How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Cindy Pon

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Cindy Pon, author of SILVER PHOENIX!

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn’t only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

Welcome, Cindy! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

probably a short story i wrote in 9th or 10th grade? i won some awards for district writing contests back in high school. made me feel like "a writer" and proud.

What books did you love when you were a kid?

noel streatfield’s dancing shoes and ballet shoes. island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell. a little princess by frances h burnett.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

mr. cox who i had for ap english junior and senior year. we didn’t do much creative writing, but he was the first teacher to introduce me to elements of style. and remains my favorite english teacher to this day.

What’s your best advice for young writers?

to keep writing. to believe in yourself. push yourself so you can grow as a writer. this is the only way to find your story and your voice.

What’s special about your debut novel?

i think mainly that it features an asian heroine in a fantasy setting that is ancient china.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

i queried 121 agents and was fortunate enough to sign with bill contardi. we went on submission and my book went to auction. i was able to speak with the editors who were interested, but felt a connection with virginia from greenwillow books from the start. i couldn’t be happier that my book finds home there, and i feel very blessed.

You can read more about Cindy’s writing (and her beautiful brush art) at her website. You can pick up your copy of SILVER PHOENIX at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… Danielle Joseph, author of SHRINKING VIOLET, will be stopping by on Monday.

3 Replies on “How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Cindy Pon

  1. I read all of the interviews and especially appreciate this one because it is the first interviewed author that didn’t indicate already having authored a novel or knowing someone in the publishing business. The impression I was getting is the only way to publish is to already be published or name drop. The diligence of submitting to over 100 agents is the type of thing I need to hear.

    Unfortunately, I had a really difficult time getting over her writing style, particularly in the cover paragraph for the book. I’m disappointed that I have an aversion to the writing presented in one of the few books covered in your interviews for a truly debuting author. I would never read this novel and would probably stay away from the editor. That is a sad take away.

    I hope there are more true debuting authors in the mix because someone who has already published and is simply new to a genre does not feel like a debuting author and is not as helpful as someone who is new to publishing. In general though, I find the interviews interesting and look forward to more. Thanks!

  2. Gosh, I hadn’t realized that it felt like most of these debut authors had “connections” of some sort..though thinking back, I guess many of them do talk about having met an agent or editor at a conference and then submitting work after that connection. Truly, that is a great way for someone brand new to the business to learn and start putting names to faces. Thanks for the interesting comment on that front…

    Also, I’m not sure what about the introduction to this novel puts you off, but it may interest you to know that the jacket flap copy for a book generally isn’t written by the author but by the editor or someone else who works at the publisher. I’ve heard great things about this book, though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so I’m guessing the writing inside the cover is pretty fantastic. Thanks for your thoughtful comments – it’s great to know the interviews are helpful!