Absolutely. Annie’s stories are stories her father wrote down for her before he died. They are the stories he had told her when she was growing up. They are referred to in the novel, but not given so I’m making them available in a couple of ways. One way is through a YouTube video and I’ll also send some to subscribers to my newsletter. You can sign up on my web site.
What is unique about the setting? How does it enhance the story?
The great period of immigration through Ellis Island resonates with many people. It’s been estimated half of all Americans can trace at least one ancestor through Ellis Island. The turn of the twentieth century in Manhattan was a fascinating time of contrasts: the extremely rich and the extremely poor, gangs and police corruption and charities and reformists. It was also a time when technological advances were hitting New York City full force. There were still horse-drawn carriages but the subway was not far off. Women were just beginning to make their place in society. Story opportunities abound in this setting.
Did you have a specific theme in mind as you wrote Annie’s Stories?
From the beginning I knew Annie would be reading the new book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Home is certainly a central theme. Annie lost all connection to her definition of home and had to flee Ireland. She believes God abandoned her and without God and the guidance of her father she definitely feels adrift in her new country. But because stories are important to her, they help guide her as she gets lost in the pages. The postman Stephen Adams is also a bookworm and while his circumstances are different, he is also looking for home in a sense.
What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I’m sure my mother has many things stashed away. I still remember a story I told when I was five years old. I must have scared the neighborhood kids because my mother started getting phone calls from the other kids’ mothers about some story Cindy told them. But my first novel I still have in my computer. I’ve been rewriting it off and on for almost fifteen years. I hope to see it published one day. It’s titled Great in Little and it’s the story of my Little family ancestors and their journey to America.
What’s your favorite genre of writing?
Without a doubt it’s historical fiction. I hope to be able to keep writing in this genre for many years. I believe there are stories to be told of our ancestors and their legacies.
Where do you most like to write?
A hotel clerk recently asked me that question. I told her I know writers who write in coffee shops but I can’t do that. I need quiet. She said, “Well, then, Ms. Thomson, I’ll put you in a quiet room.”
Truly I work best in my home office. It’s a loft-type space, the only second-story room in my house. It has great light and looks out over our wooded lot. It’s quiet most days (at times my grown sons come by and play loud music, but I’m not complaining.)
Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad? Any special reason for choosing to write this way?
Mostly I write on my computer. I have a laptop as well and I sometimes like to move around or write outside when the weather’s nice. But it’s interesting you mentioned legal pad because I’ve discovered I can best hammer out a plot on a legal pad. Something about free writing on paper helps me think and sort out things. The real writing, however, happens on my computer.
I do. I never throw any writing away. I even archive my emails.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Yes. I have a couple of ideas on the back burner that I want to get back to, including Great in Little.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?
Right now it’s truly my latest book Annie’s Stories. I wrote it long ago and it seemed to be a story that I just had to tell. It was fun to write, most of it—there is a dark side. The literary-theme was really fun to explore.
Do you have, or have you ever had a writing mentor?
I mentor through the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. As a former teacher, this is one of favorite things to do.
I’ve had many mentors over years. On this book Rachel Hauck was instrumental in helping me over some rough spots. When I first started writing historical fiction I met novelist Lynn Austin at the Write to Publish conference. She critiqued a chapter for me. I got to meet her there again much later after my first novel was published. She has always been so encouraging and I related so much to her. You can imagine my delight when Grace’s Pictures received this review in Library Journal:
"...a delightful story of overcoming obstacles. Lynn N. Austin fans will savor this historical fiction series debut."
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I am working on book three of the series but there is no publication date for it as yet. I'm working on other projects as well, including the short stories Annie's father wrote for her that are mentioned in the novel, but not given. Subscribers to my website will receive those for free.
Thanks, Cindy. I look forward to reading Annie's Stories and hearing from you again.
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Cindy Thomson is giving away a copy of Annie's Stories. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.