Meet Debut Novelist Cecilia Grant

Cecilia Grant always knew she’d do something with that English degree. After waiting tables, composing software Help files, and answering the carpool-lane-violators hotline, she’s delighted to be writing stories.

Cecilia’s Regency-set historical, A Lady Awakened, sold to Bantam in a two-book deal and is due for release in 2011.

Seattle, Washington is home, where Cecilia lives with her fellow-writer husband, two bookish children, and intermittently amicable cat and dog. By day, she works part time in a low-level information technology position and says, “I am about as unskilled as an IT professional can be and still be an IT professional.”

When she’s not immersed in the world of Regency England, Cecilia enjoys listening to baseball on the radio and playing in her family’s annual fantasy-baseball league, where she usually finishes dead last. She gardens, grudgingly, because she hates the work but loves homegrown vegetables. And she collects coins, any coins older than she is, and says, “You don’t want to be in line behind me at the Starbucks, waiting while I squint at the date on each nickel before handing it over.”

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I asked Cecilia what virtual delight she’d like to serve her visitors, and here’s what she’s offering. Although I never developed a taste for coffee, I think she and OC-me would get along just fine. See for yourselves . . . 🙂

We’ll have my favorite writing-fuel drink: tall nonfat mocha from Starbucks. Very important: the drinking hole on the cup-lid must align with the exact middle of the mermaid logo on the cup, which in turn must be covered by the mermaid logo on the cardboard sleeve, if you’re using a cardboard sleeve. I can’t enjoy a Starbucks drink unless everything’s lined up.

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Cecilia’s Journey Begins

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•Many writers’ earliest efforts date back to childhood. Is that true for you?

Not quite!  I came to writing pretty late, and by a roundabout path.

About fifteen years ago a friend was starting a writing group and asked me to join. I had no idea what I might write — though I had an English degree and was an avid lifelong reader, my output had been confined to school assignments, letters to friends, and a few overwrought teenage diaries — but I liked the idea of seeing this friend more often, so I said yes.

She, it developed, was writing something called Regency romance. I’d never heard of Regency romance, but I decided I’d write it too. I mean, I’d studied Austen, Thackeray, Dickens, Eliot, and all three Brontë sisters, so I was thoroughly equipped to write a love story set in 19th-century England, right?

Right. I borrowed a bunch of her books, studied the conventions, thought up a story, knocked out a few chapters, and — deep breath as I admit this — entered it in the RWA Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest. To this day I cringe when I imagine those poor judges confronted with my dialogue tags, my glaring ignorance of history, and my shambles of a synopsis. Their critiques were polite but frank. I shoved the few chapters in the back of a cupboard and looked for other hobbies.

Fast-forward a few years to where I reconnected with another old friend and told her about my misadventures in romance-writing. She demanded to see what I’d written and then pestered me to finish, just because she wanted to know what happened next. And is there anything more intoxicating to a writer than a reader who wants to know what happens next? Suddenly my story had a raison d’être, and suddenly I had a reason to make it as good as I could:  to make the plot stronger, to get the historical details right, to figure out what I was supposed to use instead of dialogue tags.

It took a long time. That book I’d started back in 1995 wasn’t finished until 2006. But somewhere along the way I fell for my characters, fell for the genre, and realized that this was something I’d do even without a reader to pester me for more. When my book was done I entered it in another contest, and finaled. And I was hooked for keeps.

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Cecilia’s Milestones

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•You’re awaiting the thrill of seeing your book on the shelves. I’m sure it would be fun to see it in Oprah’s hand while you sit on her couch and discuss it, but you’ve already had the joy of seeing your work before the public. Please tell us about your first published piece, one that was seen all around town.

That would be my bus poem :-). The transit agency in the city where I live occasionally fulfills their public-art obligation by running poetry contests and displaying the winning poems on placards inside the bus, up where the ads usually go. (Sherman Alexie was among the bus poets, way back when.) I hadn’t written poetry since college but I love contests, so a few years back I sent in a poem and they picked it. I have the placard on my wall now, next to the desk where I write.

