7 Year Witch, was released by AKP in April of 2012. The second book, A Witch at Midnight is due in December of this year.
The books follow sisters in a clan of witches on some very interesting adventures. The books are paranormal romance, spiced liberally with both humor and sex. Reviewers call the books "entertaining" and "light-hearted fun."
I interviewed Cindy so that readers and AKP fans could get to know her and how she writes her novels.
1. When did you start taking your writing seriously?
I feel like I always took it seriously because I seriously wanted to be published. From day one, I put my heart and soul into every book or story I wrote. I have this compulsive feeling I’m supposed to be doing this.
2. What’s the first thing you had published?
I’d been writing romance for about three years when I found an erotica contest and decided to enter. Why not give it a shot, I asked myself. I’d been writing all this sweet, sexy romance so I made myself take a walk on the wild side. I wrote, revised, wrote some more, and finally came up with a decidedly naughty, but very spicy and erotic short story, which I titled, “Shadow Man.” I sent it in to the contest, and amazingly, received an acceptance letter back from the contest organizers, along with a $50 check and sincere congratulations for winning third place and publication in their magazine. I still have a framed copy of that check—the first money I ever made at writing. For that story, I used the nom de plume, Cynthia Valentine.
3. You write the Wysteria Hedge Haven Clan series. How did that come about?
While cooking up a plot for a new book, I had a dream about beautiful witch sisters. I’ve always been fascinated by Wicca and white witches, so began plotting and writing “7 Year Witch.”
4. The books would be considered paranormal romances, heavy on the humor, and slightly spicy. What made you want to write them? Have you always been interested in the paranormal?
With three mystery novels under my belt, I decided to switch back to romance for fun. Before I sold my mysteries, I’d written historical, contemporary and paranormal romance. One of my paranormal romances, “Calypso’s Kiss,” had taken third place in a romance writers’ contest. Since that style had worked best for me in the past, I decided to go back to it. I love anything mysterious and unusual and unexplainable. I love fantasy and magic and things that go bump in the night. When I have the time, I’ll switch the TV over to programs that deal with lost civilizations and mysterious world events. It makes my brain explode with ideas!
5. Your main characters in the series are witches and sisters. Do you have sisters? Does that help or hurt you when writing the dynamics between them?
I have three older sisters, so naturally I experienced the dynamics of a household of young girls sparring for the bathroom and space to be alone, etc. We all were so very different, yet related, and our tastes ran to very different things. I had a wonderful family, and fantastic, supportive parents, so I find my novels have a lot of those relationships in the background. Now I have two granddaughters who share so many experiences and I see, once again, how sisters can fight like crazy, but woe unto the interloper that dares to interfere with them. Finally, I think women in general form a sisterhood wherever they go. Men grunt, drink beer and talk about sex. But women typically hug and support one another and share secrets. That’s powerful.
6. What other authors do you admire?
Anyone who writes has my admiration. Of course, I have my favorites. As a child, I adored Laura Ingalls Wilder. I talked about her and her “Little House” series so much I know my sister Shauna wanted to kick me. As a young adult, Johanna Lindsay’s work made me fall in love with romance novels. I also very much enjoy novels I’ve read that were written by John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, Steven King, Michael Crichton and Diane Mott Davidson. I like so many different things, and I don’t limit myself to any particular genre.
7. What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Back when I first began writing, one of the ladies in my writers’ group kind of took me under her wing and showed me how it’s done. I’d get all down on myself, and she’d encourage me to keep writing and submitting to editors/agents, to enter more writing contests and even to attend writers’ conferences and workshops. She was such a good influence and I got the impression that’s simply what professional writers do. They just keep trying.
8. Do you have any special routines that help you get in your writing ‘zen’ spot?
This may not be real glamorous to a lot of folks, but I begin by drafting out scenes long hand. Eventually the story begins to flow and the characters start to grow on me. I get excited about what these characters could do; what they want and what kind of predicaments they might find themselves in. When I’m stuck on a rough spot, my sister Shauna and I discuss it when we take our lunches to the park. We’ll sit in her car and brainstorm with plenty of laughter and imagination. That’s when the magic begins; that’s when my zen hits the high notes.
9. What appealed to you about working with Angelic Knight Press?
I live in a small town, and I work in a small office. So it seems natural I’d enjoy the close-knit atmosphere of a smaller press like AKP. I admire their fair business practices and their team-player atmosphere. With other publishers I’ve felt like a contractor hired to make widgets; and I didn’t feel very included or particularly welcome. AKP values their authors and makes them part of the publishing process. It’s very refreshing.
10. What advice would you give to new writers?
Always believe in yourself, and always remain a professional, no matter how many unprofessional individuals you might have to deal with. Always rise above the fray and you won’t spoil your reputation in the publishing industry. Keep in mind authors touch many lives with their words and give readers hours of reading pleasure and entertainment. Cherish your ability to do that and always treat those who read your work with respect and consideration. And here’s a quote from Maya Angelou that I love: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
You can purchase 7 Year Witch on Amazon and Smashwords. You can follow Cindy on her blog.
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