Our long-awaited interview with Cecily has finally arrived on Day 3 of our summer blog tour for In the Margins. Cecily is the Author of numerous novels, short stories, and novelettes. Below are five titles she’s authored, that are available in print and digital format. She is so committed to youths’ engagement in text that she holds free giveaways for her titles and offer some of her titles for prices that are very affordable for young adults.
“What do you do when you are not writing?”
“Can you share with us a book you’ve read that has made an impact and why?”
P.D. Workman’s books, especially Ruby and Tattooed Teardrops. I see a lot of teenagers and young adults in difficult situations not of their own making, both as I go about my job and in my community. Workman’s stories are very realistic and emotional, and I think it shines a light on the inner turmoil these kids face as they try to make their way in a world that seems set against them.
“What were some of your earliest memories of writing that you enjoyed?”
I started writing in the third grade when I became intrigued by Helen Keller and the impossible odds she overcame. I read everything I could, both from the elementary school library and the public library, and then started to daydream a bit about Helen’s possible adventures with her teacher, Annie. What sort of things did they do, as Helen learned about the world around her? I just imagined a little girl learning through touch, taste, and scent, and began to write stories, mostly humorous, about her adventures.
“Are they YA literature? Juvenile? Children? Adult?”
Adult, with younger characters (late teens) so they crossover well. I have several teen fans of my adult fiction, which makes me very happy. That Night is my first (but not last) YA novel.
“What brought you around to writing That Night? Can you tell us about some of your challenges in writing That Night?”
I have a good friend who lost four young people in her immediate family to heroin overdoses in the past few years, and after attending calling hours and funerals and talking to family and friends, I noticed that there were few teen fiction titles out there that focused on heroin overdose deaths. The death of a young person is always sad, but each one is unique, as is that person, and finding a story that relates to a reader’s particular experience is important – so I wanted to share a story not unlike that of the lost youth in this family, primarily about the aftermath and how the friends, family, and community deal with it. The response is varied, from denial, to fear, sadness, anger, hopelessness – and so many questions. I hope that Kayla’s story isn’t just a warning to stay away from heroin, but also a comfort for those dealing with the death of a loved one from drug use and the long, hard road they must walk with the memories, questions, and guilt they carry.
“What else have you worked on since That Night was published?”
The second title in my inspirational historical romance series was published last October, and advance reading copies of my second YA, The Competition, have just been made available to reviewers and will publish in September. The Competition is about four high school juniors who meet at a writing competition, and how their past influences their participation as well as the new relationships they form. Their heritage, as well as family circumstances, play a huge part in their choices over the day-long event, and the consequences are life-changing.
“What was your favorite chapter (or part) of the That Night storyline and why?”
The epilogue. I’ve had many readers tell me that the very end hit them hard but offered closure, as it did me in the execution of it.
“What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?”
The toughest criticism has been that the emotions are over the top – which is interesting, since I base all of the emotions on real ones, real situations, real responses. A reader wrote a nasty review of That Night, saying that as teens, the characters need to “get over it” and move on with their lives. Another reader responded to that reviewer, asking if the first reviewer had ever lost someone they loved, because for some people, they never get over it. I don’t respond to negative reviews, but some of my readers do, and it can get a little crazy!
“Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?”
Just do it. Do it when you have ten minutes between classes, while you have your coffee in the morning, on receipt paper, napkins, your phone – anywhere and everywhere you can. Words add up, and a few words a day will add up to a short story or novel. Write what you want to read, what you love, what is meaningful to you, and it will find readers. Someone out there needs the story only you can write.
“Are you working on a new book title? Can you share with us what the title is and when it will be due?”
I am finishing up the third and last title in my inspirational historical romance series, which publishes this October, and the sequel (and final installment) of A Harvest of Stars, to release most likely in November. For 2019, I have a contemporary family drama called American Girls that I am writing with my sister, which is semi-autobiographical, and my third YA, The Library War, which is about two high school seniors competing for a solitary job working at the neighborhood library, where they have volunteered together since middle school. I have no idea which of them gets the job yet!
“Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?”