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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Creating an Emotional Ride for your Reader: Author Interview with Cynthia Freeman Gibbs

One of your reviewers wrote that Reasonable Insanity, your debut novel, “had more drama than an episode of Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, and five soap operas combined? What drew you to write such a tumultuous story? 
I have to chuckle in regard to the reviewer's comparisons to the shows mentioned. It is an honor to have Reasonable Insanity in the same category of shows on TV.  I wrote this book after losing a friend to suicide. I reflected on how some people appear to have a wonderful life, but actually living a nightmare behind a mask.

I created Dr. Olivia C. Maxwell to be complex and multi-dimensional with a sense of adventure and a desire to be loved. Deep issues such as bulimia, colorism, mental health, and how unresolved issues impact relationships ended up on the pages of my book. I didn't realize how much my readers would connect with the topics and Olivia until after my book made it into circulation.

Could you give my readers a short synopsis of the story? 
On the outside, clinical psychologist, Dr. Olivia C. Maxwell appears to live a life others only dream about. She is beautiful, tall, fit, and intelligent. But what people can't see is that inside, Olivia is living a nightmare. As the only dark-skinned member of her family, Olivia grew up hating the skin she’s in and she's spent her life desperately searching for acceptance. It's not long before those deep insecurities sabotage everything she loves. A whirlwind of crazy reactions is leading Olivia into a slow, out-of-control spiral. Destructive impulses may leave Olivia in the midst of mayhem and murder.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading your books? 
I hope they connect with Olivia and want to know more about her and her world. I want them to identify with her problems despite her success as a psychologist. I truly hope they don't make the same decisions Olivia makes because she doesn't consider how her actions will impact the people she loves.

How long did it take you to write your first book? 
I finished writing it in 4 months. 

How many rewrites did you do on it? 
Numerous rewrites. Too many to count. I have thrown out entire chapters when I thought I was finished with the book. 

Who helped you with the editing? 
Initially, I recruited friends and family to read and critique. The heavy lifting was graciously done by Dr. Williams who I volunteer with and Michelle De La Garza who lead the Tobin Writers Group. 

Who encouraged you along the way? 
So many people encouraged me which consisted of my husband, parents, siblings, friends, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and people at Resurrection Baptist Church. 

Are you active with any writing critique groups? 
I am a member of the Tobin Library Writers' Group, which is now known as the Tobin Library Writers' Circle. I received a valuable amount of support from this group along with meaningful critiques which helped to make my book better.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
The hardest part was avoiding getting lazy with adding in the dialog. I did more telling than showing in some scenes. My publisher made me add in additional dialog which made my book more interesting.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
To keep on writing.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it. 
I began submitting my manuscript to publishers and literary agents in 2017. I remember the first rejection letter I received. Some companies didn't even respond. I realized they receive thousands of query letters and manuscripts from authors which is why it is important to grab their attention immediately with anything you submit. 

What has surprised or frustrated you the most in writing/publishing?
You can write an amazing book, but you have to know how to market it in order to sell it if you do not have a traditional publisher. You have to be the mouthpiece for your work and research events and opportunities to promote your book. It can be frustrating to look for events that fit your budget to participate in.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
After writing the book, I wish I knew more about being an entrepreneur. Overnight, I became a business owner and had to learn how to manage my writing career as a business.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? 
Put your butt in a seat and write!

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? 
Get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Don't edit while you write. Just write and let your ideas and story flow. Writer's block is an excuse for procrastination.

What is the next book coming out? 
It is a sequel to Reasonable Insanity. I am only calling it Book #2 because I realized I can't come up with a title until it is finished. 

Can you give me a short synopsis? 
Olivia has new challenges in relationships after her actions previously resulted in turmoil and disaster. She must now rebuild bridges and avoid taking the same pathway of her destructive past.

That’s all for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about Cynthia’s writing, here are a couple of links to get you started.


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