Interview With Cynthia Mock Burroughs
Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today from beautiful McConnells, SC.
BK: Looking out the nearest window, describe the scene you see.
I see the fence bordering my neighbor’s cattle farm, a pond and acres and acres of pasture that is home to their cows. To my delight, I am treated most mornings to the sight of a beautiful sunrise over this pond - and then as the day wears on, the ramblings of these bovine creatures about their grassy domain. And the beauty of it is that I don’t have to lift a finger to care for all this - I just get to enjoy.
They should charge me rent!
BK: Tell us about your office. Is it a mess like mine, or is everything in its place?
It depends. I have two office spaces. The office area I actually do my creative writing in is relatively neat.
But the desk I use to do all my correspondence, social media and research is somewhat cluttered. I have a kajillion note pads, post-its, pens, papers, etc., all scattered, taped or lying about.
BK: What is a must-have, such as coffee or a favorite pen that you need to write?
I must have coffee - off and on, all day long. I thank the Lord on a daily basis for the inventor of the Keurig coffeemaker.
I’ve learned to keep various hard candies, Tootsie Pops and Good & Plenty licorice candies about. They last longer than anything chocolate, which I will literally inhale - given the chance.
I keep my lava lamp cranked up and a rubber band wrapped around my wrist to fiddle with. These things help me to think.
BK: Do you like to write in silence, or do you need music or background noise?
There can’t be any television or conversation going on around me when I’m writing. If there is, rather than be obnoxious, I grab my earplugs. Sometimes I do enjoy soft background music - but no words.
BK: Tell us a bit about your hero/heroine, and their development.
Katherine is, for the most part, a typical sixteen-year-old girl coming of age in the mid-fifties - except for her dreams. Up to this point she has pretty much learned to live with her, sometimes, portentous dreams. The dreams always seemed to frighten her mother, so over time Katherine stopped sharing them with her and even managed to convince herself they were only strange coincidences.
But as the story opens, Katherine has begun to have increasingly disturbing dreams, night after night, of a yellow scarf and a girl she has only seen in passing. When these dreams turn into full-fledged nightmares, sleep-starved Katherine begins to feel as if she is losing her mind. She finally comes to the realization she will have to deal with these nightmares head-on in order to salvage her sanity.
In the process Katherine learns: she is stronger than she ever would have thought; to care for a girl she doesn’t even know; that her best pal Em is more than a friend; her little brother Gordy isn’t just a thorn in her side; and that she is willing to do about anything - including lying, stealing and breaking into someone’s home - to get at the truth.
In the end, what Katherine finds will intertwine her life so indelibly with Della’s, she will carry the emotional scars for years to come.
The story is told by an older Katherine, who lends her insight to young Katherine’s experiences.
BK: As a writer myself, I'm always curious how other writers get through stumble blocks. When you find a story not flowing, or a character trying to fight you, how do you correct it?
I must admit that I have yet to experience what some call writer’s block, but I have been known to get a bit antsy. And when I do, I get away from that computer.
I take a little mental vacation - which is sometimes no more than getting out of the chair and going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee or tea.
Or I might need to clear my mind and meditate for a bit.
And then sometimes - I might just be due for an afternoon off.
I ran across a good article at Book Fuel that I have put away for that inevitable day when the joy just isn’t there. http://www.nownovel.com/blog/rediscovering-the-joy-of-writing/
BK: Using the letters of your first name as an acronym, describe your book...
Well, this is a tuffy . . .
C - celebrate
Y - yon
N - narrative
T - that
H - helps
I - increase
A - awareness
BK: How did your writing journey begin?
Drawing and painting have always been passions of mine, but I had never tried my hand at writing until the death of my mother. I discovered during my grieving process, that painting allowed me way too much time to think. So in an attempt to ease my sadness, I decided to try writing as a new creative outlet. The result was a 24,000 word children’s chapter book (as yet, unpublished) and a newfound love - writing!
BK: Using the letters from the word, Summer, how would friends and family describe you?
S - sensitive
U - unflappable
M - mannerly
M - meticulous
E - expressive
R - reliable
BK: What is the craziest thing you've ever written about, whether it got published or not?
When my mother’s (and eventually my father’s) care far exceeded my capabilities, I sadly had to put them in a nursing home. Determined that they would not feel as if they had been just cast aside, I spent six to eight hours a day with them - a luxury most caregivers don’t have. From this experience, came the idea of writing about a series of murders in a nursing home.
