Readergirlz & YALSA Chat With Cynthia Leitich Smith!

October 29th, 2007 Chat Transcript

readergirlz wrote:

Tonight readergirlz welcomes YA author, Cynthia Leitich Smith. Cynthia is a great supporter of readergirlz 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens in celebration of YALSA's Teen Read Week. As an author and book blogger, she's well-loved in the reading and writing community. We're excited to chat with her about the enormous success of her novel TANTALIZE.

Thanks to everyone for joining us tonight.

Remember if you'd like to reply to someone's statement or question, hit the Quote Button in their text box. Use the Refresh Button on your tool bar to see the latest additions to the chat. If it seems as if no one is talking, you probably need to hit Refresh!

The 31st post in our chat tonight will receive a free copy of one of the 31 Flavorite Authors books! Good luck all you chatters.

So, two questions to get started:

1.) How are you doing tonight?

2.) What is your flavorite ice cream?

 

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Howdy! It's Cynthia Leitich Smith: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com here

or, on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/cynthialeitichsmith

Thanks so much for inviting me! I'm hugely honored to be chatting with y'all tonight.

I'm doing well! I went to a pumpkin-carving party this weekend, and I'm working hard on a revision.

My flavorite iced cream is strawberry-and-chocolate swirl!

Janet wrote:

Welcome Cynthia

We can't wait to chat with you :)

Janet

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Thanks!

Olivia wrote:

Hey Cynthia!

So glad to get to chat with you tonight

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I'm honored!

Janet wrote

Have you carved your pumpkin yet??

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

After the chat, you can see my pumpkin (or at least my more artistic friends') here:

http://spookycyn.blogspot.com/2007/10/pumpkin-carving-party.html

~*Cookie*~ wrote:

Hi Cynthia and welcome!

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Thank you! I'm so excited.

Miss Erin wrote:

After writing picture books, how did you decide to foray into YA lit? Was it easier/harder than you expected?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I had written a tween novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, which drew a lot on my Native American background, but YA is a brand new area for me. That said, it's the age-market I most love as a reader--I just had to try it!

To gain experience, I first wrote a number of YA short stories--one that appeared in Cicada, one that appeared in Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, and a couple that are forthcoming.

That said, now that I'm doing YA, I just love it and have more in the works.

Book Chic wrote:

Who are some of your fave YA authors?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Huge question! Put the readergirlz at the top of my list--plus Libba Bray, Annette Curtis Klause, Brent Hartinger, Tanya Lee Stone, April Lurie, Barry Lyga, Laura Bowers, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Sarah Dessen, Rita Williams-Garcia, Joan Bauer...

The list goes ON and ON!

Cullen Vampire wrote:

Vampire is BACK! I missed you guys So much!!! And I'm SO excited to be chatting with Cynthia!

Hello, Cynthia!! How are you tonight??

Hey, I LOVE the name Kieren - how did you come up with a cool name like that for a guy?

And I loved the Italian restaurant in the book, how it was kind of the center for everything (And loved the layout, like the blue and red menus - awesome idea!). How did you come up with the whole restaurant concept? Did someone you know have an italian restaurant or did you just want that for the story?

Love,

Vampire

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I'm great, thanks! Full of spooky fun. Great questions. Kieren was originally named Killian Morales (get it: kill, moral? I'm so subtle--to remind me that he was going to be a suspect in the murder mystery aspect of the story), but of course I couldn't keep it that way. So I went with Kieren which had a similar feel, drew on his mama's Irish heritage, and has a meaning(s) that fit the character.

Thanks too for loving the restaurant. Writing Sanguini's was great fun. I'd worked in restaurants as a teen, and I thought they made a great stage--theme, music, uniforms, menu. I went from there.

Janet wrote:

TANTALIZE is such a cool, eerie tale.

What inspired you to write TANTALIZE?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Thank you! I'd always wanted to write a restaurant book b/c I worked as a waitress to make money for college as a teen. And I always wanted to write a vampire novel (I began the story in 2001 after finishing Indian Shoes) because I love to read Gothic fantasy. But my real inspiration was Bram Stoker's Dracula, which includes among Van Helsing's original vampire hunters a Texan named Quincey Morris. I flipped my Quincie into a strong girl, brought the mythology "home" to Texas, and I was off!

