Cyndi has been writing since a school play she penned was produced on stage in the third grade. Her first short story appeared in print in 1989, and since then, her short fiction has appeared in Mock Turtle ‘zine, Over My Dead Body!, The View from Here (UK), and other journals. In 2009, Lammert Publishing released her non-fiction book, Historic Warren County: An Illustrated History. A personal essay “Swirly Happy” was chosen for the Sinclair Community College journal Flights in 2013, and Sugati Publications has selected two of her essays for their Reflections from Women anthology series. In addition to writing, Cyndi’s portfolio career includes book editing (The Enduring Legacy of Kahlil Gibran and The Essential Rihani), teaching freshman composition as an adjunct at Clark State Community College, and serving as assistant director for the Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
DAU–Talk to me about your grandfather. I think I remember you saying he was a source of inspiration for you.
CLP—My parents divorced when I was very young, but I was fortunate to have two very loving and involved grandfathers to serve as great male role models. I don’t remember specifics, but my father’s father must have encouraged my early writing efforts. I guess I shared my scribblings with him, because after he died, my grandmother sent me a notebook where he’d kept all my handwritten pages over the years. That came at a time when I was just beginning to consider writing seriously, and it was a tremendous boost.
My grandparents were all extremely important in my early life, and I’ve commemorated each of them by using their names in my novels.
DAU– I know you have experience in the criminal justice system. You’ve been a dispatcher, a court liaison, a deputy clerk, and recently you’ve run for office on the democratic ticket in Greene County. And you’ve been a published author since 1989. And you teach. How do you manage to balance so many things and find time to write?
CLP—Quite honestly, there are far too many days when I don’t. And that’s my biggest frustration! I’d love to be able to write full time and still pay the bills, but that’s not happening. For now, I try to make an hour of each morning before the day job(s) as my time to write. I shoot for 1K words per day/5K per week. If I at least come close, I count that as a win.
Now if I were under agent contract and on deadline for this next book instead of working with my easy-going small-press publisher, things would be radically different…at least I like to imagine they would be.
DAU–Tell me about moving to Yellow Springs.
CLP—We’ve been in SW Ohio since 2004, in Yellow Springs since 2010. I half-jokingly tell people we chose this area because of the Ohio Renaissance Festival in Harveysburg. We’ve attended at least once almost every season for more than 20 years.
In reality, after our kids were off to college and on their own, we took the advice Hubby had been giving to his tech students and moved to an area with better opportunities in IT. Rust-belt Toledo was struggling mightily in those days as the auto industry bottomed out and many of the tech jobs dried up, too. The Dayton area – and with it, proximity to Columbus and Cincinnati – was a good choice for us.
DAU– I recently read that Air Force personnel call Dayton a “2 cry” posting. You cry when you get posted here, then you cry when you have to leave. What do you think about that? What are some things you like about the Dayton area? What would you miss most if had to leave?
CLP—Besides the RenFest mentioned earlier, as a writer, I’d dreamed of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop for years, and that meant Yellow Springs. I never thought I’d be fortunate enough to live here. While I love to visit the big city – our son lives in Chicago, I’m a small-town woman at heart. Dayton is close enough to Yellow Springs that we can enjoy the great restaurants and micro-breweries, theater, baseball (Go, Dragons!), the Dayton Art Institute…without having to live in the middle of a huge metropolitan area.
Much like I still hear about Toledo, whose downtown struggles like Dayton’s does, residents don’t realize the gem they have until it’s not within reach. Both of those cities have food, art, sports, music – and more community than they often get credit for. But mostly? I’d miss the people.
DAU–If you had to leave Dayton, where would you like to live and why?
CLP—Oooh…with or without a budget? Let’s see – Ireland, south of France, Tuscany, Sedona, Taos…basically, small-town, sustainable living with accessible art, music, theater, baseball – and warm weather! Okay, I know Irish weather can be iffy, but there are trade-offs.
DAU–I know you’ve been working on Jadz #3 and audiobooks. Talk to me about where you are now and what’s next
CLP—My publisher, Crossroad Press, is working diligently to bring many of their authors to audio books, and I’m in the queue with my first two Jadz novels, Forty & Out and Burned Bridges. For those who haven’t met her, Jadz is a female homicide detective in Toledo with a needy widowed mother, a drama-queen sister, and ex who doesn’t want to let go, and a fierce drive to prove herself in the testosterone-fueled world of a police department. My 20+ years working in the criminal justice system help me infuse reality into my stories so people don’t scold my words the way I scold Numbers and Boston Legal – I hope!
My current project is a prequel of sorts. As fellow local author TJ Turner (Lincoln’s Bodyguard, Land of Wolves, Angel in the Fog) says, I’m pulling a Star Wars and writing a story that takes place before Forty & Out. And while Jadz isn’t the main character in this one (working title: Unwanted Ties), she’s very involved in solving the central crime and readers will learn more about her early life.
DAU–I read an interview with another author recently who said 80% of the stuff you learn at conferences is crap. Among the crap he cited the advice that’s given to “write at the same time every day.” What are your thoughts on conferences, crap and writing at the same time every day?
CLP—I’ve already addressed the “write every day” adage. It’s not for me, and I don’t know how it could be for folks with small children and two jobs and aging parents and…and…. We all have to find what works for us at any given time. As for conferences – it depends. I was Assistant Director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop for six years (until it closed up shop in 2018 (sniff!)), and a volunteer workfellow for three years before that. I don’t exaggerate when I say its unique blend of craft classes and intensive workshop sessions made me the writer I am today. That being said, I’ve yet to find another conference that equals the format and qualities of AWW. I’m still searching.
DAU–I met your furry friend recently. Have you always been a dog person?
CLP—We weren’t allowed to have animals in the house when I was growing up (except for one very short-residence dog…not sure how that happened!), so when I moved out, the first thing I did was adopt a kitten (easier for a college student than a dog). We’ve had both dogs and cats over the years, sometimes together, in various quantities. We also have a dozen chickens now!
Our last cat was with us 19-1/2 years after being born in our daughter’s bed. We’ve lost two of our most recent trio of dogs in the past two years, and the “furry friend” you mention, Indiana (he came with that name!) is 13-1/2. He technically belongs to our son – who did not learn the lesson about dogs in college until too late. Indiana’s been with us over nine years now on long-term foster care, and he’s likely our last canine companion. It’s just too hard to lose them.
DAU–What is one question you’ve always wanted to be asked but haven’t?
CLP—”What is the meaning of life…the universe…and everything?”
42, of course. ?
Thanks so much for including me in your round-up of Dayton-area artists!
DAU–Thanks for talking to me. CL Pauwels’ books are sold where all the best authors are found, and her website is https://clpauwels.com/