I’m delighted to be welcoming Cynthia Austin today. Cynthia is chatting to us about her latest release, A Penny’s Worth. Find out her inspiration, how protagonist Sara surprised her and much more. Enjoy!
Cynthia Austin lives in Northern California with her husband, two boys, and Olde English Bulldogge named Count Dogula. They love all things horror, gothic, and Victorian which prompts her friends to dub them as “The Addams Family.”
She is an avid reader who may be slightly obsessed with music. She hears music in a way that she believes the artist intended it to be heard: visually, with a storyline that follows. Listening to the songs by her favorite artists, she was inspired to write her first series titled “The Pendant.”
Cynthia has been published twice in The Writer’s Monthly Magazine as well as the online news site, Yahoo! Voices. She currently attends Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill, California, where she is working to achieve her degree in English.
Connect with Cynthia Austin
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise A Penny’s Worth.
In a city fueled by money and power, Sara Conrad was no stranger to the underworld of the Las Vegas gambling community.
Sex, drugs and high-stake bets were what supplemented her family’s income.
But Sara was ready for a change.
Desperate to seek out a simpler, honest life she knew she’d have to leave behind not only her brother, but her overbearing, controlling husband.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
It was during the time I was submitting my debut novel to publishers. I remember receiving a very nice rejection letter. The publisher actually read my entire manuscript, which was a huge deal! And he even enjoyed it. A lot! The only problem…the “heat” wasn’t high enough. I remember thinking; “You want heat? Just wait until my next book!” I developed some real questionable characters, such as Ezra Silverstein, mirrored after none other than Gotham’s Penguin, paired him up with an absolute doll who was completely out of his league, and boom! The story took off from there.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be…
I would tell Ezra to treat his wife well. He loved her so much, but honestly, his fear of losing her was his biggest fault. Without knowing it, he pushed her away.
Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you Cynthia?
She had a lot of spunk and sass in her. I remember having multiple phone conversations with my editor about Sara Conrad. She was supposed to be this complacent, sophisticated, upper-class women, but sometimes she would throw a left hook which left the reader spinning. It all made sense though. Sara was changing. She had outgrown her life years before and decided her husband would no longer hold her down. She finally found her voice.
If you could choose to be one of your characters which would you be?
That’s tough. Ezra’s mistress, Carmela is the definition of a “blonde bombshell.” She floats through life, playing with the high rollers because of her beauty and arrogance. She’s witty, and has a smart comeback for everything. She’s strong-headed and doesn’t allow anyone to double cross her. Naturally, I would want to be her, but then I remember it’s Sara’ who’s caught the eye of Max, the sexy bouncer, and I’m almost tempted to give up beauty and confidence to live one day in Sara Conrad’s lie. Max is just that hot…
What scene did you enjoy writing the most?
The ending was the most enjoyable. I actually wrote the final scene before anything else. I listened to the song by Fred Mascherino, “The Arsonists Wife” and could just visualize the entire scene so perfectly. This one song is pretty much what created the entire book.
Did you do any research for your novel Cynthia? What resources did you use?
I watched tons of hours of Gotham, and read a bunch of Las Vegas Mob books, the one I remember most is, “When the Mob Ran Vegas,” by Steve Fischer.
And did you travel to any places? Have any new experiences?
I did start a new job. My new co-workers have a very colourful vocabulary and love to quote these really crazy sayings. For the first six months, I would take my pen out and write down each and every one of their sayings. I actually have to give credit to my co-worker, Kathy, for the description of Ezra being more unstable than a cheap washing machine. The description was actually meant for the buildings landlord but it was so amazing, I couldn’t pass it up!
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
Ezra Silverstein would be played by Robin Lord Taylor.
Max Tobias would be played by Tom Hardy.
Sara Conrad would be played by Yael Grobglas.
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
With my debut album, I spent a lot of time at the local cemetery. For A Penny’s Worth, I would have loved to spend the time writing in Las Vegas, since that’s the scene of the book, but since I didn’t, I just spent the majority of the time writing the book in my bedroom/office.
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice? Do you have a favourite?
Most of the time, I’m completely disappointed with the film adaptation of a book, except for The Great Gatsby. I can watch that movie over and over again. It probably has to do with the visual reward of Leo DiCaprio.
Finally Cynthia, what inspired you to write?
Music is my inspiration for all of my books. I actually title each chapter after the song which inspired the scene. Since A Penny’s Worth was all about female empowerment, I was encouraged by a lot of female singers. Many of which I never heard of until I began writing. Lana Del Rey, Halsey and Zella Day were major components in the writing process.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing you success with all your projects.
Publisher: Solstice Publishing (25 July 2017)
Sara Conrad just about had it all, wealth, beauty, a prominent place in Las Vegas society as the owner of a popular nightclub, and a reputation that was second to none.
There was only one thing Sara failed to possess…
That’s because it was dominated by a despicable sociopath, her husband, Ezra Silverstein, who rarely let Sara out of his sight and manipulated her every move.
Out of desperation, Sara turned to a bodyguard at her club, Max Tobias, for sanity and salvation. Before long they are on the verge of a torrid affair that threatens not only to engulf them personally but their very lives, as well.
When Silverstein catches wind of Sara and Max’s relationship, he is determined to make them pay for their betrayal. He makes it his mission to inflict a blood thirsty punishment on his beloved Sara and her romantic rescuer.
As events reach their dramatic climax, Sara is stunned to discover Max is not really a bodyguard at all. This revelation turns her entire world upside down leaving her vulnerable and unable to trust anyone, especially the man to whom she had given her heart.
Riveting. Unpredictable. Page turning
The story of a good woman trying to survive in Sin City where Satan himself has set up camp in her own marriage, and the only man she had truly loved turned out to be a virtual stranger.
God help her.