About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Cynthia St. Aubin wrote her first play at age eight and
made her brothers perform it for the admission price of gum wrappers. A steal, considering she provided the wrappers in advance. She never quite gave up on the writing thing, even while earning a mostly useless master's degree in art history and taking her turn as a cube monkey in the corporate warren.
Because the voices in her head kept talking to her, and they discourage drinking at work, she started writing mysteries instead. When she's not standing in front of the fridge eating cheese, she's hard at work figuring out which mythological, art historical, or paranormal friends to play with next. She lives in Colorado with the love of her life and three surly cats.
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Q: At what point did you decide to make writing a profession? What got you started in the industry?
A: Probably about the time my long-time critique partner and fellow author Kerrigan Byrne took a cattle prod to my ass and was all: “Okay. Would you put something out already?”* (Note, Kerrigan, does not to my knowledge own an actual cattle prod, though threats of some sort of device used to motivate livestock may or may not have been used.)
As far as what got me started in the industry, I had written three full-length books of a funny paranormal series and was collecting enough politely-worded query rejections to prop up my wobbly writing desk when I decided it might be time to see if there was even an audience for the kind of genre-bending funny, snarky, paranormal romance-mystery I write. Having the benefit of critique partners who had already broached the indie industry, they encouraged me to try my hand at something shorter, like a series of novellas I could release one after the next to build an audience (beside my mother, who had already agreed to by at least one copy). I decided to give it a shot, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I actually have an old-fashioned composition books I bought with my allowance (NERD!) when I was eight years old. In my defense, I also bought a bag of M&Ms (another tool that has become an indispensible aspect of my writing ritual). The very first line in the book says, “Hi! You are my new journal and someday you’ll be able to tell all your journal friends that your owner is a writer!” At least my journal had friends…I’ve been writing ever since then with varying degrees of dedication, though it was only about eighteen months ago that I considered writing as a really for real profession. You know. The kind that I could make money to buy cat food, canned frosting, cheese, and sweatpants with.
Q: What is your genre?
A: I write sexy, snarky, steamy, paranormal romance and mystery. I am also working on my first thriller, which has been a great challenge because I have to reign in my natural compulsion to get a laugh at the most horribly inopportune moments. For example, there was this whole thing with the murders being staged like paintings, and the one set up like the image of John the Baptist and Salome (who requested the prophet decapitation as her price for dancing King Herod), and the victim was going to be the Metropolitan Museum’s Head of Security. <cue rimshot>. I know. I’m so, so sorry.
Q: If you could write in any other genre, what would it be?
A: I have two secret desires. 1. To write literary fiction (but I hear they discourage puns about severed heads). 2. To write poetry. (Secret confession: I tried this. I believe my last effort involved German cockroaches and their trajectory on the walls as a metaphor for my directionless angst. I know, right?) 3. To submerge myself in a clawfoot tub full of cheese fondue. Wait. That’s three desires, and the third had nothing to do with genres. Because trust me, if there was a genre centered around stories about being submerged in cheese, I would be all OVER that. Or all under it, spatially speaking.
Q: Where do you get your plot ideas?
A: Honestly, anywhere and everywhere. I am a shameless eavesdropper, and have turned overheard conversations into whole chapters of my books. Also, my brain is a little like a squirrel on mescaline. I see something, and my thoughts take off like a bag of dropped marbles. I’ll be driving and see an unfortunate raccoon who had an impromptu meeting with a rapidly traveling vehicle, and the next thing I know, I’ve created a talking zombie badger hat who also happens to be the Celtic god of healing. Which brings me to my next wellspring of ideas: research. I discover the most delicious tidbits while researching fairly mundane things. For example, when I was looking into who the Celtic god of healing was, I discovered that his name was Moritasgus, and he was known as…wait for it…THE GREAT BADGER. Talk about a gift-wrapped idea to run with! Well, not run, exactly, because I made Moritasgus into a talking road kill hat with a fondness for cookies and frequent dyspepsia, but, you get the point.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: As I hinted above, I am inspired by truly anything and everything. Things I find funny, interesting, tragic, and unconventional. Pieces of my personality or the personalities of someone I know that I want to try and play with on paper. Scraps of unexpected mythology (like badger healing gods or creating myths involving eggs—hellooooo Humpty Dumpty!) or history. Pretty much anything that captures my attention.
Q: Do you have a favorite “brain food,” a.k.a. snack food, when writing?
A: SUGAR. And lots of it. Swedish fish. Anything gummy. Chocolate-covered orange sticks. Blue raspberry Slurpees. Soft licorice. Candy of all kinds. And, of course, M&Ms.
Q: How do you approach a difficult scene? Do you tackle it head on