BK: Tell us one thing you've done in life that readers would be most surprised to know.
Do you remember the “Friends” episode where Joey gets his minister’s certificate on the Internet in order to marry Chandler and Monica? Well, I became ordained by The Universal Life Church (online) in order to perform the marriage ceremony for one of my sisters.
BK: What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel to “Remember Della” and am almost two-thirds finished with the first draft. In fact, there is a sneak peak in back of the book.
In the sequel, Della is all grown up, with a thirteen-year-old son. She has fought hard, for years, to keep the dreams at bay and has done well until a bump on the head opens the door wide . . .
This or That...
Coke or Pepsi?
Night Owl or Early Bird?
Fantasy or Mystery?
Do I have to choose?
Pen/Paper or Computer?
Pizza or Burger?
Rock or Country?
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate - always
Beach or Mountains?
Beach - I’m a Pisces!
Thank you so much for having us as one of your stops today. It has been great getting to know more about you and your book, and wish you the best of success!
Thank you for having me, BK. It’s been a pleasure!
Author: Cynthia Mock Burroughs
Length: 274 pages
Publisher: Self published
Release Date: November 9, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Buy Here: Amazon|Create Space
Kat, a “slightly" psychic sixteen-year-old, begins having disturbingly persistent dreams. Dreams of a yellow scarf - with a seeming life of its own - which taunts her and haunts her every dream. Dreams about Della, a fellow classmate, who to this point has remained all but invisible to any and every one at school. Kat eventually comes to the realization that until she unravels the mystery surrounding that “dagblasted” creepy yellow scarf and this girl she hardly knows, she'll not have another night’s rest. What Kat soon discovers is that she is the only person in Della’s life (including the girl’s mother and stepfather) who recognizes - or will admit - Della has simply vanished, gone “splitsville"! And Kat is helpless as her life becomes indelibly intertwined with Della’s – so much so, that she will carry the emotional scars for years to come.
Kat is surrounded by an extremely colorful cast of characters. You will meet: long-time friend and recent love interest, Em; Kat’s precocious eight-year-old brother, Gordy; her feisty octogenarian neighbor, Mrs. Harper and a chain smoking waitress named Clovis. All who, for various reasons, join Kat’s desperate quest to help a girl she hardly knows and to find answers to questions that, with any luck, will bring her the peace she seeks – the biggest question on her mind being, “Why me?”
“Remember Della” - which is predominately set in the South during the mid-fifties - is chock full of facts, trivia and slang from that era. While an entertaining read, I believe this book addresses bullying - both physical and emotional - in a fresh and unique way during a time before such issues were “labeled” as unacceptable or problematic.
I was born and raised in the South and to this day reside in South Carolina with my dashing husband, crotchety cat and nimble Jack Russell. My first novel,Remember Della, definitely reflects that Southern upbringing; and like Katherine, my main protagonist, I am also a child of the fifties.
I have enjoyed reading my entire life and relish childhood memories of long, languid summers spent in lawn chairs beneath shady old trees—my best friend and I devouring one library book after another. I hope to be proof of the old adage that everyone has at least one good book in them—but suppose that remains to be seen. You, the reader, will be the judge of that.
Drawing and painting have always been passions of mine, but I had never tried my hand at writing until my mother passed away several years ago. During my grieving process I found that painting was not keeping my mind as busy as I would have liked. Painting allowed me too much time to think. So in an attempt to ease my sadness, I decided to try a new creative outlet. The result was a 24,000 word children's chapter book (as yet unpublished) and a newfound love—writing! In fact, I am in love with the entire writing process, especially the part where I get to tell really tall tales—and get away with it . . .
Author Links -
I sat at the kitchen table while Momma contemplated what to do
with the ground beef thawing out on the counter. She settled on
goulash and was checking the pantry to see if she had all the ingredients
when it occurred to her she hadn’t heard a peep out of Gordy.
The quietude must have alerted her to his absence.
She turned to me, “Where’s Gordy—up in his room?”
I shook my head no. “He’s not home yet.”
She checked her watch and asked, “Did you hear his bus come
“No’m. It’s probably running late.”
“Gordy should be home by now, Katherine.” She gave me a doubtful
look and asked, “You’re sure his bus hasn’t come by?”
The look of concern on her face was fleeting, and we both cringed
as Gordy heralded his arrival by slamming the front door so hard the
house shook. Momma yelled at the top of her lungs, “Gordy!” When
he came barreling through the doorway she asked, “How many times
have I told you not to slam the door like that? You’ve already taken a
minimum of ten years off my life!”
