Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Author Interview and BOOK GIVEAWAY with Cynthia Leitich Smith

Oh, I told you this was going to be good! After reviewing Tantalize, I was able to interview the author, Cynthia Leitich Smith! The interview is below, as well as another surprise...

For those of you who may not know, Cynthia runs one of the most successful blogs on the intarwebs, Cynsations, that has been touted by many writer's resources as one of the best blogs for writers basically ever. That's how I first came across Cynthia. But then I browsed her bio online and discovered that not only does she teach writing, but she also has an extensive list of quality entertaining books for middle graders and young adults.

Including my recent unputdownable-read, Tantalize. And my recent Amazon purchase, Eternal. And my recent addition to the must-be-purchased-as-soon-as-possible, Blessed, which, unfortunately, isn't available yet. Cause, you know, it's not done being written. Yet. But when it is...

So, without further ado, here's my interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith! And be sure to read all the way to the end for an extra special, never-before-done-on-this-blog surprise!

We can all read about your bio from the back of your book or your FAQ online. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
My prized possessions include a little yellow Wonder Woman lunchbox.

As a child, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
I didn't have a favorite picture book, growing up, but by the middle grades, I was madly in love with Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch from Blackbird Pond. I transitioned into spookier stuff--Stephen King and more sci fi--in high school. These days, my tastes are broad. I read widely out of necessity and passion, and that grows me as a writer.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A senator-princess from a long-ago, far-away galaxy.

How much of you is in your book? Is there a character like you? Is a situation in the book derived from real life?
Eternal reflects settings where I've lived--Austin, Dallas, Chicago. But beyond that, it's probably the book where I most had to use my imagination. The only exception is Miranda's longing to be in the theater and friends with teens who're in that group. I never even auditioned, but I once wished I could be among them, too.

What was your timeline for the book? How long did it take to write, revise, submit, and finally, get published? How did you feel at these stages?
Eternal is a companion to Tantalize, and I'm working steadily right now with my Candlewick editor, so there was no real "shopping" from house to house.

Per usual, I wrote my first draft and then tossed and deleted it. I started completely over with a better understanding of the protagonists and story. After much revision, I sent it in about six months later.

My original concept was elf-vampire, not angel-vampire; that came at the suggestion of my editor, but I loved it and started over again.

With revisions, all told, the manuscript probably took about a year and a half to two years, which is typical for me. I'm a steady writer, but I have a lot on my plate.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from the book, what would you want that to be?

What are your goals as an author? Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in 5, 10, 15 years?
I hope to continue as I am, focusing on YA fantasy and, now and again, writing a shorter piece--a short story or picture book. I'm really quite happy with my job.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
That reading is the most important skill-building exercise.

Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give to an aspiring author?
Think of it in terms of a trinity--craft, community, career. And hang onto your sense of humor.

What do you consider to be your strongest talent in writing? Your weakest?
My strength is integrating setting to full effect. My weakness is a predisposition to letting minor character take over the show.

What's a writing pet peeve that you have?
Dialogue that doesn't advance the story.

Thank you, Cynthia, for a great interview and sharing your story with us!

And now for a surprise...

It's about time I thanked all you readers out there in blogland, and tax returns are coming back soon. So...for the first time on Writing it Out history...


That's right! I'm giving away a copy of either Tantalize or Eternal! All you have to do is leave a comment with your choice of book and your email address. AND more love goes to those of you who link to this post...so if you share a link to this giveaway on your blog, come back and leave another comment, and you'll be entered again for the giveaway! AND I have a special place in my heart for my "followers" over on the sidebar there...so if you'd like another entry into the giveaway, just become a follower and post a comment here that you'd like another entry!

That's right--there're three chances for you to win!
  1. Just make a comment about this interview or the books
  2. Post a link to your blog about this interview and let me know here in the comments
  3. Become a follower and comment about it here
The contest will run until the last day of February, so you've only got ten days to enter!


Anonymous said...

