by Rox Burkey
I enjoy all opportunities to visit with authors and garner their perspective. Young, old, man, or woman, it is always a treat. Today I am chatting with Cindy Davis, an author of several books. She has a varied past that must contribute to why her books are so interesting. Cindy, thank you for joining me. Let’s dig in and share some cool stuff (technical term) with folks.
- Was there a specific event that convinced you that writing was the right path for you to consider?
I’ve always been an avid reader. In second grade, I read at a sixth grade level. I wrote my first book when I was six. LOL. All I recall is that it was a mystery set in Egypt. (Not sure you want this here—it turns out my first incarnation was in Egypt so, at some level, I must have remembered.) I continued the interest in mysteries moving from the Bobbsey Twins to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie. In 2017, I met Rick, who opened my interest in the metaphysical, and I wrote Zipacna’s Legacy. Funny, recently I realized that, although it was intended as a woman’s spiritual journey, it contains several mysteries within the story.
- What is the biggest inspiration for your writing?
All aspects of life. I am a people watcher. I love making up stories surrounding things they do or say. This perpetuates the mystery-lover side of me.
- Murder mysteries were your original focus. They often require extensive research. Do you find that to be the case? How do you conduct your research?
I do as much as I can in person. For example, my first series (Angie Deacon mysteries) was set at Lake Winnipesaukee in upstate New Hampshire. My husband and I took the motorhome and spent days getting to know the specific culture that made the area as diverse as it was. Even today, I visit potential settings for my books. Zipacna’s Legacy is set in Mexico. We spent two weeks walking the streets and talking to locals. Other research is done through learning in person. For example, in Final Masquerade, one of the characters drove a big rig. I did a ride-along. I also learned how to handle a shotgun. I did a ride-along with the police too.
- In your mysteries, do you have a favorite character that you have created, and which one?
I think it would have to be Phoebe don’t call me that unless you want to push up some daisies Smith. She’s one of the severely mismatched ‘stars’ of the Smith & Westen mystery series set in Concord, New Hampshire. The always-single mid-fifties woman loves heavy metal music, owns seven snakes, and hates underwear. She plays a beat-up tuba that puts visions of men in lederhosen into her partner Westen Hughes’s head.
- Are your characters created from people, you know?
To a small extent. I sometimes capitalize on things I ‘see’ while people watching. I also shape the early form of a character to be the opposite, or complement, of another character. For example, if I need a bad guy I sketch out what I need. The person takes shape in my head, and his personality traits grow. This doesn’t always work. As all authors know, characters evolve as stories move along. At times, a plot will stall, and I have to dump one character and replace him with another. Of course, each character contains at least one aspect of my personality. Don’t they say “write what you know”?
- More recent books are in the metaphysical genre. How did you start down that path?
I can blame or thank my new husband for this, depending on how each new plot is moving along. Right now, in book three, I’m stuck three quarters of the way along. So, now I’m blaming him for opening me to this world. LOL.
Rick and I met on Match.com. Two weeks into our relationship, he asked, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” I didn’t run screaming for the hills (for which he thanks me), and what’s resulted is an avid need to know all about this new world.
- Do you feel that is an area you wish to continue to write about and why?
I am here permanently. As I learned the phases of spirituality, things exploded for me personally. I have become a certified hypnotist and healer, a channel and a clairaudient empath. I believe one of the reasons Rick and I were brought together was, first and foremost, for me to open to spirituality, but second, to teach others about it. To help them realize there is a lot more to life than work/sleep/die. We teach that by simply changing thoughts from negative to positive (Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, and others made the concept famous) people can literally turn their lives around.
- Are there other genres you really want to explore for writing purposes?
Not at this time. Rick and I dabbled in the nonfiction area of spirituality, but the market is saturated. With the fiction, we’re able to reach a larger, more diverse crowd, some of whom have no idea about the spirituality. So, we are happy to ‘plant a seed’.
- Tell me a little about your writing process and how it has evolved over time?
I don’t think my process has changed at all. Wait, that’s not right. I now have a partner at whom I shoot ideas nonstop. When I was married before, my husband loved reading, loved my stories, but had no idea how plots evolved or characters developed. Rick’ gets it’ and is instrumental in the creation process. We take glasses of wine to the hot tub and tape record ideas that work, or, in many cases, don’t work.
I am most creative writing-wise in the early part of the day, so that’s never changed—and it doesn’t conflict with the hot tub time!
I begin most books with a plot idea, although Final Masquerade began with the character. I outline heavily. This habit began because of the need to keep clues and red herrings in line in the mysteries. I still outline today so I can keep a handle on a story’s flow.
- How do you use beta readers to make your writing so unique?
I use several readers. Some are just avid readers, some are editors, but none hold back from telling me the truth about what works and what doesn’t.