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•Your stories got you attention—and a first place—in some contests. What role did these successes play in getting you to where you are today? And, I gotta know. Did you laugh, cry, or sigh when you received the good news from the contest coordinators? Or are you more the happy dancing, shriek your lungs out type?

I owe much to the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary contest. That’s where I finaled in 2007 with my first finished book. Later I entered an early version of A Lady Awakened and didn’t final, but I got some tremendously useful feedback on what wasn’t working. I re-wrote, re-entered, and won the Romance category, which meant I got to go to a reception with all the editors and agents at the conference, and pitch with a First Place ribbon hanging from my nametag – the only way to pitch, if you ask me!

As to celebration, I’m not so much the happy-dance type as the beam-hard-enough-to-power-a-city-block type. I do remember though that when they announced me as the winner, I threw my hands up to chin level and gasped out loud like someone in a cartoon.

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•Even bigger news came your way this past winter when you received an offer of representation. What was your reaction to The Agent Call, and how did it come about? Did she take one look at your work and send it out, or did you have to tweak it a bit?

Among the agents I pitched to at PNWA was the wonderful Emmanuelle Alspaugh. She was specifically looking for a Regency at that time, and I just got a good vibe from her, so I sent her my MS, fingers crossed, before sending to anyone else.

On November 9 there was an email from her in my in-box, and my heart sank at the sight.  I figured good news came by phone, and bad news by email. But I opened it, and it was asking if there was a time that day that would be convenient for a phone call. And you know when you push a beachball way underwater and then let go? That was my heart, un-sinking. We arranged the call. The news was good. She loved my book, and was sure she could sell it.

And oh, yes, there were tweaks. (Mark of a stellar agent: the ability to say “Your book is splendid; your book is awesome; now please change these two or three fundamental things about it” while sounding completely sincere and enthusiastic.) I made the changes she asked for, and right around Thanksgiving she started sending it out.

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•It’s easy to see why you call Emmanuelle wonderful. She works wonders! She’d been your agent less than a month when she had some very good news for you. I understand you weren’t home when The Call came. Waiting to talk to her must have been excruciating in the extreme. I wanna hear the whole story with all the emotion, so spill it, please.

December 4 I was having an epic lousy day at work. I’d been given a project way beyond the scope of my skills, and I felt so generally overwhelmed and incapable that I had to get away from my desk and take a walk. When I came back there was an email from my husband; the subject line was “Offer.” I clicked on the email before making the connection – it was so soon – and it said my agent had called to say I was going to be getting an offer from Bantam.

And suddenly who cared if I felt overmatched at my job? I’d sold a book! To a major New York house! That was so much cooler!

You’d think the wait would be excruciating, but it wasn’t at all. I just floated through the rest of that day in a happy haze, floated home, floated through a call with Emmanuelle, only sketchily absorbing details. Bantam. Two-book deal. Money, though by the next morning I was half-convinced I’d imagined that part. (I actually had to email her and say, “Um, did you say xx dollars total, or xx dollars for each book?”)

People always ask if I did anything special to celebrate. Yes and no.  I’d originally planned to spend that evening watching a DVD about blackjack card-counting teams, as research for my next book. And suddenly that sounded not just sensible, but special and celebratory as could be. So that’s what I did.

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•When you envision your book, what do you want to see on the front—after your name, of course?

It’s funny; as a reader I’ve never been a fan of the clinch covers, but now that I’m going to have my own book out, I want the clinchiest clinch cover they can devise, with all the standard features. Guy in an unbuttoned-but-tucked-in shirt. Lady with one hairless leg hoisted into some awkward position. Cut-off faces. The whole nine yards.

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•I know your book isn’t due out until next year, but have you received any cover quotes you’re at liberty to share?

Yes! My first cover quote comes from Mary Balogh, who says:  “A marvelous gem… I loved it!”

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Cecilia Changes Directions

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•Since you started your first story a number of years ago and set it aside, what did you discover when you finished it and turned your thoughts to publication?

