8 March 2013 - CINTHIA KOEKSAL - Guest Author


CINTHIA

KOEKSAL
-Guest Author-
G'day guys,
Today is International Women's Day and what better day to introduce another great author from Malaysia, currently living in Europe - Cinthia Koeksal.  Okay, Cinthia ...


TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.

I’m Cinthia Koeksal, a Malaysian author living in Europe. I have a degree in Business Commerce with majors in Marketing and Management but can’t seem to stop making up crazy stories and writing them down to share with the world. The Scarlet Omen is my first published novel and the first part of a trilogy. Here’s the blurb:



What do a clan of vampires, a hidden gateway and a three hundred year old prophecy have to do with a rebellious teenager? Everything.

           

Being a good daughter is not easy. Being a bad one is downright exhausting. Anjeli, a girl plagued by visions of blood lust and magic, tries to live a carefree, teenage life but her over-protective Indian mother will not have any of it. The animosity between them does not subside and as a series of events changes the course of their lives, Anjeli tries to assuage her guilty conscience with good memories. Instead, she stumbles upon a prophecy that has come to claim its main performer.




  
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

I’ve always loved writing. Creating worlds where anything can happen is amazing. I grew up in Malaysia, a country rich in myth and legend and it was not hard to find inspiration there. The creatures and places in my novel are all based on Malaysian superstitions. Growing up in a strict Indian family also inspired me to write about the ups and downs of a rebellious teenager’s everyday life.

I finally got the courage to start pitching my book to publishers when some people I showed my work to got all excited and insisted that I try my luck in the literary world. I started writing The Scarlet Omen in 2003 and went through a long process of editing till I thought it was fit for pitching to publishers. I found a publisher (Parker Publishing in California) 2 years ago and my journey has been great ever since. The Scarlet Omen was (for awhile) on the top-sellers list on Amazon.com and Amazon Germany.



WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

I love the feeling of actually putting down my thoughts on paper and seeing those words come to life—especially in the eyes of the readers. When I see comments people have made on Goodreads or Facebook about the story, I think, “Wow, they’re really taking this stuff seriously!”



WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

Keeping the worlds that you’ve created in balance. It has to be logical yet magical and you can’t introduce someone into the book and then forget about him or her later. Everything has to be kept on track. Everything has to fit into place like a giant puzzle and losing a piece means leaving the readers dissatisfied. 





WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?

Oh, man! I wanted to say I hope that I was a great adventurer living hundreds of years ago but then I read the part of your question about before being a writer. I was and still am a Business English trainer, mother and wife. It’s tough juggling everything at once, but it’s worth it.



WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

I’m currently working on the third part of my trilogy. I’ve finished book two which is now with my publisher for editing.



WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I was watching the moon today at sunrise and a jet flew across its pearly face, the metal wings reflecting the first beams of the sun. It was breath-taking—such moments inspire me. That feeling of your heart swelling with pride at the beauty of nature and what man are capable of achieving—that’s what makes life worth writing about.



WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

At the moment I’m focusing on Young Adult Fantasy with an Asian flavour.



DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?

If you believe in your work, never give up. Just get better and better by reading up on writing tips, taking writing classes and talking to other writers. Absolutewrite.com is a perfect place to learn and share about writing. I spent two weeks delving into Richard Harland’s (Australian author) writing tips (http://www.writingtips.com.au/) and learned so much. Also you should spend as much as time as you can on Goodreads.com where readers and writers alike discuss their favourite and not so favourite books.



DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

All the time! I’m a firm believer in the saying that everything happens for a reason but writer’s block is just one of those things that have absolutely no use whatsoever. And yet every single writer stumbles over it sometime in their career.


What I’ve learnt is that you just need to take a few days off to free your mind, read something totally unrelated to the genre that you’re writing and then sit and write. It might be rubbish, but it’s a start. You know, getting back on the horse and all that.





DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?

None whatsoever. I like writing in the mornings but I have to go to work. So I just write when I can. I always have my little red notebook with me so that I can jot stuff down if I can’t get at my computer.



DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?

I like writing in bed, at the beach, at the airport (I know, crazy right?). Anywhere with a good view and anywhere but my writing desk.

