What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi, my name is Cynthia Harris, born in Sydney, Australia, and now living on a small farm about half way between Sydney and Canberra, with a wonderful husband and many four-legged family members.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always wanted to be a teacher like my nana – and that’s what I became; but making up stories was something I did constantly for as long as I remember.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I’ve been one as long as I could write, but mostly a “closet” writer, extremely shy about showing anyone else my weird burblings.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
In a word, yes. For decades I never even tried, but the coming of the internet opened up some opportunities and I became a little bit braver.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Yes, I’m still teaching (old teachers never die – my grandmother retired at 72, though I hope I can manage it before that age).
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is “Perilous Moon”: fantasy romance, suitable for YA (or older, depending on your taste), sweet and clean but plenty of action. Escapist fun.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
The publisher for this is Astraea Press, to whom I am very grateful. I also have an ebook, “Undercurrents” (fantasy romance, slightly more adult) available through Uncial Press.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Because there have often been work or family issues which have had to take first place, sometimes there have been long delays, but I would say a year is usual.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I have lots partly written. If one seems to come to a temporary halt, I can move on to another, but I mostly fix on one and keep going to the end, and I don’t think any of them could be classified as hard to write. It’s just part of me, and if I don’t have time to write I do feel depressed.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Any books I have written belong in the fantasy genre (which means no-one can really disagree with me!) and they are all “clean”. I like action and romance, but I don’t write about blood and gore and I don’t do erotica. I don’t think I’ll ever change. I have been writing for Middle Grade recently, and am finding this very enjoyable.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m working on a Middle Grade fantasy at the moment, the second in a planned series (no, not published yet). I say “Middle Grade” because any romantic element is very toned down, but I don’t dumb down my language. I never use “adults only” themes anyway – I’m the sort of person who avoids news reports as most of them are so depressing.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
I’m one of those who never plan beforehand. An image, a sentence, a name maybe just pops into my head, and I wonder “What happened there? I must find out”. By the time I am about two thirds through the book I might have to do a bit of cross-checking, but I seriously think the characters write the story themselves!
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Of recent years, because I drive for three and a half hours daily to and from work, I let my mind drift on to what is going to happen next. (Believe me, I do keep an eye on the traffic too, and switch my imagination off when I hit the city!)
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Shock horror, NO! I sometimes ask my husband if details about fighting are correct (he did Ancient and Medieval re-enactment), but actually no-one I know likes the sort of thing I write, and I still feel really shy about confessing to writing.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Within reason! Not that thousands of people are likely to be seeking me out with that purpose in mind!
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
Relaxation – what’s that? Fortunately, this year should be better (no extra after school job any more), and I hope to ride, sing or dance, study (yes, I’m a nerd), see more of family and friends, and, of course, WRITE!
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
There are a lot, because I have been reading diligently for …um, sixty years now (ssh, don’t mention the age!). I have so many favourites, but the top two would have to be Tolkien and Georgette Heyer. Maybe that’s why my writing is a bit of a mix-up. And I love unusual and old-fashioned words!
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
Sounds strange, when my two published (so far – hope there will be more) books are ebooks, but I doubt that I will ever read an ebook. I love the feel of paper, the shape of books, the ease with which I can visualize where a special scene is, the smell of books even. Books are like real people to me, and many of them carry lovely memories. If the book is special to me, I prefer hardback: there’s just something so satisfying about that.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My absolute favourite is “Lord of the Rings”, truly the book of the century. I discovered it by accident in the local library when I was 14, was given the trilogy for Christmas, and read it constantly for the next several years. I taught myself Elven script, and could (still can) quote chunks of my favourite lines.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
You’ll be amazed to hear that my favourite book to movie transfer is … “Lord of the Rings”. I understand that film is different from the written word, so am happy to feel that the book was “Manuscript A” and the movie “Manuscript B”. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter movies too (though some bits were too scary for me, world’s worst wimp). I often “see” parts of my own books in my head like a movie too. But there are some transfers that really don’t work for me.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m currently re-reading “Watership Down”, paperback: so beautifully written, so much excitement in the story –and how amazing to create all this about a group of rabbits. I wish I could write like Richard Adams.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I certainly hope not, because I’ll be in big trouble if that happens!
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
No, they are not (at least, here in Australia, in my experience). Here comes my pet peeve: children should learn and practise the rules of writing, then cultivate their imagination and write lots themselves, and read lots and lots of good books!
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I always read, non-stop. It took me ages to get dressed, because I would have a book open in front of me all the time. I did go outdoors as well, don’t get me wrong there! I also wrote lots, including the little book (about a horse) I wrote out neatly and illustrated when I was in my early teens.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I hate to say this, but most of my favourite authors are dead! Thank heavens Elizabeth Peters is still going strong! Just my personal preference, but I find many modern authors too gory, too brutal, too graphic (sex or violence) to interest me. Sorry – that’s just me.
So for a chance to win an ecopy of Cynthia's book Perilous Moon please leave a comment below with your email address and a winner will be chosen using random.org. You have until the 16th March to enter!