He never even heard a word she said because he was talking louder
and faster than his customary mile-a-minute. His words practically
ran together as he said, “You shoulda seen it! Sammy Spellman
throwed up all over prissy ol’ Becky Taylor on the bus! We had beets
for lunch an’ Sammy ate a whole bowl of ‘em. I bet that’s what made
him throw up. He says he likes ‘em, but I don’t believe it for a minute.
I think he just eats ‘em to show off. But the really good part is
Sammy’s throw-up was all red—like he was throwing up blood! Then
ol’ Becky started crying an’ everything, and Cindy Walker started
gagging ‘cause throw-up splattered all over her shoes an’ then she
throwed up. It was so cool! They were sitting across the aisle from
me, an’ I got to see it all. And Becky, with her weirdo-self, told Mikey
Olson she was gonna wipe throw up on him ‘cause he laughed
at her. And the bus driver had to stop the bus an’ calm everybody
down. It was Coolsville!
I could see Momma was trying to keep a straight face as she said,
“Gordy that’s enough—there’s nothing cool about someone throwing
beets up all over the place.”
“Well I couldn’t be sure, but from the smell of it I think Sammy
must’ve been sick at both ends. I tell–”
“Gordy!!!” Gordy was treading on very thin ice.
“It’s the truth! It was gross I tell ya. Gross enough to gag a maggot!
Everybody sitting around ‘em looked like they were gonna
puke—’cept me. The bus driver made everybody get off, and
the monitor had to go to somebody’s house to call for another
bus and for Sammy an’ Becky an’ Cindy’s parents to come and
“Dear Lord, I hope Sammy’s not contagious.” And in spite of the fact
we weren’t Catholic, Momma crossed herself.
I HATED THAT despicable clock. I hated the way those two nerve-jangling,
damnable bells blasted me so urgently from sleep
every morning. I snatched the clock up, shut off the alarm
and slammed the offending thing back onto the nightstand.
Throwing the covers back and my legs over the side of the
bed, I stood unsteadily a moment before aiming my body at
the door leading to the hall. Destination—the bathroom. But as
my fingers touched the doorknob the clock began its shrill intonations
again. Oh dear Lord! That sound, so early in the morning,
was the equivalent of fingernails screeeking down a chalkboard.
Hadn’t I just turned the dad-blamed thing off? Maybe I
jarred the lever into the ‘on’ position when I, perhaps a little too
vigorously, delivered the clock back to its pocked resting place.
I retraced my steps and after turning the alarm off, again,
placed the clock on the nightstand—a little more gently
this time. And for more reasons than one, I moved a wee
bit faster for the bedroom door. I reached it a second time
and stopped cold—the God-forsaken clock was, once again,
clanging for attention! With the strangest mixture of anger,
fear and foreboding I walked back, turned the alarm off a
third time and buried ‘Baby Ben’ not only under the covers,
but both pillows as well. Then I ran back to the door, jerked
it open and took off through it.
Instead of the hall outside my bedroom door, I found myself
out on the street in front of my house—still dressed in baby
doll pajamas and walking toward my bus stop. There wasn’t
time to go home and change. The school bus had arrived
and it sat idling as a half-dozen students climbed on. I waved
and yelled for them to wait, but no one seemed to hear.
Running for the bus wasn’t even an option, for it was suddenly
as if my feet and I were slogging through knee-deep
mud. I could only watch as the door closed and the bus
pulled off without me. Oddly, I felt thoroughly and utterly
bereft—as if all my hopes and dreams had taken off with that
big yellow bus.
As the bus lumbered down the road something yellow flew
out an open window. Even from where I stood I could see it
was a scarf—a yellow scarf—lifting, floating and fluttering in
the early morning breeze.
My legs came unglued and I began running after that scarf
like my life depended upon reaching it before it touched
the ground. I caught up to it, but each time I attempted to
pluck it from the air a breeze would whisk it away, lifting it
just beyond my reach over and over again. I soon began to
tire of the game and was about to abandon the chase when
the wind picked up and blew the scarf toward me instead of
away, pressing it against the lower half of my face. Slowly,
almost as if caressing me, the scarf began to move along my
skin. It slid over my mouth, under my chin, and down my neck.
Snaking round and round my throat, it became longer and
longer, tighter and tighter—and I began struggling for air . . .