- How do you define success?
Success as it relates to my writing is knowing that true events in my life melded with prose well enough to make an interesting story, which can have an impact on someone I have never met.
- How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
When I finish a book, I sigh with relief, as I am finally able to take it off my to-do list, at least for maybe a month, before I have to rev up for the annoying public relations steps that must be done. The question really should be: When is a book ever completed?
- What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I fervently hope that with this book, “Shunned,” readers will become aware of the enormous issues that may come with being a drug-based society. I also want them to see that shunning others can occur on both sides of this politically correct society in which we live.
- Describe your book in five words.
Fast-paced; a thriller; a murder mystery; muckraking.
- Where is your favorite spot to write?
I am most comfortable writing on a chaise lounge in my bedroom. I sit there with a legal pad and pens and write in longhand. That is, of course, before I put the handwritten notes of the first draft into the computer. Sitting at a desk just wouldn’t do it for me.
- What do you enjoy the most about writing?
Telling about something real through my fiction. These two words sound like opposites, but they are not. For example, I wrote “Apache Courage,” another novel of mine, which took place on an Indian reservation, because I had worked on that reservation. I loved to take the basis of that true event from my life and fit it into my own prose style.
- How did you know you should become an author?
I can’t remember not wanting to write something. I still have a poem I wrote when I was six. It is a little repetitive, but it still expresses what I feel today. My mother was always quoting Shakespeare and reciting poems. I absorbed it without realizing it. I think I wanted to write because she admired good writers so much, especially after she had consumed a couple of bourbons!
- What books do you love that don’t get a lot of hype?
“Shunned” was written after I re-read Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter” and Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” It wasn’t copied from those two classics, but they gave me ideas to use as vehicles for my story. I wish people would read the treasures of the past and quit putting down an English literature major in college as a waste of time. Sheer ignorance, I believe.
- What makes your novel stand out from a crowd?
I write simply with no loose ends. Everything ties up at the end. The stories are fast-paced, I always write stories that I have in some way experienced. In “Shunned,” for example, my own son suffered from the terrible withdrawals associated with getting off antidepressants.
- How do you go about revising and editing?
My four books – except for the book of poems, of course – have all turned out to be about 250 to 300 pages. I didn’t plan it; I just felt the stories were finished when there was nothing else to say that wouldn’t be redundant. As far as editing, I usually read the manuscript as soon as I print it off the computer. I read it three or four times, leaving some time between each read. Next, someone in my family reads it, particularly to see if the plot makes sense. A printer once told me that one can never find all the typos, so I don’t worry too much about that part.
Amos, a small town minister in New England, is horrified. His wife Carrie has been jailed for vandalism against Jett Pharmaceuticals, her retaliation for their son John's death by a drug overdose. Amos's own reaction to his son's death is to speak prophetically on Hell and punishment through preaching and conducting public meetings. Public reaction is fierce and unforgiving against the couple Released from jail, Carrie forms a group, including skeptic Allan, CEO of Jett, to expose harms caused by antidepressants. She also confronts Dr. Monroe, John's university counselor, who engineered the boy's death. He is infuriated and threatened by Carrie. Monroe schemes to punish Carrie by killing Amos, arranging for him to come to his office to retrieve John's falsified records, that state that their son's death was caused by the parents' fundamentalist lifestyle. Carrie, devastated at her husband's death, puts roses in her dead husband's hands at the funeral, as he had done for her outside the jail upon her release. Monroe sends his grossly obese wife Nellie on a cruise, but she confronts him about Amos's death upon her return. He decides to kill her also, planning the murder with delight and great precision. Meanwhile, Carrie learns that Nellie may have information to sell regarding Amos's murder. Allan, now a suspect in Amos's death, decides to approach Nellie himself. He drives to the house, followed by the police. He hears screams within the house. Nellie has Monroe in a death grip. The police arrive. Allan is exonerated. Monroe becomes psychotic, now locked in a mental institution. Carrie and Allan remain friends. Old Mrs. Robbins, the town's eccentric, hands Carrie a rose. The cycle is complete, she says. Carrie understands. She tells Allan he has to reread Hawthorne to understand.
Shunned's roots lie in The Scarlet Letter and Sinclair's The Jungle, a model for muckraking against the powerful antidepressant industry.
Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of Shunned:Outcasts in the Land to give away.
Giveaway open to residents of the US only.
Giveaway ends on October 5th
Winner will have 48 hours, from the time of notification to confirm their win or another winner will be chosen.
Cynthia Hearne Darling has an English degree from the College of William and Mary and master's degrees in social work and public administration. She has worked for the federal government in mental institutions, Indian reservations and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She says it was sometimes hard to tell one agency from another, but she preferred the Indian reservation. It was against this bureaucratic background that her love of writing was reinforced, because of the complete freedom it gave her. She has published Forty-Nine Poems, Shunned:Outcasts in the Land, and she has almost completed Georgetown Journeys, a novel taking place from the 1960's to the present.