Friday, September 10, 2010

CYN BALOG: An (only slightly snarky) author interview... and book giveaway!

Jersey-girl turned Pennsylvania-resident, Cyn Balog is the author of the YA paranormal novels Fairytale (Delacorte, 2009) and Sleepless (Delacorte, 2010). As if that didn't seem productive enough, she has two forthcoming novels from Delacorte: Starstruck (2011) and Living Backwards (2012).

I lost a bit of sleep last night finishing her latest page turner, Sleepless. Here's a teaser: Although he has been watching over her her entire life, Sandman Eron deMarchelle is not allowed to have feelings for his charge, the lonely Julia, a teenager with a tragic past. When tragedy strikes Julia again, Eron's time as a Sandman is drawing to a close. As he transitions to a human existence, can he save her from the supernatural dangers that threaten her very life?

School Library Journal called Sleepless "an interesting, compelling, fast-paced paranormal romance... Definitely recommended." Kirkus said "Suspense, believable characters, and an imaginative twist on a ghost story/romance makes for a lovely read."

If you can't find Sleepless in your bookstore or library, never fear! Cyn has the perfect advice below:

Q: Why has my library and bookstore not yet stocked Sleepless? Is it some kind of plot? Are you hoarding them to increase the demand? If so, it is working. I want to read it!

Cyn: Well, it's in most major bookstores; nowadays it's difficult to get into Borders and Barnes and Noble because of all the YA books coming out (and limited shelf-space), but both of them are stocking SLEEPLESS. Your bookstore must just be lame! Hee. As for libraries, it is obvious that your librarian does not read School Library Journal which calls SLEEPLESS "a must for library collections" or something like that. I think you need to move somewhere else, why are you living in such a lame place? Really, I know so many libraries are drastically underfunded and can't purchase every book out there, but a librarian did tell me that if they receive a request for a certain book, they do try to go out an obtain it. So if your library doesn't have a certain book, just ask!

Q: Why are your books about supernatural boys? Aren't girls supposed to be endowed with all the "frilly" powers - like helping kids and sprinkling sleepdust and flying about on gossamer wings? I thought boys were only supposed to be brooding yet sexy vampires and werewolves!

Cyn: No, this is a common misconception. I think we need more guys running around with wings and girly powers like painting ladybugs and rainbows and taking teeth from under children's pillows. That is way more sexier than any stupid werewolf or vampire who just wants your blood. I mean, ew, gross.

Q: You once told me that there was another book before Fairy Tale that you had a hard time selling. What did you learn in between that book and Fairy Tale?

Cyn: I don't know if I learned anything about writing in that time. I did learn that it's much easier to sell a book if you have a one-sentence hook that makes everyone go "AH!" than if you need five rambling paragraphs to explain it.

Q: You also once told me that you were sure that Fairy Tale would sell once you had the idea of a boy who's a fairy - any other, uh, ideas like that? (Not that I'll use them or anything)

Cyn: Yes, actually, I just came up with one right now. It's a play on the shapeshifter thing, and it's going to be a mid-grade. My agent has been wondering if I could write mid-grade, since the genre is hot, but I never had an idea before, but now I do. Excuse me while I go add it to my idea file.

Seriously, I keep getting asked if I will ever write a series or a sequel, and my answer to that is "When I run out of new ideas." Which I never do. I am like a kid in an idea candy shop; shiny sparkly things distract me.

Q: How do you strike the balance between appropriate romance for a YA and going over the line? Is there a line any more?

Cyn: Supposedly there isn't a line anymore. I've heard that all of the supposed taboos have been crossed at one time or another, so anything goes. Not for me, though. I feel a sense of responsibility to handle things in a certain way. Now it's supposedly silly to think that teens are so stupid that they'll read my book and get certain ideas in their heads that weren't there before, but when you're constantly told that "everyone's doing it" by every TV show and book out there, you start to believe it. So I'm happy to be in the minority and say, "Hey, you know what? Everyone's NOT doing it." And I think a romance can be tasteful and yet still evoke the same emotions without being explicit.

Q: What's your favorite paranormal/fantasy book from childhoood? Now?