When I started writing in the mid-90s, I was aiming for a Signet-style traditional Regency and trying hard to sound like Georgette Heyer. And in the ten years it took me to finish, the Regency Romance ground shifted under me. Longer books; tight-3rd-person POV; sentence fragments; detailed love scenes. I saw pretty quickly that my first book – contest final or no – would never sell, and that if I was serious about selling, I’d have to re-learn a few things.

I started a new story, with a premise that would require me to write love scenes. I put those old purple Signets back on the shelf and read as much recent historical romance as I could. Most important, I gave up trying to mimic Heyer, and figured out what voice was my own. And the result – doesn’t it always work this way? – was the book that eventually sold.

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Cecilia’s Writing Process

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•How do you go about developing your characters? What comes first: appearance, personality, quirks?

My characters often start out as reactions to something I’ve read. For instance there was a period where I happened to read a whole string of romances featuring heroines who were downright Lady Chatterley-esque in their enraptured wonder at the male anatomy. It made me want to write the opposite:  a heroine who’d look at an unclothed man and think, “Is this some kind of joke?” Then it followed that her hero needed to be someone whose whole self-concept was rooted in his appeal to women, because those two could give each other maximum grief.

Once I have a general concept for the characters, I find my way into them through dialogue. I write reams of dialogue that never makes it into the book, just to learn their rhythms, start getting glimpses into their backstory, etc. I fear this will sound pretentious, but given time the characters tell me who they are.

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•I understand dialogue is your favorite thing to write. Why is that? What would you say makes yours sparkle?

I don’t know whether my dialogue sparkles, but I find spoken communication endlessly fascinating. What people choose to tell; what they keep back. The way one character might use language strictly as a tool to convey information while another gets pleasure out of puns, turns of phrase, or the sound of his own voice. I studied theatre as well as English in college, which meant reading lots of plays, which meant seeing just how much a writer can accomplish with dialogue alone. Of the components of novel prose – dialogue, action, description, introspection, authorial commentary – I think it’s the farthest toward the “show” end of the show vs. tell spectrum, and that just appeals to me.

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•Regency readers know their stuff and demand great descriptions and historical accuracy. How do you ensure that your stories deliver?

Thank goodness for the internet.  Thank goodness for the quixotic passion of people who maintain obscure blogs devoted to things like the history of rural Sussex churches, with photos.  It turns out a foundation of Jane Austen does not prepare you for this aspect of Regency authorship (Austen spends very little time even describing what things look like) and so, honestly, I do a lot of fact-checking and a lot of biting my nails over whether I’ve recognized all the facts that need checking.

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•And now for the question I’ve been eager to ask. How do two writers occupy one house when they aren’t co-authors? What do you do when both your and your hubby are under deadline and dinner has to be fixed? Or when the words are flowing—for one of you, but not the other?

I always wonder how households work where only one person is a writer! We have a lot of differences in our philosophies and goals – he writes mainstream/literary; I write genre with a capital G; he does his drafts with a particular pen in a big unlined composition book; I write on a laptop and track my word-count progress in a spreadsheet – but if I gripe about having to throw out three days’ work because I’ve realized it’s just not right, well, he knows exactly what that feels like.

That said, the dinner thing can be a challenge. My husband is a gifted and conscientious cook (he’s one of those people who views it as an expression of creativity and nurturing, whereas I’m one of those people who views it as Sisyphean drudgery). Mostly that’s great, but it does mean I can’t very well get away with playing the deadline card when it’s my turn to make dinner. Not when he’s got deadlines of his own but still manages to make, like, pizza with homemade crust.

(I know, cry me a river. It’s really good pizza, too.)

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Cecilia’s Debut Novel

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•Please tell us about A Lady Awakened.

When a pretty young widow enlists his help in conceiving a fraudulent heir, Christopher Mirkwood knows exactly what to expect: pleasure and more pleasure, and the chance to bestow the sensual awakening of which any such widow must necessarily stand in need. What better diversion from the tedium of a parentally mandated rural exile?

