade three, I think — where I came in first in an all-day spelling bee. I was absolutely desperate to get that statue, and I did. Then, there was the time when I won a multi-coloured, crocheted doll at Loretto Abbey Secondary School (yes, I’ve been surrounded by nuns my whole life, but that’s another story!); for what, I can’t exactly remember. I believe it was just a random draw. I also won a gallon of whiskey at a Junior Board of Trade dinner, but gave it to the man who gave me the ticket for the draw.
So, you can imagine, I was beyond thrilled when I actually won a spot on the 2nd round list of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest list.
I entered my Young Adult Paranormal Romance novel into the contest in February of 2011. I had just completed some final edits on WIND, and figured I could use the publicity and recognition to acquire a much-coveted literary agent.
I began writing WIND in April 2009, and completed the first draft four months later. Then, I promptly made the mistake of querying a handful of literary agents too early — as many new writers do — but was happy when I received several requests for “partials,” and a couple of “fulls.” One request was from a new, young, hip agent who took me under her wing, and gave me some invaluable editing advice. In the end, she didn’t offer representation, but still, I will always remember her kindness to me.
Then, I saw the call for submissions for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest was between January 24th and February 6th. With much trepidation, I decided to enter. I created an Amazon account, and uploaded the entire manuscript (the Manuscript had to be a novel between 50,000 and 150,000 words; WIND is 77,000 words). I also uploaded an excerpt, and a 300 word pitch, as per the contest rules, crossed my fingers (and yes, I said a few prayers), and hoped for the best.
The way the contest works is, they accept 5,000 entries in each of the two categories:
1. 5,000 entries for General Fiction (general or genre-based literature primarily intended for an audience of readers who are age 17 and older), and
2. 5,000 entries for Young Adult (general or genre-based fiction primarily intended for an audience of readers age 12 to 16).
Next, they whittle each list down to 1,000 entries which move to the second round, based on three criteria: Originality of idea, overall strength of the pitch, and the quality of writing.
I waited, quite impatiently, for February 24th, the date picked for the announcement of the entries moving to the 2nd round. Not really believing WIND had a chance, I was dumb-founded when I opened the PDF list, and saw among the 1,000 entries in the YA category, “WIND by Cynthia Watson.”
I was beyond excited! I must have opened that list ten times, to show co-workers, friends and family. I emailed everyone I had ever met, including my new writer friends. Needless to say, everyone was thrilled for me, and quite impressed. I received many congratulatory emails, and was on a “writing high” for many days. I promptly changed my profile on Twitter, and my writer’s blog to include my newly acquired credential. After two years of considerable doubt, this was the “sign” I was waiting for; I was really meant to be a writer!
The next date of significance was March 22nd, when the list of top 500 quarter-finalists was announced. I have to admit, I was disappointed when I scanned down to the “W’s” and didn’t see my name. I also have to confess that I looked more than once; just to ensure I wasn’t missing my name.
Okay, so I didn’t make it to the quarter-finals, much less win, and yes, it took a couple of days to get over the disappointment, but as time passed, I realized how lucky I was to have made it as far as I did. Overall, I’m glad I participated in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, and highly recommend other debut writers to do so in 2012.
When I first starting seriously writing, I read everything I could get my hands on about the publishing industry, and I was well aware that the highs and lows are all part of the journey, and one must take the bitter with the sweet. I’m still in the query process for WIND, while writing the second installment of the trilogy, SAND.
As I write this, I have two very high-profile agents looking at the entire manuscript.
The trepidation continues.
* * *
Cynthia Watson’s debut novel, WIND, book one of the Eternal Symmetry Saga, advanced to the 2nd round in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, and will be available on Amazon.com in October, 2011! Cynthia is in the process of writing the second book in the Eternal Symmetry Saga, entitled SAND. She lives just north of Toronto, Canada, with her Cocker Spaniel, and five rescued cats.
