Cynthia Sally Haggard was born and reared in Surrey, England. About 30 years ago she surfaced in the United States, inhabiting the Mid-Atlantic region as she wound her way through four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer, and novelist.
Her first novel, Thwarted Queen a fictionalized biography of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), the mother of Richard III (whose bones were recently found under a car-park in Leicester,) was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.
Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015. When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at www.spunstories.com.
Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country.
And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.
The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.
And all of this revolves around Grace, Angelina’s younger daughter, whose fabulous talent for the violin promises a shimmering career.
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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?
I began writing fiction seriously in the Fall of 2004. At that time I was making the transition from research scientist to science writer. Realizing that my writing needed work, I brainstormed about what I could do to get away from jargonated academic prose. I decided to take classes in fiction writing. After seeing a flyer in Craig’s List, my footsteps led me to a tiny cottage in the quaint neighborhood of Bernal Heights, San Francisco. The cottage may have been shabby chic, but the teaching was amazing. I took two classes, Introduction to Fiction: You Can’t Build a House without Foundations taught by Junse Kim, and Introduction to the Novel, taught by Otis Haschemeyer, a Stegner Fellow. Otis opened his class by telling us that we had to produce the first five pages of our next novel. Bemused, but ever the good student, I complied. I have never looked back. I spent the next seven years writing my first novel Thwarted Queen, which I self-published in October 2011.
Do you have a day job? What do you do?
I am a landlady. Not a bad occupation for a novelist:)
Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?
- Develop a meditation practice to help you deal with the inevitable criticism you will encounter. I find that meditation helps me to keep grounded and calm even when my feelings have been hurt by someone’s unkind words.
- Approach writing as a craft. Work at it every day. Go to conferences and take classes.
- Keep an open mind. It may be that getting an agent and publishing with one of the big publishing houses is not the best way to get your work read.
What hours do you write best?
I stick to a schedule. As I am a morning person, I write in the morning, often in the local cafe. It is good to get out of the house to someplace where you can really focus.
Are you an avid reader?
I have always been a voracious reader. Whenever I wasn’t practicing my violin, I would read, often for hours.
What are you reading now?
Broken Veil by Jeff Wheeler.
What are you currently working on?
A novel set in Sicily in 831 AD. Watch this space!