Cynthia, we are so glad to have you in our Writers in Residence blog group. Tell us about yourself.
Thank you, Jackie! I’m a native of California, I was born and raised in the Pasadena area. My husband and I still live here, although we have talked about living elsewhere that is less expensive. I have two adult sons and two adorable granddaughters. We live in a condominium with two precious pups, Minnie, a mellow Maltese, and Mandy, a very precocious Terrier mix. They keep us on our toes and give us hours of unconditional love and fun!
I bet they are cute! When did you first get interested in writing?
I have been a writer since I was a child. The first book I fell in love with was Pearl Buck’s Good Earth. I subsequently read the rest of her tomes. The first attempt at writing occurred when I was in the 4th grade and wrote about an imaginary trip I made to Australia aboard the SS Lurline. What fun that was! Throughout my years in school, I always veered back to writing about Asia and when in college, studying for my Master’s in History found myself back in Asia but more specifically China.
Was History your only avenue of study?
No, besides my Master’s in history, I also have a Bachelor’s in English and Paralegal Studies, and a Master’s in Library and Information Science. But my writing career really took off following the completion of my last Masters. I took a couple online writing courses and found myself writing a romantic suspense that is loosely based on a personal experience of my own.
You mean, the events in Cache Under the Stacks actually happened to you? That’s scary.
Well, some of the elements did, but not all. It is fiction. (smile)
A bookstore features prominently in the book. Do you have a favorite one?
I love bookstores. Whenever we travel my first stop is a bookstore. One of my favorites is Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara, but our own Vroman’s here in Pasadena is the best of the best.
What other writing interests do you have?
I’m interested in writing historical fiction and have a couple of novels started that take place during World War II – one in Europe and the other in the Pacific Theatre. And I would someday love to write about cooking or do restaurant reviews. Always something that I am striving towards. But my one far-fetched desire is to own a boarding house for dogs with all the amenities!
I love it! We have some dog-lovers in our group and among our readers. They would be happy about that aspiration. I see you have many yummy recipes on your blog as well. Cynthia’s blog recipes
Yes, and did you notice the SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE recipe at the end of Cache Under the Stacks?
I sure did! I plan to try it soon. I love Italian food. So, what have you in the works right now?
Cache Under the Stacks was published in August 2018, and Starting Over was published December 2019. Both books I “pantsed,” but now I am trying to outline and it is not as easy for me. I’m working on a sequel to Cache Under the Stacks and a sequel to Starting Over, a woman’s fiction that has evolved into a bit of a mystery.
How about those two WWII novels you were considering?
One is set in the late 1930s New York and London. It is called Because of You. The other one set in Pearl Harbor, and is yet to be titled, although tentatively I call it Murder in Waimea.
What are you reading now?
Reading during this “lock down” time has not been as productive as I thought it would be. I have several books on my bedside table: Woman in the Shadows by Jane Thynne; Erik Larsen’s The Splendid and the Vile; The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan; and Landing by Moonlight by Ciji Ware.
How have you been managing during the “lock-down” time?
I thought I would have gotten a lot of writing done, but it has been hard to concentrate. If anyone has any suggestions, I would gladly like to know about how to overcome this. It has been a time of great distraction.
Do you have any dreams or goals?
My dream would be for Covid to be over and to travel to London, France, and Germany. I would like also like to publish at least one book a year and if possible, someday land a traditional publisher.
Thank you, Cynthia (Cyn), for sharing your past and your heart. We are so glad to have you here, and look forward to when you will be posting alongside us next year.
BOOK REVIEW: Cynthia (pen-name Claire Naden) published Cache Under the Stacks, A Cate Wagner Mystery, two years ago, and I have just found and read it. It’s a story about a divorced, empty-nester bookstore owner, living alone in a nice neighborhood with her sweet pup, Minnie.
But then, she begins to get threatening phone calls from an unknown person. It doesn’t matter if she is at home, at the bookstore, or 100 miles away, he seems to know just where she is and what she is doing. For most of the book, this stalker only terrorizes by phone, but towards the climactic end, the calls and messages get more specific. And when strange packages and people begin to appear at her bookstore, she knows her life is in danger.
Fortunately for Cate, a handsome police detective enters her life and takes an interest in her case. As the threats escalate, their relationship begins to heat up. But he can’t be with her every minute. She is alone sometimes and the stalker knows it.
Advertised as Romantic Suspense, I can assure you the book is both. From the first pages, you will feel an unease for the main character that quickly turns into unrelenting anxiety. It’s hard to stop reading even at chapter breaks, because you simply must find out who is terrorizing the heroine and why.
Naden writes simply but in great detail. Where another author might say “She went into the house and locked the door,” this author breaks down those movements into tiny increments (fumbling with the key, dropping it, her purse strap catching on the knob, preventing her from closing the door fast). You think it would be boring, but not so. It holds you captive while it ratchets up the suspense. You “just KNOW” someone is in the house, in her bedroom, or right behind her…
PS: You only understand the title at the very end!