Unlike nearly all the authors I’ve interviewed, Cyndi Brec has an agent and is looking to publish in one of the larger publishing houses. Cyndi is the author of the Marked for Life series. She’s the debut author of The Secrets Beneath Scars, a young adult urban fantasy romance. She says fans of Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Charlie N. Holmberg’s Spellbreaker might find her new novel enjoyable.
Cyndi lives with her best friend, her husband, her two crazy-fun-loving kids, and her embarrassingly energetic dogs, who find unending trouble. She graduated with a degree in Recreational Therapy and worked in Geriatric psych and with the mentally challenged before discovering her deep love of writing. Cyndi loves exploring history to build the facets of her story world—a world soaked in legends, myths, and lies.
I hope you enjoy my interview with Cyndi and find it entertaining.
What was it that made you decide you had a story to tell and to become an author?
The story of my protagonist, Callie Tresham, kept unfolding before my eyes; scene by scene, images stalked me and prodded me to continue developing and writing the Marked for Life series.
I’ve never thought of myself as an author, more of a storyteller. The big thing is my passion for sharing the story. I’m an avid reader of several genres, and after reading a paranormal romance book, I thought I could do that. So, here I am. Lol
I love the challenge of writing, but more so diving deep into creating a story world and twisting ideas, thoughts, legends, and making something different. Something unique that will connect with a reader, make their heart cry, allow them to experience a new emotion, and have an escape. Some of our greatest authors draw upon readers’ feelings from the start. They engage their hearts and take them on a compelling, emotional journey.
As an author or writer, what sets you apart from others?
Writing is in my blood. I love writing challenges, and I’m a natural problem solver. I’m not afraid to do something different. Visualizing the emotional plot of an opening scene is easy for me; crafting the stakes in a story and watching the events unfold into conflict, disasters, and reactions to the events is something I thrive on. However, I love unexpected story endings that offer a new piece to the storyline puzzle.
What genre do you write, and why?
Young adult, urban fantasy with elements of romance.
Writing fantasy opens the door to new ideas, unchartered territories, and conflicts. I grew up on mythology and studying legends. The process of searching for lost civilizations, their history, and customs is mind-bending. However, if you dive deep into pseudoarcheology, it allows you to tweak a legend and put a ‘fantastical’ spin on an existing belief or idea, breathing life into a new story. There are unending creative possibilities when writing fantasy and peppering in a bit of romance only adds to the sizzle. Lol
If you were to name one or two books that you deem unforgettable and that had a major impact on you, what would they be, and why?
Twilight was a remarkable book for me, but not for the reasons an author/reader might think. The Twilight series stressed something affecting that secret worlds can hide in plain sight.
I’m an avid reader of many genres, from Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and Brigid Kemmerer’s A Vow so Bold and Deadly, to mystery novels that keep you in utter suspense to character-driven Christian stories.
What authors do you read regularly? Why?
My reading list is long and can go on forever, but Victoria Aveyard, Audrey Grey, Brigid Kemmerer, Karen Marie Moning, and James Patterson are a few of my regular reads. Escapism is a requirement for me to label a book as unforgettable and to read an entire series.
If you were to have dinner with 5 individuals living or dead, who would they be and why?
Right now, I’d love to have dinner with Plato. He wrote of the lost continent of Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias. My protagonist, Callie, searches for answers and must dive deep into a library riddled with legends, only to discover who she is. I’ve used parts of the Critias to frame my world building. So, I’d love to ask him, “Did you like how I tweaked the Critias?” Lol
Other people I’d love to have dinner with are my grandmother and grandfather. They’ve been an inspiration to me and a blessing.
What is your writing routine? When you write, do you plan or outline ahead or are you a “pantser”?
Undeniably I’m a Pantser. My characters drive the story’s direction. My routine involves my office, a timer for writing sprints, a glass of ice water, and my laptop.
When writing, how much do you read? Do you read in or out of your genre?
When I’m writing, I don’t usually read in my genre. I’ll slip into a mystery and romance novel that is engaging.
Is there something you set out to do, but somehow, it didn’t work out for you? (In writing, or something else you felt was important to you at the time?)