Katie wrote:

What made you decide to write like a supernatural type book with vampires and things like that?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

It was my favorite kind of book as a reader. I started doing Native fiction--write what you know. Then branched into writing what I loved to read. Thanks for asking!

Tantalizing isn't it? wrote:

Hi Cynthia, so tell us:

Whose your favorite: Bradley or Kieren?

and...

What was your inspiration to create such an amazing novel?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

See my previous answer for inspiration.

On Bradley or Kieren, they're very different beasts. I love Bradley for his cooking--you have to have a man (or fiend) who cooks--and his debonair, mysterious persona. But I respect Kieren for his intelligence and...yowza!...barely restrained passions.

Miss Erin wrote:

Cynthia, if you had to describe your novel in 3 words, what would they be??

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Delicious, daring, decisive.

Miss Erin wrote:

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I love that every day is different, that I have to stretch myself beyond what I sometimes think I can do.

Miss Erin wrote:

What are you working on writing next?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I have a new YA in progress. It's set in the same universe as Tantalize but features different characters and supernatural types (though I hope to come back to Quincie and friends soon).

Johanna wrote:

I have a few questions :

Who were your inspirations (authors, books...) when you wrote Tantalize ?

Do you listen to music when you write and if you do, what kind ?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Inspirations would include Bram Stoker, Joss Whedon, Thirsty by MT Anderson, Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.

And I listen to a lot of Eartha Kitt!

{{Ars Moriendi}} wrote:

Were there any other works other than Dracula that you kind of wanted to capture the essence of in tantalize?

btw thanks for the halloween comment!

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My pleasure! I also touched on the Pygmalion or makeover story tradition--other relatively recent retellings would be "My Fair Lady, " "She's All That, " and "Pretty Woman." And I alluded to the theme of faith in "Young Goodman Brown."

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see? wrote:

HOW R U DOING ?

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU BECAME A ya AUTHOR?

DO YOU LOVE WRITING AS A CAREER?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I was a journalist (University of Kansas) and worked for many small town papers and the Dallas Morning News. Then I went to law school (University of Michigan) and didn't practice but went on to write after clerkships.

I love writing as a career globally. Not every minute. Sometimes I'm stumped as to what to do. Or what my characters should do. But big-picture, yes.

Miss Erin wrote:

What's your favorite Joan Bauer novel? (I've only read one of hers - HOPE WAS HERE - and I loved it)

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My favorite was BACKWATER, probably because of my law background.

Justina wrote:

Cynthia: welcome to readergirlz. I was hopinig that you could tell us when the next installment of Tantalize will be available and its title, please! Thanks!!

~justina, readergirlz diva

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

The next book in the universe will be called either Eternal or Enthrall (we're debating it heatedly--any thoughts?). It'll feature different characters set in the same universe, then my plan is to crossover the two casts, picking back up with Quincie. The world is about to get a lot bigger, a lot creepier, and a lot more romantic.

Miss Erin wrote:

Cynthia: what are your favorite smells?

(I know, that's random, but I've always thought it would be cool to be asked that, so why wouldn't other people want to as well?)

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Chicken noodle soup, lavender, evergreen.

Miss Erin wrote:

Do you outline?

If so, what is your outlining process like? Any tips?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

You would think so. No, I dive in, write a whole draft to get a feel of the world and characters, then I delete it. Then I start over. Hopefully, whatever is strong will survive.

Justina wrote:

Cynthia: So are you Prey or Predator? : )

Also, your hubby is a wonderful author just like you. ARe you guys ever planning on collaborating on a YA novel? And what does he think about you coming up with things like...BABY SQUIRRELS on menus?

xoJustina

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I guess it depends on who's on the other side of the equation. Usually I'm a predator, though I don't eat cows. They're too cute. Greg and I have yet to do a novel together--maybe someday...we tried one once about a three-legged dog, didn't go anywhere (the story, not the dog). We have done a picture book together, Santa Knows, and we have a short story coming out in Geektastic.