Awakening. Really. Martha Russell is wide awake, thank you, and has more important matters on her mind. Armed with principle, fortitude, and a bone-deep certainty of her own righteousness on all occasions, she’ll do whatever she must to keep her estate, and housemaids, out of her brother-in-law’s hands — even if she must do it with a wastrel who can’t get it through his pleasure-addled head that their arrangement is strictly business.

They need a month of illicit encounters. They’ll be lucky if they make it through a week. But if they can keep from throttling each other, they might find that even the most unromantic of bargains can turn into more than either one bargained for.

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Cecilia’s Journey Continues

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•Your first book is in your publisher’s hands. What are you working on now?

Martha’s brother’s story:  Sworn to provide for a fallen comrade’s widow and child, Waterloo veteran Will Blackshear ventures into the gaming clubs of London in pursuit of quick cash – only to run afoul of a stone-cold cardsharp who’s staked out the territory as her own.

Lydia Slaughter is everything Will doesn’t need:  ruthless, untrustworthy, and another man’s mistress. When she proposes a truce, and a tactical alliance, the resulting partnership could make his fortune… or ignite a passion that will leave them both in ruins.

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Bonus Random Trivia:

Five Emotional Sucker-Punches that Get Cecilia Every Time

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Cecilia says:  One of the things I love about the romance genre is its shameless appeal to the heartstrings. If a book can put a prickling at the back of my eyes, that makes it a guaranteed re-read for me. But then I love poignancy in all its forms:  high culture and low, subtle and so-overtly-manipulative-I-can’t-believe-I’m-falling-for-it. To illustrate, five random things that have been known to choke me up:

~ The moment at the climax of a sports movie when the disapproving/estranged relative shows up at the finish line. Chariots of Fire has it. Cool Runnings has it. Ice Princess has it. (Yes, I’ve seen Ice Princess. I swear it was the only thing on tv once.) Reconciliation + athletic achievement just gets me.

~ The Kelly Clarkson song “Breakaway.” I have teenage daughters, and for me this song is such a pure, perfect expression of teen-girl longing. It comes on with appalling frequency in public places, like the supermarket, and I always have to pull over by the frosted flakes until I quit blinking and can steer my cart normally again.

~Those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing while we look at pictures of abused and abandoned pets. I always tell myself to just change the channel, and I never can.

~ McLachlan makes the list twice: that song she sings in Toy Story 2 while the cowgirl doll remembers her life with the little girl who outgrew her. If they bring McLachlan back for Toy Story 3, I think I will have to boycott it.

~ Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne in Persuasion. For as many times as I’ve read that book, “I am half agony, half hope” gets me in the angsty solar plexus every single time.

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Cecilia’s Question for You

What are the emotionally manipulative things that Get You Every Time? Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentations? Bambi’s mom? Makeover Week on The Biggest Loser? And does anyone else think a restraining order against Sarah McLachlan might be a good idea?

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Cecilia’s Drawing

Cecilia has generously offered two books as drawing prizes. She’s giving away autographed copies of Amanda Forester‘s The Highlander’s Sword and Rose Lerner‘s In for a Penny to one visitor.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Cecilia by midnight May 19 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On May 20, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. And Cecilia is willing to mail the books to any country, so don’t let a non-U.S. address stop you. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to Laura, winner of the drawing!

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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Learn More About Cecilia

Visit her website ~ ceciliagrant.com

Visit her personal blog ~ ceciliagrant.wordpress.com

Friend her on Facebook ~ Cecilia Grant

Follow her on Twitter ~ cecikgrant

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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34 Responses to Meet Debut Novelist Cecilia Grant

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Cecilia! It’s great to have you here. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your writing.

    Many things serve as emotional sucker-punches for me. Great romances are on the list, of course, both books and movies. (I’m with you. Captain Wentworth’s letter is incredible. I turn on the subtitles when I watch Persuasion so I don’t miss a word.)

