Interview with Cindy Lynn Speer, author of ‘Wishes and Sorrows’

n603087527_2141Cindy Lynn Speer is the author of several novels, including The Chocolatier’s Wifeand the short story collection Wishes and Sorrows.  She loves mixing fantasy, mystery and romance and playing with the old stories.  When not writing she can be found reading, teaching people historical fencing, and costuming.
About Wishes and Sorrows:
“Richly ambitious” — Publishers Weekly
For every wish there is a sorrow…
Wishes are born from sorrows, blessings are sometimes curses, and even fairy godmothers cannot always get what they want. In this original collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, brings to life creatures of myths and tales, mixing them into a vibrant tapestry of stories, happy and sad, magical and real, each lovingly crafted and sure to touch the reader’s soul.
Step into the world where magic is real, and every mundane bit of reality is as magical as a true fairy tale.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Wishes and Sorrows. What was your inspiration for it?
A:  I love writing short stories – I get lovely little scenes in my head, or people just settle into the back of my mind and start telling their story, and I know that these are not huge stories, they are just this one part of this person’s life, so I settle down and I write it.  Short stories are awesome because it makes you move a different set of mental muscles, keeping the prose on track, focusing on this one tale.  And it’s liberating to have something done in a shorter length of time.  (Though, I do love longer works, too, just for very different reasons.)
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A:  I have several…there’s a woman named Aziza, who is a “Bell Witch” – she scares away ghosts from her village every night.  There’s a lady who marries a very dangerous man despite her friend’s worries in my re-telling of the Mr. Fox/Bluebeard myth “A Necklace of Rubies.”  I have runaways, princesses, faeries, ghosts…each trying to find their way out of a mess to some sort of happy ending.  Some succeed, some…not so much.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A:  This book is so completely different from my other novels because it is the work of many years.  There’s “Remember” – a dark little story that I wrote in college, and the person I was then is not the person who wrote “But Can you Let Him Go?”  The person who wrote the first story had a totally different take on love, darkness…the one who wrote the second, at that time of her life, was much more interested in redemption and how we earn our happy endings in the hope that, eventually, I will earn my own.  So in a lot of ways, this is an interesting look at my development as a writer.  The stories are, on the surface, just good, solid stories with a mix of horror, fantasy, and romance.  Underneath they form my own history, as a writer – what I learned, finding the truth of my voice – and as a person, about what I felt was important at the time, what I valued.  There are more happy endings the older I get (Wow, I sound like I’m 80, I’m not quite half that) because I see how much more important they are.
That all sounds deep…more deep, really, than it should be.  *grins*
perf6.000x9.000.inddQ: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
A:  One of the awesome things about short stories is that the narratives are short, focused.  You can’t go wandering all around and everything needs to be important.  In novels you can sometimes get away with an awesome conversation or a small side trip as long as it feels like it belongs and it does not bore the reader, but in short stories everything excess is stripped away.  And…also…in a collection, if someone hates one story, they can leap to the next.  The stories are all kind of a mix, so there is something for everyone in it.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A:  I don’t…I have anxiety about trying to find time to write, but never about writing itself.  Once I have my mind locked into the writing, I have an awesome time.  It is simply a matter of making time and being disciplined.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A:  My writing schedule is a bit of catch as catch can sometimes.  I write when I find time…lunch breaks, after dinner, whenever there is free time.
Q: How do you define success?
A:  A lot of ways!  Getting something done you can be proud to stand behind and encourage people to read.  Having someone review your book and really seemed to have enjoyed it.  Even a tweet where someone says, “Hey, when is another book coming out?” is an amazing thing.
A lot of people want to define success with money – and goodness, it would be fun to be able to stay home and write, that is my dream.  But who knows if it will ever happen?  So I define success by the small goals.  I am so happy when someone says, “I liked this!” – making my readers happy is the best thing, ever.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A:  It is about balance and honesty.  I have seen so many people who were unhappy swallow it – they have someone who does not support their work, but they keep their unhappiness to themselves because they don’t want to hurt their partner.  I see this as treating the person you love as someone who isn’t your friend.  Sit down and talk to them about how important this is, how it is a part of you.  Ask how you can both work together so you have the writing time you need.
Mostly people are reasonable.  Some are not.  But the key is…I think the things that mean the most are the ones worth fighting for.  So if he or she won’t support you, as long as you are doing your part to keep the house/life/relationship going, there is no shame in carving out time to write, locking the door and saying, “I love you, but this is my time to work on my dreams.”
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A:I do, mostly.  Writing is work…sometimes you are just clicking away and you are like, “This is the best thing, ever!” and then you slow down, and you stop.  For me it’s not (generally) like hitting a way as much as coming to c clearing and having a feeling that you took a wrong turn back there somewhere, and you are unsure what direction you should go, so you sort of wander around the edges and try and see if any the paths out look right.  And making sure it all sounds right, everything is work.  But like I said, if it’s worth it, it’s worth the work.
Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A:  If  you want to be a writer, be persistent.  Never give up, read lots, and keep going.  If you are a reader, thank you – keep reading and telling people what makes you happy, because it is a great gift.