Cindi Madsen, whose newest book, All the Broken Pieces, will be released in December from Entangled Publishing.
In All the Broken Pieces, Liv wakes up from a coma with no memory of her past. Cindi is huge on strong females, but she told me that Liv was a tricky character to write.
"She's recovering from a major accident that’s wrecked her memory and body. All she’s ever known is her parents," Cindi explained. "I wouldn’t call her weak, but she’s definitely vulnerable. That’s why I love when she starts learning to stand up for herself. With Spencer (cute mysterious boy with his own broken past) she can be herself. The dynamic between them was fun to write, and together, they both grew stronger and worked through their pasts. Writing that transformation made me love the characters even more."
She currently has a companion novel to All the Broken Pieces in the works, but she can't say much about that book yet. She also has an urban fantasy called Demons of the Sun coming out this year.
"It's got a kickass heroine, a hot warrior, and lots of swordplay and kissing," she told me with a smile.
"Which comes first," I wondered, "the plot or the character?"
"I’ve had both happen. As the characters grow stronger, they become my main focus, though. I fall hard for my characters and I get a little sad when I have to put them through so much. I get a sense about the characters, and an idea, then scenes start coming (often starting with the kissing, because that’s the whole point, right?) I ask what will make these two characters perfect for each other, and what will make it almost impossible for them to be together. Then I start writing scenes, waiting to see where it all ends up. I tried to do an outline once and it felt like homework. I never loved that book. But to each their own. I know great writers who plot every tiny detail."
The hardest part of writing for Cindi is the middle of the book.
"I’ve got the beginning and usually have a good idea of what I need to happen, but there are still things that need to be pulled together, but I want the pacing to stay strong. I often have breakdowns in the middle where I decide I’ll never figure out how to end the book," she admitted. "This is when other ideas come to me and I have to force myself not to get distracted."
Cindi usually does her research as she goes and has discovered that Wikipedia is a great jumping off point.
"It often points me in the direction to find out more about a certain subject," she explained. "I sometimes worry the police are going to come question me about all the strange things I research. I also have to look at hot guy pictures for research. Yes, research, I swear. Just let me wipe the drool off the computer and I can get to work with all the research I just did."
She was surprised, in her writing, to discover that she has a tendency to get a little dark.
"I never expected that, but I find broken characters so interesting. I’ve found a love for gothic tales as well. I love the creepy mystery mixed with romance. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, and I watch every movie adaptation that comes out. I love that those two characters find each other, despite all the tragedy they’ve had to face. I love even more that their love is stronger than looks. It’s based on who they are and how much they understand each other," she said with a big, happy sigh.
When Cindi was growing up, it wasn't a writer she wanted to be—it was a clothing designer.
"My 5-year-old daughter asked me this question," she told me, "and when I told her I wanted to be a clothing designer, she said, 'That’s sad that you didn’t get to be one.' I told her that I now get to design clothes as I write, and not only clothes, but also people and whole worlds. As soon as I started writing, I knew it’s what I was always meant to be."
"What is your favorite food?" I asked.
"Pizza. I love it. I once told my mom I was going to eat it every day when I grew up and had my own house. Unfortunately, every day doesn’t happen. But I make sure to get pizza every weekend. Cheesy awesomeness, only a few more days and you will be mine. I also love fries. I’d eat them with my pizza if I could. My least favorite food is mushrooms. They’re a weird texture, I’m not a fan of the taste and I’ve been to the mushroom farm. Those things are grown in straight-up chicken crap. It’s true. I bet it’s even on Wikipedia."
Cindi likes writing YA books because she likes teenagers.
"The teen years are often a challenging time in life where you’re figuring out who you are and who you want to be, combined with so many influences pulling you in all directions," she explained. "It’s a fun time, too. First dates, kisses, good friends. I like reading YA , like writing it, and love my audience. Nothing is better than finding out my teen reader almost got grounded over my book. Not that I want her grounded, but the fact the thread of a grounding isn’t enough to make her put the book down makes me feel like I’m doing something right." When she was growing up, Cindi went from reading Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew to serial killer novels. She wasn't into the Sweet Valley High books like some of the other girls her age were, and there weren't a lot of YA novels—so she read about disturbing murders.
"I hid it from my mom because I knew she’d think they were too graphic. I guess I’ve always liked solving the mystery, so there’s always a little bit of that in my writing," she said. "Now I’m more about the books that have a strong romantic element. My favorite YA books let me get to know the characters as I go. A strong heroine I can cheer for is a must."
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Keep trying. Take workshops, pay attention to books you read—what works, what doesn’t. The language, the emotions, the plot, the pace. It can get overwhelming, but that’s a great way to learn."
You can find Cindi online at http://cindimadsen.com/, http://twitter.com/#!/CindiMadsen, or https://www.facebook.com/CindiMadsenBooks.
What if your life wasn’t your own?
Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.
Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?