Our readers know that The Midnight Garden reviewers are adults, and yet some authors are so amazing, they reduce us to a pile of giggling fangirls. One of our favorites is with us again today to talk about her new release Boundless, the final volume in her beautiful Unearthly series, as part of the official Mundie Moms Blog Tour for the book. Without further ado, please say hello to Cynthia Hand!
Q & A with Cynthia Hand
Welcome back to the blog! What’s life like now as a New York Times Bestselling author? Tell the truth–do you muscle in line at the Barnes & Noble?
Ha! I wish! Seriously, the biggest thing that changed with me hitting the Times list is that I get asked for a lot more blurbs these days. Which means more free books. Which is a very good thing.
Clara’s friendship with Angela is tested in Radiant, so I’m guessing that is further complicated in Boundless. A new guy that the BFF doesn’t trust is one thing, but when he’s also an angel…
Yep. Angela and Clara are both in for quite the wild ride, Angela especially. They both try to follow their hearts, but it doesn’t always work out the way they thinks it’s going to.
After Clara completes her task, what kind of repercussions will it have for the people around her?
Without giving too much away, the stakes are higher in this book than they’ve ever been. Clara really takes charge of her destiny here, but her decisions have a huge impact on the people around her. She pretty much changes the course of the lives of almost all of the other characters.
If you had a divine task, what do you think it would be?
Hmm. I like the idea of my purpose having something to do with provoking thought in people, getting them to ask themselves the interesting questions. Thought-provoker. I like the sound of that.
Should we expect Jeffrey and Angela’s stories be wrapped up in this last book? It seems like there’s enough back story for a spinoff, or at least for some hefty deleted scenes.
Yes, there was a lot of deleted stuff for both of them, but I hope you’ll be satisfied with how their characters end up.
The last time we chatted, you also mentioned there might be a Samjeeza story in the works. Our readers loved that idea! Is that still a possibility?
It’s not on the horizon in the near future, but who knows. I would love to write a series of short pieces about Maggie, and Samjeeza would play a big part of a couple of those. But there’s a pretty big Samjeeza story in Boundless, so hopefully the readers will like that!
The Samjeeza storyline is one of my favorites in the whole series. Which is why I’d love to see even MORE. but I guess you can’t write Unearthly stories forever. *sigh*
The idea of seeing loved ones again in some sort of afterlife is a really lovely and comforting sentiment. Was it important to you to include that at the end of Hallowed?
One thing that’s remarkably different in Clara’s story from the reality most of the rest of us experience when we lose a loved one is that Clara has a way of knowing, without a doubt, that her loved one still exists and is in a safe place. I wanted that for her, so that she could move on, and I thought it was the best gift Michael could have given her. But it doesn’t mean that she can still continue to see the person she’s lost. She’ll miss her, like the rest of us miss the people we love who pass. There will still be a hole. As far as her parents are concerned, Clara will see a lot of her dad in this book, which I found fun to write. She’ll really have to grapple with what it means to be her father’s daughter.
Now that Clara finally has made a choice between the two gents in her life, you’re going to have to dish a little bit! Did you always know who she would end up with? And why does she choose this person?
I always had a very strong sense of who Clara might end up with, but it was never set in stone. Those wily characters do things I don’t expect and set my whole plan off course often enough. With this book, one of the definitive scenes in Clara’s triangle situation hit me while I was driving, and I actually had to pull over and write the dialogue as I imagined it, and by the end of scene I was totally sniffling. It’s all very emotional. . .
Um, for us both. Given the amount of fangirling you’ve seen for one boy or the other, have you had moments where you worried about audience reaction?
Yes, occasionally. There are more than a hundred reviews up on Goodreads so far put there by people who haven’t read the book yet, and a lot of them have a statement like, “Christian needs to DIE. Team Tucker forever!” or “She’d better pick Christian, or else!!!!” and I always want to raise my hand and squeak, “Or else what?” But the ending is right for Clara. I don’t have any doubts about that.
I think some fans might beg to differ with that, hah. But that’s the way you know you’ve written characters that people care passionately about–that readers are so invested in them as if they are real people. Speaking of real people…
*leans in closer* Have you had a Tucker or a Christian in your own life?
*whispers* No. Not directly. Although there was a point in my life where I had to make a very clear decision between what I thought was “the plan” for me, and what my heart was telling me I wanted. It turned out okay in the end.
Does Clara’s choice ultimately represent her/your beliefs in free will versus destiny?