He helped me with the squirrels. We researched historic Texan, Italian, and Eastern European recipes. You'd be surprised how many people eat (or at least used to eat) rodents.

Book Chic wrote:

Oo, another question- What are you reading right now, or finished reading recently if you're not reading anything at the moment?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My latest fabulous read is Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz--loved it, am still creeped out.

Johanna wrote:

Is there going to be a sequel to Tantalize ? I would REALLY like that !

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

There will be a companion book, same universe. There is more to come on Tantalize itself. And I'm hoping for more books revisiting Quincie where we leave off (but I can only write so fast!) That said, THANKS for your enthusiasm!

Olivia wrote:

Cynthia, what is your favorite word?

What’s your most favorite pair of shoes you own?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My favorite word is "saucy."

My favorite shoes are my blood wine kangaroo leather cowboy boots.

Justina Chen Headley wrote:

Cynthia, how are you juggling all of your projects--your incredible blog, your writing, your speaking?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I have decided that sleep is an unnecessary psychological relic devised by bored cave men who couldn't go out at night without risking being eaten.

Janet wrote:

So Cynthia,

A lot of us here on readergirlz are Library Lovers.

What would we do without them?

Your thoughts on importance of libraries . . . .

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I am a writer, I am a college and law school graduate, I am living the life I am because of libraries. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and go onto to live a dream rather than work strictly to pay bills. It's because my mama took me every Saturday morning to the public library and then later I had school libraries too. There I found people who encouraged me beyond expectations and nurtured my love of story and introduced me to heroes in real life and between the pages of books.

Tantalizing isn't it? wrote:

I want to add to my first question about who do you like better.

Who do you like better: Bradley or Kieren? and Why?

Aha I knew I was forgot something...lol

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I like Kieren better. He's not going to purposely kill anyone. But I must admit Brad is a charming fiend.

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see? wrote:

THESE ARE MY (WELL) A FEW q's I WOULD LIKE TO ASK:

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE PAST BEFORE YOU BECAME A YA AUTHOR? DO YOU LOVE WRITING AS A CAREER? WHAT ARE SPECIFIC GOALS THAT YOU ALSO WANT TO ACHIEVE (IF YOU HAVE ANY AND IF THEY R THE ONES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

PLUS I WOULD LIKE TO START ON READING YOUR BOOK!! IT LOOKS VERY WELL DONE!! ^^

SOME OF MY TEACHERS ARE AS WELL AUTHORS BUT I DONT THINK THAT THEY ARE YA AUTHORS THOUGH. ^^

LUVS, KATIE @@

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Thanks for the Q's. I was a journalist and studied law. I do love my job. It's kind of crazy and out-of-the-box, but it's always different and challenging.

As for goals, I'd love to build an audience over time. I've done a lot of different kinds of books, and I'll continue to do so. But I'd like to focus on Gothics for a good long while.

Thanks for your interest!

?aylor?Iam who iam who Iam!?wrote:

hey cynthia!!!

how are you?

im taylor, nice to meet ya!

what is your favorite genre of books?

:]

Tay

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Hi Taylor!

Nice to meet you too!

I love YA contemporary fiction--fantasy and realistic! I also love humor for all ages!

Chicklish wrote:

I'm here but mostly lurking tonight. But hi everyone! And Cynthia, I love your blog!

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Thanks for reading--some great interviews are coming up this week, including Deborah Noyes on The Restless Dead!

Marlena [is on Team Edward] wrote:

So you like alliterations? Or perhaps you just like the letter d? =]

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Delightful, decadent, dead. Possible. Never realized it before...

Janet wrote:

I agree. The restaurant setting really added so much to the book. Such an active setting using all the senses. Brilliant, Cynthia.

Can you tell us what Kieren's name means (you hinted a meaning above. Now I gotta know)

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

It means generous and black and, sometimes fierce, depending on who you're asking.

