Do you suffer from writing ailments or publishing woes? Then look no further, because Cindy Davis (AKA the fiction doctor) has the cure. She started writing her first novel at the age of nine, and has since published more stories and acquired more editorial experience than you can shake a comma at. A solid editor can be your biggest critic, but also your greatest ally in getting your works in front of a publisher—and Cindy is no stranger at being either. As she will attest, there is no greater joy than seeing others get published, but sometimes it’s a hard pill to swallow.
IM: Your list of published works is quite impressive. Do you plan to continue writing, or have you shifted your focus solely onto editing?
CD: I am still heavily into writing and promoting. I’ll be honest though, the editing is what brings in the paycheck, so that’s where most of my time goes.
IM: Out of all of your past publications, which piece(s) did you enjoy writing and publishing most?
CD: I think the first one. There was such a note of satisfaction when I wrote THE END that I literally sat there crying. Wouldn’t that be the time my husband would come home? Naturally, he thought I’d crashed the car. The publication of A Little Murder was monumental also. A wonderful diner featured in the book put on a fabulous launch party for me. When my husband and I arrived, they got on the phone to all their friends and family. What a crowd! It was great.
IM: Are there any ongoing series that you plan on revisiting as a writer?
CD: I have just finished the sixth in the Angie Deacon mystery series. Stone Cold Sober should be out sometime in October. I have outlined book four in the Smith & Westen series, but that will be put on hold while I work on an unplanned sequel to A Lethal Dose of Love. I traveled to Italy last spring and was struck with a triple plotline that would be amazing with the characters from LDOL.
IM: At what point did you transition from writer to editor?
CD: I’d like to consider I’m still both, though seventeen years ago, when my then publisher had both her editors quit, she asked if I’d take over. I said, “I’m not an editor.” She said, “You’re an amazing writer. You CAN edit.” I found out I thoroughly enjoy editing. There’s little that’s more satisfying than when an author says, “OMG, so that’s how to do it!”
IM: How did the nickname “fiction doctor” come about?
IM: How did you know editing and helping others prepare for publishing was your calling?
CD: About two years into the job with that publisher I mentioned, things were going really well. The books were getting rave reviews. That’s when I decided to hone my craft (classes and workshops), then branch out to freelance work. It’s been my fulltime job ever since. I always raise a few eyebrows when I say I love writing a rejection letter. I love it because, along with explaining why a story or a character doesn’t work, I can help show the author how it CAN work. I have some freelance clients that have been with me since I started. When I lived in NH, I taught a lot of workshops at conferences and writers groups. Now that I’m in Florida, my schedule hasn’t filled up yet. Part of me is enjoying the freedom, because it’s given me time to finish my latest WIP, Stone Cold Sober.
IM: What do you find most difficult in dealing with the new and aspiring writers of today?
CD: Their resistance to acknowledging that their ‘baby’ might have a LOT of flaws. It’s not so prevalent with freelance clients, because they come to me knowing there’s something wrong. But working for publishers, some authors are aghast when the book doesn’t just float through the system without editorial work. I’ve been on their side of the fence, so I understand what they’re going through. We authors spend a lot of time, sometimes years, on our stories. It can be a blow to the ego to be told it’s not right. I try to get them to recognize an analogy with a pro ball player who practices every single day to hone his craft. He is never satisfied with the three point shot; he swings the bat till his shoulder aches; he putts till his eyes burn. Writers should always strive to make their writing better. Always be open to new ideas and trends.
CD: As I said above: Never stop trying to improve your craft.
IM: What is in the future for the Fiction Doctor?
CD: Hopefully, some new conferences. I’d like to find a writers group to help hone my own craft. Otherwise, take my work outside into the amazing Florida sunshine and continue helping authors ‘see’ what’s wrong with their story before they suffer rejection from a publisher.
About the interviewer: Dominichi Hawkins
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