Our interview today is with Cynthia Toney. Thank you Cynthia for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?
Answer: It’s the one I prefer to read, and there’s so much to learn from great middle-grade and young teen fiction. Also, I taught sixth and seventh grades for a short time and fell in love with that age group. Then I witnessed my daughter and her schoolmates struggle with some issues during middle school that I wanted to address through fiction.
Question: Tell us a little about your ìrealî (Non-writing) life ó family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
Answer: I’ve retired from working an outside job. At times I allowed employment to interfere with my desire to become a writer, but at other times I volunteered to write for my employer(s) and other organizations with no expectation of compensation for it. I believe volunteering to write is a great way for a fledgling writer to gain experience. My husband is my biggest (human) supporter and fan, in my writing and other endeavors. My relationship with God has sustained me during the low periods when I wondered if I would ever get to share this story I’d written with the young people I wanted so much to reach.
Question: Tell us about things you enjoy ó what you do for fun or personal satisfaction?
Answer: I love animals, particularly dogs. I help groups that rescue dogs from being euthanized in animal shelters and find homes for them. Facebook has been a good tool for doing that. Besides writing novels, I write decorating articles for online publications and use the money I earn from that for dog rescue. In Bird Face, Wendy and her best friend Jennifer care for an abandoned dog and her litter of puppies. I think I will always include a dog in my stories.
Question: Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books ó Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?
Answer: I belong to critique groups through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and I wouldn’t want to try to get along without them. All us members learn as we help one another advance down the road to publication. Once Bird Face acquired a publisher, editors worked with me, and the publisher’s artist designed the cover.
Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
Answer: Summary of BIRD FACE:
Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks—until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something. But the Spring Program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her?
BIRD FACE addresses serious issues of divorce, eating disorders, and teen suicide, but in a delicate manner appropriate for grades 5 through 8, ages 10 – 14.
Question: What is the ìmessageî of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: Through story, Bird Face shows young people that, whatever their backgrounds and perceived abilities, they are worthy of love and have the power within themselves to become the people they want to be.
Question: What ís your next project? Tell us so we canít wait for it to come out!
Answer: It’s historical crime fiction set in the 1920s with a boy protagonist, and the working title is The Other Side of Freedom. I’m searching for an agent or publisher, but I don’t know if it will be published next. If Bird Face is well-received, I want to write a series based on its set of characters. I’ve played with some ideas for those.
Question: Are there characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?
Answer: I think my main character Wendy’s voice is my own voice as a kid her age.
Question: What is your favorite book/character?
Answer: I love the Sammy Keyes mystery series by Wendelin van Draanen. Bird Face has some mystery in it, and of course my crime historical does too.
Question: What is your writing style?
Answer: I enjoy creating deep Point of View as often as I can. Even though my main characters are kids, I want their speech, thoughts, and actions to reveal deep emotion, to show that they are flawed and constantly struggling to do the right thing. I use whatever type of sentence structure I think will achieve that goal.
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