Q& A with Cindy
I am very glad to meet you here and since I enjoy talking about the writing business, the writing process, and my writing projects, I would love to continue the conversation. If you have questions I haven’t answered here, please pose them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Cindy Jones Books. We can keep in touch if you subscribe to my blog (via this website). And don’t forget to invite me to your bookclub discussion of My Jane Austen Summer. I am available via phone, skype, or, depending on where you are, in person. Scroll down for links to Q&A interviews I’ve done for others. Keep in touch!
All best wishes for happy reading,
When did you begin writing?
I wrote my first story in fourth grade and experienced such a profound reaction hearing the teacher read it aloud that I wanted to experience the sensation again. In fifth grade I wrote a novel.
What was the best day of your writing life?
Any writing day when I understand my own thoughts and convert them to words is a good writing day. I like days when I make big progress. Finishing things always provides a sense of accomplishment. Fixing a problem makes me feel good. Getting ideas is exhilarating.
What was the worst day in your writing life?
For most people, the path to publication is ten years of hard labor with heartbreak at various junctures. My worst day happened after I had been camping in the Smoky Mountains with some friends and our children. I had been without cell phone or internet for a full week and my agent had recently and ultimately submitted my novel, full of high hope, to twelve editors. I spent five years writing my book. After signing with my agent, I had cut the middle 150 pages and started over from scratch, at her suggestion. I had revised and revised until I couldn’t imagine how to revise any more. Now, I wondered what I would learn when I emerged from the wilderness. I was glad to have the distraction of the camping trip. After leaving the park, not having a smart phone back then, I had to wait until stopping at a motel for the night to check my email. What’s another day when I’d been waiting a week? Five years? Besides, although I was hopeful, I was also nervous because so much was riding on this round of submissions. Tired and filthy from days of camping in the rain, no showers, and no laundry, I unpacked my computer and plugged it in. The email from my agent was waiting for me. But the news was devastating. Nearly all of the editors had responded, and they all passed on my book. My novel was rejected. My dream was dead. Just like that. My husband was backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch with another son at the time, absolutely out of cell phone range.
Then what happened?
I woke at 3:30 AM and experienced the brief oblivion before remembering the misery of my dead dream, so much more devastating in the middle of the night. I got out of bed, my children still sound asleep in our motel room, and turned on my computer. I studied the rejection emails for a pattern. I found one. I emailed my writing teacher for advice. He gave me an idea. I decided to cut the middle 150 pages. Again. And generated a list of things that needed improvement. At breakfast, I told my children that I was going to fix the problems in my novel and try again. Then I drove all day, from Nashville to Amarillo, with a pen and paper on my steering wheel. Fortunately no one else was on the roads that day. My agent said there were enough editors for another strong round of submissions. After another year of revising, the book was submitted and sold at auction to HarperCollins.
What do you do for fun?
Read and write. I enjoy adventures with my husband and children. I like to travel and love spending time at summer cabins in Ohio and Santa Fe.
Name your favorite books and authors.
Jane Austen/Mansfield Park and Persuasion,
the Brontes/Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre,
Thomas Hardy/Tess of the D’Urbervilles,
Edith Wharton/House of Mirth,
Henry James/Portrait of a Lady,
Daphne DuMaurier/House on the Strand, Scapegoat, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel,
Iris Murdoch/The Book and the Brotherhood, The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
Karen Joy Fowler/The Jane Austen Book Club, Sister Noon
Peter Cameron/The City of Your Final Destination
Do you have advice for writers?
Writing is its own reward. Publication is a thrilling validation, but actual happiness comes from the act of creation.
Q&A with AutenProse: Sample Question: If you could be introduced to any of Jane Austen’s colorful heroes or villains, who would it be, and what penetrating question would you ask them?