Interview with Author Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the author of YA Gothic fantasies, including TANTALIZE (2007, 2008), ETERNAL (2009, 2010), and BLESSED (2011) from Candlewick and Listening Library, Walker (UK), Walker Australia and New Zealand. TANTALIZE is also available from Editions Intervista (France).  Her most recent short stories are “Cat Calls,” which appears in SIDESHOW: TEN ORIGINAL TALES OF FREAKS, ILLUSIONISTS AND OTHER MATTERS ODD AND MAGICAL, edited by Deborah Noyes (2009) from Candlewick and “The Wrath of Dawn,” co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith, which appear in GEEKTASTIC: STORIES FROM THE NERD HERD, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (2009) from Little, Brown.

If you could pick one character that you’ve created that you feel you relate to the most, which one would it be and why?
I would likely relate most to Kieren Morales from TANTALIZE and the upcoming graphic novel TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY. He’s a serious reader with aspirations of being a writer and he excels academically. He’s also family oriented, loyal, and takes commitment very much to heart.
During your writing career, what piece of advice have you given most to writers?
I tell people to celebrate every victory, no matter how small. The writing life comes with its share of rejection, angst, and uncertainty. So it’s best to fill your days with cheer, to surround yourself with good friends and create great memories. They’ll sustain you through the rest.
How would you define your road to success, straight, twisting, full of hills, a mountain, muddy, or lumpy?

An upward slope punctuated by the occasional soaring rock wall.

What encouraged you to begin your phenomenal blog, Cynsations? What has surprised you the most about it? 

My original thought was simply that, because of its diary-like structure, I could use the blog to augment the main website with time-sensitive news—special events, award announcements, etc.—that I would otherwise have to post and then later take down from the base site.

Over time, it has become something of a news, conversations, and inspiration resource for children’s-YA writers, illustrators, young readers, and the folks who connect books to them.

I’m most surprised by the size of the audience and that readers so often tell me that it’s such a reflection of my personality. The vast majority of the content is comprised by posts about and sometimes by other people.
Unless I have breaking news, like a book release or contract, information about me per se is pretty much limited to a “more personally” section of my weekly giveaway and link round-ups.
However, I guess my sensibility comes through in my choice of topics, folks to feature, and links to highlight.
You’re an avid reader! Could you recommend a few of your favorite new releases?
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick)
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperCollins)
Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson (Delacorte)
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Amulet)
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished my final revision of BLESSED and reviewing Ming Doyle’s fabulous sketches for TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY (Candlewick, Feb. 2011), a graphic novel.
So I’m shifting my attention back to a fourth prose novel set in my Gothic fantasy universe and the graphic novel adaptation of ETERNAL.

I’ve also been laying the promotional groundwork for an upcoming children’s book release, HOLLER LOUDLY, illustrated by Barry Gott, which will be available from Dutton this November.
What do you do when you’re not reading, writing, or blogging?

I’m on the faculty of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, so at the moment, I’m working with five graduate students on their creative and critical writing.  I also do a great deal of public speaking. I’m just home from giving the keynote address at the New England SCBWI conference in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and preparing to leave next for the Florida SCBWI in Orlando at Disney World.
If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
It was such a pleasure interviewing you Cynthia!  You have gone above and beyond to help writers reach their dreams with your fabulous blog and extraordinary teaching skills.  Thank you for being such a great example for so many to follow!  
If you would like to find out more about Cynthia you should check out her great website and blog.  She also has the best book trailers that are sure to make you want to pick up the books below.  They are irresistible reads! 

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