    Songs that have special memories bring a rush of emotion. Whenever I hear Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, the hymn that was played as I walked down the aisle to my beaming groom in his tux and tails, I tear up.

    Milestones move me. We bought our daughter’s first car this week. I’ve been wiping my eyes quite often as I anticipate how excited she’s going to be when we drive it to her college a few weeks from now and hand her the keys.

  2. Diane says:

    I love when somehow “fate” is involved and something almost supernatural occurs. Love it! Good luck with your future projects and I love the bus story. :O)

  3. christicorbett says:

    I was born and raised in the Seattle area, so I totally understand about the Starbucks logo/cup hole needing to line up 🙂

    The Toy Story song gets me every time too (I have five-year old twins so I’ve seen it far too much)

    Anyway…great interview and congratulations on your book deal. I love historicals so count me in as a buyer when it hits the shelves.

    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

  4. Rose Lerner says:

    Hi! This was AWESOME…I had so many YES! moments (I am also a sucker for the estranged relatives at the end of sports movies!), and I can’t even wait for your book!

    Hmm…I am such a sap that I don’t even know where to start. How about—thought-you-were-dead? Like where one major character “dies” and the other character is horribly griefstricken and then the dead person shows back up (because of course they had just been injected with a non-fatal neural paralyzer, or it was all a misunderstanding, or they miraculously survived the fall from a twenty-story building, or something) and there is a Touching Reunion! I LOVE that. Bonus points if the characters were fighting or estranged, and after the “death” the “surviving” character was finally forced to admit the depth of their love for the other person!

    Also I always cry at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It starts when the Whos start singing and peaks at “Now that his heart didn’t feel quite so tight”.

  5. Cecilia says:

    Keli, thanks again for having me! I kind of dreaded being interviewed but it turned out to be a lot of fun.

    Is that the mid-90s version of Persuasion you’re talking about? I remember they made the staggering directorial choice of having both Anne and Capt. Wentworth read in overlapping voiceover. I was apopleptic in my theater seat: “But this is the best part! You have to be able to hear EVERY WORD!”

    Diane: the “fate” device is a tricky one to pull off, but when it works, it works like nothing else. There’s absolutely no reason I should believe Tony and Maria really fall in love after one brief dance and conversation in West Side Story, but when he starts singing “Maria,” I buy it wholesale.

    Christi: I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s OC about the Starbucks cup! Sometimes I buy coffee from a place that doesn’t have a single obvious logo on the cup, and I’m at a loss for how to line up the lid!

    Rose: So nice to see you here! (Everybody: her book is one of the ones I’m giving away and it’s fabulous.) Oh, I love Thought You Were Dead. I’m thinking Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, where Rupert shows up alive after Daphne’s mourned him and had that nifty King Tut’s Tomb dream and all! Totally gets me!

  6. Susan mason says:

    Wonderful interview. Congratulations on your sale!

    I, too, love dialogue – writing it and reading it. My favourite part.

    As far as sucker-punches go, almost anything gets me lately. The latest was in ‘The Blind Side’ when they are dropping off the son to college and Sandra Bullock leaves to go to the car so he won’t see her cry. The boy knocks on the window to ask for a proper hug. That just did me in.
    The whole mother-daughter scene before the wedding in Mama Mia, where Meryl Streep wonders where the years have gone, is one I like to skip. Way too emotional for me!

    Thanks for sharing your story! Best of luck in the future.

    Sue

  7. Cecilia,

    Congratulations on your upcoming releases. So very excited for your debut! I am a total sap when it comes to the “emotional sucker-punch” I cry at Hallmark commercials. Need I go on… The most rewarding tears are those at the end of a good book. You know that moment where you just can’t put the book down, there are tears in your eyes, and your breath catches because after all they’ve suffered, the H&H will be together after all.

    Looking forward to your HEA!

  8. Hi Celia,
    “Persuasion” is one of my all time favorite books! I read it once a year and come away weepy everytime. Sir Walter’s response to Captain Wentworth’s and Anne announcement, “You want to marry Anne? Whatever for?” Aaack! What a turd!