Cyn: I loved THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl when I was growing up. It was so much fun. Now I love the HUNGER GAMES books. Okay, I have a secret dream of being a dystopian author because I love dystopians. The only problem is that I am horrible at writing them (I have made several attempts).

Q: After writing the Great and Terrible Beauty series, Libba Bray switched directions entirely and hit it out of the park with Going Bovine. Is it possible for a children's writer to be pigeonholed (ie. as only writing supernatural, or picture books, or what have you) and how can one break out of the pigeonhole?

Cyn: Yes, while writing my third book, which started out as a contemporary romance, I was told by my editor that they really only wanted paranormal romances from me, so I added the paranormal romance later (STARSTRUCK comes out in Summer 2011). Now I am happily writing paranormal romances and seem to be on a one-a-year schedule with them. But there are ways to break out and write other things. First you can write other genres under a pen name. Or you don't even need to use a pen name, if your editor is okay with that. I think if you can write in more than one genre, great... doesn't matter who you are, a good book is a good book and will find a market, no matter who wrote it.

Q: What is your advice to budding fantasy writers? Not that I know any...

Cyn: It's not new advice... but just read everything you can get your hands on and don't ever give up. People will tell you it's impossible but from where I stand, it's probable as long as you keep working at it. Keep writing, keep learning everything you can from other writers, and keep submitting.

Q: Are your stories good medicine? (I think so but I'd love your answer!)

Cyn: Sure, I think that's true of anything that can take you away from the normal grind for a couple hours and help you relax a little!


Although I didn't know any of this when I interviewed her, here are some additional facts about Cyn, gleaned from her website

1. Her favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Marshmallow (I didn't even know that was an ice cream flavor!)
2. She once had a crayfish named Harry as a pet.
3. She can list all 50 United States alphabetically in 20 seconds or less (impressive!)
4. She has two double jointed thumbs!

Intrigued by Cyn and her paranormal YA novels?

***Simply leave a comment below to qualify to win a copy of Sleepless! Winner announced in 1 week!****

And (DRUMROLL PLEASE), our very impartial 6year old judge just picked the name of the winner of last week's book giveaway and it is:


If you didn't win the copy of Mockingjay - never fear! Our very impartial 6 and 8 year old judges will be picking another winner in just 1 week! Leave a comment below, twitter or repost the contest on FB to qualify to win Cyn Balog's Sleepless!


  1. Fan-freakin'-tastic interview!! I have to admit, I've not read any of Cyn's work, but I really want to now. DYING over find out about the sandman story. Very cool concept. (I want in on this giveaway, girlfriend!)

  2. Ooh, I loved The Witches too. Fabulous interview!

    And thank you for the giveaway!

  3. Great Interview!!! I <3 Cyn's work!
    Thanks for the giveaway!!!!

  4. I loved her interview...
    And I totally agree with her not wanting to do what "everyone else is doing". Also it is impressive that she can say all 50 states alphabetically in 20 sec. I also found out we both liked the same book when we were younger THE WITCHES.

    well thanks for the giveaway...

  5. Amazing! Cyn Balog is awesome :) And wait, chocolate marshmellow is an ice cream flavor?! Yum! I'm gonna have to try that! I've read Fairy Tale and it was amazing! Sleepless just sounds just a good, so thank you for the giveaway!


  6. Now I totally want to read this. Hook me up.

    And I just timed myself... all fifty states in alphabetical order in about 16 seconds. I'm betting that she and I learned the same song in the 4th grade!


  7. I LOVE CYN! Met her at an NJ SCBWI Conference, and she is AWESOME! Her FAIRY TALE was SO good--I brought it to the beach, and didn't want to stop reading it to go in the water! You go, Cyn!

  8. Fascinating review. Good questions. I hadn't heard about her so it's nice to be in the know for my daughters' sakes. Thanks for sharing! Just so I'm clear, is it worth losing sleep over?

  9. Very cool interview! :)
    And awesome giveaway!

  10. I haven't read any of Cyn Balog's novels yet, but just reading the teaser for Starstruck makes me want to, so I thought I'd start with Sleepless. I'm a Twitter follower, LJ friend and aspiring writer. I hope I win!!!!!

  11. I really loved her book Fairytale and I would really love to read this one too. She is such a fun storyteller

  12. Our judges have spoken and this week's winner is MAGGIE!!

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