Friday, March 14, 2008

Exploring Cynthia's Attic

Children's fantasy author, Mary Cunningham, makes her home in the beautiful mountains of West Georgia. The idea for the series, Cynthia's Attic, came about through a recurring dream. Upon realizing that the setting for the dream was in the attic of her childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.
Tell us who Mary Cunningham is - I'm a wife, mother and grandmother with an off-the wall imagination. I'm a loyal friend and am crushed when that loyalty isn't returned. I adore writing and loathe marketing. Perhaps my favorite saying sums it up. "I live in my own little world, but, it's okay...they know me here.

When did you start writing? - I began writing in elementary school. I was told, at an early age, that I had a "gift," but I didn't know exactly what that gift was, or how to use it. But, being a quick study, it only took another 45 years to figure out!

Why children's books? - I have such vivid memories of my childhood, and loved the simple time in my life between ages 8-12. When I wasn't playing baseball, golf, swimming, or generally having fun with a neighborhood full of friends, I was immersed in a fantasy world ... imagining I was Alice In Wonderland. So, I quite naturally gravitated toward children's books. I also love the innocence and, sometimes, brutal honesty of children. If you want a true gauge of your work, ask a young reader.

How is writing children's mysteries different from writing adult mysteries?Would you ever consider writing an adult mystery? - I don't think there is a difference. A mystery is a mystery is a mystery. I recently had a reviewer say she loved the fact that I didn't "talk down to kids." Also, you'd better have your facts straight for young readers, because they'll find any and all discrepancies. Of course I'd consider writing an adult mystery. I'm kinda working on (translation: have shoved it aside for almost a year!) an adult time-travel/mystery.

When is your next book coming out? - My next project is a co-written (with Diana Black, Melinda Richarz Bailey), non-fiction titled, Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF), a humor book targeted toward the over-fifty woman itching to howl at the aging process. It will be published by Echelon Press, LLC., and is set for release in May, 2008. I'm also several chapters into Cynthia's Attic: The Magician's Castle, Book Four (2009).

Tell us a little more about WOOF? - Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF)...who are still puppies at heart. From Oprah to Ellen to our water aerobics instructor, it’s all about the joys of aging! How 50 is the new 30! Whatever! Some of us are hounded by middle-age. We’re dog-tired, wrinkled as a Sharpei and barking like a bitch. Enter WOOF: For the over-fifty woman itching to howl at the aging process. From issues of graying hair, expanding waistlines, and wrinkling tattoos, to embracing triumph over personal tragedy, WOOF raises four paws to our past accomplishments, present realizations and future dreams. Are you up to it...dogtrotting alongside this sisterhood taking the second half of life by the tail? We know you are. After all, the past 50 years you’ve gained freedom! You’ve gained power! You’ve gained wisdom! (Don't tell us you think weight is the only thing you've gained. Oh, you so need WOOF...)

What do you like to read? - Read? What's that? I spend so much time writing, blogging, marketing, etc., that I have very little time to read. I do love fantasy and historical fiction. I still laugh thinking about how, as a teen, my aunt, the local librarian, would sneak books by Kathleen Woodiwiss for my reading pleasure, although they were a tad too "mature." I'd already devoured all the age-appropriate fiction, and she was determined to see that I'd never get bored with books. And, I didn't!

Who has influenced your writing the most? -My dad was the biggest influence. He was an award-winning journalist for almost 40 years, and had a wonderful writing style and voice. His characters had such definition that, I'd swear, they almost jumped off the page! I'm also swayed by the writing of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling.

Pets? Hobbies? - We adore our senior-citizen mix-breed, Molly, and dread the day when she's no longer with us. As to hobbies, I enjoy golf, swimming, and watching all kinds of sports. I'm an avid Indiana Hoosier basketball fan, NFL football fan, and also enjoy watching NASCAR, golf, and the Olympics.

What's a typical day for Mary Cunningham the author? - I wake up and have some coffee. Turn on my computer. Have another cup of coffee. Open my e-mails. Hit delete 75 times, or so. Have another cup of coffee ... well, you get the idea. I try to write every day, but don't like to force it. If the words aren't flowing, I do something else and then go back to it. I love writing when my brain is working so fast, my fingers can barely keep up. And, this is going to sound really weird, but I must have my shower and be dressed before I can write. I have a friend who writes in her jammies. Not me! Now, I don't have to be in black pants and white cashmere sweater! Jeans and a t-shirt will do quite nicely. Just so I'm dressed.

What's your favorite pair of shoes? - My favorite shoes are a pair of navy slippers my husband gave me for Christmas. They're made out of the same memory foam used in mattresses and feel like comfy pillows for the feet. They're warm, too!

Thanks, Stiletto Gang! It's been fun!

Mary Cunningham


  1. Good morning, Gang! Thanks for asking me to guest blog today.

    I'll be lurking all day, so if y'all have any questions...ask away!

  2. Great interview, Mary! Your upcoming woman's fiction book sounds wonderful. I'll have to get a copy of that one.

    This is a noce blog, by the way. I like the stiletto motif. :-)


  3. Oh, I KNOW Mary just forgot to include me with J.K. Rowling and Harper Lee as being one of her writing inspirations. After all, I'm the one who created a gag booklet for her YEARS ago, and on the cover put "First Addition." And that was NOT part of the gag! So as you can see, she's my inspiration. She can spell. And she's my bestest bud...(but don't tell HER that...I need the edge.) Diana (d.d.dawg)

  4. Love the shoes quesiton!

    Janet Riehl

  5. Thanks for the comments, Mayra, Diana, and Janet.

    We're very excited about WOOF, Mayra, and one of the co-writer's , Diana, (comment above) has almost learned to spell!

    As for the shoes question, Janet, I loved that one, too. Give me comfortable shoes and I'm happy!

  6. What a fun interview!!!

    It's funny about the shower thing. I'm the same way. But for me, i'm thinking and editing in the shower. It's truly the only place I really relax.

    Can't wait to see/read more about that 'grownup' book you're working on!!!

  7. Awww, thanks, Chris! One question about editing in the do you keep the ms dry? (oh, ha-ha. I crack me up!)

    Will keep everyone posted on WOOF!

  8. LOL, I fully agree I need to be dressed for my date with the MS. Showered - no. Dressed - yes. With contact lenses in place or I can't find the computer, never mind see the text.

  9. Hi Mary!

    Oh shoot! Hope you're still out here, afraid I missed commenting on Friday.

    I want those slippers!!! I'm a barefoot gal myself! Never got into loving shoes. Probably because my feet are so wide.

    Give me comfy jeans, oversized sweatshirt, and a cup of really really really good coffee and I am a happy camper.

    So can 40 somethings be part of Woof? Or do we have to start our own club? I think I could be a solid member. For instance....totally forgot my own Mother's birthday. Called her the day after though.

    Later Chick!


  10. Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne and Dee! It's been fun blogging with the gang. Hope they'll invite me back sometime.

    And, Dee. Sure you can join the WOOFers! You might as well get prepared for the Big 5-0! Or, at least get a laugh or two.