It's impossible to imagine that a year ago that I would have to travel virtually this year because tourism would not exist. In fairness, we have been largely unaffected in my family so far which is something of a miracle given the craziness that was 2020. But whilst my plans had to change, but my ideas remained the same. I felt the need to see the world again. So I had to create new ways of doing it. Virtual museum walks were a personal favorite. I even played sympathetically quiet music in the background while I did it to set the mood. But I also found out that I love audiobooks. To escape into a book with my eyes closed, was indeed thrilling. So I managed to travel to many, many countries this year from the comfort of my couch. I was keen to learn what excites other authors and gives them a chance to escape.
This month's authors:
Cynthia is based in Queensland Australia and loves to write young adult and romance novels. I was keen to speak with another Australian author and find out what challenges she has overcome and what inspired her.
What inspires you to write?
That is a very difficult question to answer. I love writing, so the act of writing is inspiring. While writing I like to share my experiences with others. When my daughter was eight, we traveled around Australia experiencing many amazing things. In my first published novel, The Cat’s out of the Bag, a contemporary romance, I wrote about some of the places we visited. It was great to recall the experiences we had, like climbing a Fire Tree.
Who is your favorite character you have created and why?
In my yet to be published YA novel, Serendipity, my favorite character would be Suezanna. When some readers begin reading the novel, they find her prickly, and her actions selfish, but their opinion alters as they continue into the story. Suezanna goes through some extreme changes after her father’s death, the revelation of her mother’s mental illness, and bullying at her new school. She is angry, confused, scared, and lonely, yet beats the odds due to her bravery.
What is the hardest part about writing for young adults?
Even though social media is huge in young adult’s lives, I try to keep it out of my books because I like my stories to be about the characters and their immediate environment. I feel that social media could encroach on that, and can inhibit their thoughts and feelings. Because of the powerful messages, I am trying to portray in my books I try not to be too graphic, especially when describing bullying and sexual harassment. For me, it is about portraying their feelings and fears on the page. I would like my young adult books to be traditionally published so that they can be introduced into the school system.
I plan to self-publish my contemporary romance novels as I believe there is a wide market for them. My first published novel is The Cat’s out of the Bag. Because I like to deal with hard topics, this novel touches on domestic violence. It is a story of hope and love.
Where is your favorite writing location and why?
It actually depends on the season. Usually, I write at my kitchen table, because I can lay out everything I need and it’s within easy reach. I have a window I can look out of when I need to take my eyes away from the screen. It helps to recentre myself.
During summer, when the heat is terrible, I write in the lounge room in the air conditioning. It is much easier to concentrate when you are not sweating and suffering.
I do have a room that should be a study area but it is currently full of junk.
Cynthia loves to catch up with her readers via her various social media accounts at:
She is most active on Instagram but you can find her just about anywhere!
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking out her books and chatting with her, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Terry has been extremely successful as a scriptwriter and is branching out into novels. It was my pleasure to interview and find out why!
You have achieved a lot already with your script-writing, but what has been the highlight so far, and why?
I think I can only whittle it down to two highlights! The first was completing my biopic spec script 'Christopher's Queen'. It followed trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who were at the forefront of the 1969 Stonewall Riots fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. I'll be forever indebted to them for being able to live a relatively safe and privileged life as a gay man, and so this script was a homage to them and their legacy, which is sinfully unknown by a lot of people. To ensure that Christopher's Queen was factually accurate -- and depicted Johnson and Rivera tastefully -- I conducted research with their friends and fellow activists, as well as archivists and historians. It was a huge undertaking that often put me out of my comfort zone -- approaching mere strangers as an unestablished creative is terrifying for any awkward writer! But everyone I spoke to was delightful and enthusiastic to help, and the script was one of my most emotionally provocative pieces to date.
The second highlight is probably a more superficial one: being shortlisted for the BBC's Comedy Writersroom 2016. It was the first time I had entered any type of writing competition and I knew that I was submitting a series idea that was hard to market: a comedy-drama set in an elderly care home as it faces closure. The series was loosely based on my own time working in a care home and it represented the unexpected life and vitality the establishment and its residents can have, whilst it commented on more serious themes about mental health, sexuality, and institutionalized care. I made it to the top 7% of over two thousand submissions. Having that recognition from the nation's biggest media outlet was super rewarding.
What inspires your stories? Two seems to be the number of the day because I typically find inspiration in two ways! For example, take my 2021 debut 'The Frequency'. It's a paranormal thriller set in Cornwall as a wave of horrific possessions grips the southern coast. A group of wayward psychics (think Ghostbusters meet Torchwood) attempt to find the root of the problem whilst they battle their own interior complexes. The general idea came to me when I was fourteen just after my grandfather passed away. This was the first death I had encountered and so whilst I was processing my grief, I asked questions like: if there is an afterlife, what would it be like? How could its existence be explained scientifically? Secondly, as I began writing what I now consider to be the "minus one draft", I wondered about these psychics who know, with scientific proof, that ghosts exist. How does that affect the psychology of someone that has assurance on eternal, spiritual life? Are they more reckless? What is their response to funerals and the grieving process? If they can contact the dead, do they ever move on and accept someone's passing? Before I knew it I had some really interesting and provoking ideas which, fast forward twelve years to today, have made for an engaging story with nuanced characters, all of which I'm really excited to put out into the world next July. So to summarise that tangent -- I tend to ask "what if's", and then I consider how the answers to those questions might affect my characters. It's a constant cycle of concept informing character, and character informing concept, and so on.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why?
The stereotypical writer response, but truthfully the answer was: a writer! But more specifically, a storyteller. When I was younger I was writing my own stories, knocking out 400 paged novels by the time I was ten. Even though computers were well and truly instated in most homes by 2005, all I wanted that Christmas was a typewriter so that I could feel like Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote! Then I moved into fine art and graphic design in my teens, and onto filmmaking and scriptwriting in my early twenties, and now I've come back full circle to writing literature. But everything I have learned in those other mediums informs my work now, both as a story and as a product. There's no doubt that the process of writing a book as a child (from painstakingly writing it out on my typewriter, drawing my own covers and illustrations, and stapling it all together) impacted the creative freedom I want now as an author, which is why I'm pursuing self-publishing for The Frequency.
You have a new book coming out, what have you found the easiest, and what has been the most challenging parts of that process?
Wow, I think it's the same answer. It is, and will always continue to be, doing the writing. The easiest part for me (95% of the time) is actually sitting down and creating. It's great for my emotional wellbeing and general mental health, and I can lose myself in stories for hours at a time, especially when it's going really good. On the flip side of that, good writing really is editing and editing well. I've had to sacrifice some set pieces and plot elements for the good of the story. Many times I've had to sit back and accept that aspects of my craft need work, and I've had to burst what little ego I have by that time. So the actual creative side, exploring ideas and spewing out draft zero, will always be easy. The refinement of it, where creativity is often sacrificed for stronger storytelling, will always be the challenge -- albeit a rewarding one!
Terry likes to engage with his readers via his website: www.terrykitto.com.
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for him by checking it out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler
Grab your copy of Magic & Mischief here: