Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Cyrus Alderwood and I’m coming to you from the gorgeous hills of Virginia. I live a bit off the beaten path and I sort of like it that way. I’m 44 years old but thankful that my maturity level peaked at the age of 27.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born on sunny shores of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida but grew up in Virginia.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a pretty diverse background. I have a degree in Economics and Political Science, I volunteer as the head of a regional non-profit organization to promote arts and culture, education and economic opportunity. I write and read like that is the greatest drug on Earth. I harass Sierra Nevada brewing on Twitter because I think I should be their official travelling spokesman.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
This summer I am working on the next book in the Grave Legends series and I will be publishing book two in The Gonzo Chronicles of Barry Dick. Between that work you’ll find me all over the region here in my neck of the woods doing the random book signing, radio interview, web interview…whatever I can do to help put my books in the hands of readers. Toss in a few beers and I’ll manage to have a pretty decent summer. People can follow my latest on social media and on my website.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started my writing journey in the summer of 2000 when a friend was giving me a tour of Cincinnati and we visited Spring Grove Cemetery, one of the most beautiful and macabre places I’ve ever seen to this day. I was inspired to write my first book with that setting as a background.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Early on in the journey, actually. When I was at job as working in stock and bond investing my mind was often back to the pages that I wrote the night before. When you obsess about something you wrote so much that you wake up at three in the morning to go work on it a bit more then it is official. I was forever hooked on that craft from that moment.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A tour of Spring Grove Cemetery. I was so inspired by the dark beauty of the place that I began to form a character in a horror story before we even left the property. I have published the first book in what turned out to be a four part horror series called Grave Legends.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The story is about two Cincinnati locals that are writing a book about landmarks that have odd or scary legends attached to them. Hence the Legends series was born.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I have had some readers refer to my style as unconventional. I suppose my fascination with all things Hunter S. Thompson has influenced me toward a bit of his style for certain books that I’ve written. That showed in Tales From the Sunset Pub and in The Gonzo Chronicles of Barry Dick. Both of those are comedies that just seemed to have a familiar feel to them that reminded some readers of HST. I’ll take that as a huge compliment!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I focus on fiction but I’d be a liar if I said none of the events were based on events in my own life. In Pot of Gold, I was writing my first comedy as I was going through a terrible depression. Everything that could go wrong in my life had gone wrong. I’ll spare you the details, even though I’ve written a bit about it in the Notes section of my FaceBook page. But the things they were weighing Pete and J.D. down in that book, that was my life. I found a way to work my way out that emotional pit and laugh at myself. That book sort of saved me from a dark abyss.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Travel isn’t really necessary. The internet provides more than enough content to see places through video and photos if I require it. However, I have travelled some to get a personal feel of a place if I felt it was necessary to the story. I recently travelled to Elberton, Georgia (USA) to see the infamous Georgia Guidestones, also called America’s Stonehenge. That trip was very necessary to writing Revelation Calling.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The last two covers (Revelation Calling and The Gonzo Chronicles of Barry Dick) were designed by an amazing artist, Gary Kwapisz. He has a long and impressive career in the arts including a line of his own graphic novels and his previous work with Marvel Comics.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my latest novel, Revelation Calling, I tackle a tough question we’ve all struggled with at times. Why do bad things happen to good people? I’ll leave the answer up to each reader as they watch how the characters develop as the story unfolds. No spoilers, but I want each reader to reflect on that question as it has impacted their own lives and how to use that painful answer to become a stronger and better person.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Some of my favourite writers are Hunter S. Thompson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck. As far as new authors, well he’s not exactly new but Joe Hill. He’s incredibly creative and more than a chip off the old block. Steven James has been around for a while and has put out some great work. Kimberly Belle (Three Days Missing) is an amazing talent.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I’ve had a few friends that have been very supportive of my passion to write. Fellow writers are among some the best, including many in a regional authors guild that I’m a part of. To be a writer you have to have thick skin and have more than a couple of people around that want to see you succeed or you’d eventually drown in your own misery. Writing a book is hard. Getting people to buy your book is an even bigger challenge.