Interview with Cindi Clarke Summerlin

Describe your desk
I write in my living room where I can stay close to my husband, David, and dog, Trooper. I tried setting up a desk in a room away from everyone and everything, but found my mind wandering to the living room and what was playing on the TV. One of these days, I would love to have a she-shed to write in, with a space for crafts, plants, and cats! I'm already pinning ideas to my boards on Pinterest! But for now, my desk is cluttered with papers and notes. Ideas for the next book. Cookie crumbs, and an ice cold glass of tea.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Illinois and by the time I was six, I had lived in Georgia, California, and Texas. When I was seven we moved to Germany for four magical years when fairy tale castles were real, elves and dragons lived in forests, and every day was an adventure. We moved back to the states when I was ten, and spent a year in Arizona while my dad did a tour in Vietnam at the end of the "police action." From there we went to Florida where he retired and my parents divorced.
Always being "new kid" libraries were where I felt safe, and where I found my friends in books that took me to amazing new places, strange planets, and helped me find my way in the real world.
My childhood travels influenced my adult love for traveling, my love for books and reading influenced my desire to write. When I read, I like books that paint a picture for me so that I can just fall into the pages. I'd like to think that I write the same way now.
When did you first start writing?
When my dad passed away in 2007, I found in his desk all the letters I had written him for 28 years, from 1977, the year my parents divorced, to 2004, shortly before I met and married my third (wrong) husband. I guess when you look at all those letters, I first started really writing when I was 15, although I had pen pals from the time I was 10.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Eagle Visions, my last published book, started as a way to wrap up the lives of Cidney and Dan from Trooper's Run in a happily ever after way. In the process of scribbling ideas down, I was stalked for a while by someone I had known in high school who had become mentally ill. Some of that experience found its way to the pages of Eagle Visions.
The book I'm working on now, Winter Bear, will have challenges I've faced from the past five years of my life, and will be set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I live now with my husband, David, and Trooper, my dog.
What do your fans mean to you?
Because my books deal with emotional issues of domestic violence, war, 9/11, mental illness, date rape, and adoption, I would hope that readers might find hope and strength in some of the characters. Hearing how the fans of my books have enjoyed them, and found something that they can relate to and find comfort from makes all those hours spent editing and nitpicking grammar worth it.
Who are your favorite authors?
A cousin sent me a copy of The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye and I was hooked. I still have that copy, although the cover is taped together, the pages yellowed and rat edged. I love history, and M.M. Kaye spends more time telling the history of her characters and countries than on romance. Reading her books takes me on around the world safaris.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Ugh. Mornings. Sometimes I get caught up in writing and before I know it, it is 2am. Usually what gets me out of bed, however, is Trooper's cold nose nudging me to get up and take him out for a walk, or fix his breakfast. Then there is work... Life here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is just beautiful, no matter what the season, and one of the things I do love about mornings is driving to work and seeing deer, rabbits, eagles, and all kinds of colorful birds. The trees are amazing in the fall, the spring with all the flowers incredible, in summer the time spent in the boat on lakes while my husband fishes and I think of ideas for books is so relaxing. Even winter, with more snow than either of us has ever seen... like being wrapped in a big down comforter.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, my mind is just going 90 miles an hour with ideas for crafts, decorating, and books. But I also love spending time with my husband on the lake, and walking with my dog in the woods.
How do you approach cover design?
For the three books I self published, the covers came from the amazing people at CreateSpace. It took a few samples to get the cover for My Best Friends Have Hairy Legs, but the one for Trooper's Run was spot on. In fact it was six months before I even realized that there had been two samples for me to choose from. The wolf on the cover looked exactly like a wolf I had rescued during Hurricane Ivan, and who became the real hero in Trooper's Run.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I wrote my first book, I sent it to several publishers, but never got any response back. At a writer's conference lead by author Michael Lister, I had the chance to listen to author Michael Connelly talk about the process he goes through to get a book published. The more he talked, the more I realized that "big house" publishers really take control of the book for however long you contract with them. They can change the title, shorten it by dropping chapters. They can change character names, ask you to make it longer, and really have complete creative control over it. Your words are no longer your words. They've been sold. I didn't like that idea of someone controlling my words, which at the time, were about my life. For me, there was no other option but to become an indie author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me, writing my books has become a way to heal from some of the pain of abusive relationships. A way to talk about what I don't want to talk about by putting it in a character's words. It is also a much easier way to get even with an ex, without actually having to have any interaction with them at all! ;]
Published 2015-11-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.