Today, I’m thrilled to present an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith. Bet you didn’t know that bounty hunting and writing go together! 😉
I wrote short stories and poems in elementary school, topping out with my own advice column (“Dear Gabby”) in my sixth grade classroom newsletter. I was editor of my junior high and high school newspapers, held a myriad of reporting and PR jobs in college, co-founded a journal in law school.
Basically, I have three useful skills. I can read. I can write. And I can talk.
I can’t successfully navigate spatial relationships (like arranging groceries in the trunk of a car). Can’t cook-I have started three kitchen fires. Four, actually, though all were minor. Can’t walk on ice-hospitalized once, gasp-worthy mega bruise the second time.
Now, I’m live happily in Austin, Texas-home of 300 annual days of sunshine. Take that, ice!
Oh, and I can arrange my closet like a Jedi Master.
If I could only arrange other people’s closets.there’s probably a career in that.
2. Which authors have influenced your work?
I owe my affection to the first person to Judy Blume, and my love of scary stories to Stephen King and Joss Whedon. Also, the fault/responsibility for my team casts rests at Whedon’s sneakers. Jane Kurtz and Kathi Appelt taught me not to be limited to one form or age-market category. Annette Curtis Klause gave me permission to write-when the occasion calls-sexy, strong and smart.
Who else? I can’t imagine having been able to publish my fiction with Native American protagonists without Joseph Bruchac’s efforts to open the field. (I don’t write Indian heroes exclusively, but it’s a priority area in my body of work.)
The lovely people at Candlewick Press just released Feral Curse. It’s book 2 in the Feral trilogy, which began with Feral Nights (new in paperback), but both titles can stand alone. They’re a genre benders-YA adventure-fantasies with elements of horror, humor, mystery, romance and suspense.
Feral Curse is a small-town story of shape shifters centered on a ghostly carousel with a carnival past.
The trilogy also is available as e-books from Candlewick and on audio from Brilliance and published by Walker Books in the U.K. and Walker Australia and New Zealand.
4. Any tips for new writers?
Take as much time as you need to finish your manuscript, but if you’re pushing the two-year mark, set it down and work on something else for a while.
Attend author evens at book stores and libraries. Do it partly to find great reads, some of which will be models and others will simply inform you more globally. But also to watch how the authors conduct themselves, so when it’s your turn, you’ll have a vision for that new aspect of yourself.
Be gently amused when new voices refer to you as “old.”
Pay it forward. Take a debut author or up-and-comer out for coffee or tea or lunch. Stay involved in your local SCBWI or RWA chapter or regional writing group. Dish on the failed doomsday predictions of the days of publishing’s past. Be gracious and inclusive, even protective, of new authors on panels and at gatekeeper events. Bring wisdom, humor, and whenever you’ve got one to spare, offer a hand up.
Unless you’re on a plane and faced with the general public. If you’re on a plane and the person sitting next to you asks what you do for a living, don’t even consider telling them you’re an author.
I go with “bounty hunter.” Trust me, it’s the only way to fly.