FAREWELL MY LIFE - AUTHOR Q&A with Cynthia Sally Haggard @cynthiahaggard #BlogTour


Today's guest is historical fiction author, Cynthia Sally Haggard! Her new book is Farewell My Life and it's excellent! Right at this very moment, she is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book. We're very glad to have her here today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published. 

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write Farewell My Life?

Back in 2007. At that point, I had been living in the United States for 25 years, so I decided to celebrate by writing the Great American Novel…with characters who do not always speak English.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-publish. I love the artistic control that comes with having to do everything myself. I also don’t mind marketing my novels because I enjoy talking about my characters and the stories they inhabit. Most importantly, by self-publishing I hold the rights to my work, so that if anything goes wrong I can rescue my “darling child” —  to use Jane Austen’s phrase.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes. I was surprised that so many people were willing to read it. To date, I have sold over 38,000 copies of my first novel Thwarted Queen. Farewell My Life is my second novel.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process? 

Absolutely. I think a cover must entice a reader into touching it and actually picking it up. For me, a fabulous photo work miracles. In my opinion, too many covers are too messy, by which I mean there is too much going on. I prefer simplicity with clean lines.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It is an enormous amount of effort. Twenty years ago I finished writing my PhD dissertation on how the motor system takes over from the cognitive system when pianists are playing complex excerpts at high speeds. I vowed I would never write anything so difficult again. But writing a novel is worse; it is much more effort than writing a PhD dissertation. My advice is to cultivate a meditation practice to deal with the hurt feelings you will undoubtedly have when people criticize your work, despite the effort you put into it. And I also think it is important to try and de-mystify the whole process and approach it as a craft rather than a magical experience that involves a muse. Not to say that writing isn’t a magical experience, it is the reason why I write. But it is so important not to be intimidated by it. You need to relax to let your imagination fly.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on another novel set in 831AD in Sicily when the Arabs were attacking its Ancient Greek culture. Southern Italy and Sicily were originally settled by the Greeks between about 800 BC and 400 BC. After that, the Romans took over, but that part of the world never lost its Greek culture. (Indeed, going to Pompei in Magna Graecia was a safety valve for many Roman senators, who could leave their earnest Latin selves behind in Rome and come to the Bay of Naples to relax and speak Greek.) Things changed in 831 AD when the Arabs attacked Palermo. I always like to write about in-between periods, when changes flood in. That is why I set the beginning of Farewell My Life in the early part of the 1920s, rather than the latter part.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

It contains the story of the Oster Conspiracy, one of about 20 attempts to assassinate Hitler between 1934 and 1944. This one (in 1938), came the closest to succeeding and would have done so had it not been for the efforts of English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to appease Hitler in his quest to avoid another world war.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Life is fragile. Those of us who have enough money to enjoy our lives feel secure in the notion that everything will continue forever. But that is not true. Things can unwind much more rapidly than we like to admit.
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I hope you will enjoy reading about Berlin in the 1920s, the Oster Conspiracy of the 1930s, and a family of strong women…which includes one very talented violinist.

Cynthia Sally Haggard was born and reared in Surrey, England. About 30 years ago she surfaced in the United States, inhabiting the Mid-Atlantic region as she wound her way through four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer, and novelist.

Her first novel, Thwarted Queen a fictionalized biography of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), the mother of Richard III (whose bones were recently found under a car-park in Leicester,) was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.

Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015. When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at www.spunstories.com.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cynthiahaggard

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cynthia.haggard

Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country.
And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.

The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.

Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.

And all of this revolves around Grace, Angelina’s younger daughter, whose fabulous talent for the violin promises a shimmering career.


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