Each week I conduct another interview with another author and I never bore with their answers. It fascinates me to learn what inspires each person, how they overcome obstacles, what advice they’d give or best advice they’ve received. There is no science to the art of writing. We all tackle it from a different angle, we each have our own style/voice and we each see ourselves and our writing differently than others see us.
My attempt is to give you as a reader insight into the mind of the author and hopefully, by the end of the interview you will connect with who he or she is and find something in their work that interests you.
This week, I interviewed Cindy Hogan, author of ‘Watched’.
Cindy loves living near the mountains and can’t imagine living anywhere without four distinct seasons. She relishes every minute she has with her two teen daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. Watching her extremely furry cat, Sammy, relaxes her and if she isn’t reading or writing, you’ll find her doing something outdoors or watching a flick with her astoundingly patient and fun husband, Bill.
Cindy earned a BA in secondary education at BYU and has enjoyed teaching the last nine years and is inspired by the teens she teaches.
IDI – Cindy, being a teacher and a wife and mother doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing so when did you know that you were born to be a writer?
CH – I knew I was born to be a writer when a group of teens, including my own daughters, who were reading rough versions of ‘Watched’ begged and begged me to keep writing.
IDI – What are you working on now?
CH – I just finished ‘Protected’ which is the sequel to ‘Watched’, and have started the first chapter of the third book in the series (still untitled). Here’s an excerpt from ‘Protected’:
“Over the last three weeks, I’d moved like a ninja through the halls of Helena High- Invisible, stealthy – going from class to class. At least that’s what I’d convinced myself. It took the horrible, sing-song voice of Katie Lee to realize I was no ninja master. More like a giant target with a bull’s-eye painted on my forehead.”
And here’s the blurb from the back cover:
It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy’s life. It takes murder. A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator’s aide, Christy finds herself watched, not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys. She discovers that if she can’t help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.
IDI – What are you the most passionate about within your writing?
CH – I am the most passionate about creating real characters, characters that people identify with. I want my readers to FEEL what my characters feel. You know, cry when they cry, be scared when they are scared, worry when they worry and laugh when they laugh.
IDI – So it’s safe to say that you feel that to a degree, we have to ‘be’ the characters we write, experiencing their emotions while we write?
CH – Yes, it’s true. As I said in my last answer, I want my readers to feel everything my character feels. I feel it also… I talk to myself. I can’t help it. My characters just pop up and take over sometimes. I think all writers suffer from this to some degree.
IDI – Where do you find most of your ideas?
CH – The idea for ‘Watched’ came from a dream. The funny thing is that the vivid scene that drove me to write about Christy doesn’t show up until the end of Book 2 – ‘Protected’.
IDI – Who’s your target audience?
CH – My target audience is young adult. I hope they are able to see themselves in my writing. I love it when a reader says, ‘That is me in your book. It’s me you’re writing about.’
IDI – Do you have any eccentricities you’d like to share with us?
CH – I don’t know if you’d call it an eccentricity, but I have to be able to see outside in order to write. Actually, I need to be able to see out to do just about anything. I’m quite claustrophobic.
IDI – Do you have a favorite author? If so, why them?
CH – It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite author. I am such an avid reader (I devour at least one book a week) that I tend to read everything an author writes (if I liked their first novel) but often find their books all start sounding the same after a while and I abandon any other books by that author. I love it when authors write something totally different from what they are known. Take Stephanie Meyer, for instance. Loved the twilight series, (up until the last one) but loved ‘The Host’ even more. If an author can write a story I get lost in, I’m a fan.
IDI – Are you an outliner or do you prefer to see where the story/characters take you?
CH – I never outline – I’d never finish a book. I write what I see in my mind and then I let my critique groups help me fill in the blanks.
IDI – I admit, I am shackled to my laptop when it comes to writing. What about you? Do you have any tools that are essential to your writing?
CH – I wrote my first book on paper and then transferred it all to the computer. It was a very slow way to write a book. Now, I type everything straight into my laptop.
IDI – How much of Cindy Hogan will a reader find in one of your books?
CH – I once thought only small pieces of me showed up in my writing, but my best friend from high school called me recently and said, “You are Christy, aren’t you? And I’m Marybeth.” So, maybe there’s more of me in this character than I thought.
IDI – Do you belong to any writer’s groups and if so, how valuable do you find them to be?
CH – I am a part of several critique groups and writer’s groups. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. They are an invaluable resource.
IDI – Everyone has a dream and although for most its fame, success, money… for some it’s different. What is your dream?
CH – My dream is to have teens all over talking about my books and how realistic the situations my characters face are.
IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you and by whom?
CH – The best advice I have received is to go to a writers’ conference. After writing my first chapter, I went to my sister, who, surprise-surprise had just finished a middle-grade book, and she told me about a writers’ conference that she was going to in the near future. We went together and that’s all she wrote. Haha
IDI – What is the best advice you could give to new/unpublished writers’?
CH – My advice to unpublished authors would be to go to writers’ conferences and get in a critique group. Writers’ conferences put you in front of editors and agents as well as fellow writers. They also help you hone your craft… Critique groups take your manuscripts to a higher level.
IDI – Every writer has his/her own style/voice (assuming we’re doing our jobs right) but what author would you say your work most resembles?
CH – I’ve been compared to both Jodi Picoult (tension) and Sarah Dessen (contemporary elements). That was scary to say out loud.
IDI – You’ve already said what you think about an author crossing over to another genre, but have you considered doing it yourself?
CH – I have this awesome adult contemporary suspense idea. One day I will write that book.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
CH – The biggest misconception new authors have about the publishing industry is that a publisher does everything possible for you to market your book. In truth, you, as the author, are the main marketer until you’ve made it. Once you are incredibly popular, they market you. Backwards – I know.
IDI – What is the one thing you would like someone who has never read one of your books to know?
CH – I would like them to know that while I will always write about real events in teenagers’ lives, my books will be safe for all teens to read. Parents won’t have to read my books first to see if they are appropriate.
IDI – I’m sure a lot of parent’s will appreciate the fact that your work is something they can stand behind. Is there a particular theme you’d like to share?
CH – One main theme in ‘Watched’ is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side–the other side is full of pain, too and getting to the other side can be more difficult than it appears. Another theme is that one day, each person must take what they have learned from their parents and settle on beliefs and values of their own.
IDI – Having written more than one novel, did you find any major differences between writing each one?
CH – Yes. While it took me about four years to totally complete ‘Watched’, I finished ‘Protected’ in only six months and hope to have it completely edited in another six. Experience speeds things up.
IDI – To wrap up the interview, tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing.
CH – Well, I teach swimming lessons in the summer and it is a highlight in my life. I just love seeing the amazing growth in those little kids. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Also, I am a TV addict and I’m not afraid to admit it. We only have local channels – no cable for us. All those cooking, baking, gardening and house beautifying/buying shows would dominate my life if we had it.
I would like to thank Cindy for taking the time to give such a wonderful and informative interview. As with each author I interview, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to ‘work’ with her. Watched sounds exciting and if you would be interested in obtaining your own copy, you can do so through any of the following links:
Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of 3 novels, most recently ‘Lily White Lies’.
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If you would be interested in participating in an Ink Drop Interview, please contact me at ladybuggerly at hotmail. I would love to have you! Next week’s interview – Connie Gotsch
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