Hi everyone. I’m so excited to introduce a fellow CMP author to you today. I’ve had the great pleasure of reading her novel, and fell in love with her heroine. Although she is here to guest post, I want to give you the opportunity to get to know her and her book. This is a MUST READ. At the end of her post, I’ll be asking Cindy some questions about her novel and what is on the horizon for her characters—so stay tuned. You won’t be disappointed.
Bio: Cindy has always been an avid reader and became fascinated by mythology and Arthurian legends at a young age. She quickly decided she enjoyed creating her own worlds and characters and set to work writing her own stories. She won her first writing contest at age twelve, a short story inspired by the style of Edgar Allan Poe. Branching her interests from mythology to classic supernatural tales to medieval history and then to fantasy seemed to be a logical progression.
A native New Englander, Cindy currently lives in the Mid-Atlantic region with her family and each year wishes for more snow. You can visit her at her website at www.cindyyoungturner.com.
So, Cindy. The mic is yours….
Guest post—A fantasy author finds inspiration in the past
Thanks for having me, Jean! One of the hardest parts about writing fantasy is that I can’t go to a particular location where my novel is set or look it up on the internet to do research. My novel takes place in a world I’ve created. Granted, it’s a medieval-based setting, so some things may seem familiar, but it only exists in my head. The closest I’ve come to experiencing my world is at our local renaissance festival and during a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.
My husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Scotland. It was our first trip out of the country and a dream vacation. I’ve been fascinated by Scotland for a long time—the culture, the history, the music, the beautiful landscape. With only a nine day trip, we had to carefully pick and choose what we wanted to see. We spent two days in London, then took the train to Edinburgh for a couple days and then another train ride to Inverness. None of it disappointed. Edinburgh was an amazing city. We spent a good amount of time on the Royal Mile, which was a bit touristy, but I loved the cobblestone streets, the old buildings, and all the history that had been preserved.
While we were in Edinburgh, we took one of those ghost tours that seem to be all the rage these days. I’d never heard of a ghost tour before (this was a number of years ago), but a friend who had been there highly recommended it. We had a choice between a tour during the daytime that ended in a pub or one at night that ended in a cemetery. Ha, of course we picked the tour ending in a pub. I’m so glad we didn’t do one at night because frankly, I was terrified. Lots of creepy things happened on the old streets of Edinburgh, and lots of terrible punishments were meted out. For example, the infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare killed people and sold their bodies for medical dissection in the 1800s. Burke was hanged, publicly dissected, and souvenirs were made from his skin. His skeleton is displayed in the University of Edinburgh, and we were told it’s set at an angle so his soul would never be at rest. Some of the creepiest stories we heard during the tour were about Mary King’s Close, where supposedly when the plague swept through in the 1600s people were boarded up in their homes and left to die. This is one of the most haunted places in the city and has been featured on some of those “most haunted” shows. Just thinking about it still gives me chills. The tour also took us to the South Bridge Vaults, which had recently been opened up. People lived and worked in these underground passages in the late 18th century. Conditions in the vaults were horrific, and it became a slum and a red light district and as a result also attracted all sorts of criminals. We went through some of the vaults on the tour. Imagine walking through dimly lit tunnels with the guide warning you not to lose the group and oh, don’t worry if you hear heavy footsteps behind you because sometimes people do. Yikes. No one in the group wanted to be a straggler. After that I was ready for the pub and a good stiff drink.
Now this isn’t to say that my novel is full of infamous murderers, cruel punishments, or haunted underground passages. Well, on second thought, some of that does apply. I certainly pictured the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of Edinburgh when I was writing the story. In the town where the primary action of the novel occurs there are a series of tunnels that run beneath the streets. These tunnels play a key role and were inspired by the vaults I went through beneath Edinburgh, although mine don’t have such a sordid history (the crime and prostitution happens above ground instead). And since this is fantasy, the tunnels also have a bit of magic, and it’s a creepy otherworld kind of magic tinged with fear. In my world, danger lurks around every corner, especially the shadowy ones.
Sydney, a street urchin and pickpocket in the town of Last Hope, has managed to evade the oppressive Guild for years, but there is no escaping fate when she’s sentenced to death for associating with the resistance.
After she’s rescued by a wizard, Sydney is forced to accept that magic-long outlawed throughout the Kingdom of Thanumor-still exists, and the Tuatha, a powerful faery folk, are much more than ancient myth and legend. When the wizard offers a chance to fight the Guild and bring Willem, bastard prince and champion of the Tuatha, to the throne, Sydney embraces the cause as a way to find her own redemption.
But Sydney’s fear of the Guild, distrust of authority, and surprising connection to the Tuatha threaten Willem’s success. Can she untangle the strange threads that entwine her life not only to the fate of the kingdom, but also to Willem himself?
INTERVIEW WITH CINDY YOUNG-TURNER
1. Where do you turn to for inspiration?
I love listening to music when I write and picking music that matches the mood of the scene. I listen to a lot of Celtic music and movie soundtracks (especially the Lord of the Rings soundtracks), as well as harder stuff like Godsmack, Evanesence, Black Sabbath, and Nine Inch Nails. And because part of the novel involves people rising up and fighting oppression, I’ve also been inspired by events in history like the Scottish struggle for independence and the French revolution. I guess I like to root for the underdog.
2. Okay, now a question for my next favorite thing—your heroine, Sydney. Tell us about her and what motivates her?
I adore Sydney. She’s very flawed and very human. I think to understand her you have to understand where she comes from, that she’s lost the person dearest to her and has had to fend for herself on the streets. The town of Last Hope is not a nice place. She’s done whatever she had to do to survive. At the beginning of the novel, she has a hard time trusting people and carries around a lot of guilt and doubt in herself. But she also has a moral core that her father figure instilled in her, which has remained despite the difficult choices she’s made. During the course of the story she has the opportunity to finally uphold those principles and realizes she really can fight for what she believes in and make a difference. When she meets Willem, the man who is trying to gain the throne and oust the oppressive Guild that has been the source of so much pain for Sydney personally, he gives her hope that change is possible. It’s really a turning point for her. And yeah, there’s some romance there also.
Sydney undergoes a tremendous amount of growth by the end of the book, even though she makes plenty of mistakes along the way. I hope readers can sympathize with her and will be able to understand and be inspired by her struggle to overcome her past and fight for a better future.
3. In five words, can you describe the hero, Willem.
Determined, confident, inspiring, compassionate, chivalrous
4. What is the future for Willem and Sydney?
Well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I’m working on the sequel to Thief of Hope now. The adventures continue, and as the stakes get higher, the dangers increase, for both Sydney and Willem. I think the question isn’t whether they want to be together but whether they CAN be. Can a pickpocket/street urchin become a queen? And does she want to be? Can love conquer all? Honestly, I won’t know until I finish writing the book because I’m the kind of person who writes to find out what happens in the story. The jury is still out on this one. My characters often have a way of surprising me, though, so anything is possible.
5. Where can readers find you?
Cindy, thank you so much for taking the MIC today. I always love to hear how authors obtain inspiration in creating their worlds. I fell in love with your book, its setting, and characters. It’s one of those books that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the story with its sights and sounds. I can’t wait for the sequel.
Keep writing and happy reading to all!!