LibraryWoman wrote:

Thanks for the representation... it was appreciated. And *I* don't think I'm too old... but I think that she did. She didn't come right out and say it, but the reaction made it clear what she was thinking. I'm not THAT old, anyway (though I am a little older than you.)! And I agree that you are never TOO old.

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Someone said you were TOO old for something! Jeepers. In my family people don't even take you that seriously unless you're at least 70, which okay, could be an Indian thing but still. Hugs!

Miss Erin wrote:

What is it about vampires and werewolves and the like that intrigue you?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I love the metaphor. I love wolves--all animals really and the idea of a beast within. Also, sometimes it would be nice to just bite someone. Perhaps it's my legal training (though that second row of teeth never grew in).

'Tantalizing' isn't it? wrote:

Thank you!!! I've been reading Tantalize all day to see if I had any questions for you and here is another:

Where did the squirrel bit come from?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Wow! Preparation is most appreciated. It came from a historic Eastern European recipe involving mice...in milk sauce, I believe. The honey is much more appetizing, I think. You?

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see? wrote:

I’VE PROBABLY WROTE THIS

THESE ARE MY (WELL) A FEW q's I WOULD LIKE TO ASK:

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE PAST BEFORE YOU BECAME A YA AUTHOR? DO YOU LOVE WRITING AS A CAREER? WHAT ARE SPECIFIC GOALS THAT YOU ALSO WANT TO ACHIEVE (IF YOU HAVE ANY AND IF THEY R THE ONES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

PLUS I WOULD LIKE TO START ON READING YOUR BOOK!! IT LOOKS VERY WELL DONE!! ^^

SOME OF MY TEACHERS ARE AS WELL AUTHORS BUT I DONT THINK THAT THEY ARE YA AUTHORS THOUGH. ^^

LUVS, KATIE @@

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

See my answers posted--it did go through--thanks! I hope you enjoy the story!

{{Ars Moriendi}} wrote:

i think it was just asked so kudos to whoever said it but what are you currently reading and can you tell us anything about Brad as a human?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I just finished Project 17 (loved it!) and am reading Possibility of Fireflies (ditto). Brad is from Kansas City and was vamped out in the 1920s. He suffered one huge heartbreak and appears (at least in this draft) on the slightest shadow of a slant in book 2 in Dallas.

silence is golden, but duck tape is silver... wrote:

HI Cynthia!!!

Ironically I read your book over the summer and actually was a little disappointed (sorry)... it was soooo good and the ending just... flopped to me... sorry to be so harsh. I was looking forward to something big and then Bradley... he just leaves... I just thought what a moron, expecting a huge big ending.... but maybe that's what I get for reading to much big finale novels...

BUT I STILL LOVED IT... especially the Italian intrigue and the suave nature of the novels and if you do write about them again I will read it.

So my question is... Why did you end the novel like that?

I know, I know. I just can't get over it.

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Good question, and thanks for asking. And the answer is (drum roll...)

Hold onto your horses, honey! (I'm Southern, we talk this way). There is still a BIG BRADLEY finale to come. The ending of Tantalize is cliff-hanger-y, I know.

But it's just very hard to sell a 1, 000 page book--this said with much love to J.K. Rowling. Sob. I hope you understand. I'm writing as fast as I (reasonably) can.

^? Batty Brittster^? (DWW){RWV} wrote:

Howdy Mrs. Cynthia!

Just wanted to say hello.

Looks like you got your hands full!

G'luck =]

You're my Idol!

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

So great to see you here! And that idol thing goes right back at you!

Which reminds me, a number of Tantalize readers can be found at:

http://groups.myspace.com/XxTantalizefanxX

Feel free to join us, if you're so inclined.

I do pop in from time to time with news, to answer questions, and to donate giveaways. This month, I'm giving away three copies of Ironside by the amazing Holly Black!

Pamela & Jamie (A.K.A. Book Babe) wrote:

Hey Cynthia! I've been wondering this forever........... What does the P in Quincie P Morris stand for?

Jamie

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I'm leaning toward Patricia, but I've yet to get confirmation from Ms. Morris herself. What do you think? Penelope? Nah...