Terrific interview, Beth. These books make me feel rather sanguine. After all, were else can you wolf down stories like these? I think Eternal would be just heavenly...
Tadhg Ceitinn

Anonymous said...

I have posted a link on my blog to this interview. Here is the text: "Check out the latest and greatest interview on writing it out. Beth interviews Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal (and also the upcoming, Blessed). These books sound good enough to eat!"

Anonymous said...

And finally, Beth, I have added my 'umble self to your devotees (i.e. readers/followers)

About Me said...

Great interview, Beth. Thanks to Cynthia for weighing in on the published author side of the table. It's always interesting to see how other writers work. Also, I couldn't agree more that reading is key to improving a writer's craft.

I put my name in for Eternal. Looks great. :)


Christina Farley said...

Since I've read Tantalize, I'd love to read Eternal. Sounds facinating.

lotusgirl said...

Great questions and responses. I especially loved the idea of the threefold writing life--craft, community, career. The 3 Cs of writing.

I'd like to be put in for Tantalize.

PJ Hoover said...

Great interview, Beth! I have the joy of knowing Cynthia personally, and she is just as awesome in person as she seems to be on the blogosphere!
I plan to pick up my copy of Eternal at a joint signing here in Austin of her and Kathi Appelt.
Did I mention you should move here :)

Bowman said...

Well, this is interesting.


JustusBowman@gmail.com (you might have known!)

Dorothy said...

Beth, thanks for this GREAT interview. You asked some interesting questions and I was glad to get the answers. I've been reading Cynsations since before I met you. She's taught me a lot.
I'd love to have TANTALIZE. Thanks for your consideration. Dorothy

Anonymous said...

There's something about the woman on the cover of Tantalize... maybe the color of her hair, maybe how she's turning away, I don't know, but I'd like to read more about her.

The interview was a great read too. :)

Unknown said...

Tadhg: Welcome to the family! Glad to have you on board (And I love your icon!!)

Crimogenic: Reading DOES seem to be the underestimated skill of a writer, doesn't it?

Christina: Eternal really sounds unique...I'm looking forward to it as well.

Lois: The 3 c's are going into my writer-vocabulary as well!

PJ: I am thinking that Texas is the place to be for writers! Seems like all the best ones are there ;)

Justus: Glad you liked it!

Dorothy: Cynsations really is a great resource for us all. I'm so glad it's there!

Marian: I so agree! The cover really attracted me to the book!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'd LOVE a copy of Eternal (having already read Tantalize!). And I put a link up to the contest at my LiveJournal blog: http://beckylevine.livejournal.com/86102.html


CL said...

Hey, Great interview. I do appreciate hearing about a timeline. Sometimes it's the nuts and bolts stuff we other struggling writers are most curious about. These books sound awesome, and I'd love to win either one! Thanks for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Oohhh!!!! Redemption. I love this! I'd love to enter for Eternal. Thank you!

Vivian Mahoney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca J. Carlson said...

That is SO AWESOME! How did you get an interview with that amazing woman? We are not worthy.

I'd like a copy of Eternal. The cover was pretty. And I'm into covers WITHOUT people on them.

Anonymous said...

I love paranormal books. I just love exploring the impossible. I would like to be entered for Tantalize.

I blogged about this in my LJ:

I follow your blog via Y!reader.


Prathima said...

I haven't read Eternal or Tantalize, but they sure do sound interesting. That was a great interview. The questions were different and I liked that. Of course, I liked the answers too, especially the wonder woman lunchbox. My english teacher loves wonderwoman.

Brooke Reviews said...

Loved Tantalize, and would love to read Eternal!

A senator princess from a far away galaxy! That sounds fun. :D What stopped you? hehe

I'm also a follower!

bacarleton at gmail dot com

mindy said...

great interview and thanks for the giveaway i have not read either and both sound wonderful so i would be happy with either one

Sarah Jensen said...

