This month we speak to Austin SCBWI member Cynthia Levinson. She is a huge supporter of our local Austin chapter, a frequent face at meetings and book signings, and an extremely talented writer who discovers fascinating stories and lives and shares them with integrity and honesty. She doesn't shy away from hard subjects, and we are all the better for it. Welcome, Cynthia, and thank you for speaking to us.
Did you always want to be a writer, or did that come later?
No, I didn’t always want to become a writer but a friend of mine always wanted me to. She was right but I had to wait for the right time. I’m awed by writers who also have jobs and children. Having taken care of two of our grandchildren this past week, I’m not sure how Sandy and I managed to raise kids and hold jobs at the same time. I can’t imagine tossing writing into the mix as well. It was only after our children got through college and we paid off those bills could I take the risk of leaving my job and dip a toe into writing.
If someone were to follow you around for 24 hours, what would they see?
Fortunately, my office has a comfy couch because anyone following me wouldn’t get very far. Mostly, I sit at my desk reading, thinking, researching, writing, erasing, and staring. Every couple of hours, I get up to stir the soup or take a walk. But my stalker should bring a good book and settle in for the long haul.
How does your everyday life feed your work?
There are two things that feed my work—curiosity and deadlines. The former amounts to my antennae. I’m always listening and reading for possible stories to delve into. And deadlines keep me rooted to my desk.
Tell us about some of your accomplishments that make you proud (work and/or otherwise).
Although I’m touched when teachers tell me that my books have made a difference to their kids, what I’m most proud of are my own kids. They and their spouses are doing truly important and socially valuable work, and they’re great parents. They are what bring tears to my eyes.
What surprises you about the creative life?
How hard it is! Creativity takes a lot of work. And, frankly, as a nonfiction writer, I’m not all that creative. Like people who can work, raise children, and write, those who can make up stories, settings, characters, and emotional valence astound me.
Your work is like a gift for your readers. When they open it, what do you hope they find?
Surprise. I hope my readers learn about other people their age who do remarkable things and make a difference.
Bio: My husband, Sandy, and I split our time between Austin and Boston. We have two children, four grandchildren, and one grandpuppy. My writing is mostly middle-grade nonfiction, though I have one picture book and hope to have others, including something someday that’s lighthearted!