Nice, hit me with the tough questions! I think Clara’s journey represents my exploration into that question of free will vs. destiny, but I am not trying to supply any kind of answer through Clara or how she ends up. I want to leave that to the reader to muse over. (Thought-provoker!)
You knew what you were in for when you came here!
Your books are always so well-researched and heartfelt. I’m curious how long it takes you to outline a book and to write it. Could you walk us briefly through the basic timeline from concept to publication?
Honestly, it’s very different for every book I attempt. Some books need a lot of research. I really love the research end of things. From concept to publication with Unearthly took more than 2 years, mostly because of the slow publishing timeline. Each book after that has taken less time, but I am guessing that my next project takes me at least 6 months before I’m ready to submit it and another year before it hits shelves, at least.
It’s always interesting to hear the planning/writing process, because for readers, the timeline always seems so desperately long. This series’ year-long break between books certainly allowed you to write a lot of carefully considered emotional connections and story lines, however.
I really like the balance of family, friendship, education, romance, and greater purpose in your novels. That’s hard enough to convey believably even in contemporary stories, but you’ve also managed it with all this angel mythology and paranormal action going on as well. Did you set out with a plan to ensure that these elements were covered in Clara’s story?
There were some things I wanted to address that I saw as problematic in a lot of the YA fiction I was reading at the time. I wanted Clara to have a very involved family life. I wanted her to actually learn things at school, even though she was smart. I wanted her to have to address the physical and emotional boundaries of her romantic relationships. I wanted to call attention to the problematic nature of a girl, even a supernatural one, having a relationship with a much older being. And there were a few other things, but I wasn’t militant about expressing my opinion about this stuff. It just kind of naturally slipped into the story.
Did you have a favorite teacher who encouraged your writing? Did he/she ever get a chance to read your book?
I had lots of teachers tell me I was going to be a writer, starting with my second grade teacher, Mrs. Widdison. She came to a signing I did in Idaho last year, and I was so happy to see her and get to thank her for being awesome. Another teacher I had who relates specifically to the Unearthly story is Mr. Haroldson, my high school history teacher, who’s so amazing and from whom I learned sooooo much. I based the character of Mr. Erikson on him, and last year I did a school visit and got to talk to him some too, and thank him for the love of history that he had instilled in me. It’s because of him that I ended up minoring in history in college, and part of why I came to love teaching, myself.
Are you touring for Boundless? Where people can get their tear-stained copies signed?
Yes. I will be touring a lot this season. Please see my blog events page a complete list.
Any info on this western project you’re working on? What else is coming down the pipeline? What kind of research are you doing for that? And IS THERE A COWBOY IN IT?
Oh, sigh. This is why it is so very dangerous to talk about upcoming projects. So I am NOT working on the western project at the moment. It was tabled for the time being. But I WILL write that book, sometime in the next couple of years, I swear. I love that story so much, and Courtney Allison Moulton is going to name all my horses. And yes, there is (kind of) a cowboy in that book. But sadly, it’s on the back burner for a while. Right now I am working on a contemporary stand-alone with a tiny supernatural twist, which will probably be my next published book. We’ll see.
We’re finally at the end of this long journey with Clara. What do you hope readers will take away from their experience with this trilogy?
Some laughs and some tears, and maybe a few questions that will stay with them, long after they’ve read the last page.
Done, done, and done. Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Cynthia! We look forward to whatever project you’ll be releasing next.
Our thanks to Mundie Moms for hosting the Boundless Blog Tour! You can find the rest of the stops here, including another fun interview with Cynthia at our friend Jen‘s blog over at The Starry-Eyed Revue. Special thanks to our friends who brainstormed questions with us, particularly Kat, Kate, and Bonnie.
Boundless is available in stores and online now. You can read our spoiler-free review even if you haven’t read the first book yet. You may also be interested in last year’s epic two-part interview with Cynthia Hand here and here.
Win a Boundless ARC!
Thanks to our lovely friends at Harper Teen, we’re very pleased to offer our readers a chance to win an advance readers copy of this beautiful book. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a comment below.
Open internationally to readers aged 18 and up, or 13 and up with parental permission. See entry form for complete details.
About The Author:
Cynthia Hand grew up in southeast Idaho (very near the Wyoming border). Currently she lives in southern California with her husband and two small children. She teaches courses in creative writing at Pepperdine University. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series with HarperTeen: UNEARTHLY, published in 2011, HALLOWED published January 17, 2012, and BOUNDLESS, due out in January 2013.