Tuesday, March 27, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Cyndy Etler

Hello TBF readers!

TBF is a little more than a month and a half away! I am SO excited! What about you? I chatted with Cyndy Etler, the author of THE DEAD INSIDE. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: After reading THE DEAD INSIDE, readers are left speechless because everything in the novel is real--this is a memoir. What do you hope readers will take away from your experience?

Cyndy Etler: This is my favorite question ever, because it lets me put my life purpose on blast. My life purpose is this: to make everyone understand that the kids they think are “bad” are actually broken, and craving love. Show me a kid who’s always kicked out of class, who needs to smoke weed before school, who acts like a slut, and I’ll show you a kid who isn’t getting the love they need at home or amongst their peers. It’s that simple. But instead of caring and figuring out how to meet these kids’ needs, we judge and punish them. We see only the behavior, not what lies underneath it.

So, back to the question: I hope people who read The Dead Inside will have an experience of being that broken teen. That they’ll immerse themselves in my story to the point that they feel the fear of the abused child, the thrill of escape with “druggie friends” and risky behaviors, and the gut-wrenching, inescapable horror of being locked up in an abusive facility. My deepest hope is that, when readers experience that cause and effect for themselves, they’ll develop a deep empathy for struggling kids. End result? We’ll stop punishing “bad” kids, and start caring about them, instead.

Miranda Reads: What are the strengths to writing memoirs?

Cyndy Etler: Memoir writing is self-inflicted therapy. I’m serious. What do you do in therapy? You shell out a bunch of money, you sit down, and you barf out your most heinous memories. You get it all out of your brain, so you can start from scratch.

What do you do to write memoir? You shell out a little money for good pens and notebooks, you sit down, and you scrawl out your most heinous memories. You get it all out of your brain, so you can start from scratch.

That’s how it’s worked for me. When I’m writing, I go back in time and relive the scenes I’m writing about. I sob, I shake, my hair falls out in stress-clumps. Not kidding. But then? When I’m done? The scaries don’t live in my brain anymore. They live on the page. And then? When people read my books?

They write me emails to say they love and relate to my story. Which fills that need I talked about in question one, the need that makes kids act bad in the first place.

So to answer the question: the strength of writing memoir is that it earns you love from readers. And not even high-zoot, super-pricey therapy gets you that.

Miranda Reads: Do you have a favorite snack or drink when you write? If so, what is it?

Coffee, baby. Coffee, coffee, coffee. When I’m in writing mode, I’m also in get-up-at-4:30-in-the-morning mode. Because 4:30 A.M. is when the world doesn’t exist. It’s when there are no distracting dogs or husbands who say, “Come out and play.” It’s when the creative brain can scream down a deserted country road on its turbo Harley Davidson. But 4:30 A.M. is also 4:30 A.M. And so, coffee.

Cyndy Etler: What was the last book that made you cry?

The Panopticon, by Jenni Fagan. Have you people read that book? Oh, my God. It’s about this girl, Anais, who’s been in foster care since birth. Twenty-three placements before she turned seven. She’s accused of putting a policewoman in a coma, and though she’s pretty sure she didn’t do it, she can’t…quite…remember. Because the drugs, right?

The book takes place in Scotland, so there are all these luscious Scottish terms for you to figure out, like “didnae” (didn’t) and “cannae” (can’t) and “wee” (tiny). Anais is tough and broken and honest and hopeful. She sees the tiny glittery flecks in the concrete prison floor. She only has herself, but maybe that’s enough.

I’ve never loved a character harder than I love Anais, but damn. She’s a heartbreaker.

Miranda Reads: Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?

Cyndy Etler: I’m psyched to in-person meet Gloria Chao. She let me read part of American Panda before it was signed, and kid, let me tell you: this girl has funny, and she knows how to use it. Give me an author who mixes self-deprecating humor with social satire and cultural observation and an author’s note that goes, “I used the pinyin system for the Mandarin words because it is the most widely known Romanization system,” and I’m a ride-or-die fan. Funny + humble + brilliant = swoon.

Thank you so much, Cyndy! We can't wait to meet you in Rochester!

You can purchase Cyndy's book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or you can check out her books at your local library.

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interview, book reviews, and fun posts!


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