Olivia Swindler is the author of Cynthia Starts a Band. Cynthia Starts a Band follows Eleanor Quinn- America’s sweetheart who is determined to find herself again. The novel follows the story of starting over and discovering who one is when the world isn’t looking. YEM was able to speak with Olivia about her writing process, who inspired her characters, and her favorite scene in her book.
Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
Olivia Swindler: When I was eight years old, I went to a book signing at our local community college. I heard the author talk about his experience publishing a book, and the whole experience felt magical! Since then, I have known I wanted to be a writer.
YEM: How does it feel having your debut book Cynthia Starts a Band out for everyone to read?
Olivia: I am so thrilled! So much love was poured into the book, and I am so excited that people have wanted to read it. It has also been a wonderful reminder of my community–my friends all rallied around and helped support me through the whole process, and I am so grateful.
YEM: What was your writing process like?
Olivia: When I am working on something specific, I try to be disciplined. I try to write a certain number of words each day. I don’t outline formally, but I have an idea of where the story is going. Sometimes I make a map of the characters and how they are intertwined.
YEM: What is something you learned about yourself during the writing process?
Olivia: I learned a lot about my determination. There were so many days when the story didn’t feel like it was coming together, or I just felt like my writing was not very strong. But I was ultimately able to push through the bad days. Writing takes a lot of determination!
YEM: Did anyone in your real life inspire any of your characters?
Olivia: Yes and no! Pieces of people I know in real life are woven throughout the book, but no one character is a copy-paste of someone I know.
YEM: Your book deals with the heavy effects of emotional abuse and gaslighting. Why do you feel that a topic like this is important to speak about and bring awareness to?
Olivia: Historically, these topics have been pushed aside, and I am so encouraged now that we can talk more openly about them. As the #metoo movement has demonstrated, a shared story has so much power. When we can talk about these things, they not only lose some of the power they have claimed over us, but they also let other people know that they are not alone.
YEM: What is some advice you would give to people who want to become writers?
Olivia: Write! Even if what you are writing on is not something you will show anyone, take time each day and write. There is so much power in creating a habit. Once you have writing built into your schedule, you will have created a space for it to grow when an idea hits you.
YEM: Is there anything you want your readers to take away from reading your book?
Olivia: One of the main themes of the book is friendships. It is so important to find a good community of friends who will hold us up in difficult times and celebrate with us during our victories.
YEM: What was your favorite part about writing a book?
Olivia: I love getting to know the characters! Because I don’t write with a strict outline, I intentionally leave space to get to know the characters more as the story progresses. I find this process to be enjoyable!
YEM: Is there a scene that you wrote in your book that is your favorite?
Olivia: I love the scene when Eleanor and her cousin watch Art’s interview on the morning show. I have close relationships with my cousins, and I could see us acting the same way.
YEM: Who was the first person to read your book when it was finished?
Olivia: My roommate.
YEM: Do you have any future plans for writing any more books?
Olivia: Yes! I am currently editing my second book. I don’t think I will ever stop writing; it brings me so much joy.