Cynthia L Schneider
Hudson Valley Region
Upstate New York
Good morning, Cynthia, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the site for art and books, and the people who love them. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?
I currently have one complete trilogy published, as well as three books in my new series, and a short story in the 3rd issue of Kyanite Press.
The Crown of Stones Trilogy is an adult, dark, epic fantasy saga that tells the story of Ian Troy: a man born with an addiction to magic. The Nite Fire Series, an action-packed, urban fantasy mystery, features shapeshifters, dragons, and parallel worlds. The first three books are out now. My short story, Heists & Headstones, is a fun, co-written fantasy about a thief and an assassin, in the vein of “Spy vs Spy.”
What is your favorite genre to write?
Fantasy. The possibilities are endless!
Tea or coffee?
Pizza or ice cream?
Wine or beer?
Where would you like to visit?
There are so many beautiful places in the world. Ireland has always been high on my list, and we just booked a trip there for later this summer. I can’t wait! Scotland, Prague, and New Zealand are all on my radar, too. We went to Iceland last summer, and it was the most amazing trip ever. The landscape was unique and gorgeous. I’d go back in a heartbeat!
Favorite musical artist. Do you listen to music when you write? What?
I love music, but I don’t really have a favorite. I have lots of favorites. Lol. I gravitate toward alternative or hard rock. 12 Stones is a band that’s recently caught my attention. Sometimes I listen to music before I write, but not during. I get too distracted. I start singing along, and there goes my word count!
What makes you laugh?
My kids 😊 As far as TV, movies, or books go, I love narky characters and witty banter.
This is an Art & Author website, so I am obliged to ask: Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I would have to say Vincent van Goh’s The Starry Night and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Her expression intrigues me. It looks like she’s about to speak, and every time I see it, I can’t help wondering what she has to say.
How old were you when you started writing?
I started writing poetry and short stories in elementary and middle school. I was 16 when I wrote my first full-length novel on an old typewriter my dad bought me. That was when my dream was born of one day being a published author. Life got in the way after that, so it took a while to make it come true. But I never stopped writing – or dreaming.
Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write?
I do a little of both. I always start out on paper, in a notebook, with a rough outline. It’s mostly snippets of scenes and dialogue. Then I head to the computer and expand on my thoughts. I don’t write linear when I’m drafting. I write the scenes that are most vivid in my head, regardless of order. Once I have enough of those down, I start marrying them together, and the story begins to take shape. At that point, I construct a deeper outline, chapter by chapter. Of course, sometimes my characters don’t listen, and the outline goes out the window!
Describe your perfect evening.
Hmmm. That’s a tossup between strolling on the beach with my husband and a glass of wine, and curling up alone in front of the fire with Netflix—and a glass of wine 😊
Where the original spark comes from, I can’t really say. Inspiration can come from so many places; nature, music, a question, a casual phrase spoken by a stranger. But 99% of the time, my inspiration for a story comes from the creation of the main character. So, I guess you could say I don’t get story ideas so much as I do character ideas. Once the notion of one takes root in my brain, I get to know them. I imagine what type of world they live in. What are their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses, hopes, friends, family, dreams, fears? I create a past, present, and future for them. I decide how they would react to adversity, betrayal, victory, and catastrophe, and the plot evolves from there. I don’t see it as “a story” I’m writing. I see it as “their” story.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I’m lucky that writers block rarely bothers me. More often, I suffer from the opposite: I have too many ideas. That can make it difficult sometimes to choose which path is best for the story. I work through either situation the same way, though. If I’m stuck on writing a particular scene, I’ll skip to something that happens later on in the story. If I can get out the scenes rolling around in my head, whatever was bothering me usually works itself out.
Sometimes, I’ll take a walk, or a drive, or a shower. Any place where I don’t have access to a pen and paper is usually where my head clears! Other times, I’ll put on a movie as background, and just play around with different scenes until the lightbulb goes off.
Who is your favorite author?
I would have to go with C.J. Cherryh. She is certainly my favorite fantasy author. I’ve read nearly every title she’s written. I learned so much about character development from her books.
Best book you ever read.
That’s hard to answer. I don’t have nearly as much time to read since I published. But I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life and have had many favorites. I can tell give you one book that had a great impact on my life: The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. My brother gave me the book in high school. It was my first traditional epic fantasy, and I fell in love. I devoured it. Then I read it again. That book narrowed my focus, and from that moment on, I knew fantasy was the genre I wanted to write.
Last book you read.
Shifting Identities. It’s the 3rd book in the Criminal Elements series, a fun urban fantasy by indie authors Cris and Clare Meyers.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I honestly have no idea. I love what I do so much. For a time, when I was young, I wanted to work in special effects movie makeup. I still find it interesting. But this was always what I wanted to do. Since I was sixteen, my dream was to hold my own book in my hands. Everything else was just filler.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My children. Technically, that’s two people, not one – sorry! But having children changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
My dad. He passed away before I published my first book. I would give anything to be able to sit down and read it to him.
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Be fearless in your writing and with your writing. Don’t be afraid to share your work and get feedback. Believe me, I know it isn’t easy putting yourself out there. For years, I kept my writing to myself. I was terrified to show anyone the worlds and characters I’d created. They were such a part of me. But once I took that leap, everything changed. My confidence grew. I had a sounding board, someone in my corner who enjoyed listening to me brainstorm, who would offer praise and criticism that was both thoughtful and honest. It lessened the fear and inspired me to not just write more, but to write better.
Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Amazon Author Page http://author.to/
Nite Fire Book #! Trailer https://youtu.be/C041ClBpihI