Cynthia Chapman Willis

Cynthia Chapman Willis

CYNTHIA CHAPMAN WILLIS’s first novel, Dog Gone, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “satisfying, appealing . . . a well-told story, spiced with humor and facts on animal care,” and she was called “an author to watch.” A former editor, she now writes full-time, and lives in New Jersey with her family.



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  • Cynthia Chapman Willis on her book, Dog Gone

    Author Cynthia Chapman Willis introduces her pets and her debut novel, Dog Gone.


Q & A

What did you want to be when you grew up? A jockey, but then I grew too tall. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? I had always entertained the fantasy of being a novelist, but I didn’t start thinking about it seriously until my freshman year in college when an English professor encouraged me to pursue writing. What’s your first childhood memory? My mom showing me how to give a bottle to my newborn sister. What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory? Second grade, when I was locked in my classroom during lunch because I was dawdling while getting my jacket from the walk-in closet. I was overlooked by the teacher when she locked the room. It was embarrassing because I pitched such a major fit that custodians came running from every corner of the school. What’s your favorite childhood memory? Getting a kitten as a Christmas present. As a young person, who did you look up to most? My grandfathers What was your worst subject in school? MATH!!! What was your best subject in school? Creative Writing What was your first job? Mowing lawns How did you celebrate publishing your first book? I was at a conference far from home when I got the fantastic news, so I bought myself an extra large Chai Latte and cake for dinner and spent the night calling my friends and relations from my hotel room. And then I celebrated big time when I got home. Where do you write your books? On trains (to and from my job in NYC), in cafes and libraries, and at home. Thank goodness for laptop computers! Where do you find inspiration for your writing? Anywhere and everywhere Which of your characters is most like you? Dill When you finish a book, who reads it first? Usually a fellow writer or writers or my husband. Are you a morning person or a night owl? A morning person What’s your idea of the best meal ever? Lobster tails (or just about any fish) and a fabulous salad Which do you like better: cats or dogs?   I truly adore both, but given my obsession with Siamese cats, I’d have to go with cats. What do you value most in your friends? Trustworthiness and sincerity Where do you go for peace and quiet? Any nook or cranny where I can read. What makes you laugh out loud? Stand up comedy, wise remarks, quick wit. . . I’m pretty easily amused. What’s your favorite song? I’ve got an ipod packed with “favorites,” but Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Change It” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” come to mind as top picks. Who is your favorite fictional character? Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird What are you most afraid of? Heights (but curiously enough, not in airplanes) What time of year do you like best?  Fall What’s your favorite TV show? CBS Sunday Morning If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want for company? My husband If you could travel in time, where would you go? Anywhere in the thirteen American Colonies What’s the best advice you have ever received about writing? Never stop trying to be the best writer possible and write the best story you can. The rest will follow. What do you want readers to remember about your books? The characters What would you do if you ever stopped writing? I honestly don’t know (which probably means I won’t stop writing). What do you like best about yourself? My appreciation of humor and laughter What is your worst habit? Staying up too late (and still getting up early) What is your best habit? Daily yoga practice What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? Writing Dog Gone Where in the world do you feel most at home? Almost anywhere rural What do you wish you could do better? Sing What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you? I hate to admit this, but I didn’t fall in love with reading until I was in college. But once I started reading, I didn’t stop. Some say I’ve made up for lost time. Do you have any quirky writing habits? Of course!  I write best when fueled by hot tea, usually sweet and often latte, or some syrupy coffee concoction when I need a kick. And there is something about a fun marker type pen that inspires me to edit. Do you have a writing ritual? Sort of. If I could, I would get up early every day (except maybe on Sundays) and write until about 4pm, perhaps taking a break or two to read. Since this routine isn’t always possible, I squeeze writing time in whenever and wherever possible.




Dog Gone

Cynthia Chapman Willis

In searching for her dog, who’s run away, a girl must deal with the loss of her mother, and her father’s grief.