- How many hours a day do you put into your writing?
Around four. Unless the juices are flowing and characters won’t leave me alone.
- You have quite a few books. Do you have any favorites, and how were they elevated to that status?
My favorite is Come in from the Cold. It took eight years to complete. This demonstrates how much a story can change and evolve. It began as a mystery with Devon as the main character. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote some more, but things wouldn’t fall into place. During an unexpected revelation one sleepless night, I realized 1-it should not be a mystery, 2-Devon was only a minor player, 3-his mother Claudia wanted/needed to tell her story. She’s multi-faceted and intensely troubled, so conflict is rife throughout this book.
- What formats are your books available in?
I’ve been the gamut with publishers and agents. One by one, I’ve taken back all my books and put them on Amazon, so they’re paperback, large print, ebook, and many are available as audios. I have some free copies of a couple of them. Happy to give them on request.
- Are your books published in multiple languages?
No. I’m hoping that Zipacna’s Legacy will go that route though. I believe the topic’s got international interest.
- Can you tell me a little bit about your next book and when it will be available?
The sequel to Zipacna is Search for Power. Here is the cover blurb.
An energy vortex at Jade Martinez’s school in Chi’país, Mexico draws students from all over the world. So many that she seeks to open a second school for advanced spiritual education. What better location than Sedona, Arizona?
The Sedona Ocotillo Hotel is for sale. It has a vortex, and would make a perfect school, but it is haunted by a pair of spirits who cannot cross into the next world. Though they beg Jade and ten-year-old protégé Miguel to help, teacher and student have no idea how to accomplish this.
Miguel is well into his shamanic training. Mature for his age, he is frustrated that his healing ability is slow in developing. He knows without a doubt this trip will be the cure.
Chaahk has a plethora of deep-dark secrets—most prevalent is that twelve years ago, he abandoned all his shamanic abilities believing they made him a freak. He has the answers Jade and Miguel seek but, haunted by visions of his dark-haired great niece, and his deceased half-brother Zipacna from whom he ran all those years ago, he refuses to meet with anyone from his past. Will Universe conspire to bring them together? Or will the alarm clock of Divine Timing fail to chime?
- Do you read your book reviews?
I do. I find it a good way to learn what people are taking from my stories. If too many mention a problem with a character or plot, I look to work on that in the future. I don’t think enough readers realize the importance of reviews.
- What are you passionate about?
I had to ask Rick this because I didn’t have a single answer. And neither did he. He named a half-dozen things. So my answer is life. I love every single day. As Rick often says, “I never have a bad day. Even ones that don’t go 100% perfect are still wonderful.” When we say this, many people say it’s because we’re happy to wake up on this side of the grass. But it’s not that. It’s a love and appreciation for all we have. There is beauty or humor or something in even the most adverse situation.
- Most authors I come across are readers, does this apply to you? If yes, do you have a favorite genre to read?
Avid reader! Through the years I stuck mostly to the mystery genre but I joined a readers group in my hometown in NH. They read books I never would’ve picked up. Since then, I am much more diverse. I now read every metaphysical book I can get my hands on. It’s funny though. I think, as authors, as we read, we absorb aspects of story construction. We learn the nuances of sentence rhythm. We realize that characters do not remain the same. They face everyday events that change them. In my day job as an editor, it’s easy to spot an author who’s a non-reader. When I ask, I am never wrong.
- You and your husband are hosting a luncheon. You have invited two authors to join you (Doesn’t matter if they are living or not). What questions would you pose to each of them and why?
Wow. Cool question. I included Rick in this answer because we love so many authors. I chose one to invite, and he picked the other. The one I’d call on is Ruth Rendell, an English author who wrote psychological thrillers. Her characters are so well developed it’s like she IS the person. In one book, I believe it was The Rottweiler, a serial killer is the point of view character. I find it easy to KNOW who my characters are, but want to learn more about SHOWING who they are, what thoughts compel them to act as they do, and most of all what things are important for the reader to know.
Rick loves any well-written story and reads all genres, but in light of the events of 2020, he narrowed the choice to George Orwell. He’s reread both 1984 and Animal Farm. The question he’d want to ask: “In 1949, how did you have the insight to write 1984? Did you know the plot line would be perpetuated through history?”
- What interests you outside of writing?
LOL. Life. We have so many interests: travel, hiking nature trails, beaches, puzzles, reading and reading. We don’t watch television. Much of our time is spent outdoors. Yes, in Florida.
- Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?
Keep your ego in check. Listen to advice. Never think you’ve learned all there is to know.
Cindy, thank you so much for chatting with me. I think at some point, we need to do this again. It was fun. Enjoy reading all of Cindy’s books. Have a great day!
Where can folks find you and follow you?