MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CECILY WOLFE!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name is Cecily Wolfe, and I write inspirational historical fiction, contemporary YA, and adult/NA fiction.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Oh, wow. Let’s go with The Competition, which releases today (September 18). It is a contemporary YA, and was inspired by a real-life event held in my home state of Ohio. It is a writing competition with college scholarships and cash prizes as well as trophies in real-life, but in the book, it is a full scholarship to the hosting college, which is a very prestigious private school. Both of my children participated in the real event, and I was inspired by their stories of success, failure, stress, and pressure from teachers and parents.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I read widely, and I write whatever my characters tell me to write, regardless of genre.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I spoke with participants in the real event (both in the past and as I wrote the book) and used a lot of the emotions and stories they shared in the book. All of the characters are inspired, in part, by actual teens my daughters are friends with in school.
Can you tell me about your Series?
I have an inspirational historical romance trilogy called Cliff Walk Courtships, with book three releasing on October 31. It is the story of three young adult siblings (ages 17-20) and how they find romance as well as a stronger faith during the stories. Each book focuses on one of the siblings, but books two and three include all of them, so as the story continues, readers can continue to see what is happening with characters from previous books. Book three, Treasure of Hope, is very exciting, as a baby will come into the picture by the end, and readers have been asking about the baby’s gender and name for nearly two years now! I can’t wait to share it.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I loved book one (Throne of Grace), and I think book two (Crown of Beauty) even more, but book three might just be my favorite. I really enjoy having the main characters of book one, Josie and Arthur, reappear in each book, as they are incredibly important and have a big influence over the other characters.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
I was going through a rough spot a few years ago, and the character Josie came to me as I was daydreaming, sort of reminding me to hang in there and have faith. I have always loved the setting for the series (Newport, Rhode Island) so it was very easy to me to have this family living there during a time when the rich New Yorkers were building and living there (Gilded Age, 1893). It’s still a gorgeous place to visit and very inspiring.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Lots and lots! I have books on Newport, from architecture to street maps (historical, of course!), and have visited many times. It’s a glorious place to visit, and they have a wonderful ice cream shop, the Newport Creamery, which I mention more than once in the books. I’ve also studied historical fashion and have used vintage Worth gowns as the inspiration for the gowns the Davenport girls wear.
Was it always meant to become a series?
No. I wrote Throne of Grace, and I was finished. The story is very focused on Arthur and Josie, and I did mention in passing Arthur’s younger sisters, Catherine and Sarah. After it was published, several readers asked about ‘the sequel.’ What sequel, I wondered? Readers wanted more of Arthur and Josie, but also of Catherine and Sarah. What affect did Arthur and Josie’s relationship have on Arthur’s spoiled little sisters? I committed to two more books, one for Catherine (Crown of Beauty) and another for Sarah (Treasure of Hope).
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I work full-time as a librarian (and happy to do so!) so my writing is carved out of early mornings, late nights, and weekends. I usually commit to a chapter at a sitting (about 2000 words) and only plan to writing on days I can write that much – so twenty minutes? Not happening. I can use twenty minutes to create an Instagram graphic to promote the book (which is so much fun!) but I want to fall into the story and complete a chapter with each sitting. I write at home, at my desk, with cats laying all over everything. A close friend of mine, who is also an author and librarian, and I share our ‘cat takeover’ photos daily. We share in the struggle.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
After The Competition, the sequel to my 2016 short novel, A Harvest of Stars is set to publish on Christmas day, and of course, Treasure of Hope, book three in my Cliff Walk Courtships series, will release on October 31 (holiday books – I just noticed that!). Next year, I have an adult novel called American Girls publishing, which is semi-autobiographical and co-written with my sister Alys. Later in 2019, my third YA, The Library War will release. All of these titles are on Goodreads, so readers can add them to their to-read lists now!
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
A lot of them come into my head with names, but some don’t, and I like to look at the meanings behind names if I need to find one. For instance, I knew Catherine’s name in the Cliff Walk Courtships series, but I didn’t know Sarah’s. Of course, Sarah means princess, so it makes sense – she is very spoiled and treated like a princess, which gets in the way not only of maturity, but responsibility. She becomes a true princess of grace in the eyes not only of her family and her intended as the story concluded, but her walk of faith is established.
Where do your ideas come from?
Mostly daydreams, sometimes inspired by real people or events.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Fantasy! I’m always impressed by how well some writers can create such believable worlds to place their characters in. I’d love to take that plunge but a story hasn’t reached out to me yet, nor have any characters in fantastic situations.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I love book trailers! I do have two, both for my YA novels, That Night and The Competition.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Getting any writing done while working full-time and being a single mom. It’s a crazy life but I love it. I always encourage anyone who has a story to tell to just do it. No matter how long it takes, it is worth whatever effort you give to get your story out into the world.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Sharing the stories and characters in my head with others. I love to read and appreciate the opportunity to see what others have created, and I love to share my own.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still writing, still reading – maybe on a beach somewhere!
Have you always liked to write?
Yes, almost as long as I remember. I’ve writing poems, short stories, and novels since elementary school. The poetry is not something I would continue – it’s pretty bad.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just do it! If it takes you years to get that novel out, it is still going to get out there. There will be readers who will be thankful that you did, and you’ll enjoy holding your book in your hands!
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I would be a librarian – and I am! That was a dream I made come true, just as becoming an author was.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read them, and usually don’t respond unless there is a question that needs answered. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and not every book is for everyone. Some readers love my books, others don’t – some love some of my books, others another title. I don’t take it personally – I can’t, otherwise I’d never put any book out there! I am always careful in my reviews of other authors’ books to be respectful if I didn’t like it, noting that it wasn’t a good fit for me rather than saying it was bad. Some readers are very cruel and can be nasty, and I don’t bother with those reviews. I’ll glance at them and move on.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Sometimes deadlines creep up on me and it is very stressful. I think that end of it, where it is a definite finish line with others who have expectations from me, is hard sometimes. It isn’t just a creative work and something of my own – others are waiting, and I am grateful that they are, but it can be stressful when I’m pushing that deadline and need to get the pages to the editor NOW>
What are you working on now?
Starlight, the sequel to A Harvest of Stars, which is a short novel published in 2016 about two teens in a small Kentucky town that have to deal with abuse and judgement, as well as a future that looks even more bleak. Starlight is fifteen years in the future, but the past comes back to haunt them.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I love Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. They are absolutely addictive, and I’ve been reading them since book one, City of Bones, released over ten years ago.
Where can your fans find you and follow??