Name: Cynthia Ogren
Age: Forever young!
Where are you from? I was born in Rockford, IL, which is close to Chicago, but I’ve lived all over the U.S.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life, etc.:
I attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in psychology and English literature. I was an Air Force wife, so my family and I lived all over the country. I now reside outside of Lexington, KY.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m working on the sequel to my first novel, BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS. I haven’t divulged the title yet, but I’m in the editing phase and hope to have it published this year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I discovered the joys of reading when I was seven years old. I spent weekends and summers at the little branch library near my home. By age ten, after devouring the children’s section of the library, I decided to write my own short story. And that started my love affair with writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I wrote my first short story, I won an award for it at school. And I kept winning class awards through middle school, high school, and college. Because of this, I realized I had writing ability, but I never considered myself in a league with the great writers of fiction. I didn’t start writing professionally until a few years ago. I finally considered myself an author after BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS was published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My best friend convinced me to write my first book. Once I decided to do so, the story came over me and devoured me whole. I ate, breathed, and slept it for five months. Then I edited it for two and a half years before sending it to a publisher.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I employ a rather literary style of writing (probably because I cut my teeth on reading the classics). I utilize drama and humor to capture the readers and take them on an exciting ride through my story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS is the title of the book, the title of the film that’s being made in the book, and the theme of the book. I love the juxtaposition of the words, which seem to be at odds with each other. It’s an oxymoron of sorts. The book is about obsessive love—Hollywood style, and it deals with the underbelly of the glitterati world.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The main theme of BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS is this: What do you do when you’re desperately in love with someone who is totally wrong for you? The book explores fated, obsessive love, and it also looks at how beauty, fame, and fortune are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m an avid watcher of pop culture, so that most assuredly influenced BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS. Also, my sister was a character actress in New York (mostly) and in LA for her entire adult life. We talked extensively about her experiences, which influenced me as well. And, of course, there is a bit of Riley (my female protagonist) in me!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’ve been influenced in some way by every book I’ve ever read. Having said that, I’m a particular fan of the classics, and I suppose my literary style stems from their influence. For example, from HEART OF DARKNESS, I learned that, as an author, I could use literary devices to dramatize a book. I learned how to manipulate a reader’s emotions with atmosphere and setting from reading WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Flannery O’Connor taught me about hooking readers with shocking, vibrant prose in her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Barbara Kingsolver is a favorite contemporary author of mine. Her tome, THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, is a modern classic. And I learned how to write interesting, cogent dialogue from Stephen King. These are just a few. There are so many more!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That’s like asking which child I like best! LOL There are so many talented authors. I really enjoy Barbara Kingsolver and Khaled Hosseini. Each of them writes fresh, crisp prose that delights the senses.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members
. My best friend held my hand throughout all my handwringing days of writing. Had it not been for her, I’m not sure I would have had the nerve to dip my toes into the waters of professional publishing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. I see it as a professional career, and I treat it as such, but I don’t have to support myself with it. If my books don’t sell, I won’t go hungry.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m a consummate rewriter and editor, so, YES, I’m sure there is plenty I would reword. Because of that, I don’t go back to read a previous work. Once I finish something and feel satisfied with it, I don’t look back. It’s on to the next manuscript!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From extensive reading, I realized I had a head for story. I also started writing poetry very young—although I don’t publish it professionally.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My current WIP (work in progress) is the sequel to BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS. The title is still a secret, but the book is a follow up to the obsessive love relationship of my Hollywood couple, Riley Rinaldi and Keller Cross. The sequel is another crazy ride with the star-crossed lovers, but this one is a bit of a mystery, and it explores betrayal. My beta readers assure me that it’s worthy of its predecessor!
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing clear, interesting, pertinent dialogue is a true talent, and it’s not nearly as easy as it seems. Often when a book misses the mark, it’s the dialogue that derails it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS (my first series) takes place in Hollywood. I’ve been there a few times, but I still did a lot of research on places, terrain, weather, and conditions. It’s important to have realistic details for the setting.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS was signed by Vigilante Publishing Group, a small traditional press, in December of 2013. Jennifer Oneal Gunn designed the cover. It was published in August 2014, but due to the bad health of the CEO, the press closed in February 2015. It’s now published under my own imprint, Subtext Literary Group.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Pacing is critical to me. I want to drag the reader through the book, not allowing her/him to put it down. There’s an art to that.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned so much from writing BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS! It’s one thing to read a book, and a whole different animal to write a well-crafted book. I could write a book on what I learned from writing my first book, but in the interest of brevity, I’d say the most important thing I learned was to chisel away the excess verbiage to allow the essence of the story to shine.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My female protagonist, Riley Rinaldi, is the epitome of (and a symbol for) beauty, wealth, and glamour. Yet she’s a very flawed, fragile woman under the veneer. I think Angelina Jolie would portray a perfect Riley.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes! I would offer these two kernels of advice: 1. If you want to be a writer to get rich and famous, there are much easier ways to achieve that goal than writing. Publication is a marathon, not a sprint. 2. Be careful whom you trust. Every writer I know, including me, has been scammed in one way or another by the myriad of service providers in the publishing business. Get references and do your homework!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love my readers! Their support and encouragement have meant the world to me. It’s because of them that I’ve written the sequel to BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS. They convinced me that Riley and Keller had much more story to tell, and they were right!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Since I’m deep into editing my sequel, I’m not reading fiction right now. I am about to start SPEAK, MEMORY: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY REVISITED, by Vladimir Nabokov.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I demolished the entire children’s section of the little branch library in my hometown.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m an emotional person, so it can be something as simple as a child’s smile or a sunset. Life moves me deeply.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I want to meet all the great minds of history! But let me settle for Flannery O’Connor or F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“She loved words.” For obvious reasons.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I love to read, make ART, build things, exercise, travel, and listen to music.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch that much television, but there are some series I enjoy. I adore any British period piece. Recently, I’ve watched VICTORIA, INDIAN SUMMERS, THE DURRELLS OF CORFU, and DOWNTON ABBEY. And I try to keep up with the current popular films.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
Let’s see, I’m a coffee addict, and my brownies are legendary—or so I’m told. As for colors, I tend toward black, gray, and blue. And I love all genres of music! Everything from opera to hip-hop.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I can’t imagine not writing, but if I had to choose, it would be something with ART. I could see myself as an architect or an interior designer—maybe a painter.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, I work from my writer’s retreat, aptly named Wit’s End, near Lexington, KY. My novel, BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS (Vigilante Publishing Group and Subtext Literary Group), is available at select bookstores and is widely available online at the following sites:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beautiful-Monsters-Cynthia-Ogren/dp/0692221093/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1405268555&sr=8-4&keywords=beautiful+monsters
Other Amazons Sites Worldwide
Check me out at the following locations:
Facebook Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/Cynthia-Ogren-Books-403006943180158/?fref=nf
Goodreads: Cynthia Ogren
Google+: Cynthia Ogren