“You need to have Life to write. It’s the difference between brushing the surface and knowing something in your soul.”
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing versatile author Cyn Ley. Cyn takes much of her inspiration from the part of the beautiful and peculiar Pacific Northwest that she calls home—and it shows.
Tell our readers a little about yourself.
I’ve lived in the lower Pacific Northwest nearly all my life and have the webbed toes to prove it. I graduated with a Masters Degree from the University of Portland in History and Political Science, am nationally certified as a college reading and writing tutor and worked in the field for a long while. Beyond that, special interests include folklore, the tales of “wonders” found in medieval histories, cryptids, spirits, faerie, etc. I think aliens were here long before we were and are still hanging around. I love animals both domestic and wild and hope someday to see a Sasquatch. And give it some apples to take home.
Your latest title.
THE SOLACE is my latest book, having just been published in print and Kindle formats in June 2021. It is a story of misplaced love and of a constant honor, told through characters who cross the realms of the living and spirit. There are no heroes or villains—just people being themselves and doing what they do. Even the most ordinary of lives can bear with it great revelations.
Leah Hampstead is a woman who has been followed all of her life by something she doesn’t understand, an unknown who doesn’t understand why he is so drawn to her. For her, it reads as fear. For him, it is ages of foundering to find the truth and peace.
For readers, as one of my reviewers put it, it is captivating.
Tell us about your writing.
I’ve had mixed genre stories published pretty consistently since 2014, and happily have been receiving excellent reviews from the start to this day. It’s easier to say what I don’t write than what I do—I don’t do romance, fantasy, scifi, westerns, or porn. I hate cliches like the Plague circa 1346. Anything else is fair game. I love paranormal stories and stories which brush the edges of human realities. Stories of the possible made real, of potential become true, are always fun and intriguing to explore. I’m a believer of chaos theory over cliché, so readers are likely to find twists and turns they did not expect in my tales, but I’ve been told by many that they are very satisfying twists and turns.
I worked with an independent publishing house for a few years as an editor and author but broke away two-plus years ago to form my own imprint of Otherland Press. Modern media, resources, and practices have made going independent incredibly approachable and viable, and there is a lot to be said about being your own boss!
Additionally, I am a member of NIWA, the Northwest Independent Writers Association. We partake in book events all over the Northwest year-round and have a very good website—with catalogue and authors—at www.niwawriters.com.
What drives you to write?
My Muse is very good at whacking me upside the head at 2am and ordering, “Write this down!” (Never argue with your Muse. They hit hard.) A lot of times it’s a combo of being hyper-observant and letting all sorts of things build up and link up however they choose. I’ve never been able to write a story from start to finish. I keep piles of notes and let those synthesize into something cool. So it’s not so much being driven as it is accrual and writing it all down once it’s simmered awhile. Even if all it becomes is a Really Good Sentence. The kind that grabs you by the throat and you feel it humming in your toes.
What sort of books did you read as a child?
My parents were avid readers and brought their kids up to do the same. The short answer is everything in sight. In my house, that meant the Classics, Encyclopedia Britannica, every series on wildlife and ancient man you could think of, with a fair measure of astronomy and geology and life sciences thrown in for good measure. We were done with kiddie books by 2nd Grade.
Did a teacher or some other mentor inspire you to write?
I’d actually gotten scared off of creative writing while I was in college. There was always the great 2-part assignment: write a story, then come back and read it to the class in three days. Part 1 was great fun; Part 2 was an occasion for terror! Introverted people don’t fare well in that kind of environment. Despite this, I discovered I was (according to my professors) a very good research writer and teacher. I guess non-fiction isn’t as scary to present!
Eventually I bumped into a friend and author who got me started with flash fiction. She was a wonderful mentor. Then I moved on to short stories, was amazed to find that publishers liked the work, and the rest is history.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?
I’ve been interested in writing as long as I can remember. It just got put on hold for a few decades, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You need to have Life to write. It’s the difference between brushing the surface and knowing something in your soul.
Do you have a pet, and if so, tell us about them?
I have two—a Bengal cat and an Aussie terrier. My Bengal’s an early generation domestic, which means she’s got something of a wild side and you have to learn to read her, if only for your own safety. She is, however, quite loveable and cuddly, and sings with a beautiful trill. Because her coat is brindle, she is a master at being invisible. Her coat allows her near-perfect camouflage and there are times she can be right in front of me and I won’t see her. She turns greenish in certain light, and no one will ever know the Empress of the Jungle is even there. She is a fabulous mouser too.
My terrier is also. The two of them have teamed up on numerous occasions to hunt critters who have made their way into places where they don’t belong. Tica (“wild cat”) takes lead and Min (“fierce defender”) backs her up and they never fail!
Min’s just plain brilliant. She picks up everything in a heartbeat. She loves everyone and she loves to travel. Her very favorite thing is when we’re out for walks—I drive a mobility scooter instead of a car and will put her on my lap when we’re at the top of a hill. We’ll both hunker down, and I’ll sing “Born to be wiiiiiiiiiiiiild!” as we sear down the slope at a blazing five miles an hour.
I gotta get that dog some goggles.
How can we find your books?
Look for me on amazon.com. My titles are available both in print and Kindle formats. They also put in regular appearances at any event where NIWA has a booth. Please check our webpage for the schedule.
If you want to chat with me in person, I can be found on Facebook under “Author Cyn Ley: Otherland & Beyond.” I’d love to hear from you!