Yes, this is a beautifully weird story because after I wrote my first book, I set out to find an agent. However, I received a few redirection letters (I don’t like to label them rejection letters). With the assistance of my writing group, I reevaluated my plan and decided on the Indie route, even hiring a publicist and a designer to format my book. My goal was set, and I was ready to run … However, I met Jonas Saul at a conference in 2020, and shortly later, he asked if he could represent me. Jonas’s belief in my story has inspired me. I’m an optimistic person and couldn’t imagine working with a better agent. He’s got my back, and he values my style of writing.
What tips would you give to new or even experienced writers?
Write about what brings you happiness. Write what challenges you to be the best author. You always need to hone the craft of writing and sharpen your skills. Never compare yourself to another author. Each author is as unique as their writing style.
How do you handle a negative critique?
Not all readers like fantasy. That’s okay. That’s what makes each person unique, we don’t have to agree to like the same story or idea, and that’s where respect for someone’s opinion comes in. I’ll thank them for their time, critique, and move on.
Is there a type of writing/genre that you find difficult to write? Why?
I’m not a horror or erotica writer. My values stop me from writing sexy scenes and horror … it is too tough for me. I’ve witnessed things in life that are difficult and would rather not live them again.
How important are the elements of character, setting, and atmosphere to a story, and why?
The setting and atmosphere can enrich a story. It’s significant because it can improve the reader’s experience and add to the story’s development with plot, tone, and character. However, characters, especially the main characters’ personalities, are pivotal to a storyline’s success. They serve as a driving force. The reader experiences everything through the main character’s eyes. So, the character must be believable to engage the reader.
Do you see yourself in any of the characters you create? How/Why?
Yes, and no. Pieces of me show up in some of the main characters in The Secrets Beneath Scars. I attempt to have my genuine reaction shared within the story, but I’m always balancing it out with ‘what moves the story forward’ and what makes the story compelling.
Is there an unforgettable or memorable character that will not leave your head, either of your own creation or from a book you’ve read?
Of course, I’m in love with my unforgettable character, Callie. She’ll always be memorable to me.The more the character’s arch develops from the story’s beginning to the end, and the stakes increase, the more the character becomes remarkable.
Tell us about your most recent book. The Secrets Beneath Scars blurb:
Callie Tresham’s perfect world was shattered when her family was murdered. Now, after being haunted for years by visions and memories, she strives to be a normal teenager. When her grandmother dies in a car accident, Callie meets Trystan Dougrey, leading her straight into the path of a notorious killer.
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS AN ACCIDENT
Trystan Dougrey protects the secrets of his world—the Theran world—a world soaked in archaeological mystery. No human has access to their secrets; no human enters their world. Powers are rare and sacred, so when he witnesses Callie using the power of sight, he confronts her. To protect her secrets, they make a deal. She’ll use her gift of sight to hunt for a murderer if he keeps her secrets.
NOW THE FATE OF THE THERAN WORLD HANGS IN THE BALANCE
Now that she’s made the bargain, Callie’s questions dredge up more danger than answers. Determined, Callie and Trystan wade through a world of corruption, legends, lies, and the pitfalls of first love in a world where justice is served through the eyes of a killer.
The future of Theran-kind is at stake—and now, so is her life.
How did you come up with the concept?
I’m a lover of secret worlds hidden in plain sight and the struggles to keep the world concealed. The story developed from there.
How did you come up with the title?
Truthfully, I didn’t come up with the title on my own. An author friend, Linda Morgan, inspired the title. We took the central theme of ‘secrets’ and worked it into an emotionally compelling title.
From your book, who is your favorite character? Callie is my favorite character. Why? I love the discovery journey Callie must struggle through to feel comfortable in her skin. The misery she’s endured with the loss of her parents has made her a stronger person. I like strong female leads, but I also like a hesitant character at the story’s opening. Watching a character stumble and grow through the storyline is more believable.
Who is your least favorite character? Mr.Sykes. Why? He’s not a nice guy—not at all. Lord Kingston, the mastermind, actually has more compassion.
Where can we find your book?The Secret Beneath Scars is being pitched to publishers by Jonas Saul from Imagine Media Group Literary Management.
I’m looking forward to her book’s publication, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed she lands a publishing deal.
You can connect with Cyndi on social media through the following links: