Today, we are honoured to have an interview with author Cindy Davis. Cindy is an award-winning editor and a (multi-talented) authoress of several genres. She has published many books in the murder mystery, romance-suspense, and New Age genres, including A Little Murder, Final Masquerade and the newly-released Zipacna’s Legacy.
I have got to know Cindy pretty much ever since I started blogging 18 months ago. Recently, she kindly agreed to an interview:
You are an award-winning freelance editor. Well done! It’s always a great feeling to win an award. What kind of editing do you do, and how has this helped you with writing your stories?
I have edited both fiction and nonfiction for 23 years. My particular fiction favorites are mystery and historical fiction. I love to watch clues unfold, and learn how historical events formed the people of the time-period. I love helping an author develop and deepen their relationship with the plot and the characters.
Nonfiction provides another realm of editing. I especially love the self-help genre—any category, but especially personal growth. Helping authors build the categories and the attraction it will have to potential clients gives me much satisfaction.
Editing has helped my own writing because it’s given me a focus, an attention to detail that I feel every author needs. It’s made me aware of sentence structure and the rhythm of the narrative. Funny how, often, while writing, I recall something I told an author, and apply it to my work.
This blogger: That is a fascinating answer. I can really see how much you enjoy what you do, and that you are an introspective person. It is no wonder you are an award-winning editor!
What was the spark that made you start writing your first novel?
My first novel, Final Masquerade (first edition 1999). Often, I drove past a piece of property about a half-mile out of town. On it sat an old car, a fire-pit, and a vegetable garden. One time, I saw a woman riding a bicycle with a can of kerosene tied on the back. She pedalled up the driveway to this property. I wondered how a middle-aged woman might end up living in that sort of situation. Final Masquerade is, in my mind, her story. In later years, I happened to mention her to someone. They said she had a lot of money and chose to live this way.
You have written several books in the murder mystery genre, including A Little Murder, Final Masquerade and Checkmate Murder, among others. Where do you get your inspiration from for these stories? (Three things please.)
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and it comes differently for each story:
A Little Murder was born from the idea that I wanted to write a mystery series set in my home state of New Hampshire. I located it at Lake Winnipesaukee because it drew lots of people; yet, the surrounding towns are small with close-knit people. I love the relationships formed in small towns and neighborhoods. At the end of the book, Angie, the main character, comes into money to open her dream, a neighborhood theater.
Checkmate Murder is the second in that series. Naturally, the inspiration here would be to set a murder during the first production at the theater. This murder starred none other than the detective from book one. This helped bring him closer to the main character and become more deeply embedded in the plot when he is accused of the murder. (Note though, again, the small close-knit group of people that is contained in a theater of this type.)
The fifth in that same series, Rest in Pieces, was inspired by a headline in a newspaper. I was intrigued with the idea of writing a mystery that didn’t include dismembered body parts. Being that I love jigsaw puzzles… It took a long time to perfect this plot. It contains a couple of teenagers who are directly affected by the story — and I seriously dislike including children in my books. So, this presented a lot of difficulty.
During a phone call in 2000, one of my editing clients mentioned the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Being from the east coast, I didn’t know much about it beyond the news headlines and the fact that soot from the eruption floated all the way to the northeast. I wondered what it would be like for a killer to hide a murder under the rubble. The result is Voice from the Ashes.
This blogger: That is some variety for inspiration. Particularly, I like the third of the three, as that is novel and chilling, at least for me.
You write stories not only in the murder mystery genre, but also in the romance-suspense and the New Age genres. That is quite a range, especially as every genre has its own unique tropes and lingos. How do you keep up with all the different tropes and lingos in the genres that you write in?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds because I began with two romantic suspense stories: Final Masquerade and Come in from the Cold. Then, I shifted to murder and stuck with that for many years.
When I married three years ago and dove into the spiritual world, it was a natural shift to the new lingo. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to the mysteries; although, I have to admit, sometimes there is a lure…
This blogger: Whether you do or don’t, I have every faith that your next stories will be terrific reads.
Very recently, you released Zipacna’s Legacy. Why do you think readers will enjoy it? (Three reasons please.)
Although the book has a strong spiritual theme, the main story is contemporary fiction. That will appeal to all ages and sexes. It contains real issues and conflicts prevalent in today’s society: Jade inherits what she thinks is a hotel from Grandfather Zipacna. When she arrives in Mexico to take claim, she faces derision and outright rejection from the townspeople. She needs to look inside herself to find the strength to face the situation rather than take the easy way out and run back to her cushy California lifestyle.
Because of family issues, Jade hadn’t seen her grandfather for 25 years. She learns the importance of putting familial problems into perspective — to realize the problems aren’t WHO she is; that her family cannot rule her life; it’s ALL up to her.
There is some mystery in Zipacna’s Legacy. As I said, Jade thinks she’s inherited a hotel. I won’t spoil the story, but just to say it’s not a hotel. Also, throughout his life, her grandfather penned hundreds of journals. Can they help her learn who she really is?
