Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Questions with Cindy Pon

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, an Asian fantasy novel for young adults. Born in Taiwan, she immigrated to Los Angeles with her family in 1980. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California and her masters from New York University. Besides writing, she studies Chinese brush painting. Cindy Pon lives in San Deigo, California with her husband and two children. Silver Phoenix is her first novel. You can find out more about Cindy Pon by visiting her website and blog.

Cindy has graciously offered a free bookmark to anyone who comments in the next couple of days. The bookmarks are lovely, and Cindy painted them herself. Now: on to the interview. 


So, Cindy. Tell us a little about yourself as a writer. Do you outline, or wing it? Do you write daily, or in snatches?

i've been writing since elementary school. i started with poetry that rhymed and moved on to short stories as a teen. i remember typing out my stories very carefully on an electronic typewriter and reading them over and over again. i kept my writing to myself--i was very protective of them. in high school, i won a few district awards for my poetry and stories.

SILVER PHOENIX was the first novel i had ever written. i don't outline meticulously, at the same time, i DO keep a document full of ideas and notes, anywhere from visuals in a scene to a word that i want to incorporate to snatches of dialogue. i need to know at least a little of what happens next or it scares me too much!

i write in monthly spurts. usually one two to months at a time, almost every day for an hour or two. after i'm done with a novel and revising, i can go months without writing. it's when i begin telling the story in my own mind when i know i'm eager to sit down and create again.


When – and why - did you begin writing?

i think as with probably all writers, i began writing because i loved to read. i have a bit of a different history than other in that i cam over from taiwan when i was six, so english is my second language. for the longest time, i could not understand what anyone was saying to me, much less read. but at one point, the language tipped my way and i discovered books. those childhood favorites will always remain favorites!


Tell us about your process writing Silver Phoenix. What inspired you, and what did you struggle with?

about two years before i actually began writing, i scribbled just a few words into my journal. it was only when i began to stay at home full time with my kids that i took some creative writing classes and remembered my love for writing. (i had stopped all through my 20's!) i felt really deeply that my heroine's story needed to be told. i think i struggled with being utterly clueless as to how to approach writing a novel. at the same time, it's almost as ignorance was bliss. i had no idea how badly i was writing. i just wrote. THE MIDDLE was the hardest part for me. and i think it always will be.


Tell me one thing I wouldn’t know about Silver Phoenix just by reading the blurb.

that i think even tho it's based on an ancient china-like kingdom, where there are fantastic demons and monsters and my heroine is dealing with a inexplicable power welling within her--that most readers (i hope) can relate to her story. somehow. on whatever level.


What was it liked getting published? What was your publishing journey?

oh. getting published is a dream come true. it is. i loved the novel so much after i wrote it, i got the crazy idea that maybe i could get an agent. 121 queries later (and nearly as many rejections) i was lucky enough to sign with bill contardi of brandt and hochman. i was fortunate enough to have more than one publishing house interested in acquiring SILVER PHOENIX, and am so happy with greenwillow books, an imprint of harpercollins that will release my debut. pursuing this path isn't for the faint of heart. i know I am very fortunate to sell my first novel written. it isn't like that for everyone. a writer has to constantly ask and gauge, to see if they have it within themselves to keep fighing and keep going. if you ask me, it's worth the struggles. But it will never be easy.


Here on Headdesk, I have a minor obsession with the rules of writing. Is there any particular rule you write by?

not really. in the beginning, i found myself bound to many rules. but then i realized that rules can be broken. and anything that is done well by a writer and with finesse will be accepted by the reader. no technique should be over used--but experimenting, pushing yourself as a writer, is always good.


How do you handle writer’s block?

i just sit down and write. my motto is : i am allowed to write utter poo. it's very liberating. or i will write "around" the block. and move on to another scene entirely.


What’s next for you?

greenwillow books will also be releasing SILVER PHOENIX's sequel.

and i have a picture book in the works using my own chinese brush art!


If knew you a teenager who aspired to be a novelist, what would you say to them?

keep chasing the dream and believe in yourself. there is no instant gratification in writing, but in the act itself, you are constantly learning and growing and finding your voice.


How have you grown as a writer?

wow. i've learned a lot through my revisions with my wonderful editor, virginia. i think i'm a little more confident and a little more savvy. but, heck, i have A LOT more to learn than i have learned. i'm looking forward to the next lesson and adventure as a writer. i'm looking forward to trying new things and challenging myself. =)


thanks so much for this great interview, mandy! 

Thanks for dropping by Cindy! Good luck with your sequel.


cindy said...

thank you for interviewing me!!!

David Isaak said...

Congrats on getting into print. The book sounds ace. I plan to go hunt down a copy!

Annie King said...

I confess, I never found the time to read this interview, and now that I have, I'm glad I did. Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your writing process, and Mandy, for doing the interview. I'm a Youth Services librarian, and a fantasy writer and reader, so I'll be looking for Silver Phoenix on our shelves. I'm sure it's exciting for you, Cindy, to be picked up by a major publisher, and to have a "home" for your sequel. I enjoyed the interview, and I like this statement: "... anything that is done well by a writer and with finesse will be accepted by the reader." I'm also looking forward to your picture book!

Creative A said...

Hey Anne! It was a fun interview for me as well. As a commenter, you can contact Cindy at pon.cindy (at) gmail.com to get one of her free bookmarks. Just let her know you commented here :)


Creative A said...

Hey David! Same goes for you - to get your free bookmark, just contact Cindy and let her know you commented on the interview.

Annie King said...

Hi Mandy, Thanks! Is it okay if I post a link to this interview on my blog? ~ Annie

Creative A said...

Of course! Go right ahead :)

Candi said...

I plan to get a copy of the book. Good luck! I hope I can publish atleast one of my writings.

Google Analytics