             
           WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?

I can’t really say who’s my favourite author because I don’t always love all the books by the same author. My favourite books include The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling. But I would not say that these people are my favourite authors.



WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?

Here’s my favourite review of The Scarlet Omen. You can see for yourself why I feel complimented:



"Despite his large build and scales so thick they deflected the bright rays of the evening suns, Raja Naga, the ruby red dragon, soared effortlessly through the dark clouds, scanning the horizon."
This is the first sentence in The Scarlet Omen and from reading that alone I was hooked! I love dragons! This book has every element of fantasy and surprise you could ever ask for or want. Each character just comes to life while reading this book.
 
As this story began to unfold for me the more intrigued I became. It was as if each scene was being painted right in front of me being brought to life through the sheer magic of the land in which it was being told in. I could see what Anjeli could see it was as if I could feel what she felt. I was right beside her it was like a magnificent daydream! The brilliance and the beauty of all the characters was amazing, the dragons obviously being my favorite but each one of the others from Ajeli to the Blood Witch had an element of mystical beauty to them. 

Chapter after chapter I was pulled in deeper and deeper to a realm not so unlike our own yet it held such wonders as one has never seen before. I could not put this book down nor did I want to. I could have stayed forever. The Scarlet Omen started with a dragon's mystical beauty and fantasy untold and continued to carry that throughout the entire story. It told of a beautiful realm and of its woes and triumphs. As it came to a close it left me with a sense of utter fulfilment!
  
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?

Here’s an excerpt of my worst review so far:



“The Scarlet Omen” is an okay read. It starts off slow but it does pick up in the middle. I found it confusing trying to keep up with all of the names of all of the animals, dragons and fairies in the mystical world. There is just too much to keep up with. Otherwise, if you are looking for a story that will let your imagination run wild, then this is the book for you.



           

WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?

Of course. We live and learn and write about what we see and how we see the world.



OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

I love reading, spending time with friends and family, watching really good movies or anything with Robert Pattinson in it and Zumba (dance aerobics).



DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?

My book was edited by the editor at my publisher.



DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.

Cuddling in bed with my husband and son, hanging out at the beach with family and friends, having a nice seafood dinner and cocktails and then going out clubbing after.



IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?

My husband (I don’t want my son stuck on an island so I’m leaving him out of this). I wouldn’t be able to sleep without my husband and then I’d be cranky the whole day. He’s the only one who puts up with my mood swings and I could blame him the whole time for getting us stuck on an island. Also, if I were to die from starvation or dehydration, I’d want his face to be the last thing burnt into my memories. And if my husband’s too busy I’ll take Robert Pattinson.



WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?

As long as there are single mothers who have to work two or three jobs a week to feed their kids, your tax systems need rethinking, Misters.



WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

To write, be happy and healthy and do everything I can so that when my son walks out the door to start his own life, he’ll turn around, smile and say, “You’ve given me everything I need.”



WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?

The Bible so they’ll let me in and for later so that I can find my way around.

That’s heavy enough.





DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?

Very much. It’s hard to elbow your way through all the thousands of well-known authors who have huge publishing houses behind them.



DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?

All the time. But then something great happens like a wonderful review, a book blogger requesting an interview or getting invited to speak at a book fair and then the feeling goes and hides somewhere biding its time.



WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?

I enjoyed writing the prequel to The Scarlet Omen (not yet released) because it is about how it all started and I could just let my imagination run wild.



HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.

I have no idea! Please tell me when you have the answer.



WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?

That everything happens for a reason and that to be brave you must first feel fear.



HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?


My publisher designed my book cover.



WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?


To own an island and be friends with Robert Pattinson.



WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?

A book, no matter how much you love it and know that it’s your baby, is a product and the author is the brand. Marketing is everything. The Internet is a godsend for writers of our generation.



ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

In case you haven’t had enough of me and my ramblings yet, here are some sites where we can meet up again:






                 www.facebook.com/cinthia.koeksalauthor



Twitter: @CinthiaKoeksal









Clancy's comment: Thank you, Cinthia. Hope you get to find that island. Good luck.

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