A busy writer and editor, Cindy Davis knows the importance of time management. She has had no choice, having raised eleven children and a countless number of exotic finches and angel fish. She's learned the hard way, by doing. It has helped to have a supportive husband. Cindy Davis has been writing pretty much all her life but it wasn't until 1994 that it became a profession, along with editing other writer's work. She has had nine novels published, the most recent Final Masquerade, and three more on the way. Cindy Davis resides in southern New Hampshire.
Moe: Looking back, did you choose the writing profession or did the profession choose you? When did you 'know' you were a writer?
Cindy Davis: A little of both, I think. I wrote a lot when I was young, but never thought about making a career with it. I guess I knew I was a writer when that first paycheck arrived. Granted, it was only $45, but...
Moe: What inspires you?
Cindy Davis: So many things. Sounds corny but sunrises, green grass, the smell of bread baking, certain characters.
Moe: Every writer has a method to their writing. On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Cindy Davis: I am up and at work no later than 5:30 am seven days a week. I write mornings. I edit afternoons.
Moe: How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
Cindy Davis: A readable version of my books takes about nine months to complete. I do revise as I go and also use an outline.
Moe: When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
Cindy Davis: I do write an outline. I don't stick strictly to it, it changes as I go, but I like to know when and where I've dropped the clues and red herrings.
Moe: What kind of research do you do before and during a new book? Do you visit the places you write about?
Cindy Davis: I research constantly. From visiting the settings, to interviewing the people who live there. Research is ongoing through the story too. For example, as Final Masquerade unfolded, I had to research seven different settings, plus learn about antique book buying and driving a tractor trailer.
Moe: Where do your characters come from? How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters?
Cindy Davis: My characters are all composites of people I know or have met. If I love the way 'this' woman greets people, I combine it with the way 'that' man walks. Or the way 'this' woman dresses gets built into 'that' woman's career choice.
Moe: Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If yes, what measures do you take to get past it?
Cindy Davis: I've never suffered a total block. Occasionally I feel stuck at a certain plot point. And it always turns out I've messed up somewhere. I think it's my subconscious trying to talk to me.
Moe: What do you hope readers gain, feel or experience when they read one of your books for the first time?
Cindy Davis: Mostly my stories are meant to entertain. I try to combine a couple of interesting or quirky characters with a plot I'd like to think is beyond the mainstream. For example, in Voice from the Ashes, my antagonist thought he/she could hide a murder under the rubble of Mount Saint Helens eruption.
Moe: Can you share three things you've learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Cindy Davis: 1) Rewriting really hones your project. I used to sit back after the first draft was done and say, "Good job! Next book!" Now, as I write, my brain is always searching for missing elements, incomplete character development. 2) The business is so subjective. I like to retell something someone told me several times, the published writings of famous authors have been re-submitted to agents and/or publishers and been rejected over and over. 3) Promotion is more work than writing. The phone calls, personal visits, bartering and yes, begging are all part of it. All in the name of selling your book. Gotta love it!
Moe: What is your latest release about?
Cindy Davis: For my latest release Final Masquerade -- One day I saw a homeless woman, who had the wherewithal to have a home, and chose not to. I wondered what sort of circumstances might compel a person to such drastic measures. Weeks later, I attended a writers workshop where we learned how to 'get lost and stay lost', which involved changing everything about ourselves. I combined this new knowledge with my homeless woman's lifestyle; Paige Carmichael is the result. She was born-to-shop. One day she saw her fiance murder his best friend. Next morning she found herself on the run. This story involved more character change than anything I've ever done. You'll have to read it to find out. Smile.
Moe: What kind of books do you like to read?
Cindy Davis: I like lots of genres, but I am particularly drawn to mysteries. I love Ruth Rendell's intense character studies, John Grisham's unique plots, Tess Gerritsen's detail, Sandra Brown's suspense.
Moe: When you're not writing what do you do for fun?
Cindy Davis: I do all sorts of hand crafting: knitting, crocheting, quilting, and cross stitching. I love football and basketball--mostly I'm an armchair sportsman--except when the very athletic granddaughters are here.
Moe: New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Cindy Davis: Never think something you've done is finished (perfect). Always be willing to take advice. Keep on plugging along, even after a bucket full of rejections.
Moe: If you weren't a writer what would you be?
Cindy Davis: I'd own a bookstore/quilt shop. Or a bakery. Or... (I like to be open minded).
Moe: What is your favourite word?
Cindy Davis: Now (I like to have things done and over with).
Final Masquerade is available from Amazon.com.
Final Masquerade is available from Amazon.ca.
M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada. If you are going to find this eclectic reader and writer anywhere it is probably at her computer. For more information visit her official website.