Janet wrote:

Readergirlz are into reading and reaching out.

So I thought I'd ask you, Cynthia, if you have a community challenge for us to try.

Anything special you'd like to turn us on to?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Absolutely, Austin--the setting for Tantalize--is of course Bat-Tastic. So check out Bat Conservation International and consider writing some Bat poetry to raise awareness:

http://www.batcon.org/home/index.asp?idPage=145

Remember, though, that these are real, natural, great-circle-of-Earth bats (not fiendish vampire bats) and that they should be respected as the wonderful creatures they are.

?aylor?Iam who iam who Iam!?wrote:

CYNTHIA!

i absolutely love the title TANTALYZE

What’s your book about?

Tay

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Tantalize is a story about a girl who tries to help save her family's Italian restaurant by relaunching it with a vampire theme, but then the long-time chef is murdered and suspects include both her first love/best friend and the new hire.

You can read tons about it here:

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/CLS/cyn_books/tantalize/tantalize.html

Traci wrote:

HI EVERYONE!!!

I just caught up with you all…. seriously these chats go SO fast! ;)

Hi there Cynthia! I haven't read Tantalize, but I will get to very soon…..

So, first of all, what was the hardest part to write in Tantalize? Was there a hard part?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

The hardest part was knowing that I had a huge story to tell, but I'd have to start with one book and pray that a readership would be there to demand more.

I had an established reputation as a Native American themes writer for children so some folks thought it would be difficult for readers to think of me as writing anything else. So I had to take it one step at a time.

Fortunately, the response has been really great, and it seems strange now that anyone would be worried. I really appreciate all the support. It's been an amazing and heartening year.

silence is golden, but duck tape is silver... wrote:

Funny, cause Kieren brought back memories of the werewolves for Klause's novel Blood and Chocolate... Did you draw inspiration from there perhaps?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Annette is definitely one of my bright lights of inspiration. She is one of the main reasons I quit my day job to write full-time. When she sent in the blurb for Tantalize, it brought tears to my eyes. Full circle, you know. Such an amazing lady.

Jenny wrote:

Hello!

I have always thought about being a writer, mostly because thats what my dad told i should do. I am wondering, do you think that a writing degree helps you with writing novels?

Thanks!!!

Jen

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Writing begets better writing. If a degree program keeps you going, by all means go for it. I teach quarter time at the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults:

http://www.tui.edu/programs/masters_mfawc.asp

Definitely, I see amazing growth in my students. But I also have friends who're self-taught and very successful. You have to have the passion, the discipline, a sense of humor, and a love for reading. Feel free to write me for more thoughts!

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see?:

IS THE GIRL ON THE BOOK COVER A REAL PERSON?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I think so. The publisher gets the art from a licensing company. You could probably Google it.

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see? wrote:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD? ^^

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I love salmon sashimi and brownie mix (but not together).

Dia Calhoun wrote:

WOW! You delete a whole draft? How long does it take you to write it?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Um. However long it takes. Six weeks, six months, a year. When I say this to my grad students, they recoil in horror.

Miss Erin wrote:

When did you first become interested in writing?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I was a poet in elementary school, then a journalist in jr. high and high school. I didn't really begin writing short stories until college, but it never dawned on me that living people wrote books for a living until after law school. What a miraculous thing! I thought.

~VaNeSsA~ wrote:

Hey everyone, I'm sort of lurking today. I haven't read Tantalize yet, but this has really perked my interest. It's now on hold at the library! :D

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I hope you enjoy the story!

Miss Erin wrote:

What are some of your favorite '07 titles so far?

What were some of your fav. books as a teen? As a kid?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

As a young reader, I enjoyed Judy Blume, Katherine Paterson, and I loved Elizabeth George Speare's Witch of Blackbird Pond. As a teen, there wasn't as much YA as today, so I read a lot of quasi-YA, like Stephen King.

For 07, there are too many books to mention, but off the top of my head, I liked Beauty Shop for Rent; Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds; Wicked Lovely, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, and many more!

