Please welcome Cecily White, author of Prophecy Girl, available in paperback and for the Kindle.
Cecily makes a habit of avoiding boredom whenever possible. She has enjoyed careers as a hand model, GAP salesgirl, movie projectionist, psychotherapist, yoga instructor, university professor, artist, dance choreographer, eating disorders specialist, psych diagnostician, book reviewer and copy editor. None of which she finds as much fun as writing novels.
She currently lives in Springfield, MO with two FABULOUS kids and a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat. She can swear in Klingon, take down an alien aggressor using only her mind (or a pair of chopsticks), and kill giant spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt.
When not singing to herself, she spends time creating new worlds and thinking up ways to make this one better.
So, why did you become a writer?
Cecily: Mostly because I was bored. I have kiddos and really, there’s only so much time you can spend singing Elmo before you try to smash your head through a brick wall. Writing gave my brain a happy place during the humdrum times.
What three books are most influential in your writing?
Cecily: Seriously, dude? What’s wrong with you? That’s like asking what my favorite song is, or which boyfriend is the best kisser. I have no clue. Some author influences are Maggie Stiefvater, Rob Thurman, Stacey Jay, Katie MacAlister, Mary Janice Davidson…and of course you, Phil.
Aw, flattery will get you everywhere. Though in my experience, it is usually accompanied with vodka :).
Cecily: Nice try.
It’s often said that finding one’s “voice” is crucial in being a successful author. What does this mean to you and how did you go about finding yours?
Cecily: Voice is the sound of the character on the page. Its cadence and timing and vocabulary and attitude, all wrapped up in a cryptic little cellophane twist. I listen to the snark in my head–all the crap I didn’t say to my bosses/grad school teachers because I didn’t want to get fired/fail the class. That’s my voice. Unfortunately.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing your first novel, what practical tip(s) would you give your younger self?
Cecily: Don’t get bangs. And remember to wash your hands after you self-tan.
Care to share the stories behind those?
Cecily: It’s about an angelblood girl named Amelie Bennett who’s supposed to kill everyone she loves. Fortunately, she’s waaaaaaaay too stubborn to go along with this. So it’s demons and teenagers and psycopaths, with a bit of Existential philosophy tossed in for flavor.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Cecily: Bedtime stories with my daughter, Avery (aka Smartest-Little-GirlTurkey-on-the-Planet).
Mind telling us the story of how it got discovered?
Cecily: Well, I entered the Golden Heart contest in 2012, and one of the judges loved it so much she bullied me into submitting it to agents. One of them liked it, picked it up, and it sold to Entangled Publishing a couple weeks later. Oh, and I finaled in the Golden Heart, which was SO BLOODY COOL! I fiercely recommend entering that contest.
Is there a character or aspects of a character in the book you most relate with?
Cecily: I love Amelie, the main character. She’s so, SO flawed, but she stands up anyway. Sometimes I think that’s what life requires. You take hits. You keep standing.
Are you working on any other projects?
Cecily: Yup. It’s a seventeen-part epic inquiry into the sociocultural significance of toilet paper (Read: Keep asking, buddy–I’m not telling).
Many who write fiction are initially drawn to it because of the creative outlet factor. Do you have other creative outlets in your life? Care to name a few?
Cecily: I try to avoid creativity whenever possible. Reality freaks me out quite enough, thanks. That said, I have been known to sing in the grocery store line and dance randomly while walking through parking lots.
What was the toughest bit of criticism you ever received from a reader/reviewer–something valid, not a flame review lacking credibility?
Cecily: I don’t actually read my reviews because they, too, freak me the hell out. One time a friend told me I should drink less coffee. I mean, JESUS, you know? Who says crap like that? Tears. Accusations. Interventions…We made it through, but barely.
What was the best compliment?
Cecily: After reading my book, the guy I’m dating said, “I kept thinking while I was reading it, ‘Wow, she’s pretty smart. I’m dating a smart girl.'” Obviously, I had to bitch slap him because, really? He couldn’t tell I was smart from the other shit that comes out of my mouth?
If you had to perform an assessment on yourself (which I suppose you do, because I’m asking for it :)), what would you say is your greatest strength in fiction writing?
Cecily: Like, besides my accurate use of commas?
Anything you’d like to say to readers/fans?
Cecily: Yeah…don’t do drugs. Be nice to nerdy people, because we’re generally cooler than Normals. Oh, and never date a dude thinking you can change him, because you can’t (My mom said that last one, but it seems worth repeating).
Any tips you’d like to offer others attempting to write novels?
Cecily: If you edit drunk, save it as a separate file.
Muchos Thankfulness, Cecily. Great insight and entertaining. Folks, don’t forget to check out her book, Prophecy Girl—don’t think, just buy it. You can also check out her website at www.cecilywhite.com.