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 Handswas 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 BehindI 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 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.