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do! If I didn’t chase this dream of being a full time writer (you know, one that actually makes a few bucks by selling these stories on Amazon) then I’d be a sorry excuse of a writer. After I wrote my first book I was hooked. If I’m not writing these days then I usually feel like something is missing from my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would go back and change something about every book I’ve written. That’s just my nature. I could have a best seller on my hands and stress over how I could have made the story better.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes! I just released Revelation Calling, a book that took over a year to write. Two lessons stick out the most and they came to me during the editing and revision process. What you take out of the book is sometimes just as important as what you put into the book. Also, I have to not be afraid to trust my readers. There are some important themes in this book, but I know the kind of people that are drawn to this story will be able to read between the lines and follow their own thought process about the themes.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Every book or story I write I literally envision being on the big screen or television. I can see something like The Gonzo Chronicles getting picked up by Netflix, Amazon or HBO. That would be one more thing off the list of crazy stuff I want to see happen in my fun and dishevelled life. I can maybe see maybe Jim Sturgess playing the role of Barry Dick, Supernatural Sleuth.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Patience is a virtue. Take your craft seriously and have thick skin. No one writes the perfect novel even after the tenth re-write. Tell your story to the best of your ability and then trust your readers to find their meaning in it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I could spend hours discussing themes with my readers. But if I have to be brief, I would tell them to not be afraid to “be” the characters when you read from my novels and short stories. Dive into the story to see and feel the range of whatever you’re reading. For my comedy pieces, read them with an open mind, laugh at and with the characters, and see that in the big picture the point is to enjoy the story and revel at the absurdities that make up this thing we call life. It’s about not taking yourself too seriously and enjoying the ride.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Unleash the Power of Storytelling by Biesenbach
Trail of Tears by John Ehle
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Other than the typical children’s books, the first book I remember reading and taking seriously was Sounder by William Armstrong. Growing up in a rural area and far away from any real cultural diversity, that book was my first glimpse into seeing a story and a young boy’s life through a different lens. It was that book that really opened my eyes to the power of books and the impact they could, and should, have.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m a total sucker for good human interest stories. I try to avoid the news because it is all so negative. But I do love to see rags to riches stories that people share on social media, or stories about how genuinely good people can be by helping others, or seeing someone beat the odds and survive something horrible like cancer.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
This is always such a fun question but it is so hard to answer because it can change from day to day. At this moment I’d like to saddle up to the bar and have a few beers with John Lennon. I don’t have any pressing questions to ask the guy, I’d just like to hear a story or two, share a few laughs. If I had to pick someone that is still around I’d maybe do the same with Doro, the queen of metal. She seems like she’d be cool to hang out with. Again…stories from the road. Maybe the lead singer of the band The Pretty Reckless because…well, just look at her. Great music, too.
Ask me this question again tomorrow. It will be three different people.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
If reading is a hobby then I would put that one at the top of my list. I read anything I can get my hands on. I’ve recently taking up the hobby of sketching but my results so far would be enough to make a blind man cry. I’m horrible at it. However, I can draw a pretty good stick figure.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a Netflix addict. I just started watching The Haunting of Hill House for the second time and eagerly awaiting the next season of Stranger Things. My Watch List on Netflix is a mile long and includes Monty Python. I guess I always look on the bright side of life.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Lasagna, I’m colorblind…and I love all kinds of music. However, the Rolling Stones and a few jazz and blues legends hold a special place in my heart. In fact, if you don’t like Miles Davis I’m not sure we can be friends. J
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be a day trader. I’m a stock market junkie. Have been since high school. I can lose hours reading through business news and looking for investing ideas.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Considering I’m pretty much at peace with the people that mean the most to me I’d spend it atop Whitetop Mountain, a place I go for solitude and reflection, to find inner peace…my “zen moments.” I’d spend the last couple of hours writing another top 10 list. This time, the top ten lessons I learned and advice to others to get through this crazy thing called life in one piece.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Here lies a pretty cool guy. He laid down the boogie and played that funky music ‘til he died.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do. People can visit me online at www.cyrusalderwood.com
for news on recent and upcoming events, samples from my books, short stories, and a crazy section of my website reserved for the odd, strange, abnormal and macabre.
Any misspellings in these responses are entirely the fault of Seirra Nevada Beer. Go to Twitter and take it up with them!!