Thursday, December 12, 2019
Author Spotlight - Cynthia T. Toney on her Award-Winning Book, The Other Side of Freedom
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I was inspired by the Italian-immigrant farming communities in the southern U.S. and the lesser-known criminal activity of mafia-like criminals that plagued those areas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"Her expression scared him. It was defiant. Same as when she took a whack from Sister Mary Theresa’s ruler rather than snitch on Sal for throwing a pecan at her."
I like that description because it epitomizes the character Antonina’s personality and her loyalty toward her best friend, Sal.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
No one particular character in The Other Side of Freedom is very much like me. However, I share characteristics with a number of them: Antonina’s stubbornness and persistence, Sal’s tendency to weigh both sides of an issue (but still worry), Uncle Enzo’s temper when witnessing injustice toward loved ones, and Mama’s faith.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
That freedom often requires sacrifice, and doing the right thing does not always bring personal reward.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
Every person who implied—or said outright—that I couldn’t write. Any time someone says I shouldn’t or can’t do something, that makes me try even harder to prove them wrong.
WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Betsy Byars and her Bingo Brown series for humor. Judy Blume for dealing with controversial topics. Wendelyn van Draanen for her handling of mystery, young romance, and struggles for acceptance. All three authors create relatable, memorable characters and write to evoke the emotions.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
To gain experience writing, I wrote non-fiction for free. Articles for newsletters, for example.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
It starts with a spark from a small thing. Then I think about how I’d use that for the opening scene of a story. From there I progress to how I’d want a story based on that incident to end. Then I try to figure out what would make an exciting middle.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
My writing starts out succinct but too brief. I have to work hard to fill it out.
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE?
I’d want to be compared to Wendelyn van Draanen.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I never could find an agent who was very interested! I received recommendations from other authors for my first publisher and my current one.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
If you have a small publisher, the marketing will be like a full-time job.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
The Other Side of Freedom has been honored with numerous awards, but I am even more pleased when I learn that the book has been selected for use in a classroom.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I’d like for any child or parent to be able to walk into a library and find at least one of my books.
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I salvaged building materials to help my husband construct a man-cave building on the cheap!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Teach your children kindness to animals and how to care for them. If they learn, they will treat their fellow human beings better.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
8 Notes to a Nobody
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status
6 Dates to Disaster
3 Things to Forget
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I have been working on an idea for a combination prequel/sequel to The Other Side of Freedom.
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org