    Which brings me to stories with malignant parents like “Golden Compass”. I love them and yet am horrified. I am so thrilled when the heroines succeed in spite of their parents. Gets me everytime.

    Great interview Celia!

    Jen Hilt

  9. Cecilia and Keli, this was wonderful! I LOVE reading about author’s journeys to publication. And yes, I get choked up when watching the Biggest Loser. Can’t help but blink back tears while listening to how proud a father is of his daughter. I’ve learned that I can’t drive with Sarah McLachlan’s Angel on the radio, at least not without Kleenex. And Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life — box o’ Kleenex, please!

    I’ll eagerly look forward to the debut of A Lady Awakened, Cecilia. Sounds wonderful!

  10. Laurie Ryan says:

    Cecelia,
    What a great first blog! I love hearing stories about “the call”. Best of luck with your book!

  11. Judy Wiebe says:

    Cecilia,

    Congratulations. Love the story behind your first sale. Can’t wait to read “A Lady Awakened”

    Judy

  12. Cecilia says:

    Susan: Okay, that does it. I haven’t seen The Blind Side but now I will, just for that moment you described.

    Gerri: I tear up at the Hallmark commercials too! Isn’t that the worst? Bad enough to get sappy over a Hallmark movie, but when even the commercials are making you cry, you know you’re in sad shape.

    Jennifer: Isn’t Sir Walter awful? But I can’t help loving him anyway. I love that bit where he talks about going to call on Lady Russell but “the blinds were let down immediately” and she pretended not to be home! (So would I, if he came to call on me.)

    Wendy: You can drive while managing a box of tissues and listening to “Angel?” I am in awe.

    Laurie and Judy: Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the good wishes!

  13. Cecelia, great interview! And congratulations! I have been emotionally strummed by music, movies, and novels … and some of the Pacific Northwest Sunsets. A musical once gripped me so strongly that I couldn’t clap for 30 seconds when it was over (along with the rest of the audience in Vancouver BC) … Andrew Lloyd Weber’s rendition of Les Miserables. Currently, a novel “An Ocean Between us” by Susan Wiggs pulled me into the emotional experiences of the hero & heroine, and a few of my own, as they dealt with Navy life as a family. I will read it again and again.

    Wishing you the best, Marion

  14. Cecilia says:

    Marion: I would LOVE to be part of an audience so transported nobody could even clap. What a spine-tingling thrill that must have been. “Les Miserables” is on my stage-play equivalent of the TBR list, and has been for years.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Enjoyed the intreview, Celia, and will be looking forward to the book. I cry at the drop of a hat… or a telephone receiver, or a stuffed animal, or whatever. In movies, it always seems to tied to the music though. For me, that’s what often makes the difference between a good movie and a great movie – the quality of an original score (rather than canned music) undergirding the plot.

  16. Keli Gwyn says:

    Cecila, the version of Persuasion I have is the one starring Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I think it may have the voice over you mentioned, which is why I turned on the subtitles. I didn’t want to miss one of those amazing words.

  17. Keli Gwyn says:

    Cecilia, the version of Persuasion I have is the one starring Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I think it may have the voice over you mentioned, which is why I turned on the subtitles. I didn’t want to miss one of those amazing words.

  18. Debby Lee says:

    Dear Cecelia, What a great first blog, a job well done. I don’t think there’s room enough in the comment box to list everything that tugs at my heart strings, so I’ll list just a few. Practically any story about the Old South and/or the Civil War gets the waterworks going for me. Books by John Grisham and almost all romance novels cause me to shed many a tear. And who could ever forget the ending of An Officer and a Gentleman, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen it . . . and I cry every time. Sorry for the long post, best of luck to you Cecelia, you’ve earned it. Sincerely Debby Lee

  19. Cecelia – great interview! I am so excited to read your book when it hits the shelves. 🙂

    For a while, I couldn’t listen to Coldplay’s “Fix You” without tearing up. And Sarah McLachlan — whoo boy. I tried to sing “Weep not for the Memories” karaoke one time and, even though it was only me singing, it was tough to finish with a choked-up voice!

