Today is a special edition of Writer's Wednesday as I welcome Mary Cunningham to Alyssa's Area as a part of her blog tour for her new Cynthia's Attic release - The Magician's Castle!Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the author of the award-winning ‘tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic, and proud to announce book four, “The Magician’s Castle,” has been released. My children’s mystery series was inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that it took place in the home of my childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.
I’m also co-writer of the fabulously funny (No! Seriously, it really is) women’s lifestyle book, “Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF),” and the author of published short stories, "Ghost Light,” and "Christmas Daisy," (DEC 2009).
I’m a member of SCBWI (Southern Breeze Chapter), The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club (A crazy-good bunch of writers!). When I give my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia.
I understand that you have a hit children's series called Cynthia's Attic. What are they about?
The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou and The Magician's Castle are about twelve-year-old best friends, Cynthia and Gus, who find a magic trunk in Cynthia's Attic that sends them through time on adventures with their ancestors, although "The Magician's Castle" has some surprises in store for our time-traveling duo!
Is there a moral to learn from these books?
I'm proud of the friendship between Cynthia and Gus. No matter how mad they get at each other (and they do!), they always have the other's back and their loyalty is unquestioned.
Were Cynthia and Gus charactered after anyone?
Cynthia is my real childhood best friend and Gus is me! I'm much more like the Gus in the book than Cynthia resembles the "fictional" Cynthia. Although Cynthia and Gus have some very heated battles in the books and don't agree most of the time, my friend, Cynthia and I never got mad at each other. Hard to believe when you consider we've known each other since birth!
I heard that your 4th Cynthia's Attic book - The Magician's Castle - is coming out on December 1st. What new adventures have Cynthia and Gus found themselves in this time?
Here's a short blurb from the book:
Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancée, Kathryn, disappears through the magic trunk, vows revenge. If Cynthia and Gus don't find a missing page from the “Book of Spells,” Cynthia’s family could face financial and personal ruin.
Follow this time-traveling duo as they journey back to a 1914 Swiss castle where Eva, Sebastien’s grandmother, gives them clues on where to begin their search. Their journey takes them through miles of tree tunnels, an enchanted garden ruled by a cranky rock monster, and even high in the Alps. They get the surprise of their lives when they're sent 50 years into the future, have a shocking encounter with another set of best friends, and receive a fresh set of clues that could lead to Kathryn's return. But, at what price?
Sounds like you have some great books in Cynthia's Attic! Now on to a little bit about you, the author. Who has inspired you the most?
My earliest influence would have to be my dad who used to make up the most wonderful bedtime stories. I'm sure this is where I developed my love of fantasy/fiction. He was a journalist for over 40 years on a city newspaper (The Louisville Courier-Journal), and I would sometimes go with him when he interviewed an interesting person. His ability to write characters that would "jump off the page," made me want to write.
I was also greatly influenced by H. G. Wells and "The Time Machine," and have always been fascinated by the idea of time-travel. I'm a huge "Lord of the Rings" trilogy fan, so putting time-travel and fantasy together to create "Cynthia's Attic" was a natural progression.
In my early reading years, I enjoyed sports biographies and read them from A (Hank Aaron) to Z (Babe Didrikson Zaharias), and am still a huge sports fan. This is probably why POV character, Gus (Augusta Lee) is a tomboy and loves playing sports.
What made you decide to enter the field of writing?
I was told from 3rd grade on to "Never stop writing. You have a gift." And, sure enough...40 years later, my first book was published! I have written all my life, but never considered writing fiction until I got the idea for "Cynthia's Attic." The first story was prompted by a recurring dream I'd had for over 20 years about playing in a mysterious attic. Once I realized that the attic was in the home of my childhood best friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
The best advice I ever got was, "Write what you know." My series is set in my hometown, and many of the characters are loosely based on my ancestors. Since my main characters, Cynthia and Gus travel through time from 1964-1914, I'm able to draw on family stories and especially pictures from the early 1900s. Since I'm a very visual person, this made it much easier to write about the past.
Lastly, where can readers find the Magician's Castle (or any of the other Cynthia's Attic books)?
Mary Cunningham Books
Cynthia's Attic Blog
Thanks, so much, Alyssa, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog!