Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview with new YA fantasy author Cindy Pon

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!

76 comments:

cindy said...

thanks so much for helping to spread the news on SILVER PHOENIX. i feel so honored! and i'll be choosing an ARC winner on monday so please everyone leave a comment! =D

Andrea said...

Great interview! I can't wait to get me hands on this!

anlyledo

colbymarshall said...

I would be all about a cookbook to go with Silver Phoenix. I would say I'd try to find a phoenix, but a.) I don't think I'd have much luck and b.) even if I tried to cook it, it would just come back to life! (PS: Cindy, you are getting sleeeeppyy...you will not remember what is said after this: Colby will get the ARC. Now, Wake up!)

DeenaML said...

Great interview! I am excited to read your book!

Mark said...

Enjoyed the interview... loved how you said you were "a writer like you were a girl." Can't wait for the book to come out. Amazing Story! Congrats again.

Rose Pressey said...

Great interview, Cindy!

Natalie said...

Lovely interview:) You are such an inspiration. Every time I get sick of querying, I think of your lucky number 121.

anesbet said...

Cindy, you are a silver beacon of inspiration! I can't wait to read your book. (But did you really get through that entire interview without a single "ha!"?)

Congrats and hurrah!
AnneN (from the Blueboards)

Courtney said...

Nice interview Cindy and Alex! I love reading these. =D

Cynthea Liu said...

Cindy, your mom sounds a lot like my mom. Awww..... They're the best!

Natalie said...

Hi from Natalie #2! It's been so nice to read about your journey on Verla's. Congratulations, Cindy!

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Great interview, Cindy! I love the cover and I keep showing it to my daughter. We love your paintings, too.

Best of luck with Silver Phoenix!

Dia said...

g's okay, but eating is AWESOME. Can't wait til the book comes out!

Raynbow said...

Cindy, I love your philosophy on querying widely. I've read your querying process on Verla's as well and it is such an inspiring story for inspiring authors.

I can't wait to read Silver Phoenix!

Elise Murphy said...

You always have such great insights on the writing process, Cindy! And now I can't wait to read the big climax scene in the book!

Elise Murphy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

Go Cindy! Yay!

I am so excited to read your novel because I grew up on a lot of Chinese adventures and folklore. And who doesn't want to read about tasty Chinese food?

121 queries? Now that's inspiring!

just Joan said...

I loved the interview. Especially your advice to aspiring authors!

Congrats again on Silver Phoenix. I can't wait to read it (and I'll post a review on my blog when I'm done)!

MF said...

You should at least post some recipes on your blog! Ok, fingers crossed for the ARC (or I'm going to be 0 for 10 on these ARC giveaways - I'm even doing a contest on my own blog to try to drum up contest karma for myself!!! Or is that not how karma works?)

Ello said...

Hi Cindy! Hi Alex!

Great interview, both of you! And Cindy I think you should do a picture book cook book where you do brush paintings of all your favorite foods - and take requests. Ok I'm hungry again, this always happens around Cindy...

;o)

Angela said...

Great interview--great inspiration! I'm very excited for the book to come out!

Peter said...

Many congrats to you Cindy on getting the novel published! I don't normally read YA.. but I'll look for this one! :)

Julianne Douglas said...

Cindy's my hero! Can't wait to read the book.

Elisabeth S. said...

Very excited to read the book. Inspiring interview, since I'm working on my first novel!

Lisa

xollinzolox said...

Cool interview! :)

Kim Kasch said...

Cindy: I've watched your journey and you really are an inspiration.

I also love that you credit your Mom with so much of who you are.

You are a wonderful role model for all us wannabes following in your footsteps.

Plus the food, can't wait to read all about it.

Alex: Great job having all this info on your blog.

9 said...

I didn't know all that about you, mama!! congrats again and I look forward to reading your novel.

kristin-briana said...

Great interview, Cindy! I especially agree with the advice - be confident, but know that there is always room for improvement! So true.

PS - I'd really love to win an ARC. :D

MJ said...

I look forward to the children's book too! Please enter me in the contest

ravelda said...

Please enter me, too. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

tltrent said...

Me, me, me! :)

Tiffany Trent

Katie said...

Great interview. Looking forward to reading this one. =]

marcie said...

Wonderful interview! You have such an inspirational publishing journey:).

Remula said...

I'd like to be entered in the contest as well. XD

~Remula

Serenissima said...

Wonderful interview. I remember when you were posting your agent response times on the blueboards and now you're sooo close to being published. Congrats!

Aerin said...

Colby - NOT a chance, dude. It's MINE mine mine mine!!!!!!!

(Cin, that crate of eclairs is on its way....)

Diana Dang said...

What a great interview! I look forward to this novel!

boreal-owl said...

Fun interview! Cindy, you're an inspiration.

-- Owl from Verla's

anime-babble said...

This sounds like a great book...can't wait to read it!

I'm crossing my fingers about the ARC :)

Rebecca Herman said...

Thanks for the great interview! I can't wait to read the book.

Amber Lough said...

Here's to your lovely, beautiful book, Cindy of the No Caps. :-) *hugs*

Anthony said...