Traci wrote:

What is one of your favorite CD's?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I love Walela, very soothing.

Little Willow wrote:

Fly-by posting from me -

Hi Cynthia! Thank you so much for being a part of 31 Flavorite Authors.

You've written for so many different age groups. Which do you find the most challenging?

Hey readergirlz!

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My pleasure! Picture books are probably the hardest. They're like a puzzle. Every word has to be perfect.

Justina Chen Headley wrote:

Hi there!!! Welcome to readergirlz. You know, I have the same problem autographing my books and talking to people at the same time. What I'm saying aloud goes into the inscription and then I have to think fast to make whatever I wrote sort of make sense...

CYNTHIA: do you have any advice on this? Do you experience the same inability to sign and speak?

~justina, readergirlz diva

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I ask a question and then start scribbling. I can listen and write, just not talk and write.

Dia Calhoun wrote:

Cynthia,

Do you have any writing rituals?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I write rough drafts only between midnight and four a.m. When I'm stuck I dance in the dark to the soundtrack from "Xanadu." I'm not proud of it, but it works. ;-)

.nicole. wrote:

HERE I AM!!!

haha....

I'm LATE!!! But, I made it!!

Hello Cynthia! Sorry I'm late!

I have family in Pflugerville! Right near you!! Ever been there?!?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Of course I've been Pflugerville. I've even met MRS. PFLUGER. Really.

Ta-shi-a wrote:

Cynthia, what music inspired you to write 'Tantalize'?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I did write to the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coopalo's Bram Stoker's Dracula...

Justina Chen Headley wrote:

CYNTHIA: were you weeping with happiness at your book cover? Did you send your art director the hugest bouquet of flowers for designing that cover??

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Big huge buckets of joy. And actually the whole company got a Dean & Deluca chocolate orange cake just this past week....

Lorie Ann Grover wrote:

Cynthia, who are your writer friends?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Lots and lots of them--I love writers. Off the top of my head (APOLOGIES--I can't mention everyone), Tanya Lee Stone, Rita Williams-Garcia, Kimberly Willis Holt, David Lubar...and more and more...and oh, yeah! Greg Leitich Smith!!!

silence is golden, but duck tape is silver... wrote:

you do interviews on your blog?!?!?!

Do tell.

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I do tons and tons of interviews. When I decided to dedicate my life to writing, it wasn't just a decision about my own books. It was about joining and supporting a community; see:

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/authors/authors_A-B.html

(more in sidebar)

and check my MySpace blog for the latest ones!

Miss Erin wrote:

When did you first start doing interviews with authors on your blog? What got you interested in that?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I've been doing interviews with authors on the Web for 10 years (website, mailing list, blog) as of next year--must celebrate. It's a way to use my journalism background to raise awareness of youth literature.

?aylor?Iam who iam who Iam!?wrote:

Cynthia, what is your favorite name in the entire world?

i like yours

Tay

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I'm fond of Melba because it's my grandma's name, and it reminds me of Melba toast. I know, I know. But I love my grandma.

Amanda wrote:

Have you experienced losing anyone close like Quincie does in the book or did that just seem to fit the character and the situation for the story?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Actually, during the time that the novel is written, I lost two members of my immediate family (which is part of the reason revisions took so long after contract). So, yes, much of my real-life grief no doubt bled onto Quincie, although I'm just realizing how much now. It can be tremendously cathartic and healing to crawl into a story and let it wrap around you.

Johanna wrote:

I'd really like to know if you've read other YA books with vampires and werewolves, like Twilight (by Stephenie Meyer) or The Vampire Diaries (L.J. Smith).

It's funny because when I asked to the librarian for Tantalize, she thought I was asking for a L.J. Smith book instead of yours. Not only the names are alike but, the stories are too.

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I've read a few of them--only the first of Stephenie Meyers (when it's a series, I usually read the first one, then wait until they're all out and read them obsessively in a row; I've likewise read only first Harry Potter so I have some serious hours of happy fun ahead of me). I recommend a lot of Gothic fantasy novels (and have done some related interviews) at:

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/favorites/by_genre/horrorteens.html

note: I'm not caught up adding recs to go with all the interviews.

