There’s nothing more exciting for a new author than to see her first novel in print. That dream recently came true for a member of my writing group, Cindy Young Turner. Her novel, THEIF OF HOPE, is an engrossing, entertaining and complicated fantasy page
turner. She paints a dark world where there is no black and white or good or evil. One minute, you think you understand about the evil Guild, the next minute, you question the rebels as unwitting tools for the nobles who only want their power back.
The book has already received multiple five star reviews on Amazon.com and several rave reviews in writing and fantasy magazines. I spoke to Cindy about writing and, more importantly, the business of marketing her writing so that people can learn about the great work she has produced.
Q: Where did the character and story that become THEIF OF HOPE come from? What was your inspiration?
A: My parents had a record of the “Oliver” soundtrack that I used to love listening to as a kid, and then I adored the movie. A musical with pickpockets–how cool is that? Plus they fared much better in the movie than in the book Oliver Twist. I’m also going
to out myself as a geek and admit that I used to play Dungeons and Dragons in college, which really got me interested in fantasy, and yes, I had a character named Sydney. I loved the character and started thinking about backstory and writing about her and creating a world, and thus a novel was born. I also liked the idea of a story about fighting oppression and the commoners vs. nobility makes for an interesting dilemma, which is complicated by the Guild. I hope the story speaks to a number of levels, in addition to being a good fantasy adventure tale.
Q: How long did it take you to get to the final version that made it into print? Did you ever think that you would not finish the book?
A: Ha, I’m not sure I want to admit how long it took me from start to finish. A LONG time. More than 10 years (off and on) and numerous rewrites. And yes, there were quite a few times I despaired of ever finishing it and thought about just chucking the whole thing. My critique groups have been incredibly helpful and encouraging and kept me on track. The actual editing process after it was accepted for publication took about two months, and that was pretty intense.
Q: How many people did you get to read early drafts and how much of their input do you accept or reject?
A: I’ve been in two really amazing critique groups since 1999, so they’ve been reading drafts of the book since then, multiple times. (I guess that indicates how long I’ve been working on it!) I do take a lot of their input. They have provided a lot of good advice on how to write a novel, things like plot arcs and story narrative, which I didn’t fully understand when I started writing. In fact, the major rewrite of the book came out of a suggestion from someone that at one point the plot just didn’t make any sense.
I thought about it for a while and realized maybe that was why I kept getting stuck. So I took a completely different approach and threw out much of the book. It was a bit scary, but I think in the end it worked. Not that I take all of their advice, though, but I’d say it’s probably about eighty percent.
Q: How long did your agent shop the book around before you found a publisher? How many rejections
did you get before you found a home for the book?
A: It took a little more than two years to find a publisher. There were lots of publishers that just didn’t respond. A couple of the more established but not major ones asked for the whole manuscript, so I had hope that I was on the right track. It didn’t take long for Crescent Moon Press to respond to a query, request the whole manuscript, and then express interest in publishing the book.
Q: What advice would you give an unpublished writer about rejection?
A: Don’t give up. You will get rejected, probably many many times. It will be frustrating. It’s completely subjective and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t be afraid to try the smaller independent presses. Honestly, you’re not likely to make much money (but there’s hope), and you may have a much better shot with a small press that will actually value you as an author.
Q: Describe the feeling of holding your first book in your hands? How did you celebrate the accomplishment?
A: It was very surreal. I kept looking at the book and thinking, wow, this is my book. These words on the page are the ones I’ve
slaved over on my laptop, and here they are in an actual book. I guess I haven’t really celebrated yet. I’m still on pins and needles about reviews. I have two good ones so far. Once I get a few more, then I think I’ll allow myself to celebrate.
Q: Marketing your book and earning money from the sales are far different than the work of actually writing. How do you feel about the marketing side of book publishing? Are you disappointed by that aspect of the business?
A: I have to admit, I really dislike marketing. I always wanted to be like JD Salinger, a recluse writer and hide out in my cabin and
write. Sadly, that doesn’t sell books, and just publishing the book is the first step. My publisher has offered quite a few marketing opportunities, but still, a lot of it falls on me if I want the book to succeed.
Q: Are you considering making a book trailer? How much do you think a book trailer might contribute to book sales?
A: I think book trailers are cool and it’s definitely on my to do list. Will it help sales? I’m not sure. There are so many marketing
avenues out there and it seems dubious how much they will actually lead to more sales. I think every little bit helps, though.
Q: Aside from fantasy, what else do you read? What are you reading now?
A: I have eclectic tastes in books. Recently I’ve read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Gunslinger by Stephen King, and The Eyre Affaire by Jasper Fforde. I’m currently reading We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch, a harrowing look at the genocide in Rwanda, and Eternal Investigations, by Nancy M. Griffis, a fun paranormal read, which is an odd combination.
Q: If your book was made into a movie, who would play Sydney? Who would play Willem?
A: Of course I’ve thought about this. What author hasn’t fantasized about the movie version of his or her book? The only problem is that I rarely see movies these days so I don’t know any actors who are the right age. I always thought Heath Ledger might be good for Willem, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. I have no idea about Sydney. Someone unknown would
be best, I think. Can I request that Peter Jackson direct the movie version? Surely he’ll need a new project after he finishes The Hobbit. (LOL)
Q: If you could be any character in one of your favorite books, who would it be?
A: Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. Woman warrior who gets tokick some Nazgul butt!