Cym Aros Interview
The Indie Book Butler Interview.
Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.
Cym Aros: I am a practicing physician, by trade and vocation. I am the youngest child of two doctors; genetically a New Yorker, and raised in New England. I am gay; my partner and I have been together over 25 years, and we have three children together. I began writing fiction only very recently, spinning and sharing cowboy tales with some friends.
IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?
CA: Sierra Nevada, 1874. A saga of family; forgiveness; a child-soldier’s trauma and survival; and his journey home to the woman he loves.
IBB: Where do you like to write?
CA: At my desk, between OR cases, during long nights on call at the hospital.
IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?
CA: A certain amount of silence. I never could figure out how people could study or write with music or the TV playing.
Random background noise, however, does not bother me.
IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
CA: Favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Circe, by Madeline Miller. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.
As an author, I have greatly appreciated the work of several 19th-century writers, for their rich and grammatically impressive use of the language. I am thinking of Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Melville, or Joseph Conrad.
IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
CA: Reading, reading, reading, certainly.
Interaction with readers, however, became, for me, an unexpected force of nature. I began writing a few summers ago, with a few stories to share with friends. The response, and the dialogue thus generated, became the driving impetus of the writing. It brought a depth and a joy to the writing that I never expected.
IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
CA: Creating something of beauty with words that can reach and lift up a reader.
IBB: Have you received a favorite review of your work?
CA: This a review of a chapter from a reader I will say more about below.
“Powerful chapter laced with unrelenting urgency.
I could hear those Chinese drums beating out the pace, quickening to the point of exhaustion.
Here, you have four beings refusing to give up on life. Jesse fighting for shore and his future. Nox, her will overcoming instinct in the face of an earth seemingly falling apart. Jed, plunging himself into chaos to recover Jesse. Rivka, refusing death’s grip on the man she loves, restoring him with her very breath.
There are those in the world who demand we face reality, finality, conventional wisdom. Mostly we listen – but how we admire those who do not. The brave moves, the foolish chances, the hope that defies all logic; those are the ones who move life forward, and remind us of our best natures, the bit of the divine harboured within each of us, when we choose to tap into it.
Yes, I realize this is fiction. That these are just characters. But we, as a species, were born to tell stories, and to be moved by them.
So, you see, dear author, there is something to be said for some human conventions after all.
Keep telling us stories, Cym.”
And at the conclusion of my third book:
“Honestly . . . I am knocked over with the power, the quality and the poetry of this. What a beautiful and fitting ending for this saga. The many completed circles of life – Peter and Ilsa’s story, Nox, even the lovely, funny comeuppance for Husu for having strung along the professor – so deftly written and joyously shared. Thank you so very much for having shared your talent with us. This was pure magic, and like all great performances, I’m sad to see it end.”
On Twitter, one reviewer said this:
“If you like #Outlander, check these out! A troubled, handsome warrior, a beautiful doctor soulmate; strong women; slashy villains; shamanic magic.”
I confess, I just read the Outlander books a month or two ago, and I agree the comparison is valid. A little eerie, actually, in some of the parallels.
IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?
CA: Editing. My books have a lot of words.
IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
CA: Editing. I try to comb through and remove clichés, unnecessary adverbs, and redundancy.
After I write each section, I set my computer to read it all aloud to me, so I can hear the flow and the momentum. I do believe that I write with that in mind, that is, I intend or imagine them to be read aloud.
IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
CA: I haven’t had an editor, so I’m not sure about this one. I had a reader who, with each chapter, would reflect back to me her perception of the overarching themes and flow of the story. I treasured her comments, as they helped me keep the whole tapestry in view as I wove in each new section. I believe the best editor would be one who can see and appreciate the broad tapestry, and help one bring it into sharper focus.
That friend of mine passed away from cancer the same month I completed the third book of the series. I miss her terribly still. The first book is dedicated to her. She was a poet. She wrote a poem in response to the chapter “Translation” in “Nox”. That poem forms the opening of another chapter, “Tides”.
IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?
CA: If you love what I wrote: please tell me why. I learn so much from readers when they can tell me what reached them, moved them, or drew them into the motion of the story.
If you hate what I wrote: Same thing!
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
CA: Write what you love to read.
IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?
CA: I would like to expand on the characters I have come to know and love in these three books. I miss them, and I want to find out what happens to them.
I want to learn how to write a short novel, or even a short story.
IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
CA: My stories are deeply rooted in the natural environment in which they take place, that being the Sierra Nevada, and the foothills of California and Nevada. I chose photographs that would reflect both the content and the symbolism of each novel.
Trail Markers: The cover shows a narrow, precarious, path overlooking Lake Tahoe, the scene of Jesse’s desperate flight into the mountains.
Thanksgiving: The cover shows a sunset over the Mokelumne River, reflecting both the possibility of peace and hope, and Jesse’s struggle with despair.
Nox: This cover shows a pinecone, bright and vivid in the setting sun. The pinecone became a recurrent symbol in all three novels. It was one of Jesse’s mental points of focus as he struggled with PTSD. It was a source of sustenance for the Miwok, and for Jesse’s outcast family; that is, it occurs in the story as a help to those who have been exiled.
IBB: How often do you read? What genre?
CA: I read literary fiction mostly, though I enjoy finding poems that will enrich my chapters.
IBB: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
CA: Madeline Miller. I was entranced by her stories and her use of language, and I was thrilled to see she and I graduated from the same university!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.
For more on Cym and their work, please visit:
I intend for any proceed from sales of these books to support veterans’ and Native American resources. At present, those include Hope for the Warriors (hopeforthewarriors.org), and the American Indian College Fund (collegefund.org).