Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Interview with Author Cindy Pon

July's Author of the month is Cindy Pon, whose debut novel, Silver Phoenix, released this April. Not only is she amazingly talented with descriptive writing (especially with food, prepare to drool or get hungry when reading her book!) but knowing her personally (well, as personal as the web can get) she's a very sweet, outgoing, and especially positive person. With that said, let us begin!

Ai Ling loves her food, and also loves art. I know you well enough to assume these are characteristics you've drawn from yourself. Am I right? What else have you added in Ai Ling that comes from you?

i think with first novels, it's very easy for the author to
use herself as a source for her characters. so yes, those are
my own characteristics! but i have to say that ai ling most
definitely is not me! she is stubborn like i can be. but she isvery rash--and i'm not rash. i think she is probably also braver than i can ever be.

You have a lot of amazing mythological type stuff in this story. I don't know real myth from Cindy's
myth's, how much is from you and what are some things that is true mythology?

i draw from both. as many fantasy writers have done and
continue to do. something like the serpent demon is very typical
of chinese folklore. the corpse monster is my own creation.

Okay, the human corpse monster . . . where did you come up with that?

oh! here's your question. hmm. if you read my book, you'll be able
to tell what some of my phobias are. drowning is one of them.
and death is the other. i absolutely hate the thought of death and dyingand what is the epitome of all these things? corpses? and what can be worse than a monster who is made from an amalgam of dead bodies.

Share with us what it was like in the query process, spare no details!

i queried 121 agents between the end of january and early april.
when i heard from agent bill on a weekend, i had just sent out more
queries. ha! i approached the process a little like war--it was something
i had to win, for Silver Phoenix's sake. i had many close calls, and a few
agents who liked my story--but didn't believe there was a place in the
market for it. i chose not to believe them.

The submission process I've heard can be just as grueling. For us aspiring writer's still praying for an agent, explain how submissions work (including acquisitions and the like).

we sent out to eight publishers in the first round.
when there was interest, the editor would have to bring
your mss to the editorial board and get their input andapproval.
then if all agree, it goes to acquisitions which is
composed of sales and marketing and the like--who decide
if your book is marketable.

i made the joke that everyone and her dog needs to like
your novel in order to sell. but it does happen, obviously!
that route may not be the way of every publishing house, but
it's not uncommon.

once there is an offer on the table, the process goes by
super fast. Silver Phoenix went to auction and i spoke with
each editor that was interested, to get a feel of the editor as well as her vision for my story.
and a better sense of the publisher as a whole.

i couldn't be happier as an author with greenwillow books!

What about author publicists? How does it work? How much do you give with your own sweat in getting the word out there about your book?

my publisher did a great job in giving me a fantastic cover
and making a bunch of arcs and making them available to
reviewers as well as major conferences. they've done many
things behind the scenes, but as a debut author, i still did a lot
of promoting online. i'm signed on to do local library and school
events and i arranged all my conference attending throughout the
summer--to try and get the word out for Silver Phoenix. i also
hired a private publicist because i wanted that extra boost andhelp!

Do you have any suggestions to other debut authors or soon-to-be about social networking and building a readership via the web?
i think a website is essential. i'm on facebook and twitter
and my blog--they have ALL helped me network for my debut.
but i would suggest you only do what you can handle. there's
nothing worse than an outdated blog or an empty fb wall. not
all authors have the personality to network online--it's the easiest
thing for me.

I hear there is a sequel you are working on, wanna spare any sort of yummy detail on that?

Silver Phoenix Sequel is out in fall 2010.
it's two storylines (zhong ye and silver phoenix / chen yong and ai ling)
and the two stories will merge at the climax. it's definitely
a little different than the first novel--because that's what it
needs to be. and it's been challenging to me as a writer--which
i think is absolutely necessary!!

You also are working on a picture book as author and illustrator, tell us a little about this experience and what it's like wearing both hats.

it was really fun to work on my picture book dummy!
i went to it with a clean slate and i'm really looking forward to
working on the pb and learning more from my wonderful editor.
it'll be a picture book featuring my own chinese brush art.

And there you have it! (and yes, the illustration above is by the ever-talented Cindy) Be sure, if you haven't already, to pick up your copy of Silver Phoenix, and be on the look out for the sequel releasing Fall of 2010! Thanks again Cindy for dropping by the blog.


  1. First, stunning artwork Cindy. I'm always in awe of your ability to paint. I can't draw a decent stick figure.

    Second, what an inspiration! I think I'm still querying my book because I believe in it as much as you believe in SP and I find strength in your persistence.


  2. It's comforting to hear how many queries she sent out. I love a persistence pays off story. Gives me hope. :)

  3. thank you, michelle!

    and i'm glad my story can inspire fictiongroupie.

    thanks so much for having me, christa!! xo