Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Spectral Interview with Cynthia Lott

I'd like to welcome Cynthia Lott to the blog today. Cynthia writes the Southern Spectral Series. The Feathers is the first in the series.

Kathy: The Feathers is describes as a paranormal thriller/mystery. How did you decide that your novel would be paranormal?

CL: I've always loved paranormal stories, that the world isn't just for the living. I grew up in Baton Rouge, close to New Orleans, a place full of spirits and ghosts. My murderer, Thomas Carpenter, came to me in a dream and he was wearing his Venetian bird mask. I knew he wasn't alive but I trusted him, I wanted to relate to him. When I woke up, I wrote down descriptions of his mask, his persona and thus was born the paranormal story. 

Kathy: What piqued your interest in the paranormal? Have you had a paranormal experience of your own (I have).

CL: I actually have. My childhood home was haunted and it wasn't only experienced by me but by my whole family and even friends that stayed over. We would hear running water but no one was there, witness a door shaking on its own, voices when everyone was gone, dark shadows at night. My mother used to wake up screaming at times because she swore a dark shadow was standing over her, grabbing her arm. This happened a lot along with furniture pieces moving (like a lazy susan that started spinning on its own). I truly believe that this world isn't just meant for us while we are Alive. I am certain that once we pass on, we can visit, inhabit places, guide people, warn them. There's so much more than what we see and some people are tuned into this...mediums, spiritualists. I find it fascinating. 

Kathy: The Feathers is set in the 1970's. Why did you choose that time period?

CL: I was born in 1973 so the 70s are very nostalgic for me. It's such an interesting decade: lingo, fashion, design, music, culture. I wanted to have a vicarious experience through an adult in the I placed my story there. I wanted my detectives to do footwork, go to the library, not rely on Google or cell phones. I wanted it to be simpler and take away texting, social media. I hope it helps make the story more engaging. 

Kathy: New Orleans is imbued with a charm, mystery, and personality all its own. How did you choose New Orleans as your setting and how has its personality influenced your work?

CL: I grew up in Baton Rouge and visited New Orleans a lot. New Orleans will always be special to me. It was the adult, mysterious, alluring sister to Baton Rouge...a place I cherished. I grew up around the food, music, art, spookiness.  There are long shadows and history in NO that welcome curiosity...magic is seen as an everyday thing...voodoo shops merge with Catholic churches, gorgeous stone tombs share a city full of african and european cultures. Jazz funerals parade down a street while people drink chicory coffee and eat beignets. And then you combine the thunderstorms with tropical plants, mardi gras carnivals, intimate courtyards, Spanish and French architecture and you have a city all its own. 

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

CL: I loved Nancy Drew books when I was young along with Agatha Christie. Those were my introductions. I grew up with a father who loved horror films and mysteries. We watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents along with Night of the Living Dead and the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi. He helped shape my love of mystery and fear, what lurked around the corner, what hid inside of a person you thought you knew. 

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CL: Not right now. The Feathers is the first in a series entitled A Southern Spectral Series. My first love was poetry so I wrote that for years...but mystery and thrillers have always tempted me and after dreaming about Carpenter, I knew he fit that genre. 

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CL: My series will involve some characters from each novel. Each one will be a paranormal thriller and will include stories and information from the previous books. I'm hoping readers will follow each one and become attached to my characters like I have, go on those journeys with them, revealing the world of the supernatural. 

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

CL: Roy Agnew, my male detective is my favorite character right now. I'm really exploring him more in the second book, The Irises, and becoming closer to his personality, his challenges. I have a deep soft spot for him and he speaks to me quite often...I'm learning more and more about what he wants for me to have him say. :)

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

CL: I'm inspired by thriller and mystery films that are well done...the intrigue, the unpredictable scenarios, the faulty and very human characters and their choices. I'm inspired by the thrillers and mysteries I read and right now I'm trying to catch up on a lot of my reading. 

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CL: I went with a small press that's ran out of a bookstore. I went with them because they have given me freedom with my cover, the inside, little details that mean a lot to me. They have been supportive and helpful and I didn't want to do it alone. They know about book making and distribution, especially online.  I think that whole process might have intimidated me. 

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

CL: Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Agatha Christie, Laura Lippman. That should show my diversity. HA! I love all of these writers. I would make a huge vegetarian meal and we would have a lot of good wine. :)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CL: Japantown by Barry Lancet. I just finished books by Tina Whittle and Gunter Kaesdorf. Loved them. 

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
CL: Hiking, being with my animals, spending time with my fiance and family/friends. I love exploring new places and am planning a trip with my fiance to Costa Rica this summer. I love reading, documentaries, good films, vegetarian cooking, jazz and blues. Lots and lots of stuff. :) 

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

CL: Almond milk, community coffee, quinoa, wine. I live the wild life. HA! 

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

CL: Yes, I am almost finished with the second book, The Irises. It will be out in late May. I am more than half way done and then it goes to my editor. I have beta readers reading it right now as I write along. They have been extremely helpful and I adore them. 

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

CL: Writing and meeting readers. I love conferences and meeting other authors, reading their work, getting to know them. I adore talking with readers and I love writing, its cathartic for me and keeps me's the best outlet I have ever had and I can't imagine life without it. 

Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

CL: Thank you so much for having me! xxx

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