Interview with Cynthia Scarpone

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Knowing that today is a new day and that I'm sure to learn something new.
Describe your desk
Since I have an Android tablet, I don't have a desk. However, when I was living at my mom's, my white desk that opened with a mirror inside was a disaster zone. Post-its of every colour of the rainbow were glued all over its surface and sides. Homework that should have been handed in the day before is crumpled and doodled on. You might find my cell phone behind my math textbook so that my siblings couldn't tell my mom I was texting instead of doing my math problems. I was usually lying on my bed to do my work. My bed could be compared to a closet, whereas I lived in my bed (my favourite purple bedspread - but always a mess as well). When I'm writing a story idea, all my family saw was the back of my head and clutter!
When did you first start writing?
I wrote stories for as long as I can remember. It was my mother who instilled in me a love for reading. She often let me play a game where we'd pick a series of images and arrange them in a way to tell a different story every time. Writing has always been a hobby for me. I'd write stories for fun, to entertain my brother, or to help my sister fall asleep at night. Sometimes, I'd take my mother's notepads and fill them with stories and matching illustrations!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I moved twice throughout my childhood and again, but on my own, when I turned 18. My early years were spent in Pointes-aux-Trembles, a peaceful area in Montreal, Quebec with days spent at the park and admiring the simplest of things. It is the basis of the bliss my characters experience in my children's story ideas. When I moved to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, I learned that the world isn't always such a nice place to live in. The area's culture and history, and many stores, are an asset to the neighborhood. However, I also grew up surrounded with homelessness, poverty, street gangs and prostitution. My fiction story drafts for teen and young adults involve the protagonist tangled in this complicated web. Although I'm fortunate to never have been in the middle of the action, I know how hard it is to break the cycle. My next move to the country fed my thirst for nature and tranquility. The area has many farms where horses roam and cows graze. Families feel safe here and neighbors can trust each other. I had more time to introspect and discover who I really am. Self-discovery, being true to who you are, hope, contentment and finding a way out took on a whole new meaning in what I wrote.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing in general is a hobby I really enjoy, whether it's a story or a poem. When writing fiction, I love developing characters and giving them scenarios to deal with and obstacles that they can overcome. It's a moment where I'm in complete control. I also like putting a bit of me in my characters and imagine myself in their shoes. In nonfiction, like my autobiography, I like to pour out my heart on paper (or tablet!)
What's the story behind your latest book?
My book is called The Way Out. It is an autobiography I wrote this year, at 18. It started out as a way for me to express my feelings and let out all the suffering I kept inside my heart from my childhood. I was depressed, suicidal and felt alone. It wasn't that I had nobody to talk to, but rather that I was ashamed of my abusive childhood. I dealt with my problems by burying them and pretending nothing was wrong. It was a family friend who, knowing how much I love to write, suggested I write a diary to help me cope with what I was going through. I never would have guessed how liberating that would prove to be! Once I started typing, I couldn't stop. It encouraged me to think and ask questions. I was surprised by just how much I was learning about myself. I showed my best friend since kindergarten what I wrote, and she, too, felt like she knew me even better.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Encouraged by positive words from my friends who read what I had written for my autobiography, I thought: Could I get published? I found a self-publishing company that had the services I was looking for. I contacted them and sent a sample of it. The following day, I received an email saying it is a lively read and definitely marketable. I asked for a contract but upon seeing the price of editing it, designing the cover, finding a good title and printing it, my heart sank. I was just 18 and looking for a job... I could never afford it. I went on Google and typed "writing a book online" which led me to Amanda Hocking. She's a successful author with Smash words and it was free for her to publish an e-book on their site. Next thing I knew, I signed up to Smash words and read more about what they do. I'm proud to say that I'll soon be an indie author, too!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth with friends and family is a good start. They, in turn, talk to their friends, and so on and so forth. Social media like Facebook and Twitter is also great! Encourage other e-book authors and who knows? They might do the same! Smash words has two great guides on the matter which I encourage you to download for free!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Android tablet is my best friend. My grandfather had given it to me as a gift to pursue my passion for writing. It's big enough for me to read PDF files and small enough to fit in my purse. And listen to music while I read!
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean a lot to me, they are like family and friends who cheer me on, encourage me and give a reason for me to keep writing. The nicest feeling is when a fan of mine tells me how they learned from what I wrote and that it helped them in their own lives. :-)
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors are those whom I've learned from their autobiographies and inspired me to publish mine. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls; A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer; Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah, amongst many others. These books gave me a good cry. They helped me to know that I can be a somebody despite my family situation and the insults that flew my way. These authors succeeded in putting the past behind them and now lead happy lives.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Bible is my number one favourite book. It is a book I enjoy reading every day. There are very few books that stand through the test of time and can change so many lives. Its' counsel is practical even in modern times, it is scientifically and historically accurate, too. It provides me with feelings of comfort and hope. No matter how often I read it, it touches my heart in different ways every time.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is another favourite. I'm very sensitive to injustice, and the Holocaust is one of the world's biggest tragedies. So many people were oppressed, tortured, murdered: Jews, Polish, the Roma, the disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, just to name a few. The Book Thief, though, was different than other novels. Its' narrator is death itself, and it follows the story of young Liesel Meminger. A must read!
For an animal lover like me, my third choice is The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up by Bradley Trevor Greive. There's nothing like silly photos of animals at their best (or worst!) to give me a good laugh and brighten up my day. There's even a kids version of the book now, so a sure guarantee to be loved by the whole family!
"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart". This is a sweet quote from Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne. I just loved the yellow bear from the moment I saw him in my favourite children's book until today. It celebrates the inner child within. On my bucket list, I'd love to travel to the "Hundred-Acre Woods" in England that inspired this timeless classic.
And my fifth choice is anything One Direction. It is my favourite pop boy band and I love reading about them and when they're on tour (which will do for now until I can buy a ticket to their concert!)
Published 2014-07-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.