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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Cynthia Chapman Willis

FIVE ON FRIDAY welcomes Cynthia Chapman Willis author of the novels Dog Gone and the soon to be released Buck Fever. Visit Cynthia at her website.

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

I can remember entertaining the idea of becoming a writer from about the age of fourteen on, but I did not take this seriously until my freshman year in college when an English professor talked me into changing my major to English and focusing on my writing.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

It’s tough to narrow the influences on me down to only one writer. I feel like I am continually affected by a great story and fabulous writing, and there are so many amazing books out in the world. Having said that, I should add that To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a novel that I still return to. I can’t count all the times that I’ve read this book and yet I’m blown away every time I dive into it again.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

I just finished If I Stay by Gayle Forman and recommend it to all. It is a powerful, emotional young adult story with well-developed characters. What I really admired, though, is how the author dealt with all of the emotions without overdoing them or becoming melodramatic. Brilliant. Some of my other most recent favorites include The Underneath, The Graveyard Book, Wintergirls, and The Chosen One.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers (or illustrators), what would it be?

To never give up. Keep developing craft and write from the heart. Keep reading everything, write as often as possible, and devote time to becoming a better writer.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

I am trying to finish up a young adult novel about a girl in search of a home and her family. I really like it. Maybe too much as I’m having trouble letting it go.

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