Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Cynthia Leitich Smith

Feral Nights FinalGet to know Cynthia…

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of TANTALIZE, ETERNAL, BLESSED, DIABOLICAL and TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY (Candlewick). Her award-winning books for younger children include JINGLE DANCER, INDIAN SHOES, RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (all Harper Collins) and HOLLER LOUDLY (Dutton).

Her website was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer’s Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog listed as among the top two read by the children’s/YA publishing community in the SCBWI “To Market” column.

Quirky Questions

What one word describes you?

Evolving.

If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it?

Set it on my editorial revision letter.

What do you do when you see a spider in your house?

Say, “Howdy, Charlotte.”

Do you bake or buy?

Marry someone who bakes.

Do you believe in UFOs?

Yes.

What song best describes your work ethic?

“What Doesn’t Kill You” by Kelly Clarkson

If you could be anyone else, who would you be? 

Joss Whedon for all the obvious reasons.

What is your concession stand must-have at the movies?

Buttered popcorn. Real butter. Good popcorn.

Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?

Too loud.

What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?

A sense of humor.

What is the most distinguishing landmark in your city?

The University of Texas Tower.

What is your favorite board game?

Clue.

What would you rather have: a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?

Housekeeper.

Image 23Writing Questions

What inspired you to write your first book?

A desire to see contemporary Native Americans reflected in children’s-YA literature.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No, I employ whatever style best suits the specific manuscript—its protagonist(s), age level, setting(s) and theme(s).

What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.

Straddle the line between commercial and literary fiction.

What books have most influenced your life?

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I so identified with Kit. I may have never lived in Puritan, New England. But I’m sure if I had, I would’ve been accused of witchcraft, too. Besides, we’re both book people.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, which coupled with the “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” TV series, put me on the road to writing genre-building YA fiction with strong female (and male) protagonists.

What book are you reading now?

I just re-read The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger, the latest addition to the Russell Middlebrook series. I love everything Brent does and can hardly wait to see the movie adaptation of his Geography Club.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

A shocking ineptness at anything domestic. Given the slightest talent at it, I might have become a chef. (Or perhaps a Lego artist). But as it is, I’ve started four kitchen fires and been banned from using the stove.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Own your awesomeness, support your community, and sweat blood. I’m rooting for you.

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