Living in Mexico means learning about a new culture and society, and not expecting it to conform to her. (An FYI, no idea why Amazon has listed it in a horror occult category. Working to have it changed.)
Which character in any of your stories is the most like you? And how?
All my female characters, and even some of the males, contain elements of me. What is it they say: “Write what you know.”
Two characters who were most like me: Claudia in Come in from the Cold and Jade from Zipacna’s Legacy.
Claudia is constantly torn by other people’s issues, and confused as to who she is. This is NOT me any more, but it was for most of my life.
As for Jade in Zipacna’s Legacy, much of what she faces on her journey toward spiritual awakening is a take-off on my personal story. She is strong and determined to see to the end, all the issues facing her in Mexico. At the same time, she is open-minded to the things she reads in the journals, and the events and circumstances that occur as a result. Personally, my introduction to spirituality came as a deluge. And I know this is how it happens to many people — as it did to Jade. (My story, by the way, can be read, or listened to, in The Present, Learning to Live Life Consciously.)
What two things would you like readers to take away from your stories after reading them?
I want people to be entertained, of course. I want them to lose themselves in solving the puzzles, in the world I create; to love or hate the characters; and to cry or smile at the end.
In Zipacna’s Legacy, I hope to convey several messages. First, the spiritual awakening that happens to Jade is an ability that’s inside all of us. All it takes is an openness to realize and accept it.
Second, I want people to see how sticking with a problem of any kind, of seeing it through to fruition, brings satisfaction and wholeness to one’s life. Next, I want people to realize how a simple attitude change can make a one-hundred-percent turn-around in their life.
This blogger: I really like the moral messages to your story. They are positive and can really make people feel like they have been on an experiential journey.
If you could go back in time and speak with a younger Cindy Davis, what advice would you give her about the writing process?
I’m not sure I could tell myself anything in this regard. I was always dedicated to writing the best story I could. As I was writing this, I almost said I wouldn’t have spent so much time seeking an agent or a Big-Ten (at the time) publisher, but even this I consider a learning experience.
What is your writing kryptonite?
Since I’ve semi-retired, I find time is my kryptonite. There are so many things I want to do every day. Up north, I was indoors much of the time; it was easy to get chores done and still find time to write.
How has writing changed you as a person?
I had to ask my husband this question. After my previous husband passed away, I lost my desire to write. I didn’t feel down or depressed about it. I just figured I was on a new path and didn’t need to write any more. My new husband encouraged me to write again, and he says it’s rekindled a fire in me. He says he watches me light up as the words go onto the keyboard.
This blogger: First, I am so sorry to hear that you lost someone that you loved. But it also sounds like you found another wonderful man, who appreciates you and wants you to succeed at what you are good at it. Long may that fire burn in you.
Have your friends and/or family ever read any of your stories? If so, how do you feel when they talk to you about them?
Except for my dad, my family hasn’t read anything I’ve written. Sad to say, I find this a complaint from many authors. Not sure the reason families don’t take our passion seriously. Advice I’d give to authors—don’t focus on this, don’t let it get you down. Bring your talent to the biggest number of outsiders that you can. Make your stories the best they can be and family will eventually figure it out.
This blogger: I am sorry that your family have not had the joy of reading your stories. One day, they’ll realise their mistakes. On another note, that’s great advice for authors! Thank you for sharing it with us.
Lastly, outside of writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
So many things! I moved to Florida so I could be outdoors all year, rather than the few months I had in New England (I can’t handle cold weather). So, we hike and swim, explore nature, and do yard work. We’ve just bought a new house, so we’re putting our personality into the landscaping.
Also, we love to travel. We went to Machu Picchu last year and postponed a trip to Egypt in May, but we’ve compensated with more travel around the state. We read a lot: fiction individually, nonfiction out loud together. What a great way to stimulate discussion and learning.
In addition, we do talks and workshops on positivity and love/forgiveness. Together, we’ve written numerous self-help books. The Rick and Cindy (Palmacci) series can be found by clicking here.
End of Interview
That brings our interview with author Cindy Davis to an end. I would like to thank Cindy for her time, to say that it has been fascinating getting to know her, and I wish her all the best going forwards with her hiking, travels, writings and workshops.
You can purchase Cindy’s books on Amazon, including Final Masquerade, Come in from the Cold and Zipacna’s Legacy, among others. If you enjoy reading murder mystery and/or New Age stories, then check out Cindy’s books NOW!
Otherwise, like Cindy on her Facebook profiles; follow her on her Twitter accounts and on Instagram; visit her Bookbub and Goodreads pages; and check out her website for her books and her website for her editing services.
PS: If you enjoyed this interview with author Cindy Davis and wish to read/watch more exclusive interviews with authors, models, actors, filmmakers, writing coaches and Instagram sensations, fill in the short form below: