In between her freelance editing assignments and critique services, Cindy Davis writes books — from memoir to mystery to fantasy. Our conversation with her today is about three of her fiction books:
Writers-Editors Network: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Cindy Davis: I guess, first off, I’m a wife, mother and grandmom, living in the sunny/snowy/muddy/buggy four-season state of New Hampshire. I love all facets of the writing world, except possibly promoting <grin>. Anyone who likes this angle is suspect, in my book! I am an author, editor and publisher, and in my spare time enjoy gardening, hiking, needlework and reading, lots of reading.
Writers-Editors Network: Where were you originally from?
Cindy Davis: Massachusetts originally, in a small town near Cape Cod. Now I live in southwestern New Hampshire, in another small town where we all know what each other’s doing on any given day. We watch each other’s homes when someone’s away. We shovel each other’s walks when it snows. And yes, a lot of us talk behind each other’s backs.
Writers-Editors Network: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Cindy Davis: When I was seven. I wrote a book titled “Nancy Dies in Egypt.” The problem finishing this? They say “write what you know”– I’d never been out of New England! I didn’t get started seriously until my kids were all moved from the house; although I think the idea was there when I was little.
A Little Murder
“A Lake Winnipesaukee fishing excursion turns deadly — then ER nurse Angie Deacon discovers becoming a murder suspect is only the beginning of her troubles … Untruths aren’t the only cause for alarm as the lethal pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, leaving Angie wondering just exactly how her husband fit into the deadly equation … and if she is next on the killer’s list. ”
Writers-Editors Network: What inspired you to write A Little Murder?
Cindy Davis: I have always been a mystery lover. Writing a series set in one of the most beautiful places in the country seemed right.
Writers-Editors Network: Have you written other books with these characters?
Cindy Davis: There are five books in this series so far.
Writers-Editors Network: Did you outline this book first? Or just start writing?
Cindy Davis: I am an outliner. I need to know where I’ve dropped all the clues and red herrings and where each character was at a given moment.
Writers-Editors Network: What was your favorite scene or chapter to write and why?
Cindy Davis: There’s a chase scene that culminates in some humor. I like the addition of the humor to alleviate some of the tension — it was like real life.
Hair of the Dog
In Hair of the Dog, Angie Deacon thought her vacation in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, would be relaxing … until the dog next door would not stop barking. After two sleepless nights, she confronts the owner at the local diner. Their ‘discussion’ ended in a near knockdown drag-out. The following morning Simon York is found dead. And she’s the main suspect.
Writers-Editors Network: Where did your inspiration come from for this book?
Cindy Davis: It’s the third in my Lake Winnipesaukee mystery series. I’ve been told the plot came from my subconscious. It begins with a neighbor’s dog barking 24/7 and culminates in the owner dying (the dog next door to me does bark all the time).
Writers-Editors Network: Did you also outline this book first?
Cindy Davis: I always outline. I don’t outline the entire story because it tends to change as I go, but I work up four or five chapters, write the story, then outline some more. This works well for me, also, because I have the chapter by chapter synopsis in place.
Writers-Editors Network: What was your favorite chapter or scene in this book?
Cindy Davis: The cottage explosion about midway through the story … because it brought in different emotions, conflicts and details.
Writers-Editors Network: What was the biggest challenge in bringing this book to publication?
Cindy Davis: Getting to Weirs Beach to do the research. I wrote the book in winter and the weather was horrific.
Writers-Editors Network: Do you plan on writing more mystery novels – especially in this series?
Cindy Davis: Yes. I’m working on book 6 now, titled Happily Never After, about a trigamist. Nothing good can come of a man who marries three women!
Writers-Editors Network: Most of your novels appear to be set in small towns; is that correct?
Cindy Davis: Yes, almost exclusively small towns. Being raised in one, and living in one now, I’ve gotten to know the small town life very well. Then along came Cold as Ice. Part of it is set in Gloucester, Mass., a quaint fishing town; the other part of the book is set in Boston’s diamond district.
Cold as Ice
Claudia is a survivor, in a world as cold as ice. It’s 1954. During Christmas break from Colorado College, Claudia Goodwin’s father delivers the news: she’s to marry David VanBuren so he can merge the two families’ frozen food companies. Claudia’s outright balking doesn’t work; ignoring the edict doesn’t work. When she finds herself pregnant by the one she truly loves, David’s black-sheep brother Max, a philandering wild boy, marrying David seems the only solution. But is it? Learn more on the Author’s website or on Amazon (print or Kindle).
Writers-Editors Network: Boston? Why the setting change for you?
Cindy Davis: This story was eight years in the making. It has a long history. When I sent the first version to my agent, he said to put it away and mull it over longer. Several years later, I realized (1) it shouldn’t be a mystery; (2) I was focused on the wrong main character; and (3) it was set in the wrong time period — I had to move the story back fifty years. So, with all the changes, it turned into a totally new story, one I have a tremendous emotional connection to.
New book published Summer 2014
A Picasso painting, worth a hundred million dollars, disappears en route from Chicago to New Hampshire. En route is to be taken literally because it happens while the truck is moving. The painting is there, then it’s not. It’s gone, but it can’t be.
Kendra Jean Valentine, underwriting agent for the policy, is on the hook. She scrapes together enough to hire two women to work the case.
How she writes …
Writers-Editors Network: Where is your favorite place to write books?
Cindy Davis: I am an editor for my day job so my writing time is limited. I tend to work on $$ jobs before my own stuff. Go figure. I have an office at the front of my house. But my favorite place is in our motorhome at a campground in Pownal, Vermont, where there’s a beautiful pond with a fountain.
Writers-Editors Network: When do you do your writing? Do you get “dressed” to go to work?
Cindy Davis: Hear me laughing as I sit here in my crappy old sweats!! Because I rise so early — many times by 4:30 a.m. — originally I didn’t want to wake the household by running the shower, so I got in the habit of going right to work. That’s stuck with me, and even though the kids are gone, I still work in old sweats with the holes, paint stains and baggy knees — and with my bedhead. Heaven help the person who comes to my door before noontime!
Writers-Editors Network: As a wife, grandmother, gardener, author, publisher, and editor, where do you find the time to do everything?
Cindy Davis: I think people who are self-employed learn to budget their time. It’s important to fall into a routine, and not to procrastinate (too much). If I spend time with my granddaughters after school, I work late at night — as if I have a boss standing over my shoulder.
My personal time tends to be short periods: a morning coffee break, a half-hour in the garden, that sort of thing.
Advice from Cindy Davis …
- Be prepared for rejection. Stay strong. Keep learning your craft.
- Read read read — not just what you enjoy, but all genres. Learn all you can about the industry. Never feel as though you’ve done a perfect job. And don’t let the rejections get you down (for long) — keep plugging away. If you’re serious about writing, do it. Don’t make excuses. You don’t have to put all your time into it, but set aside some time for yourself every day, once a week or twice a month — when or how much doesn’t matter so long as you do it.
- Never accept that you’re done learning about your craft.