This post made me hungry, ha.

Congratulations, I can't wait to read your novel.

Paradox said...

Great interview!

Silver Phoenix sounds incredible!!! I love Asian fantasy, and there isn't enough of it. So when I found out about Silver Phoenix a few months ago I immediately wanted to read it!

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com
http://paradoxrevealed.blogspot.com/

Erika Lynn said...

i can't believe your family hasn't read it yet! great interview and I would love to read it.
sports dot erikalynn at gmail dot com

Christy Lenzi said...

It was fun getting to know more about you, Cindy. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

Katterley said...

So your mom doesn't write...is she an artist?

Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

Thanks for hosting a great interview, Alex!

Thao said...

I'm excited about this book, hopefully I could get to read it soon!

Stephanie Gunn said...

I am *so* looking forward to reading the book!

nodizzies said...

i cant wait for SILVER PHOENIX to come out! it's great to see an chinese author putting out a book. im chinese so it would be supercool to read a book about chinese characters...

cindy said...

aww, thank you everyone so much!

katterley, my mom hasn't read any of my writing, mainly due to language barrier. she can speak english and reads the enquirer to improve her reading skills. =D i find that very cute and endearing.

she isn't an artist, per se, but she was an actress!

Llehn said...

Hi Cindy,

Great interview! I feel like I've been stalking you for the longest time! HAHA! Seriously, your publication journey has been an inspiration!

ecm-sketches said...

Wonderful interview, Cindy! I appreciate that you fell in love with your story and stood by it throughout the grueling query process. Over 100 queries--that is staggering. Thanks for sharing :-)!

e said...

I remember when you announced your book deal on the Blue Boards, and I've been anxious to read your novel ever since!
:)
e

David Macinnis Gill said...

Take a look at the cover. It's gorgeous! But the story inside, the way its told, and the language Cindy uses? Ever better. Just wait till you read this novel! The images will play in your head for weeks.

This isn't an entry, Cindy. I already have an ARC.

Alex Moore said...

Hey friends! And to all the new ones, welcome to the blog -- make yourselves comfortable :) Thank you for giving Cindy such a warm welcome. Come Monday, someone is going to be doing the happy dance!!

Ello said...

Oh me, Pick me, Pick me me me me me me me me me me me me me me!

You think that will work? ;o)

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the great interview!

I am so looking forward to this book....

nolablossom said...

Enjoyed your interview; I look forward to reading your book!

Also, am interested in your children's book with illustrations!

Heather said...

Wonderful interview! So inspiring -- and I need all the inspiration I can get. This sounds like a great book, and I really look forward to reading it!

Lynne said...

Congratulations Cindy! I look forward to reading SILVER PHOENIX.

Lauren said...

Awesome interview! This book sounds fantastic.

FredTownWard said...

I first noticed "Silver Phoenix" among the scrolling book covers on the AuthorsNow! web site, when it caught my eye and would not let go.

(My lawyers will be in touch about the medical damages claim.)

On a more serious note, I am very much intrigued by what I read about it and shall probably be compelled to both read it and review it on Amazon,...

especially should I happen to win an ARC through this comment.

Carrie Beth said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read Silver Phoenix. It sounds wonderful.

cindy said...

i love seeing new names here. thank you, everyone!

fred, if i could give bonus points, i'd give you one. ;*) happy weekend, all!!

Amber Lynn Argyle said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I need lots of it.
And my family hasn't read any of my books either. They tell me they will when it comes out in audio. :)

Sarahbear9789 said...

Great interview. Can't wait to read this.

s. said...

That was a great interview, Cindy! I didn't realize you are a foodie too. (LOL, fellow foodie here!) It makes me want to read the book even more. =)

Nadine said...

Loved this interview Cindy, I'm so excited for your book to come out!!

Hope. said...

Enjoyed the interview! This book looks amazing, please enter me for the contest!

Thanks. :)

hope.
hopesblog(at)hotmail(dot)com

mindy said...

nice interview and thanks for the giveaway

scottsgal said...

Congrats on the book - sounds like a good one! Enjoyed reading the interview.

Carrie Harris said...

I'd love to read a copy of this. I will probably need to eat while I read it, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. :)

deltay said...

Mmm a cookbook to go along with it sounds like a great idea! I love to eat too, but unforunately I can't really cook either. And of course it's really inspiring to see other Asian authors out there! :)

cindy said...

and the winner of the ARC giveaway is LLEHN! congratulations! your stalking as paid off! ;*)

thank you all for playing!!!
and thanks alex for hosting and spreading the SILVER PHOENIX love. =D

Alex Moore said...

wooot! we have a winner! congrats, llehn... contact me asap w/ mailing info. i'll throw the ARC in the mail as soon as you do!

ahhhh cindy -- what fun! you are officially dipped in awesomesauce :) congrats w/ the book -- and i'm eagerly awaiting my pre-ordered copy from amazon!

thank you, everyone, for playing!

Llehn said...

Thanks for hosting the interview and the giveaway Alex! I am still reeling from the awesome news!! Can't wait to read the book Cindy!