The LJ Smith's I read a long time ago, though I'm flattered by the comparison. Smith is, as you may know, a popular and long-standing name. :)

I am a huge "Buffy" fan, though, which is a universe with vamps and shifters.

silence is golden, but duck tape is silver... wrote:

[JUMPS IN AIR AND SCREAMS]

YAY!!!! My faith is renewed.... I loved Bradley as a evil twisted vamp and it would suck if he gave up like that!!!

It’s all good, take your time... as long as it comes... I'm happy!!!

YAY! I feel so much better.

P.S. discontinue that last post... ironically that posted AFTER you answered...

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I do what I can. :)=

look at yourself in the mirror....what do you see? wrote:

I WATCHED LITTLE VAMPIRE LAST NIGHT LOL

CYNTHIA, WHAT SCHOOL DID YOU ATTEND WHEN YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

I went to Shawnee Mission West in Kansas. I don't think I really found my voice until college though. I was pretty shy when I was young.

Justina asks:

CYN: tell us how many Tantalize-ish books in that world you're planning on writing. Do tell us that Candlewick in their amazing brilliance have bought at least 5 in your series...yes?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

LOL! I'm hoping for four or five right now. Cross fingers and fangs!

a readergirl wrote:

and have you ever read Diane Ackerman's book: THE MOON BY WHALELIGHT? She's got an amazing, amazing, absolutely gorgeous, lyrical chapter on the beauty of bats.

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Not yet--thanks for the rec!

a readergirl wrote:

I LOVE that, Cyn. You do such a wonderful job mentoring new writers. who have been your writing mentor? And which new writers have you recently discovered?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

My mentors were authors Kathi Appelt and Jane Kurtz! New "discoveries" include Laura Bowers, Sarah Zarr, and Varian Johnson.

a readergirl wrote:

Cyn: what are you going to be for Halloween?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

A writer on deadline!!!

Lorie Ann Grover wrote:

Does anyone call you, Cyn, besides Justina?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Anyone who wants to!

Here's an interview for the Stephenie Meyer fans:

http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/2006/03/author-interview-stephenie-meyer-on.html

If you'd like a signed Tantalize bookmark, feel free to write me here:

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/site_info/contact.html

with a snail mail address. If you're underage, make it a parent/guardian work snail mail address or librarian address (ASK first).

Thank you, Readergirlz and YALSA and Happy Halloween!

readergirlz wrote:

Cynthia!

I forgot to post these awesome questions for the BSBL (library) which hasn't been able to participate in the forum yet.

1. do you have vague ideas or fairly concrete concepts when you start to write a book?

2. Who/what has influenced and inspired you?

3. What are your hopes for readers of your books?

Can you answer these for your fab fans? Thank you!!!!

Lorie Ann Grover

readergirlz diva/author

Loose Threads

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Oh! I was sent back over on word that there were more questions, and here they are!

1. It varies wildly. Sometimes I start with only a title or first line. Other times I have a global arc in mind when I begin. My work in progress has changed quite a lot; one entire mythical set of beings has been changed out for another because the first round felt more tweener than the YA audience we had in mind.

2. Big question. My grandparents and great aunties and uncles. Teachers. Librarians. Fellow writers. My heritage, places I've lived. Speaking of home, I live with another writer now, my very cute husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg. He's definitely my biggest cheerleader.

3. I hope readers of my books will realize that they are the heroes of their own stories. That they have power in their universe, and they can change themselves and their world for the better.

bianca wrote:

....WAIT. i just came. and i just read that there's a companion book to Tantalize...

IS THIS TRUE??

OMG. when is this coming out??

are you almost finished writing it, Ms. Smith?

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

It's in the works. At the moment, I'm finishing another book in the universe (with different characters but nods), and then I hope to run back to our friend Quincie (and crossover the two casts). There's some exciting stuff going on, but some of it is too early to share. Keep an eye on my blogs, though, and I'll keep you updated.

Thanks again. This has been a great honor.

readergirlz