Q & A With Cyana Gaffney
Q: What made you sit down and start writing your first book?
A: I’ve always had crazy, vivid dreams. So one night I had an intense dream where I was hiding in a spice market from a group of men. My husband was at the other end of the tent, and I was trying to figure out how to get his attention, but yet not alert these men. I won’t give more details as that would give away some part of the book, but when I woke up, the first thought I had was “wow that would make a great novel.” And so I sat down and started researching how to write, details for my book, and then got to writing. It has been quite the wild journey.
Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
A: Briefly, but then I thought that, hey I’m me and it took me a long time to be okay with being me… so… it would be silly to “be someone” else now. So, Cyana Gaffney, it is.
Q: Are you friends with any other authors, and if so, how do they help you become a better writer?
A: I know a few authors, but at this point, we are just starting to share our journey with each other. The exception is Ruth Johnstone (a lovely woman) who wrote: When Troubles Fall Like Lemon Drops. She gave me some great advice. She said, “It’s great to get writing your next book, but don’t forget to market VEILED. When VEILED takes off, that will help bring in income so that you can work less, which then will free up time so you can spend more time writing.”
Q: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
A: No superstitions. But I do have a very specific process before I start writing. I sit down and write in bullet point form, all the events of the book that I know I want to have. Sometimes this starts with just a handful of ideas. Then I take two of those points and ask myself how I could connect them. I keep up this process until the full outline has been written out and I have a clear picture of the entire storyline and how the characters will develop. This process saves me SO much time by not having to rewrite things or discard parts when I realize they don’t fit or hit a wall and need to change directions. It’s so much easier to think through that beforehand rather than make those adjustments later on. Changing bullet points are far easier than going back and editing chapters to make them fit and flow.
Q: What was the strangest thing you had to research online for your book?
A: Hmm, maybe the effects of different type of bombs on a human body. It was interesting to learn about, but it felts like a weird thing to know.
Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A: Two things: 1) I purchased a Chromebook. It’s small, light and so easy to transport back and forth from home to coffee shops. It also has an incredibly long battery life. 2) A grammar program that I purchased for assisting with the second edition of VEILED. I will be using this for all my writing from now on. For the first edition of VEILED, I had six people review it, and we all missed stuff. And while editors do a great job, I just didn’t want to invest that kind of money at this point. So this program corrects while I write and saves me a lot of time re-reading my manuscripts. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is reading something so many times just to try and find things like missing commas… dull, dull, dull!!
Q: How did you select the names of your characters?
A: For the American characters, it was pretty simple – I thought of names I liked and that sound good together. For some of the foreign names, I had a bit of fun with them. I went to a site for Muslim baby names and picked names based on the meaning. I wanted to have a name that embodied a personality trait of that character. For example, Ghada means delicate, young girl.
Q: Did you come across any specific challenges in writing VEILED? What would you do differently the next time?
A: Well because I looked at writing as a hobby at first, I didn’t set any deadlines or goals. Which aided in it taking me years to write VEILED. There were sometimes years between me working on it, and I would forget some of the character development I had done earlier and therefore, I unknowingly duplicated it later on in the story. This duplication made it wordy and turned parts of my book into ‘drama queen mush.’ I had to do a lot of thoughtful editing and cutting out which took time. I have now added character development points to my outline process. This way I don’t fall into the same trap, and therefore, I don’t waste my writing time by duplicating work.
Q: How long on average did it take you to write the book?
A: I think I started it in 2004 or 2005. There were months on end that you would find me at the coffee shop every weekend, but then years where I wouldn’t touch it. As hobbies go, sometimes you take time for them and sometimes you don’t. But my goal for the next book is 5-6 months.
Q: Does your family support your career as a writer?
A: Yes, they are very supportive. They all loved VEILED and are pushing me to keep writing. My daughter, unbeknownst to me, took an article about me in the paper and went around to all the teachers in her whole school and invited them to the book launch party. It’s super encouraging to have such a great cheering section.
Q: What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
A: Well I’m in the process of writing the sequel to VEILED, called THE SAND BRIDE. So… I would say that I’m in big support of it – haha. But I’m stopping this series after that and not making it into a trilogy. I think you need to be careful with series and not push it past where the characters can realistically go, and common sense ends in regards to scenes/events. You need to write great scenes that push your characters to grow and adapt, but you need to know when to let it end and be okay letting those characters go.
Q: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
A: Card/board games and volleyball.
Q: What type of books did you read in preparation for writing VEILED?
A: Actually, I tried not to read anything during the bulk of writing VEILED. I didn’t want to be affected too much by others creative take on the subjects I was covering. My mind can sometimes have a tendency to latch on to great ideas, and once that happens, it’s hard to separate from it and move on to create my story. I wanted this book to be mine and not chance getting hung up. So I limited my reading to research.
Q: If you could go for coffee with any of your characters who would it be?
A: Sarna – I would love to have longer conversations with her about her life and her perspectives.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A: I had never considered that I would be a writer. But once I held VEILED in my hands, I realized just how much I loved getting it to that stage. I discovered that this is what I wanted to do from now on and I couldn’t wait to start writing the sequel.
Q: What advice would you give to children who are interested in creative writing?
A: If you want to write, you will go on a journey that is all your own as you learn your style, and what you want subjects you’d like to cover. Don’t feel discouraged or sad if your path doesn’t look like someone else’s. BE YOU!! That’s beautiful, so don’t take that away from the world by trying to copy someone else or what they do.
Q: Are you hoping to write a second novel and if so, do you have any ideas as to what type of novel you would like to write in the future?
A: Well as previously mentioned, I’m writing the sequel to VEILED called THE SAND BRIDE. But I also have another book idea all ready to go, called THE DOOR. For both of those books, I want them to get my readers to take an honest look at difficult subjects and have that challenge them to heal and grow.
Q: If someone wanted to buy a copy of VEILED where can they get the book?
A: You can buy it on my website: cyanagaffney.com, and you can also purchase it on all the Amazon websites. It will also be available in select bookstores in the Edmonton area by the end of February.