Our first interview on Cool Kids Read is with Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and her most recent book The Dragon Heir. This is a wonderful fantasy YA series. I've read the first two and am reading the third and I highly recommend them, especially for the young teenage boys on your Christmas list!
Ms. Chima was kind enough to grant me an interview, and here's what she had to say:
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I wrote a poem in fifth grade that was framed and posted up at the science fair, and I was totally taken with the notoriety. In junior high school, I began writing romances starring me and all my friends. I wrote constantly through junior high and high school, but got away from it when I was in college and working full time. A few years ago I got serious about my writing again and began publishing newspaper and magazine articles on a regular basis.
Q: You are a big Lord of the Rings fan -- so why did you start out writing romance?
A: At the time I was writing romances, I hadn't read Lord of the Rings! I didn't read that until I was in college. I remember staying up until 2 a.m., trembling in my bed, scared of those Black Riders. And then I said to myself, How did he do that (Tolkien)? I mean, this is MADE UP!
These days, I read a wide variety of books, not only fantasy, but mainstream, YA, thrillers, romances, nonfiction. I think that's how you grow as a writer.
Q: What inspired the idea for The Warrior Heir?
A: I loved reading fantasy. When my sons were 13 and 16, I decided to write something that they might like to read. I wanted to write a truly American contemporary fantasy, that would seem possible in any high school in the U.S. I love the notion that there may be magically gifted people all around us and we don't know it.
Q: Of all the characters in the trilogy, which is your favorite to write?
A: Thats a tough one, that's like choosing among my children. I love Jason, which surprises many people, but he's such a bad boy, but vulnerable and has such a need to prove himself. Seph is complicated-cynical and worldly, but always expecting too much of himself. And Madison has so many qualities I wish I had. Ellen is so uncomplicated and direct. You see? Love them all!!!
Q: You recently wrote in your blog about the differences between movies and books and the interaction between the audience and the story. Is a film version of The Warrior Heir in the works?
A: A subagent is repping the film rights, but we're still waiting for someone to show us the money!
Q: Who were your biggest writing influences growing up?
A: My mother was a major influence, because she came from a family of storytellers. She was also a great reader; we brought armloads of books home from the library. As a teen, I think pain and heartbreak were my muses, because my writing always reflected that. In my opinion, anyone who thinks the teenage years are carefree should not be writing for teens.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your new writing project?
A: The Heir Chronicles are classed as urban fantasies, though they're set in a contemporary Midwestern small town. The new Demon King trilogy is a high fantasy, in a traditional medieval setting. The viewpoint characters are a semi-reformed street gang leader and a rebellious princess. I'm really excited about it. The first book, The Demon King, will be out October 20, 2009 and the first chapter is posted on my website http://cindachima.com/Projects/current%20projects.htm
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: I often hear from (mostly) young writers, asking advice on how to be successful writers. I think to succeed in this game, you have to love the process of writing so much that you will continue to do it in the face of rejection and disappointment. You have to love it so much that you will do it whether you ever are published or not.