Cynthia blogs at: http://cynthiawatson.blogspot.com/
Follow Cynthia on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CynWatson
The following interview was featured on December 29, 2010, on Julie Anne Lindsey's dynamic blog, Musings from the Slush Pile. Julie is a very talented writer herself, and her unfailing enthusiasm and support of fellow writers is a force to be reckoned with!
Writer Wednesday Welcomes Cynthia Watson!!!
By Julie Anne Lindsey, on December 29th, 2010
Today on Writer Wednesday, I can’t wait to introduce you to my newest writer pal Cynthia Watson! Cynthia is am amazing, woman, writer, mother and friend. You’re going to love her! She’s right here in the trenches with the rest of us; writing, living, parenting, working. You name it, she’s got it going. What separates her from the pack? Well, in my opinion, it’s her awesome manuscript she’s called Wind. You all know what a crazy YA nut I am and as soon as I read the premise here, I wanted the book! Imagine my sad little face when I discovered she’s looking for a publisher! So, I made lemonade. I can’t read the book, but I can get to know the brain from which it was conceived! I can get the scoop -the deets- the 4-1-1. And here they are!
Please welcome Cynthia Watson! I can’t wait to hear about Wind, so I’m jumping in with both feet here. Patience is not a virtue in my sweet patent leather hobo. So, let’s go!
Hi Cynthia! Tell me: What drew you to the YA genre? and why paranormal?
WIND started out as an adult paranormal story, but I’ve always wanted to write something my children (Matthew, 21 & Anne Marie, 17) would read. When I started writing WIND in 2009, my kids and their friends were heavily immersed in the Twilight series. I would walk by their rooms, and hear them dissecting it to death. It piqued my curiosity. My daughter suggested I read the first book, so I did, and thought it was great! I loved the voice, and the desperate passion of the two main characters. I could totally relate to the confusion of Bella’s long-suffering father, Charlie (the dialogue between Bella and Charlie sounded very familiar!) Anyway, I decided to incorporate more young adult characters into WIND, and, ultimately, it totally morphed into a YA Paranormal Romance, narrated by eighteen-year-old Mary Flynn Flood (just called “Flynn” by her two best friends, openly gay, “David”, and boy-crazy “Siobhan”). Then I added, “Kevan”, Flynn’s sixteen-year-old sister, and the YA feeling was complete. I loved creating the dynamics between Flynn and Kevan; frustrating, but loving at the same time. Often, they can’t stand each other (typical sisters!), but they both eventually learn, the hard way, that “blood is thicker than water.”
I’ve always been a big fan of the paranormal sub-genre. My particular favorites are: Philip Pulman (His Dark Materials), “Dead Until Dark” by Charlaine Harris, “Interview With The Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”, by Anne Rice, “Carrie” and “The Shining” by Stephen King, “Rosemary’s Baby” by Ira Levin, and, of course, “Dracula,” by Bram Stoker. Also, I’ve have always been facsinated with John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, and Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”, the journey of a soul towards God, which is one of the the underlying themes of WIND.
I’m right with you. I LOVE para! Do you find it difficult to write from a teen’s point of view?
At first I wasn’t sure I could do it, but once I started, it just poured out (I was a teenager once, even if my kids don’t believe it!) The story is told from Flynn’s point of view, and I guess she’s a bit of myself, and a lot of my daughter, who is a funny and uncommonly thoughtful person. The first “grown up” book I remember reading was, “Once Is Not Enough” by Jacqueline Suzanne. I fell in love with the main character, January Wayne, and decided then and there that I would write a book someday with a main character as wonderful and hopeful as January Wayne. I hope I did.
I’m thrilled to meet a par YA character who is hopeful! Have you ever asked your own teens to listen to or give you feedback as you go?
The only bit of advice my daughter gave me was not to use the word “groovy” (hey, I grew up in the sixties!). When I completed the final edits, both my kids read it, and thankfully, they loved it. My daughter liked Kevan, and my son loves the dark, demon side. Score! If only we all had beloved young adults to give us some insight. And we know are kids are the surest to tell us what they really think LOL. Excellent. (I wish there was a “thumbs up” key). Dear Dell: get on that.
