For those of you who don't know, on top of running this blog I also run the Aiden's Angels blog which is a blog dedicated to the series 'Between' by Cyndi Tefft who has spent the last three weeks on the Aiden's Angels blog talking with me about all sorts of things. So I've compiled the entire three part interview for you to peruse at your leisure.
Cyndi Tefft lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest where the weather is overcast and rainy, much like the Highlands of Scotland. She was right at home when she got the chance to visit Eilean Donan Castle in May 2010. A self-proclaimed Scot freak, she loved every bit about the trip to Scotland: the people, the kilts, the accents, the fish & chips, the haggis...well okay not the haggis.
You can follow Cyndi on twitter: https://twitter.com/cynditefft
What inspired you to start writing?
In 2009, I was watching an interview with Stephenie Meyer and she said that she was a stay at home mom who had a dream and decided to write about it. She seemed so normal--not like some die-hard writer who’d spent years in academia, learning how to craft the perfect novel--and I thought to myself, “Hey, if she can do it, maybe I can, too.” So I started, just to see if I could do it. And boy, have I learned more about writing (and myself) than I ever expected to during this process!
Where did the idea for ‘Between’ come from?
I wanted to write a good versus evil story, but I felt that angels and demons had been done quite a bit, so I was looking for something different. I landed on the idea of a guide who meets you and transports you to heaven, which allowed me all kinds of freedom to create the world where that meeting takes place. And, of course, being a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, my guide had to be an 18th century Scottish Highlander!
Can you talk a bit about your writing process?
Well, I’d like to say that I have a steadfast routine, that I write every day, and that I have a bunch of quirky habits, but none of that would be true. Sometimes I write during my lunch break at work, and I often write on Saturday mornings at my local coffee shop. Classical or Scottish folk music is on my laptop while I write (since I find songs with lyrics distracting, as I like to sing along). And even if I have loads of time to write (which is highly unusual), I can only really write for about an hour or two before I’m tuckered out. Tapping into the creative side of my brain is a bit like holding my breath under water!
Did you always plan on being self-published?
Not at all, actually! After receiving over 100 rejections from agents and editors, the roller coaster of hope and despair was more than I could take, and I tried to throw in the towel. I tried to walk away, but Aiden MacRae kept pulling me back. I couldn’t leave him. So I decided to share his story in whatever method I had available. My goal was not to sell a gajillion copies, but simply to finish what I’d started. Meeting incredible people who have fallen in love with Aiden is more than I ever dared to dream.
Who reads your book first?
When I wrote the first draft of Between, a coworker of mine read it as well as my mom. My coworker kept me motivated to continue while my mom (though she loved the story) was horrified by all the sex. LOL This was, of course, before I revised the book from adult to YA, but truthfully, she still thinks it has a lot of sex in it. Sorry, Mom. I mean, it’s Aiden. How can it not have smoking hot scenes? :)
What’s your writing playlist if you have one?
I can’t write while listening to music with lyrics, since I’m easily distracted (ooooh, shiny!), so I have classical piano or Scottish folk music on my laptop while I’m working. Brian Crain is my favorite and he has a boat load of albums, so I never have to hear the same song twice. :) Alasdair Fraser is my fave on the folk side.
How do you balance writing and family life? How often does one get in the way of the other?
Family life always comes first, which is part of the reason that I don’t write very fast! I carve out time when I can to make progress on the book, but it’s sporadic. Many authors talk about going “into the cave” to write and ignoring their family to meet deadlines. I’ve never really wanted that. I do wish I had more time to write, but not at the expense of the ones I love. Life is too short.
Do you have a tagline for readers who’ve never read your books?
I usually tell people, “Between is a time travel love story between a girl who dies in an accident and the 18th century Scotsman who comes to take her to heaven.” Does that sound good to you? I’m open to suggestions! LOL I think the “elevator pitch” is one of the hardest things to come up with!
What would you do if you met Aiden in real life (like what would you think of him)?
Ha! I’d probably stop dead in my tracks and stand there with my mouth hanging open if I saw his hotness walking by. If we *met*, I’d be a mess. I’m married. *this would not be good* So it’s probably best to keep him on the page, though I wouldn’t mind going to the casting auditions for the movie version of Aiden. hehe
What was your favourite part about visiting Scotland?
Holy cow, you want me to pick one thing??? I adore Scotland. Both times I’ve gone, I haven’t wanted to leave, but if I had to pick one particular moment, it was being able to visit Eilean Donan Castle, the home of Aiden MacRae. Not only is the castle itself breathtaking, but to be standing right where Uncle William addressed the gathered clansmen before the battle where Aiden died... There are no words for how surreal that was for me. Nothing could have kept the tears from streaming down my face. Dream come true.
Are there any places you would love to travel to/write about?
The main reason that Between has scenes set in France is because I’d always wanted to visit that country, having taken five years of French lessons in high school and college. We did get to go (to the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles- swoon!) in 2010. Looking forward, I would love to go to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, as well as spend some time in Ireland, Italy, and Greece. If only I were totally loaded. hehe
Who are your favourite authors (current or past)?
Diana Gabaldon tops the list (her Outlander series is the reason I fell in love with Scotland to start with), but I also love Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Perkins, Tammara Webber, Johanna Lindsey, and Jeri Smith-Ready.
Are there any books that are coming out that you’re excited for?
I’m really looking forward to the Clockwork Princess (third in the Immortal Devices series by Cassandra Clare) and of course, My Own Heart’s Blood, the 8th book in the Outlander series that is supposed to be out at the end of next year. I have over 100 books on my bookshelf to keep me busy in the meantime, though!
Any hints about Book 3 (a title yet)?
The third book in the series does have a title, but I haven’t released it yet. I plan to do so in conjunction with the release of the first chapter. Hmm... maybe in the next month or so!
Any tips for aspiring writers?
No matter where you are in your writing process (haven't started, just finished a draft, ready to go with a polished manuscript), start social networking now if you haven't already done so. Create a blog and get followers. Set up an author page on Facebook. Play and connect with other writers (and readers) on Twitter. Join communities on Goodreads, LinkedIn, AbsoluteWrite, Authonomy and others. Marketing is about getting your book in front of people, so the more eyes you have access to, the more successful you will be when the time comes. Above all, be friendly and supportive! And no matter what, never give up. Believe in yourself and give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. That’s how we learn and improve.
Coffee or Tea (or neither)?
Coffee, for sure, though I usually drink decaf because caffeine makes me all kinds of psycho jittery! Cream and two packets of Splenda. Good thing I live in Seattle, huh?
Favourite movie of all time?
You’d probably expect me to say Braveheart or Rob Roy, but it’s actually When Harry Met Sally. I love a good romcom. Other faves include While You Were Sleeping, 13 Going On 30, What Women Want, and the Cutting Edge (toe pick!).
Dark or White Chocolate (or neither)?
Neither. I prefer milk chocolate. With peanut butter. Or nuts. Or caramel. Or all of the above. *gets massive craving* *attacks Halloween candy*