Summer of Indie Hangs With Cynthia Tottleben

Summer of Indie spoke with Cynthia Mercer Tottleben, who has been a passionate writer since she was a child. We interviewed Cynthia to learn more about her as an author, and to find out more about her novella The Final Chamber.

The Final Chamber

Cover for 'The Final Chamber'Although she didn’t know how her story would end, she knew it wouldn’t end well. For anyone.

She has vowed to be a good mother. To honor, love, and raise her adopted daughter in a home that promises to be a sanctuary and offer her safety after years of abuse and horrendous neglect. But to her daughter, Jessie, the love is unfamiliar and frightening.

Home becomes a combat zone, the walls painted with the white rage and constant barrage of hatred Jessie unleashes. Her psychological problems fester for years, growing more violent, causing the family to slowly unravel. When Jessie kills the beloved family cat, she triggers such terror that no one in her wake will ever be the same.

Especially Mom, who is determined to do the right thing and protect everyone involved. From Jessie. From herself. From the people who caused them both so much pain.

Even if she has to do it one bullet at a time.


After finding out about The Final Chamber,  we held a short interview with author Cynthia Mercer Tottleben:

Q: Can you tell us how you got started writing?
A: I began my writing career as a child, when I vetted my self-illustrated stories of Homer the Grasshopper to various publishing houses and immediately started racking up my rejections. No matter where my life has taken me or the stumbling blocks I've met along the way, my primary goal has always been to be an author.

Q: Where do you currently live?

A: My roots are in Indiana. I grew up in Greencastle and attended Indiana University in Bloomington. Presently my husband and I live in rural Illinois, where we enjoy the endless oceans of corn and the small town hospitality that keeps us slightly sane.

Q: Do you have any other works currently available:
A: I also have a novel, THE NEVERLIGHT, available on the KDP Select program


Q: Can you tell us some interesting tidbits about yourself?

A: I abhor all condiments. Mayo is the worst. I can barely stand to be in the same room with someone who is eating it. I'd rather eat a plate of live roaches than a tuna salad sandwich.

People call me The Crazy Recycler. I recycle everything, and haul carloads of waste home from my job as a retail manager, which my husband dutifully hauls to the curb on pick up day. One week we had 72 bags of plastic that we collected, mostly hangers and shrink wrap, but also quite a few bottles.

Q: Who is your favorite author?
A: My favorite author is Karin Slaughter. I love that her characters are at once strong yet completely fragile. She is able to show people as we truly are, with flaws, scars, horror hanging over our shoulders, but with a thick layer of goodness underneath that just can't be contained.

Q: Can you tell us how you create your characters?
A: In my books, I take characters perched on the precipice of sanity and give them a nice shove. I like to know what it takes for a basically good person to snap and do horrible things. One of the news stories that really struck me was about Torry Hansen, who adopted a child and then later put him on a plane back to Russia, with a note saying she didn't want him anymore. http://abcnews.go.com/WN/anger-mom-adopted-boy-back-russia/story?id=10331728 My husband and I had also adopted a child, although American, and while our relationship has had its good moments, it has also been a nightmare. Our daughter, who was 11 when we adopted her, came wrapped in psychological issues and trauma so deep that she could not escape them. Our household was unimaginable, and we had the support of many agencies and therapists intent on helping our family survive. When this story hit the news, I totally understood the mother. I can't imagine going through what we were barely able to handle, without the magnificent assistance we were given. As hers was a private adoption, she did not have the resources given us, unless she could afford them on her own, which would be hard to do. The mother snapped. But she didn't have a lot of options, no way to escape her situation. She did not kill the boy. Yet she was vilified internationally for her actions.
When I heard about Torry, I might have been the only person in the world who completely related to her. She is exactly the type of character I love, a good person gone bad. A woman trying to do something wonderful, who gets hammered into a corner and escapes only into madness. What does it take to push any of us over that edge? What is the story behind the little blurb we hear on the news?
Q: Where can readers find you online?

A: My links: www.cynthiatottleben.com,
https://www.facebook.com/ctottleben I maintain a blog on the Mother Nature Network, under local correspondents for the State of Illinois http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/illinoisand I HATE twitter, so I don't participate.

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