Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Author Spotlight – Cindy Speer

Written By: Tracy - Mar• 22•11

Today’s author spotlight is with author Cindy Lynn Speer. Cindy has had a number of odd jobs, including cemetery caretaker. Now she likes to run people through with swords. That is to say that she is a fencer in the SCA.

Cindy is the author of Unbalanced, an urban fantasy from Zumaya Embraces.

Andromeda Pendragon has been trained her whole life to be an agent of Balance, an organization that acts as a supernatural UN to keep the peace among werewolves, vampires and magic users. It’s a busy start for a new agent–all she has to do is prevent a war, solve several murders, stay out of prison, keep the world from learning about things that have been secret for hundreds of years and preserve the stability to the agency she was raised to be a part of. And then there’s Alaister, the man she loved and let go because no normal man wants a girlfriend who hangs out with creatures from his nightmares. The man who re-enters her life at a party the night a young woman is savagely murdered. The man who has a few secrets of his own. But nothing–and no one–will unbalance Andromeda Pendragon…

I was able to interview Cindy recently. We talked a little about swashbuckling and the process of plotting against her heroine.

Unbalanced sounds like an interesting book. Where did you develop the idea for a supernatural version of the United Nations?

I have always liked the idea of the mundane world being a cloak over a much more interesting one…and I was playing with the idea of what-if-vampires-and-werewolves-are real, but I wanted to try and make the concepts a little different. We run into the secret clans of supernatural beings running around in secret thing, but I felt that making it under a government agency…and making it clear that this human run agency is keeping the supernatural creatures from fighting with each other any longer…would make for an interesting twist.

Your primary character, Andromeda Pendragon has to handle a lot of sticky situations. When you were plotting Unbalanced, How did you decide what to throw at her? And were you cackling gleefully inside while doing so?

Some of it is fun, some of it is that, when you’re writing, you get to a point where you’re like, “Oh. We need to have SOMETHING happen here.” because you get the feel for what the story naturally wants. And you (and the story) both don’t want to bore the reader to death, so it’s about balancing plot. But then there are times when you’re like, “I wonder what she would do if she had to deal with this.” because the first draft of a novel is the only time you get to experience what a reader experiences…the only time you get that feeling of surprise and discovery.

Your other stories seem to delve into fairy tale Milieus.”A Necklace of Rubies” is a retelling of Bluebeard while “Every Word I Speak” has the same feel as The Miller’s Daughter. What do you think it is about fairy tales that still resonate with readers today?

I think fairy tales resonate so much because they are the oldest, most basic stories. The people in fairy tales all want the same things we want, today…to be beautiful, to be rich, to be loved. They remind us, as the saying goes, that dragons can be defeated. And sometimes, they remind us that sometimes the dragon defeats us.

How long have you been fencing? Were you fencing before you joined the SCA? For readers who aren’t familiar with theSCA, what about fencing in the SCA is different than Olympic Style fencing that they’ve probably seen on TV?

I’ve been fencing for about three years now. Rapier fighting was the whole reason why I joined the SCA (which is a medieval re-enactment society) because, while I’d seen Olympic Style fencing before, it hadn’t appealed to me. Fencing (or rapier fighting) in the SCA is much different because you don’t fight on a strip…you can circle your opponent, you can use the hand that’s not holding the sword or even have a weapon or parry object in it. I love the freedom of it. Fighting, and fighting hard, is liberating…it uses your whole body and mind.

I also see that you’re a gardener. What do you like to grow? Does gardening give you time to think and plot your next work?

I’m an atrocious lawn-keeper, but I love to take care of herbs (I love how they smell, especially rosemary) and flowers. So, every year I ignore most of my yard (yay for living in the woods away from people!) and spend time feeding my roses, poking around my flower containers and bulbs, and sitting in the sun weeding my herbs. It’s mostly empty-head time, where I just let my thoughts wander, which is a great way to let plots unknot themselves.

You were once a cemetery caretaker. How did you wind up with that job?

Up the road a ways, I have some neighbors, and one of them needed an extra hand and saw that I didn’t have a job, so I’d go an assist him and his granddaughters. It was interesting in that it was fun to see the old tomb stones and I liked cleaning up around them…it was nice, quiet, and I was mostly left alone…and I like to horrify people with stories of him pouring gas into hornet holes and lighting them off (I always had images of zombies running around on fire) but it cemented my abhorrence of using a weed trimmer.

Imagine that you have a phone that will let you call the younger you on the day that you decided to become a writer. What advice would you give yourself?

To be patient and organize better. Everything in the publishing world takes time.

Where can people find you on the web?

The best place is www.apenandfire.com…there are links to my facebook and twitter there.

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