Note: Don't forget to leave a comment or question for Cindy after the interview. Not only will she be super-duper glad to hear from you, but she'll also be stopping by to give away an ARC of Silver Phoenix!
Interview with Cindy Pon
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take to finally commit to the dream?
i started writing in elementary school. this continued through my teens. i wrote mostly poetry and short stories and won in our school district wide contests. i was a writer like i was a girl. i didn't think about it, it was just a part of me.
i stopped writing for over a decade in my twenties through early thirties. there was too much real life stuff going on, like getting my first job, getting married, going to graduate school, etc. i sort of tucked that writing part of me away. i never took it seriously.
i picked it up again in my early thirties, after i had my two little bubs. i was staying at home full time and really needed something that was mine. so i thought i'd challenge myself and write a novel. i took several classes on the craft and novel-writing, and wrote SILVER PHOENIX after the bubs went to bed at night.
i didn't commit until i was finished -- nearly two years later and after a year of revising the manuscript. i really loved the novel and thought, hey, maybe i can get an agent and get it published. i thought that the novel (and me) deserved this. that i had to try at least.
What was the first tickling inspiration for Silver Phoenix?
fantasy is my first love as a genre. and i love myth and folklore. at the time, i had just begun as a student of chinese brush painting, and was enjoying learning about my heritage and culture. i thought i could combine my two loves and write a fantasy based on a chinese kingdom. my first written notes in my journal date back to 2003 or 2004? i didn'tbegin writing until january 2006.
What aspect of Silver Phoenix are you the proudest of?
probably my climax scene. it is definitely the culmination of the entire journey and story--everything that has happened brought my heroine to this point. and would she be able to win? and what would she have to sacrifice to do it?
the climax scene was one of the first that came to mind when i began writing the novel. i had no idea how i would get there or how it would make sense and tie into the story. but it all worked in the end. i love it when a story falls into place!
What do you feel is your strength as a writer?
tough question. and i'm not a modest sort of person either. ha! i think probably that it comes to me pretty intuitively. i can't say i'm right all the time or that i know exactly what i'm doing in an analytical way, but the story seems to unravel despite all that.
i don't do chapter outlines. i have a document simply filled with ideas, notes, snippets of dialogue, phrases, whole paragraphs, etc. but neither can i just leap in knowing nothing. i'm not brave enough for that!
What writing quirk of yours makes your family laugh?
well, my family has yet to read my novel! but my writing friends probably chuckle at all the food descriptions in my novel. they said i should write a cook book to accompany SILVER PHOENIX! ha! too bad i just eat, i don't cook. =X
You write a lot about your mother on your blog. How has she inspired your work?
she's not a writer. she actually thinks i'm rather very alien-like that i can sit down and make up all sorts of things and weave them into a coherent story. she doesn't understand that i enjoy it -- or that getting published is very hard to do and is an incredible blessing!
despite that, she has always encouraged me. she went to every writing award ceremony to cheer me on in high school. she's taught me to go for what i want. she's taught me to be independent. she's a strong, loving and kind woman. and funny. so i learned from her through example.
How has your cultural heritage flavored Silver Phoenix?
again, food. like with so many cultures, it means celebration and brings people together. my chinese brush art, which i was so fortunate to stumble on. i by no means considered myself an artist, and it frustrated me that i couldn't paint everything i wanted to paint RIGHT AWAY. but i kept at it, and now i'm lucky enough to be working on my own children's picture book featuring my art. it's been a dream of mine!
What advice do you have for authors seeking representation?
it's a fine balance between having enough ego and belief in yourself to move forward and attain your dream, but at the same time being humble enough to know that no matter how perfect and wonderful your writing is, you can learn more, you can improve it. if agents are having issues with the same thing in your prose, it's time to regroup and revise!
i abide by the query widely rule. i sent out 121 queries myself. and it was probably the most ego-crushing, heartwrenching, knife in gut process. it truly takes a lot of belief in yourself and your work. (the only thing more nerve-wracking was going on submission to editors!)
i was fortunate enough to sell my first novel. i know many writers who went on to sell their second or third. you have to decide if you have what it takes to keep going and keep trying.
every time i felt like it was a pipe dream, i'd ask myself if i had done enough for novel (and me). and inevitably, i'd decide i could give just a little more.
That wraps up our interview, Cindy. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by the blog and answer some questions. Best of luck with Silver Phoenix!
thanks so much for having me, alex! i really enjoyed our interview!