Welcome! Cynthia Toney is here to discuss her new release, Bird Face. It’s a heartfelt, impactful story for middle grade kids.
Hi Cynthia. Thanks for visiting today. Let’s start with a bit about your journey to salvation.
I always believed in Jesus Christ, but my immediate family didn’t read the Bible, that I was aware of, at least not around me. Sadly, I was ignorant about many teachings that would’ve helped me along in life. It wasn’t until I searched out and found a Bible study group, actually outside the religion I grew up with, that I felt at peace.
I’m always fascinated by the many ways God speaks to us. For me, Christian speculative fiction opened my eyes to His truth and is my favorite genre as a result. What is your favorite genre to read? Write?
For both reading and writing, that would be Middle Grade to Young Adult, in which the protagonist is between the ages of 12 and 15. Young people that age are smart and funny, most maintaining an innocence and hope that anything is possible in spite of their circumstances.
Who does your intended audience include? Believers and nonbelievers? In what ways do you believe your story reaches each?
My intended audience is kids between the ages of 10 and 14 (grades 5 through 8), particularly girls, any adults who care about them, and adult females who troubling middle-school years. I hope the story draws readers of numerous faiths and perhaps no faith. Although Wendy is a Christian—Catholic, specifically—she is a kid facing problems and challenges like most other kids.
Middle grade kids certainly compose an impressionable age group. I admire your reasons for writing. How long did it take you to write Bird Face?
It took more than a decade because I stopped a couple of times for long periods—years, actually–due to jobs and moving. At one point, I’d lost my computer files, but my husband recovered an old version of the manuscript on a disc he had. God bless him for being a packrat.
My husband probably wishes I’d gain a respect for his ability to, ah, collect miscellaneous items. LOL! Tell me a bit about your main characters. Who did you have the most fun creating? Why?
The main characters are Wendy, Jennifer, John-Monster, and Tookie. But I had the most fun developing Gayle, a minority character who started out minor but became more important at the end. I plan for her to be a major character if I write a sequel.
Introduce us to your villain. Is there a flicker of good within him/her?
There is a sympathetic aspect to John-Monster. I don’t want to give away too much of the story by revealing more (smile).
After reading Bird Face, I completely agree–there is a sympathetic aspect to John-Monster. As I read, I often wondered what his life was like behind the scenes. What message do you hope your readers will take away after reading your novel?
That kids have the power within themselves to change some things in order to make their lives better. God gives everyone that power, and I hope adults help them recognize that.
Excellent point! What do you consider the most impactful: the beginning or end of your book? Why?
Oh, the end, for sure. Those last few chapters are full of surprises.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? The worst?
The best piece of advice I’ve received is not to filter the POV (point of view) by using phrases like “she saw.” Just state what she saw. “The man wore a black hat” rather than “She saw a man who wore a black hat.”
Agreed. I’ve received a lot of writing advice (most of it very much needed) and not filtering the POV was definitely one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve received thus far.
Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks—until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something. But the Spring Program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her?
BIRD FACE addresses issues of divorce, eating disorders, and teen suicide, but in a manner appropriate for grades 5 through 8, ages 10 – 14.
Cynthia began her first novel while working as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter. She has a passion for rescuing dogs and studying the history of the South, where she resides with her husband and as many dogs as space will allow. Follow her at http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com/, http://thescriblerians.wordpress.com, https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy?ref=hl, and on Twitter @CynthiaTToney.
As always, thank you for hithering an adventuring to another world with me. Please visit again next for a guest post by G.E. Hamlin, author of Marriage Takes Three.