I’m interviewing Cindy Christiansen, a good friend and a very gifted author of several wonderful stories.
Cindy, thanks in advance for talking to us today.
Cindy: I always enjoy chatting with you, Kathy.
KR: I understand you have a new book, Braving the Blaze, coming out in November. Tell us a little about it.
Cindy: I loved researching and writing this book. It gave my family a chance to get down to the southern end of the state of Utah to the beautiful Tushar Mountains near Beaver. The story involves two volunteer wildfire fighters—Ginger Warby and Dean Harward. Flunking out of culinary school because she’s too afraid to set her culinary dishes aflame, Ginger ends up becoming a volunteer on a wildfire to figure out how her friend could’ve possibly died in the fire.
Dean is in his senior year of veterinary college and works as a wildfire volunteer to earn the high pay to put him through school. Based on his father and older brother’s marriages, he’s certain involvement with woman has a way of destroying a man’s chance of success. He doesn’t want to get involved but ends up with Ginger as his buddy on the fire.
Things definitely heat up when Ginger has a series of accidents. Or is it that someone doesn’t want her sniffing around her friend’s death? Hmmmm.
I do a lot of research online, but there’s nothing like seeing and experiencing a place you’re writing about. I hope the fire really comes to life for my readers. I want them to smell that smoke as they’re reading.
K. R.: I know your book, Caskets and Corruption, had a funny, adorable dog in it. Does this story have one too?
Cindy: You know me, Kathy. Life isn’t life without a dog. I write dogs into all my stories. Braving the Blaze has a wonderful Yellow Labrador. Dean adopted her. He leaves her with his brother in Beaver, but Dixie runs away to find Dean. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say Dixie is very brave. She also made the cover of the book.
K. R.: What was your inspiration for this story?
Cindy: Several years ago, Utah had one of the worst fires ever recorded. People were trapped and killed, I-15 was closed to traffic and the air was heavy with smoke across the entire state for months.
I was working on another book at the time, so I collected all the news articles I could about the devastation. I knew I had to write a story about it one day. My brother-in-laws, a niece and nephew had all worked as volunteer wildfire fighters, so I drilled them for all the information I could get.
I’m very proud of this book.
K. R.: Are you writing any other stories? Anything you can tell us about them?
Cindy: I’m excited to say, I’ve just finished my sixth book—Not Quite Zen! Who knew? It amazes me that story ideas just keep coming. I love writing and since my health is poor, I enjoy living through my characters. Although I have to admit, a lot of what my characters experience, I’ve dealt with in my own life.
I had a serious brush with fire, much similar to the fire Ginger experienced in her youth which made her pyrophobic. It helps to draw on my own emotions.
I haven’t contracted Not Quite Zen yet, but the setting is a senior living center. Baby boomers make up today’s biggest demographic group, so I thought it’d be fun to write a book about seniors. And yes, Kathy, this book has SEVEN dogs!
K. R. : Tell us about your normal day. Do you write every day? Do you listen to music?
Cindy: Someone asked me just last night, how many hours I write a day. I answered by saying I don’t put myself through that kind of stress. I love to write. If I’m well enough and my family responsibilities are taken care of, then you’ll most certainly find me clickety-clacketing (as my husband calls it).
When the kids are noisy or watching TV, I put on music to drown out the confusion. However if it’s too quiet, I turn on the TV sometimes while I’m writing. It’s a balancing act.
K. R.: Have you always wanted to be an author?
Cindy: I never dreamed I’d be an author. A secretary, an attorney, a computer programmer, an artist—yes. I loved both writing and art through school. Every report I turned in always had a drawing on the cover. I was editor, artist and contributor to my high school literary magazine. I began writing my first full-length novel in college and also got my first rejection. But, I never once thought of becoming a writer for a living. I earned my Bachelors Degree in computers and became a Programmer/Analyst.
But when my health went downhill, writing saved my life. I struggle with every single stinking word, but I love the creativity. I love living life through my healthy characters.
K. R.: Who do you feel has been most instrumental in helping you become a writer and why?
Cindy: Definitely, Laura Hillenbrand. She has Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction like I do. I have a multitude of other health issues, but I could relate with her. She spent years struggling to write Seabiscuit and getting it published, and I figured if she could do it, so could I.
Although I’d already been writing, I’d never had that drive to attempt becoming published until I heard of her. Unless you’ve experienced constant sickness and pain, you can’t even comprehend what it takes to keep going every day. She’s truly an inspiration.
K. R.: If you had to pick your favorite hero from your stories, which one would you pick? Tell us about him and why you would choose him.
Cindy: I love all my heroes because they’re REAL men—someone you could actually met and fall in love with. They’re not make-believe. Despite their flaws, they’re hardworking and caring.
If I had to choose but one, I would choose Ryan from Love on Laird Avenue. The guy is smart, talented, and good-looking but has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). He doesn’t know he has ADD so he has low self-esteem. But you couldn’t meet a more wonderful guy.
My first editor doubted that in today’s society someone wouldn’t know about ADD and already gotten help. Not all parts of the country are the same, and not all people are willing to accept and deal with mental illness. Believe me, there’s a lot of people out there running around who need mental help. “)
K. R.: If you were to give new writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Cindy: Never give up your dreams, no matter your age or disabilities. If you love writing, then write. The rest will follow.
K. R.: What is your number one pet peeve about writers/books today?
Cindy: As a society, we are inundated with information. Therefore, as with most industries, it seems the oddity or unusual draws the most attention. It doesn’t mean that that particular writer or that particular book is the best, just the most different.
If readers like a clean romance, with humor, suspense and dogs, then they’ll enjoy my books. I’m not seeking to be the next Stephenie Meyer. I love writing, and I hope my readers will enjoy my stories.
K. R.: Where can readers find out about you and your stories? How can they contact you?
Cindy: My website is the best place to find out the latest information. It’s www.dragonflyromance.com. I have buy links to my publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. on there. You’ll also find writing articles, contests and even games based on my books. My books are available in both ebook and paperback.
You can contact me through my website or directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you might have. I love to talk with readers about my books.
K. R.: Any last thing you’d like to share with us?
Cindy: I love dogs. The last dog I adopted is a Schnauzer. We rescued him from an abusive environment at the age of nine months. He’s now five years old and still struggles from being abused. He also suffers with seizures mostly likely caused by the abuse.
I’m donating a portion from the sale of my books to help abused and homeless dogs. Please join me in helping these wonderful companions and also donate what time you can at shelters.
Thanks so much, Kathy. This was fun.
K. R.: Thank you, Cindy, for sharing so much with us.
Cindy is a remarkable woman, and if you haven’t read Cindy’s books, you’re missing out on some great adventures.
Have a good day.