To life!

Posts Tagged ‘fun things

Today, I’m pleased to interview YA novelist, CINDY PON, whose debut novel, SILVER PHOENIX,  is Booklist Editor’s Choice for YA readers, and made the New York Public Library’s list of ‘Stuff for the Teen Age’. We also share an agent, the wonderful Bill Contardi of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents. 


BISI: Welcome, Cindy, and thank you for being here.

CINDY: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Bisi!

BISI: I’ve lots of questions. Many writers start off wanting to write a particular book and end up writing another. What was it like writing Silver Phoenix? Was that the story you always wanted to tell?

CINDY:  I simply knew I wanted a heroine’s journey inspired by ancient China as a setting and folklore for fantasy.

BISI: Could you describe the writing process? Were there times when you wanted to give up?

CINDY: Silver Phoenix was the first novel I had ever written, and this, after a more than decade long hiatus from creative writing. As a teen and very infrequently in college, I solely wrote poetry and short stories.

I gave up on Silver Phoenix after I hit about forty pages and [SPOILER] the attempted rape scene. I had no idea how to write a novel. And all I could think was, I have more than two hundred pages to write! It was *very* daunting. I left the manuscript for six months! And it wasn’t until I took a novel writing class and participated in nano writing month 2006 that I broke through The Dreaded Middle barrier. I wrote 35k in a month (not all good words, but words, nonetheless) and realized yes, I could write an entire novel. I kept going because I wanted Ai Ling’s story to be told!

BISI: I’m sure the querying process was tense. How long did it take you to find agent Bill?

CINDY: I queried 121 agents in four months and probably received over 100 rejections.

BISI: 121 agents! I don’t know how you managed not to quit. Back to the story itself. What I love about your work is its seductive nature. I’m not a fan of fantasy, and yet from the prologue, I was hooked. Part of the reason I don’t like fantasy is because a wonderful writer can draw you into a world of magic, intrigue and heart-stopping adventure. I find myself dreaming of the characters. That’s what you did to me. Were there times when you inhabited the worlds you created, and how were you able to keep yourself grounded?

CINDY: What a fantastic question. I’m NOT the type of writer that writes all the time. In fact, I can have a good six months or more between novels. A lot of my writing time is actually spent researching and daydreaming scenes, conversations, interactions from my novel. I think about it long enough then try and convey the little film in my head with words onto the page.

I suppose I am grounded by my five and six-year-olds. They need to be fed and washed on a fairly regular basis. =) But when I’m writing and researching, I’m daydreaming and spaced-out A LOT. It’s the best part of being immersed in your own story.

BISI: In Ghana, the spirit world is very much a part of our belief-system, so much of the transcendental experience was familiar to me. How much of the supernatural is folklore?

CINDY: That is so fascinating. I’d love to hear more about that, Bisi. Will you do a post? =)

BISI: (laughing) I will!

CINDY: The idea of the soul and reincarnation, of karma is definitely part of Chinese beliefs. As for the monsters, demons and folklore, it is an amalgam of the true (like the snake demon) and the made-up by me (the corpse monster).

BISI: I was fascinated by idea of implicit sex as life force, a source of power. Is it cultural? How did you come by the three-breasted women? 

CINDY:  I’m not sure if it’s a source of power or a source of burden. From the beginning, Ai Ling knew her place in life was to breed, basically, and produce heirs for her parents and her future husband’s family. I made it so the climax was about her accepting her role and using it to defeat her enemy.

The three-breasted woman was just something I made up in keeping with the idea of the snake demon–the Chinese version of the succubi.

BISI: How interesting! To what extent do you identify with your protagonist?

CINDY: I identify with Ai Ling very easily. She has some of my own traits like loving food, and she is also a brush painter. Unlike me, she is rash and also, I think, much braver than I could ever be.

BISI: Have you finished the sequel? The way Silver Phoenix ended lends itself to a fabulous sequel full of fresh adventures and I for one can’t wait.

CINDY: I’m currently revising the sequel with my editor. I’m really proud of it and excited for the world to read Fury of the Phoenix. It is different than Silver Phoenix. The demons and conflicts are much more internal now, the stories more personal and character driven. Fury will be released in April 2011!

BISI: That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to read it. I hope I get the ending I’m yearning for! Thank you so much for visiting today. One last question: Is there a movie option for Silver Phoenix?

CINDY:  Agent Bill has pitched Silver Phoenix to several film producers. Unfortunately, it hasn’t stuck yet. I’m hoping one day–an author can dream. I know I’m biased, but I do think that Silver Phoenix lends itself very well to cinema.

BISI: I most certainly agree. I love Mulan, but Silver Phoenix makes Mulan look very tame. Well, it’s been most entertaining and informative chatting with you, thanks!

CINDY: A pleasure!


For more of Cindy Pon, visit her website at






Okay, so it wasn’t a romantic trip, but it was lovely doing the Notebook thing with Tolu and his friends on his birthday. We cannoed on the river and then had a very yummy dinner.   

Bright and the lovely Sonya who has all the boys a-flutter 🙂

Tolu and Dennis




We glided to this tiny island that was full of birds,–those are the white flecks in the trees. Unfortunately, unlike the swans Noah found in The Notebook, the birds never let me get close enough to take great shots. Still, it was a beautiful sight, all those spotless white birds flying over the water and around us.



Interesting wall motif at the Golden Tulip

More of the Golden Tulip. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a swim now!!

                                             At night time, there’s nothing like dancing by the pool, under the moonlight while a live band plays. Of course I did that with my sister and a bunch of kids, but still, it was wonderful.