Good day, my bookish peeps. My excitement level is building because the virtual West Virginia Book Festival begins on Friday evening. Getting to meet (virtually) and hear new-to-me authors as well as those I’ve read for years, is a bit like opening presents. I love book festivals. I enjoy listening to authors, as well as reading their works simply because most authors are incredible storytellers. Today I’m pleased to welcome a new-to-me storyteller to the blog. Please help me welcome Olivia Swindler, debut author of Cynthia Starts a Band. Ms. Swindler will be sharing with us her impressions on being a storyteller and being true to oneself. So sit back, relax with your favorite beverage, and let’s hear what Ms. Swindler has to say (oops, almost forgot, please add Cynthia Starts a Band to your TBR list if it isn’t already there). Thank you, Ms. Swindler for taking the time to join us today, the blog is now all yours.
An Authentic Story
I have always been a storyteller. From the moment I learned that I could keep my sister’s attention if I had a good enough story, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
When I started writing, it took me years to find my voice. No matter what the plot was, for some reason, the story kept falling flat. The words that I was writing didn’t feel like me because they weren’t me. The stories I was trying to tell were not mine to carry. I knew it. Those who read my words knew it. It was not authentic.
In my mid-twenties, I had an “oh-my-gosh-the-world-is-ending-and-I-will-never-find-love-again” breakup. (Older and wiser now, I wish I was dramatic when I typed those words, but I know that you can find that phrasing verbatim somewhere in a text to my sister). I really thought that my life was over.
I started to tell a few of my friends about my recently ended relationship. After describing something my ex had said to me while we were dating, one of my dearest friends said the words I had been dreading and denying—that he had been emotionally abusive and manipulative.
With the pieces of my broken heart, I refused to believe her. He HAD loved me. I loved him.
A few months went by, and I did my best to forget her words. I moved on with my life. I figured out who I was again. I felt like myself. And then, one morning, I got on Twitter. The #metoo movement had begun, and I found myself absentmindedly scrolling through the tweets. I could relate to almost every tweet. The things these women were calling abuse were things that I had experienced in this relationship.
I fell to the floor and cried.
From my spot on the floor, I wrote what would become the last song in Cynthia Starts a Band, Wasn’t Love. I had spent the better half of a year justifying this bad behavior because I thought that the way I was being treated was the way love was supposed to look like. For years, I held onto that song, keeping it as an anthem to myself. It was a reminder of what I had walked through. A testament to my own strength and courage.
And then, after years of writing stories that were not mine to write, the story of Eleanor Quinn, a woman who is escaping an abusive relationship, came to me. The words ultimately wrote themselves.
- I wrote Cynthia Starts a Band as a beacon of hope for anyone trying to find their agency again.
- I wrote Cynthia Starts a Band as a love letter to anyone who has felt alone in their pain.
- I wrote Cynthia Starts a Band to remind myself of the courage it takes to start over.
I hope that through stories like Cynthia Starts a Band, readers feel empowered and remember that they can do hard things. I hope you feel seen. I hope you feel loved. ♦
Cynthia Starts a Band by Olivia Swindler
ISBN: 9781631954900 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631954917 (eBook)
ASIN: B097KV9C5G (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Release Date: October 19, 2021 (paperback edition)
Genre: Fiction | Friendship | Women’s Fiction
Eleanor Quinn lives a life most young girls dream of. She’s the lead singer of a wildly successful band, dating the most beautiful man in America, and in love with her life on tour. She pours her heart into every song she writes and genuinely enjoys connecting with fans. So, when she disappears after her fiance’s fairy-tale perfect proposal on stage, the world is shocked. Worse yet, he starts telling interviewers that Eleanor is crazy — possibly even a danger to herself and those around her. As the weeks go by, the world wants to know: Who is Eleanor Quinn really?
But Eleanor needs to find that out for herself.
Broken and filled with self-doubt after the proposal, Eleanor embarks on a journey to regain agency in her life. She needs to reconnect with the Ellie Quinn underneath pop sensation “Eleanor Quinn.” Determined to find herself again, she moves in with her cousin in Seattle, picks a new name, and enrolls in a local university’s writing class. But she starts to realize that running away and starting over isn’t as easy as it seems in movies. Crushed by self-doubt and subconscious fears, ghosts from her past refuse to leave her alone. She realizes the only way forward is to share her version of the past.
Olivia Swindler’s debut novel embraces the values of family, empowerment, and healing and draws on the #metoo movement. Reminiscent of Evvie Drake Starts Over (Linda Holmes) and Searching for Sylvie Lee (Jean Kwok), Cynthia Starts a Band tells the story of starting over, discovering who you are when the world isn’t looking, and summoning the courage to be honest with yourself and the world.
Meet the Author
Olivia Swindler was raised in Spokane, Washington but currently resides in Grenoble, France, as the Communication Coordinator for Young Life in Europe. She spends most of her spare time wandering through the mountains and eating her weight in bread.
Olivia believes that through fiction we can learn and grow from one another because there is something magical about picking up a book and allowing it to transport you someplace new. Cynthia Starts a Band is her debut novel. She hopes it will create and foster hard, real-life conversations, inspiring readers to have the courage to discover who they are when the world isn’t looking.
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for one (1) print copy of Cynthia Starts a Band by Olivia Swindler via The Book Diva’s Reads. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on 10/28/2021 and the winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 10/29/2021. Giveaway is limited to US residents ONLY. Any entry received with a non-US address will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law.