Cybill Cain Interview for Jayne @cupcakesandbookshelves xoxo
- Do you Google yourself?
Almost never, but when I do I close the blinds and pull the curtains.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s usually an intuitive process, based on character preconceptions. Sometimes, I see a name in movie credits or on the web and it sparks the idea for a story. Max Alexander from Escape came about from a movie credit roll.
- What is your favourite childhood book?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. If I’m not feeling it the reader won’t either, so when I’ve coasted through a scene with no emotional reaction I know it’s not good enough yet.
- How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It made me tougher. Like many first time authors I thought when I hit “publish” I was done. Turns out, not so much. It also made me leaner and more geared toward entertaining the reader at least as much as I was entertaining myself.
- What literary character is most like you?
A friend on FB asked this about a year ago, and I really had to think about it. My final answer: I am one third Eric Northman, one third James T. Kirk and one third Claire Fraser. The good news they all look good in a dress, and they wear the hell out of it with pride. J
- Where is your favourite place to write?
My desk in my bedroom.
- What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
I have two. The Book of Common Dread by Brent Monahan and Vampires by John Steakley. The first I don’t think is widely known, and the second was tarred by the horrible movie that John Carpenter made. The book is NOTHING like the movie. They are both vampire stories, which are a passion of mine.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Usually once I get started the rest of world ceases to exist and the first draft takes a couple of weeks. The entire process is about two months that includes edits, rewrite, additions, cover art and blurb.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Exposition challenges me most, because it’s often dull, but still necessary. I prefer conversation and interaction with the MC’s.
- Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, but it believes in me. Sometimes it owns me completely.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the plot. I usually Google and Wiki the heck out what I don’t already know, or don’t believe I can make up successfully.
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Finding the line in masculine thinking about sex and attraction. I want to be real, but I am personally turned off by too much raw sexual thinking without some emotion attached to it. I don’t want to be considered an object and I don’t want that for my female leads either. However, it is unrealistic to not have some racy thoughts that center around the physical. I don’t want to emasculate my male leads, so I struggle to find the place where the alpha man can roar and not come off as a satyr.
- How many hours a day do you write?
0-12, depending on where I am in the process. I’ve been known to forget to eat if I’m in deep enough.
- What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
All of it. All of my experiences in life inform my stories.
15. Do you read your book reviews?
Yes. I’ve read that I shouldn’t, but I do. I find them inspirational, even the bad ones, because if the criticism is valid I can use it to do better the next time.
16. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
That part came first, actually. I have been a waitress, a call center representative, an IT Manager and now I am a writer. Being a writer is the only job that matters, if I have to do another it is only as a means to support the writing.
17. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Make notes, hold on. All the crap you are dealing with will be important when you find the keyboard again.
18. What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work?
My earliest major influences were Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, Stephen Kings’ The Stand, and Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries. A little later came Diana Gabaldon and Outlander. They manifest in my strong female leads, my belief in a magical universe, my ability to see beyond the moment into a larger story scape and in my belief in love conquering all.
19. What inspires you?
Music, love, wanting to be there for someone with a story when they need it. Stories are powerful, and I know from my own life experiences that when things are darkest, living in someone else’s world can provide a much needed distraction, and inspiration to change your own.
20. How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
To me one is about freedom and the other is about control. Traditional publishing comes with a sense of validation that every author, including me, craves. It’s a big blinking sign that says, “I’m good at this.” At least that is the perception, but the gates are tightly controlled, and even the truly good writers are often denied access. Alternative publishing requires fortitude of a different kind. It’s more than uploading a book, because you also have to put on your marketing hat, and you art hat, and a dozen other hats that a traditionally published author never had to bother with, back in the day.
For me personally, I see the gap narrowing as traditional publishing seems to be forcing the author to do more self-promotion and advertising themselves. If that’s true, why not take full control of your project and run the entire show?
E-books are freedom because you can carry a library in your pocket. Print books are more sensual and tactile, but space for storage and travel can be daunting. It’s a very exciting time to be a writer, no matter which route you take, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
21. Do you like to read in your spare time? If so, what do you like to read?
I do read, and I read many things, depending on my mood. I love a good book in any genre, but my favorites are romance, fantasy and science fiction.
22. If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
I dream cast all my books, sometimes before I even write the first word. It helps give me a sense of them, a point of reference when I describe them for the reader. For Delicious I crossed time and space and cast Charlie Hunnam as James Draven and Anita Ekberg as Della Martin.
23.Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
Both. I have an outline when I start, but usually about a quarter of the way in the characters start to lead, and want things. About half way in I outline again, and we compromise on the storyline.
24. What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Having a reader tell me that my story helped them through a bad experience or made them rethink something about their lives. Comments like that tell me that my stories make a difference in the best way a writer could dream about.
25. What are your top three favourite books of all time?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Stand by Stephen King
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
26. Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Yes! I know that from being a reader myself. A cover is the first chance to grab a reader’s attention. When I make a cover I struggle because I want to tell the WHOLE story in the image, and that’s bad. It’s more important to find an attractive clean image that conveys the EMOTION of the story. I almost never get it right, because I am so invested in the story, but I am working on it. Delicious is my favorite cover to date.
- Do you keep a diary?
Not anymore. I did for years. Now I work out my questions and issues in my books.
- How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
Music is essential. Just like I dream cast I also soundtrack the story. I have a Chimera Stories Soundtrack on iTunes that I update with each release. I’ll add a link below. J
Thank you, Jayne and Cupcakes and Bookshelves, for letting me spend time with you here today! It’s been wonderful to share with you and your readers! Before I go, there’s just one more thing I’d let to let everyone know about.
A couple of weeks ago, in a FB group that I am part of, I saw a call go out for a solider about to be deployed who was asking for books to take with them. I thought this was an amazing idea, and I made a page on my website to offer my Chimera Club Stories FREE to any US military personnel who would like to read some sweet steamy romances. If you know a solider about to be deployed, they can contact me here. I can provide any format of e-book and would love to give them my humble thanks and appreciation for their service!
Here’s where you can find out more about Cybill Cain and The Chimera Club Stories: