The Journey of an Author- Cynthia Hill

Cynthia Hill


We have a wonderful treat today... Cynthia Hill, author of What Lies Behind has stopped by!

Tell me, were you a reader before you were a writer? What do you enjoy reading?

I’ve been a reader my whole life. I told my kids that when I was young, I would have about ten books at a time piled on my nightstand, and before I went to sleep at night, I would read a page or two out of every one of them before I went to bed. Now, I have no idea how I did it! I can only really focus on one book at a time now.
In terms of what I enjoy reading, I like a little bit of everything. I love classics, but I’ll also read a good Harlequin-style romance. I love thrillers, mysteries, and just “straight” fiction. I also love memoirs and biographies.

Is What Lies Behind the first book you’ve written?

No, my first book, Idol Hands was released in September of 2011. It’s still very exciting for me to be able to say “my books” instead of “my book”!

Where their some particular inspirations for the character’s development or character traits for What Lies Behind?

There’s a song by Elvis Costello called “Veronica” that he wrote about his grandmother and her slipping into Alzheimers. I was listening to it one day, and I really related it to my own grandmother, who had been slipping away for years due to a series of mini-strokes. I thought about how little I really knew her, and wondered what she was really like, especially as a young woman. So in What Lies Behind I explored that idea. I took a lot of the events that I knew about from her life, and took events from a lot of other people’s lives, and then wove a totally fictional story about them. I don’t consider the character, Lillian, to be anything other than a fictional character; she really took on a life and a personality of her own as I wrote.

There are many roads that lead to becoming a published author, each one littered with its own potholes. What was the most challenging aspect of writing What Lies Behind? (dialogue, character development, creating names, etc)

This was the first time I had ever attempted something that really required a lot of research. I tend to stick to very modern settings, but this time I really wanted to try something different, and I was fascinated by the history of Toronto in the 1920s to 1940s. It was a very different place, and I wish I could have seen it for myself.

How did you tackle this challenge?

I read. I read and read and read! I have a fantastic book, More Than an Island by Sally Gibson, which is a history of the Toronto Islands, and I started there. Most of the story doesn’t take place on the Islands, but it gave me a starting point. After that, I did most of my research as I went along. I’d get to a point in the story and think, “Wait, was that possible? Did it really happen like that?” or “What would be the name of…” and I’d have to go and look it up. It was challenging, but I loved every second of it.

Being an author is so much more than just writing a good story. Besides the “pen and ink,” what is one of the most difficult things you’ve encountered on your journey as a published author? What helped you get a handle on it?

I work full-time, and I’m also a mom of four, so my free time is very limited. I’m also very easily distracted! Some days I wish I could be disciplined enough to turn off my router so that I would have one less distraction in the internet. I find that I really need to set aside time to write, and stick with it, no excuses. Even if I’m having a bit of writer’s block (and it happens) I need to force something – ANYTHING – out, and realize that even if what I write is awful, that’s what revisions are for!

It sounds like you’ve traveled quite a distance. Thank you, Cynthia, for coming today and sharing a little of your experience with us, for helping us avoid a few potholes on the journey to becoming a published author.  


Every family has its secrets... Behind the clouds of dementia, Lillian holds memories of a life that her granddaughter Lisa could never imagine. From her childhood in 1920s and 30s Toronto, to a young World War II society bride, through scandal and unthinkable tragedies, Lillian kept her extraordinary life a secret, retreating into a lonely, bitter existence. Curious about her grandmother's mysterious past, Lisa unearths a long-buried secret that may finally bring the truth to light.




Cynthia Hill

 Cynthia Hill is a graduate of Toronto’s York University (Theatre/English). She has written and edited for several major websites, and published her first novel, Idol Hands, in 2011. A mom of four insanely wonderful kids, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario.

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