    Make sure and share your cover far and wide when you get it. 🙂

  20. Cecilia says:

    Shannon: You’re so right about the emotional wallop of movie-music. Sherry Thomas mentioned that the movie version of The Painted Veil partly inspired Not Quite a Husband, so I went and watched The Painted Veil and the music alone made me a sobbing mess!

    Keli: Yep, the Ciaran Hinds Persuasion is the duelling-voiceover version. I actually love it, duelling voiceovers notwithstanding. There’s one scene where Sir Walter’s wearing a waistcoat that virtually matches his garish wallpaper, and the sight always cracks me up.

    Debby: Okay, John Grisham is an answer I did NOT expect! I’m going to have to read more of his stuff.

    Anthea: I love the image of you moved to tears during karaoke, especially because you’re a serious musician in real life! I wonder if karaoke breakdowns are more common than I realize.

  21. Great interview, Cecilia and Keli!

    Let’s see…emotional sucker punches.

    Okay, don’t laugh.

    I cried last night while watching the previews to the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice.

    Bret Michaels’ daughter runs up to him and yells, “Daddy,” while flinging herself into his arms. Given that he’s a tough, rock-and-roll bad boy combined with his health challenges and that he’s playing for his diabetes charity, I actually cried.

    Can’t wait until your book comes out! Don’t worry about entering me into the drawing. I’ve got Rose’s and Amanda’s books already–and love them!

  22. Hi Cecilia,
    So nice to meet you on Keli’s site–what a great interview; and what a great story you have as a writer. Congrats on all the success. Loved your OC lining-up-the-Starbucks-logo story. I don’t do that, but now I’ll think of it every time I stop there and just may have to start 🙂

    If anyone remembers the McDonald’s commercial with the sister and brother who don’t want to be seen together but end up sharing a French fry on the sly? Ay yi yi — that was a doozy for the waterworks.

    So many little things get me-usually unexpectedly. My hubby and I both cry at Extreme Makeover: Home edition, even though the stories are so often over the top. And reconciliation stories usually turn on the waterworks.

    What I don’t like, however, are books and movies designed to make you cry by killing off major characters. Nicholas Sparks? Booo. Phenomenon. Pay It Forward. Up Close and Personal. No way. I want a fairy tale, not death to my hero. So those don’t make me cry–they just make me mad!

    Wonderful question. Wonderful interview. Good luck with the book!

  23. Cecilia says:

    Laurie: So glad to see you here! (Everybody: Laurie and I share an agent and there’s a great chapter of my first-sale story that features her – one day I hope to have the space to tell it!)

    I don’t watch “Apprentice,” but I can imagine that moment must have been a gut-wrencher. Actually I guess a lot of the stuff featuring Bret Michaels must pack an extra wallop now.

    Lizbeth: I love the visual of a husband and wife sniffling side-by-side in front of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. That sounds like a recipe for a happy marriage.

    I’ve never seen a Nicholas Sparks movie, or read any of his books. Intellectually I agree with you but I’m afraid in real life I’d probably be putty in his manipulative hands.

    Thank you both for stopping by 🙂

  24. Rose Lerner says:

    Lizbeth–oh man, I am so with you on hating when a character gets killed off just to make the viewer/reader cry! I don’t mind character death but it has to be earned–if it feels emotionally manipulative or cheap or like, as you say, it’s just designed to make you cry, I HATE it. Which is funny because I have no problems at all with cheap, emotionally manipulative things designed to make me cry in a touching, happy, feel-good way! It’s just the sad crying that needs to be earned with me. I wonder why that is…

  25. Laura says:

    The music video chronicle of Carl and Ellie’s life together in “Up.”

    “Trouble,” sung by Kristin Hersh on Sunny Border Blue. Don’t let the album title fool you; it should come with a warning label. Listen to “Trouble” when you need to cry but can’t.

    Thanks for the great interview, Cecilia!

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