A San Francisco native, Cindy has worked as a professional writer in the Bay Area for many years. She splits her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and the place she likes to call home: the coastal community of Carmel, California. When she’s not writing or reading, Cindy enjoys traveling, camping, sailing, painting, swimming, wine tasting, baking and, of course, spending time with her family.
I write various genres, but I've been having great fun writing contemporary romance. It's funny...I never thought I would be able to write this genre. But when I examined the types of stories I enjoyed most in books or movies, I whittled down the subjects to romance and suspense. Hence, Hard as Mason is a romance with a dark twist.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think everyone is familiar with the groans that fill a classroom the first time a teacher assigns a paper requiring at least 10 pages. Even professional writers had to get used to those dreadfully long homework assignments. But like most things in life, enough practice pushes the writer past those initial fears and into the joy of filling pages with new worlds. Once you write 30,000 words or so, you realize, "Hey, I can do this!" This exhilarating realization inspires an empowering sensation that drives you forward in your task to finish writing a book.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Most definitely, Hard as Mason is intended for adult readers. If you're looking for a steamy read with relatable characters entangled within a suspenseful story that could be ripped from the headlines, this is the book for you.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have enjoyed writing stories since I was a child. Professionally, I began as a writer for television news before moving into newspaper and magazine journalism.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Okay, so this isn't a healthy writing habit, but when I dive into a story, my sweet tooth rears its ugly head. My favorites--in smallish doses--are Cherry Tootsie Pops, Jelly Bellies (cotton candy and "very cherry"), red vines, and dark chocolate stashed away for emergencies. Is that better than munching on a big bag of potato chips?
What do you think makes a good story?
One that keeps the reader engaged and wanting more. Just remember, if you are the person writing the story, don't ever, ever
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The challenge is more about who I become when I write. Geez, that sounds creepy. No, I don't shape shift or anything. Rather, to the exclusion or everything around me, I do become intensely focused on freeing the words rattling around in my mind. Thus, when I'm typing away like a fiend, my family has learned they must pry me away form the keyboard when they require my attention. "Mommy, back away from the computer and look at me," says my daughter. Otherwise, likely I won't retain a word anyone says...even while I sit there repeating, "Uh huh." (Bad mommy!)
It depends on the story, but when I wrote Hard as Mason, I knew I had to write some scenes involving domestic violence. Obviously, this is a sensitive subject (especially in light of all the recent stories coming out of the NFL). The question became, how far should I carry these scenes? I knew these interactions were necessary to advance the plot and create sympathetic protagonists. Still, you don't want to push your reader over that edge from caring about the character, to hating the story for exposing too much. I think my background covering police stories for many years (and watching a lot of Alfred Hitchcock films) helped me balance this subject matter and shape the story. Sometimes, rather than describe a room splattered and soaked in a victim's blood, greater impact can be achieved by focusing on the frozen, empty stare from the mangled corpse. Given the choice, which description sends chills down your spine?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't become a writer. Generally, the pay is terrible. But if you must, you should become a writer because you feel like it's something you have to do...like a calling. It's a desire you feel in the marrow of your bones and in the darkest recesses of your tortured soul. Be prepared to receive a lot of rejections and criticisms, and don't expect to sell a million copies of your first (or second or third) book within an hour of posting it on Amazon. If you're not up for the challenge, step away from the keyboard...NOW! Before it's too late.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In addition to working on the second book in the Sultry Tides series, I'm working on two other books, as well. Wait until you read what Greg does next. Damn, he's psycho!
What is the weirdest thing that has ever been said or done to you by a fan? (Internet stalkers count)
It's not so much weird, as threatening. I have done my share of investigative reporting, and people don't like it when you expose their crimes. Funny thing is, the threats didn't come from people such as gang members; they came from mothers who were connected with embezzling large chunks of money from school fundraisers. Those "ladies" were vicious.
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I enjoy crafting and painting (I'm going to have a show of my oil paintings in few months), but I also enjoy designing beautiful and elaborate invitations. I suppose the biggest compliment was discovering that some friends and relatives have kept my invitations from years ago.
If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
Physics professor. Remember, kids...physics is phun! (I'm such a nerd)
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
While I adore my wonderful children, I prefer to be measured by something else. I have won various awards for my writing and art, but I maintain the hope that something big is on its way. In the interim, it was exciting when I won my first international writing competition a few months ago. I won gold for a magazine feature...I didn't even know my editor had submitted the story until I was invited to the awards luncheon. That was a nice surprise.
What books have most influenced your life most?
To Kill a Mockingbird, Call of the Wild, The Grapes of Wrath, The Metamorphosis
What book are you reading now?
I'm reading a few books currently. Generally, reading before bedtime relaxes me and distracts my mind from too many lists running through my head. But when I started reading a recent giveaway win, Vigilance by L.G. Pace, I noticed I began dreaming about zombies chasing after me. Therefore, I added more books including Swamplandia by Karen Russell (I love her stories).
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Since I was a child, most books I read (and my own writing) must attempt to live up to the standards of Jack London. His descriptions make you feel like you have stepped into the scene with the characters.
Who is your favorite character in Literature?
Not only are Atticus Finch and Puck my favorite characters, they are members of my family.
What is your favorite movie and why?
There are too many to list, but all my favorites offer compelling stories, an engaging script, artistic cinematography and glorious characters: "Lawrence of Arabia” (during which I fell in love with Peter O’Toole’s Caribbean-blue eyes), most Alfred Hitchcock movies (favorites: "Rear Window" and “The Birds”), Coen brothers films (favorites: “Hudsucker Proxy” and “Raising Arizona”), "Moonrise Kingdom," "Gas Light" with Ingrid Bergman, and the list goes on.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I'd meet with Albert Einstein and Neil deGrasse Tyson to discuss a theory I've been working on since the late 1990s, and hang out with Walt Disney in the Magic Kingdom.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Peter Pan or Grapes of Wrath. I know that's an odd combination and makes my mind appear a tad bipolar, but I love the magic of the first, and the harsh reality of the latter.
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