ORIGINS – Cindy Pon


Silver Phoenix was the first novel I wrote. I began keeping a journal, upon my maternal grandfather's encouragement, when I was ten. Then began writing poetry in my early teens and moved on to short stories. Like so many other writers, I wrote because I loved to read. There was nothing like opening a book and being whisked to faraway lands, to be immersed in wonder, adventure and magic. I wanted to replicate that, although I didn’t have any readers for my work. I was very shy about sharing my poetry and writing, and had no other writing friends  in school.


College, graduate school, marriage and a first job made it so I stopped writing all through my twenties. It wasn’t until I had my daughter and son almost back to back that I remembered my first love: writing. I decided to take some creative writing classes at the local university extensions, and signed up for novel writing after a few quarters. It had always been a life long dream, something on a long list “to do”. Why not now? I didn’t know many things about my novel, only that I wanted it to be a heroine’s journey, inspired by ancient China, and about unrequited love.


I wrote the first forty pages of Silver Phoenix and stopped, terrified. I had never written a novel before, and all I could keep thinking was, I have at least two hundred pages to write. I had no idea what I”m doing! So I gave up for six months. It wasn’t until I had the pleasure of a critique of my beginning pages with Margaret Weis at a local writing conference, and singing up for another novel writing class, then Nanowrimo in 2006, that I found enough courage to keep going.


Nanowrimo wrung 35k words out of me, launching me beyond the Dreaded Middle. There were scenes that I wrote that I knew were utter crap. But I simply kept going, knowing that it was better to have bad writing to revise than no writing at all. In fact, my personal writing mantra is: You are allowed to write utter poo.


I finished the novel in January 2007, having started it a year before. Then I proceeded to revise it at least six times with the help of my critique groups. They were so vital to offering advice, comments, and most important, their encouragement.


After a year of revising, I began querying Silver Phoenix at the end of January 2008. I queried 121 agents before landing one at the beginning of April. Silver Phoenix sold at auction in mid May. The fact that multiple editors were interested in publishing my novel was both thrilling and terrifying. I always say, it takes courage to chase your dreams, but it takes even more courage to live it.


Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009’s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, will be published in April 2011. She has also been a student of Chinese brush art for a decade and a picture book featuring her paintings is in the works. Fantasy has always been her favorite genre.

Silver Phoenix : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, April 28 ’09

Fury of the Phoenix
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, March 29, ’11


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