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Into the Mind of an Author: Cynthia St. Aubin

Unbearable by Cynthia St. Aubin
photo courtesy of Cynthia St. Aubin

Tell us a little bit about yourself, anything you’d like your readers to know:
Hi! I’m Cynthia St. Aubin and I like gravy. It has nothing to do with the rest of my bio, but I thought you might like to know. I like to play with paranormal, mythological, and art historical characters (Vincent Van Gogh makes a great werewolf, by the way), and more than anything, I love to make my readers laugh. I live in Colorado with the love of my life and three surly cats.

What made you do decide to become an author?
I tried my hand at other things, earning a master’s degree in art history and taking a turn as a cube monkey in the corporate warren, but because the voices—er, characters—in my head kept talking to me, and they discourage drinking at work, I started writing instead. It’s my one true love (besides all things fried) and the reason I wake up with a big dopey grin on my face every morning.

Who are your favorite authors, and how have they influenced your writing?
There are so many! Thomas Harris, Barbara Kingsolver, Janet Evanovich, Maya Angelou, Oscar Wilde, Ann Rice, Erma Bombeck, and Stephen King, just to name way more than a few. They each represent something I love about the written word, and I like to think that informs how I approach my own stories—whether it be artful prose, irreverent humor, snarky satire, or emotionally compelling characters.

Where can we find you online?
I love stalkers! Feel free to check me out at any of the links below. Or you could probably follow the trail of doughnut crumbs. ;)
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Amazon Author Page:

Tell us about your book!
The series I write is about Matilda Schmidt, a psychologist who gets roped into counseling paranormal characters dealing with the woes of living in a human world. Whether it’s a dysfunctional love god, a leprechaun with dissociative identity disorder, or a suicidal Easter bunny, she’s on the case! My most recent release, Unbearable (coming to Amazon July 18th), follows the good doctor as she tries to sort out three shape-shifting bear brothers who are hunting Goldy Locks, a porn star. Of course, she has a hot hit man and a delicious demigod ready to help her in any way possible. ;)

Everyone has their idiosyncrasies, what’s yours?
I’m pretty much a walking idiosyncrasy! I talk to myself constantly (in the voices of my characters, on occasion), eat my meals standing in front of the fridge, act out scenes before I write them, make sock puppets in my spare time, and sing my own theme music on occasion. I have a long history of random hobbies, including but not limited to: knitting, roller derby, belly dancing, and gourmet cookery. I love burnt food (popcorn, toast, etc.) and I’m a little obsessed with unicorns.

What’s your favorite book turned movie and why?
Just because I’m such a shameless Thomas Harris fangirl, I have to go with Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins did an exquisite job of bringing to life one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read. A close second would be The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Both the book and the movie vividly render the kind of childhood wonder I still search for in my own writing—a world where shine hasn’t worn off.

What’s your favorite genre to read?
I would have to say literary fiction, as that represents a significant chunk of the books you would find on my shelf. Though, I’m a sucker for anything that makes me feel, so the books that make up the rest of my collection vary widely—everything from biographies to poetry. I’m a little bit of a squirrel, and tend to genre hop several times in any given trip to the bookstore.

Which do you do more, read or write, and why?
I write more than I read mostly out of necessity. If I meet my word count goals and deadlines for the day, reading is my treat. That, and something fried and/or dipped in chocolate.

What is your writing process like, and what’s your favorite part of it?
My favorite part of the writing process is when the story takes on a life of its own, and the characters just start talking in my head. The whole writing process goes something like this: 1. Get idea. 2. Write idea on random piece of paper. 3. Lose random piece of paper. 4. Swear a lot. 5. Remember idea and write it longhand in a notebook. 6. Figure out where idea fits in a story and start outlining. 6. Get really excited and start writing story. 7. Remember that I don’t know what needs to happen next and return to outline. 8. Get stuck, and make hubby help me plot over a plate of sushi. 9. Collapse on the couch in a sushi coma. 10. Wake up in the middle of the night with characters chattering in my head. 11. Sit in the writing cave and burn for ten hours straight. 12. Remember that I’m still in my pajamas and wander off in search of coffee.

Has your work been featured anywhere?
Dysfunctional, the first Matilda Schmidt Paranormal Trilogy was recent awarded five out of five stars by a Reader’s Favorite reviewer, which was definitely exciting for me. Writing is a pretty solitary pursuit sometimes, so that kind of validation really helps cement your efforts.

What are you working on now?
Right now, it’s all about Unassailable—novella six in the Matilda Schmidt, Paranormal Psychologist series. In this adventure, Dr. Schmidt finds herself up against a pants-less ghost pirate with some unfinished business to attend to. At the same time, I’m outlining books seven, eight and nine in Matilda’s series. Thomas Harris excellently described this process when he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that as writers we don’t really make anything up. We start with what we can see, and then have to discover what came before, and what happens after. I’m at the point in Matilda’s series where both are becoming clear.

What's next for you?
There are nine novellas total in the Matilda Schmidt series, and the one is scheduled to be released in December. I’m also cooperating with a couple groups of talented authors on anthology projects that will be released this October and early next spring. Next year, I will be focused on releasing three full-length novels I’ve been working on over the course of the last four years. Like my current work, they blend paranormal characters with lots of laugh-out-loud fun and book boyfriend-worthy heroes.

Where do you see yourself in five years--in a literary sense?
Oddly enough, I hope to be doing the same thing in five years that I’m doing now: writing the stories I love and enjoying meeting new readers and friends. Hearing that my writing made someone laugh hard enough to get kicked out of bed is like a gift for me, and what inspires me to get out of bed every day and give readers the best experience possible. With that said, I love learning, and want to refine and hone my craft at every opportunity. I would hope that the work I’m putting out five years from now represent the living and growing that time has brought me.

What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring author?
Putting my work out into the real world has been such a learning experience for me. What follows is just a few of the lessons this process has brought me. Take what’s useful to you and leave the rest. Write the story that you love. Let it be something that you’re passionate about and willing to fight for. Speaking of fights, be ready for one. You’re going to have to be your own biggest fan, your most ardent supporter, and at times, your own cheerleader. You have to be willing to believe in your dream when no one else does, and that can be a real challenge. Do study the craft. Even if that means ordering discount grammar and style books on Amazon. Find a critique group and listen to criticism when it comes. Be willing to find out where there’s room for improvement in your work. Look at authors whose careers you admire and learn from them. Make friends in the writing community and be supportive. That support finds its way back to you when it’s your turn to put yourself out there. Don’t compare your first drafts to anyone else’s finished product. Finally, put your ass in the chair.

About Cynthia St. Aubin:
Cynthia St. Aubin wrote her first play at age eight and made her brothers perform it for the admission price of gum wrappers. A steal, considering she provided the wrappers in advance. Though her early work debuted to mixed reviews, she never quite gave up on the writing thing, even while earning a mostly useless master's degree in art history and taking her turn as a cube monkey in the corporate warren.
Because the voices in her head kept talking to her, and they discourage drinking at work, she started writing instead. When she's not standing in front of the fridge eating cheese, she's hard at work figuring out which mythological, art historical, or paranormal friends to play with next. She lives in Colorado with the love of her life and three surly cats.

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