My guest today on Awesome Authors is the inimitable Lynne Cantwell. Lynne’s a fellow minion from Indies Unlimited and writes urban fantasy. Her latest works are The Pipe Woman Chronicles 5-book series and I
have to say that even though urban fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, I thoroughly enjoyed Seized, the first book in the series. So much so that I’ve downloaded the rest and plan to read them soon. Here’s her bio:
Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. In addition to writing fantasy, Lynne is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited. Her vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She currently lives near Washington, DC.
D: Welcome, Lynne! Thanks for stopping by. Please tell us a little about yourself.
L: Thanks for having me, D.V.! Umm, let’s see, fun facts to know and tell: I’ve got two twentysomething daughters, one of whom writes fanfiction and has more fans than I do. Howard Dean once called me from a humvee in the middle of a Vermont ice storm. But my most recent claim to fame is that I’ve been to all 50 states in the U.S.; I nailed the last one, Alaska, in May.
D: That’s fantastic! Congratulations 🙂 You’ve just completed the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Could you tell us the idea behind this five-book series? Is there an underlying theme?
L: Maybe the underlying theme is respect. I have a lot of trouble personally with the knee-jerk Good vs. Evil dichotomy that is ingrained in Western thought. I think a lot of the world’s problems would be easier to solve if we didn’t keep demonizing people whose appearance and/or beliefs are different from our own. So I deliberately didn’t put any characters into the series who personify Evil; everybody’s got a credible reason for doing what they do. And there are no perfectly Good characters, either; sometimes even the gods screw up. Yet the gods, unlike humans, all respect one another.
D: Why did you decide to write urban fantasy?
L: Back in 2011, when I was casting about for a plot for National Novel Writing Month, a friend who was into urban fantasy began passing along her used paperbacks to me. After I read a number of books in the genre, I decided to try my hand at writing my own. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!
D: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
L: Hmm. Define “author.” I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I wrote my first book when I was in the second grade (not that I’d advise anyone to read it!). And over the years, I tried, off and on, to get an agent or sell my short stories. But getting a novel published has always been on my bucket list.
D: Why did you choose indie publishing instead of going the traditional route?
L: My first novel, The Maidens’ War, was published in 2010 by a small press called Calderwood Books. When I had SwanSong ready to go, Calderwood had not yet started listing its books on Amazon, which was a marketplace I very much wanted to be in. So I figured out how to do it myself, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been an indie ever since.
D: What are you working on now?
L: I’m just starting to work on a trilogy that will be set in the same fictional universe as the Pipe Woman Chronicles. It will take place about ten years after the end of Annealed, mostly with new characters.
D: Another great set of books to read 🙂 Where do you see yourself (and indie publishing) in five years?
L: Last year, I put myself on a seven-year plan: I’ll be eligible for early retirement in 2019, but I can quit sooner if I get to the point where I’m supporting myself with my book sales. Fingers crossed!
As for the future of indie publishing, it’s hard to tell where we’re headed. The marketplace has such a Wild West feeling to it right now. I think big trad publishers are doing their best to implode, whether they realize it or not; the question is whether Amazon will continue to support indies, and whether someone else will come along to encourage them to keep doing it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an Amazon hater – not by a long shot. But it would be comforting to have another company that treats indies as well as Amazon does, both to give them some competition, and to give us somewhere else to go if the Zon decides to go in a different direction.
D: What’s your favorite genre to read?
L: Fantasy. I’m pretty much over the sword-and-sorcery and coming-of-age stuff, though. My favorite author is Stephen R. Donaldson, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the tenth and final book in his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever this fall. I also enjoyed Steven Erickson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And I love Graham Joyce, whose books seem to tread a fine line between fantasy and psychological horror.
D: If you could time-travel (backward or forward) where would you go and why?
L: I’ve always been intrigued by the medieval period and the Renaissance – everything from the clothing to the music. But I wouldn’t want to live there forever. With my luck, if I got stuck there, I’d be scrubbing pots in the scullery instead of sewing fine seams with the ladies.
D: What do you do when you’re not writing?
L: Other than the day job? I read, I knit, and I spend way too much time on Facebook. Sometimes I remember to go to bed.
D: Do you have any advice for new writers?
L: Stick at it! Keep writing. Then let your work sit for a few weeks, and go back and edit it. When you think you’re ready to publish, get yourself an editor – or at least some beta readers who know something about grammar, spelling, and story development, and will be honest with you about your work. In other words, when your mother tells you your book is terrific, don’t just take her word for it. Oh, and visit Indies Unlimited, where you’ll find a wealth of good advice for indie authors. (I had to get the plug in, or the Evil Mastermind would short me on gruel. You know how he gets.)
D: LOL. Yes, yes I do. Thanks again for stopping by, Lynne.
(Lynne’s information and buy links for the books are below the excerpt.)
Excerpt from Seized: Book One of the Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell:
Shannon lived in a triplex north of Sloan’s Lake, only ten minutes or so from my loft in LoDo (the nickname for Denver’s trendy, if I do say so myself, Lower Downtown neighborhood). It was a Wednesday night so traffic should have been light, but the bars were closing and the crowd was clogging up the streets. Working my ginger Nissan Cube free of LoDo at last, I pulled up behind a car that was sitting at a stop sign…and sitting…and sitting. No traffic was coming in either direction that I could see, and my earlier ebullient mood was evaporating by the second. Finally, in frustration, I cried out, “Just go, already!”
The car ahead leaped into the intersection. A horn blared as another car shot into my range of vision from the left, narrowly missing the first car. As the driver on the cross street flew by, still honking, the other driver rocked to a halt on the other side of the intersection and just sat there.
I realized my hand was covering my mouth. I pulled it away with an effort and sat for a moment, glancing between the flaring brake lights across the road and my hands trembling on the steering wheel. Finally, the other car’s brake lights went out and he, or she, drove away. Slowly and carefully, I did the same.
Shannon met me at the door, her grin dissolving into a look of concern. She snatched the cookies as if she was afraid I would drop them, then took my coat and steered me to the wicker loveseat. An opened novel sat, flipped over, on the coffee table, atop a pile of papers. She removed the aluminum foil covering the cookies and set chamomile teabags to steep in two mugs with a matching Navajo design. Then, finally, she said, “What happened?”
I told her. About the other driver, and about the settlements.
As I talked, my brain began clicking things into place. It wasn’t just that I was getting really good at my job – it was too easy. People were far too suggestible around me. The client had told Perry that I had a magic touch. That he couldn’t help agreeing with everything I said.
I could tell someone to get out of my way at an intersection, even if it put that person in danger.
“Something weird is going on,” I finished, rather lamely.
“Yes, it is,” Shannon agreed.
Purchase the Pipe Woman Chronicles:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lynnecantwell
Calderwood Books author page: http://www.calderwoodbooks.com/#/lynne-cantwell/4526227421