I recently was introduced to Cynthia Wicklund’s work and fell in love with her stories. She’s a fresh breath for the historical romance genre written in a unique style. Her characters are sophisticated, her voice remarkable and her talent of creating timeless love stories quite impressive.
Because I liked her books so much I decided to have her The Garden Series featured on my blog. I also contacted her and asked if she’d be interested in an interview, to which she candidly agreed.
Cindy–thank you so very much for stopping by. I’m curious about your work and your journey through being published.
For me, getting a bad review gets me through several phases (from I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me, to I’m-so-done-writing, to not-even-God-can-possibly-satisfy-everyone’s-preference to I’m-so-ready-to-prove-them-wrong). How do you react to a bad review?
First, let me thank you for that lovely introduction, Camelia. It’s a pleasure to be here.
My reaction to reviews has evolved over time. When I first started receiving them, I was either over-the-moon or in the dumps all the time. I’ve had 5’s, and I’ve had 1’s. There’s a lot of truth to the idea that you can’t satisfy everyone. The problem is convincing yourself of that truth after reading a particularly negative review. (I don’t understand the really vicious reviews, the ones that seem aimed at hurting the writer.) Yes, you question everything about your ability to write. It’s embarrassing—as my good friend author Joan Reeves said, those bad reviews are out there for everyone to see, especially in the digital age.
My favorite reviews aren’t necessarily the perfect ones, however. A thoughtful, sincere analysis of what the reader found great and what she found not-so-great is very informative, and taken in the right light, can lead to better writing. It feels as if the reader really spent time with my story. That’s a great compliment.
Truthfully, I don’t read most reviews anymore, as I consider them meant more for other readers, not me. Another writer—can’t remember her name right now—once said if you get a bad review, move on. If you get a great review, move on. Neither one changes things much. Just keep writing.
Family and friends were all eager to buy my books. Sold all the hard copies I had in less than a week. I thought, “This is piece of cake!” I remember receiving a notice from Amazon telling me in the next 5 days I will receive X amount for my sales. I went to Outback with my family to celebrate. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My answer may seem a little odd on this one. I sold my first book Lord of Always to Ellora’s Cave, their non-erotica mainstream imprint (now called Blush). I’d been writing so long, and frankly had decided that publication was probably not in the cards for me, that when the call (okay, email J) finally came through, I was mostly numb. I remember thinking, “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Scenes pop in my head like popcorn in a microwave, triggered by as little as a gesture, an image, news headline or even random dialogue I hear down the street. Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
All my stories start with a basic idea—just something that interests me—one I could throw in an Historical, urban fantasy, futuristic or contemporary, etc. The setting becomes the window dressing, the characters the vehicle for bringing my idea to life. I see the big picture and rarely plot the details until I’m on top of them in the story. (That makes for some dicey moments, I can tell you!). I also see scenes in my head, hear voices, the movement of my characters. I don’t give my protagonists a definite face, though, such as looking like a particular actor or actress. I find that a distraction and takes away from the uniqueness of the people I’m trying to create.
I’m not identifying myself with any of my characters, yet each one of them has a part of me. Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Which one and why?
Well, yes, I can. All of them to some degree. I try to create heroines I’d like to be, attractive, good heads on their shoulders. And heroes I’d like to know. I admit I like imperfect characters, ones that need to be redeemed but are at their core good and honorable. I’m rather drawn to the bad boy, I’m afraid, thus, so are my heroines—even if they don’t want to admit it.
The best advice I give anyone who wants to become a writer is edit, edit, edit. When you think you’re done, edit some more. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Be willing to listen. Having a vision doesn’t mean you know how to bring that vision to life. There are so many truly talented writers out there who are willing to share. The writing community is really generous. Be prepared for the bad days when you want to give up. If you’re in it for the long haul, those bad days will pass. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
Aside from writing I have a few other hobbies, the strongest one reading. What are your interests outside of writing?
Oh, yeah, I love to read, also. Urban Fantasy is my current love, and Jim Butcher of the Harry Dresden novels my favorite writer. I’m currently reading Kim Harrison’s newest release, and I’m looking forward to the new Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris. I enjoy a good movie, the Lord of the Rings series my all-time favorite. I love music, 70’s rock and Motown and anything that makes you want to get up and dance. I also have dogs and consider them furry angels in my life, but they’re so much more than a hobby. They are a significant part of what makes me happy.
Promoting your work is as time consuming as any other regular job, if not more demanding. What do you do to promote your books?
I have a website and Twitter and Facebook accounts, although I admit that I’m sporadic in terms of those forms of promo. I believe the most effective promotion I’ve had is my free story In the Garden of Temptation, the first in my four-book Garden series. Yes, I’ve given away probably a quarter of a million copies. My friends think I’m nuts—and they could be right—but it’s led to tens of thousands of sales of my other books. I look at it as a loss leader, giving something to get something.
I used to work on one story at the time. Lately I have multiple stories. What projects are you working on and when should we expect another release?
I have two three-book series in the works, one an Urban Fantasy, the other an Historical. I’ve really struggled with which to work on, as the UF really has a stranglehold on my imagination right now. But Historicals are how my readers know me, and my new series Knights of Heaven is also an exciting project for me. So I’ve decided to do the Historical series first.
In a few words what is this story about.
In the first book Heaven in His Touch, my hero, the son of an aristocrat, is a healer—I have to get in a little of the paranormal, don’t I? My heroine, through a devastating accident, will need his help. “Touch” in the title is a double entendre. J
Thank you again, Camelia, for hosting me on your blog today and introducing me to all your readers. I’ve had a wonderful time!