OK, so you rock on the YA writing. Tell me: What’s your favorite genre to read? I always wonder if we writers read what we write or if they are separate. I tend to scoop up YA by the armload to read, but still write all over the board (I need a harness or therapy or a life coach LOL. I wanna write it ALLLLL)
I’ll read anything! I love young adult (currently, “The Hunger Games” triology by Suzanne Collins, and Kiersten White’s “Paranormalcy”), historical fiction (Nevil Shute’s “A Town Like Alice,” and “Exodus” by Leon Uris), horror (Stephen King, naturally), mystery (anything Agatha Christie). One of my favorite authors is Audrey Niffenegger. I highly recommend, “Her Fearful Symmetry.” And, of course, I love the classics such as Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” or “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. Also, I’m a bit of a Sherlock Holmes nut! Currently, I’m re-reading “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. I’m always trying to encourage young people to read GWTW. It’s got one of the coolest (notice I didn’t say “grooviest”) protagonists ever – the original steel magnolia!
Tell us about Wind -
WIND is about Eighteen-year-old Mary Flynn Flood, a present-day, Boston college student whose world falls apart when her beloved father dies of the “Irish Cancer”—alcoholism. Her once vibrant mother has become a shadow of her former self, her oldest brother, Jack, is an emotionally-distant lawyer who lives in New York City, and her other brother, Dylan (who is in serious danger of becoming the next alcoholic of the family), has high-tailed it for Europe. To make matters worse, her sixteen-year-old sister, Kevan, whom Flynn has sworn to protect, has suddenly gone from looking like Hanna Montana to Marilyn Manson.
But when a seemingly chance encounter with an international student from Italy, Dante, drops her down a rabbit hole of angels, demons and inexplicable, mystical occurrences, Flynn quickly suspects that he is no ordinary boyfriend (if such a thing exists in any world!). Eventually, Dante is obliged to admit he is an angel, temporarily here on a surreptitious mission which he cannot reveal—even to Flynn. Just when things are looking up for Flynn, Dante’s eternal adversary, a rogue, dark angel, and his vacuous companion, turn up to upset the balance, with devastating results. But, when Kevan falls for one of them, Flynn must battle to keep her kid sister’s first love from being her last! LOVE IT.
How soon can I have it????? Where are you now in the process?
Currently, I’m knee-deep in the query trenches for WIND. I’ve just been asked for two fulls and one partial by amazing agents, (smart ones I see)so I’m hopeful for 2011. I’m now writing SAND, the second book in the planned trilogy. OMG there’s a trilogy people. Write this down somewhere. (The working title of the third installment is, FIRE).
What keeps you afloat in such a nutty industry as ours?
I love reading about published authors’ journeys. Most authors went through so many ups and downs before getting published. It gives me great comfort to know I’m not alone in riding the publishing roller coaster. I’ve had my moments wherein I considered quitting – for about an hour – then I realized writing is a calling; you just don’t have a choice, once you start (I got my start writing for my all-girls school newspaper – my first piece was a review of an Elton John concert!). I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
This is so true. If you have the writing bug, you can’t drop it. I’ve tried. I’ve dilly dallied. I’ve weighed my more realistic options, but once I opened that flood gate, it was over. All you writers understand this. Writing really does call you and it’s kind of a permanent thing. OK – enough pontification from Julie. (I struggle with focus. And bugs and monkeys. I hate monkeys.)
Thank you so much for stopping by today and telling us about your incredible title, Wind. I think I speak for all YA lovers alike when I say SQUEE! and I can not wait to get my hands on it! Please come back as soon as it’s on shelves so I can help brag promote !
Julie, thank you so much for interviewing me on your awesome blog. I wish you every success with your writing career! Happy Holidays to all your readers!
Alright! What did you think? I know you’re thirsty for more. I was. Cynthia has been featured on ShortStoryBook.net, and even guest blogged on QueryTracker.net You can keep her in your sights by making her site a favorite CynthiaWatson, and definitely start following her on Twitter @CynWatson! Thanks so much.