I'm impressed Beth! Great interview. Covered the interview at http://legendoftheprotectors.wordpress.com/
and over at twitter. :)
Would love to read Tantalize.

Anonymous said...

I would love to read Tantalize. I havent really gotten into the vampire theme but went to college in Austin and always love reading books set there. Great interview! utgal2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

@GeekWillow said...

I would love the opportunity to win a copy of Eternal.

I have posted a link to this contest on my blog (http://free-books-and-other-contests.blogspot.com/2009/02/contest-alert.html) and started following your blog.

bkilbarger (at) gmail (dot) com

KR said...

I loved the interview. I'd love to win Tantalize.

KR said...


Becky said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview. I would love to win Tantalize. Thanks so much!

dbkagrayson2002 at gmail dot com

Becky said...

I am now following you! (That always sounds like I am some kind of stalker LOL)

dbkagrayson2002 at gmail dot com

Katterley said...

Hi! I'd like to enter for Tantalize. I Google Follow your blog and I posted about this contest here:

Yay! I love contests! And I love everything I've read by Cynthia!

C.R. Evers said...

ohhh! I'd love to win either one!!! I must have missed this since I was gone on a trip. Thanks for reposting the give-away! One of these days I'm going to win one of these things! :0)

Thnx for the giveaway!


Blodeuedd said...

would love to win if it's open to evryone :)
And I'd sure love either one, so let's say Eternal then if I must choose :D

Kimberly Gail said...

I would love either but if I had to choose it would be Eternal

Lady Roxi said...

Great interview. I am really interested in read either of these books.

Thanks so much

Kimberly Gail said...

I blogged this giveaway


-.- said...

Great interview, I'd love to win Tantalize, since it's the first book in the series.

I've also left a link to your giveaway at my blog, it's off to the side under the header Giveaway List.


~ Popin

A Reader said...

I'd like either, but especially Eternal.
Thanks for the giveaway!

eyeslikesugar said...

I would love to win Eternal; I checked it out on Amazon and it looks REALLY GOOD! :D Thank you so much for offering this giveaway! eyeslikesugar [at] gmail [dot] com

Carrie Harris said...

I'd love to read Eternal! Tantalize was SO good.

And I can't believe I hadn't already clicked the thingy to become a follower, but I've fixed the problem now. Mea culpa!

thebluerose said...

I would like to win Eternal.

I blogged about this book giveaway. =)


thebluerose said...

By the way, I am a follower now!

Anita Yancey said...

I'd love to have Tantalize. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for having this giveaway.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Angela Ackerman said...

Choose? How can we choose? *rips hair*

Okay, okay...um, Eternal. Gah! That was so freakin' HARD!

Test said...

I would love to enter to win a copy of Eternal. Also, I'm now following your blog. :)

Thanks for the contest!

Reverie said...

OOH! OOH! OOH!!! Tantalize YAY

link to contest under contest(sidebar)

1_scoop_vanilla said...

Since i haven't read Tantalize yet i'd love to enter for it :) And i am now following you!

Elana Johnson said...

Wow. I loved Tantalize. I so want to read Eternal! elanajohnson@gmail.com I'm going to link...I'll come back...and I totally need another blog to follow. ;)

Elana Johnson said...

Now I'm stalking, er, following you. :)

Anonymous said...

i'm doing all three entry requirements, so please mark me down! and i'd love an Eternal, as i loved Tantalise!

http://ohkamikaze.net is where i'll post a link, as it's my writing blog.

carlene said...

Please include me in your drawing. I would love to win Eternal.

Unknown said...

Entries are officially closed everyone! I am off to calculate the winner now!

Unknown said...

ER...scratch that! I got my dates mixed up! You can still enter until midnight tonight. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating interview, Beth! I loved reading about Cynthia's writing process. I read Tantalize late last year and couldn't put it down. I'd be thrilled to win a copy of Eternal. Thanks for entering me in the contest! :)

Unknown said...

OK, *now* I've got my dates/times right! Contest is offically over--my clock reads 12:01!