I want to introduce Lindsay Cummings to you. She just broke into the publishing world with two separate series releasing in the same year. The Murder Complex (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins) and The Balance Keepers (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins). The imprint of the second series is the same that published Veronica Roth and the blockbuster Divergent series. I came across Lindsay on facebook and was immediately intrigued by her outspoken faith to the generally secular publishing world in which she reviews and writes for. Her husband is a youth pastor and the two of them love Jesus and animals, but you'll read a bit more about both of those in the interview below. A savvy promoter, Lindsay has created a presence by reviewing books and coming up with a catchy brand called #BookNerdigans. You can even buy #BookNerdigans gear. Alright so without further delay let's get to the interview.
Brock: Lindsay thank you for discussing your writing journey with us and how your faith influences your writing.
Lindsay: Thanks so much for chatting with me! It’s really cool to be able to talk about my faith so openly in an interview, so I’m excited about this.
Brock: Lindsay would you introduce yourself to my readers.
Lindsay: The short answer, is that I’m a 23 year old author at HarperCollins, who lives in Texas and loves God. The long answer, which I like more, is that I’m a 23 year old author who only got to this place because God took me on a crazy journey, and when I finally opened up my eyes and paid attention to His voice, He lead me home. I live in Celina, TX with my husband Josh, who is a first-time Youth Pastor at LifeWay Church. I’m an animal lover, with dogs, a wolf, a draft horse, tons of chickens, and a hedgehog. I love singing worship music, reading far too much to be cool, and I love my God.
Brock: I like the long answer too. Lindsay, when did you feel called to be a writer?
Lindsay: I was always a writer, even as a kid. My dad wrote a book when I was younger, and I always wanted to be like him. I wrote little short stories all the time growing up, but the real honest writing started after I graduated high school, and got sick with Chronic Fatigue. It was about 2 1/2 years of surgeries and being bedridden, sometimes so weak I couldn’t get up off of the couch without someone helping me stand. Writing was an escape, a way to explore freedoms that my own weak body couldn’t give me at the time. I never wanted to be an author, not as a career. But God lead me here, and now, I don’t want to do anything else.
Brock: Amazing the journey and plan he has us on at times. I too never expected to be a published author. Tell us about your writing journey and the milestones along the way?
Lindsay: It started with the Chronic Fatigue, and simply writing to escape. But by the time I had finished my very first book (a terrible book, I might add), I realized that THIS was what I wanted to do with my life. It’s funny, all my life, I’ve bounced around to different hobbies (guitar, ice hockey, horses, hair styling, and so much more), but writing always stuck with me. When I finished my first book, I went to a writer’s conference in Dallas, called DFWcon. This is where my journey really begin, as I met my agent, Louise Fury. My first book that I pitched to her, she didn’t want. I kept her email address, and about 4 months later, after I had another new book, I took a shot and sent her an email. She was very enthusiastic about reading The Murder Complex, which is the series that, eventually, 3 years later, finally hit shelves in bookstores. It’s been a rough journey. I struggle with depression, exhaustion, and I worry too much. But God is always there to get me through to the next day.
Brock: Were there any amazing/miraculous doors God opened for you?
Lindsay: My agent is incredible, truly. She’s a South African spitfire of a woman, who knows how to sell a book :) I just adore her, and honestly, I feel like God plucked her out of the massive pile of agents and saved her just for me. She knows I worry and stress, and she knows how to calm me down. We got a lot of rejections for The Murder Complex when it was out on submission with publishers, but Louise continued to remind me that there was a plan. It would happen. We just didn’t know when. Eventually we got the book deal, and then another about a year later (with my children’s series, Balance Keepers), and I can see God’s hand in every step of the way. Sometimes, I imagine He’s up in Heaven, chuckling as He looks down at me while I stress and stress and stress. I imagine Him saying, “Lindsay, Child, I’ve got this. Just trust me!"
Brock: I have been reminded on more than one occasion that Go's always got me. He's always carrying me and His plan is perfect. Lindsay, how does your faith impact your writing? You are writing for a secular audience, so in what ways do you intertwine your faith into your work?
Lindsay: The books that I write are not Christian, but strangely, The Murder Complex is my own take on a dark science fiction version of Revelation. Balance Keepers is just a fun fantasy book that kids can enjoy. While I don’t write Christian fiction, I do try very hard to let people know that I’m a Believer. On my social media accounts, I’ll post pictures of my Bible. I’ll post a cool shot of a verse. I always try to mention, when I’m speaking, that God is the ultimate reason for my success. I want readers to know that it’s “cool” to be a Christian. You can still write dark scifi, and fantasy, and love God! I’ve been able to talk to some teens who aren’t Believers, but have taken an interest in it because of my posts…and honestly, that’s the coolest part of it all.
Brock: Our mission field is around us everyday in all we do. Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (ESV) What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Lindsay: I write full time from home, so I like to sleep in. Once I’m up, I snuggle with my giant German Shepherds for a while, and then I write for an hour or two. I give myself a break, maybe take a nap (I have to nap every day because of my energy levels), and then write a little more. I also try to read every single day. Reading great books inspires me to write great books.
Brock: Any particular habits while you write?
Lindsay: I can’t write with music unless it’s instrumental only! (Lately, the Mockingjay Part One Score has been lovely). I also like to be alone, with no distractions.
Brock: Tell us about your blogging/reviewing?
Lindsay: I started book blogging before I was picked up by my agent and then HarperCollins. I think it just helped me have a solid start to an online presence, and I was able to stay up to date on the newest books and trends in the industry.
Brock: Tells us about #Booknerdigans
Lindsay: #Booknerdigans is a silly hashtag I created a few years ago. It’s just for people to use, if they love books. I didn’t realize it was going to explode in a big way. It’s been fun to see people using it all over Twitter and Instagram. I also started a booknerdigans.com site, for some teens around the world to post their thoughts about new book releases.
Brock: What authors have influenced your writing if any?
Lindsay: I loved CS Lewis growing up. His fantasy worlds are so rich and alive. I also loved JK Rowling, and Suzanne Collins. While the latter two aren’t Christian writers, they’ve definitely got God-given talents for creating incredible stories.
Brock: Alright now we'll switch gears from author life to the books you've just released. First share about The Murder Complex series with us.
Lindsay: The Murder Complex takes place in the futuristic Florida Everglades, in a walled-in city called the Shallows, where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate. It’s a dark story, but there are patches of light littered throughout. There is also a prequel novella, The Fear Trials, that’s out in ebook format, and book 2, The Death Code, comes out in April 2015!
Brock: Who is The Murder Complex written for?
Lindsay: It’s Young Adult, which typically means high school to college, but honestly, I think it’s a series that everyone can enjoy.
Brock: Who are the main characters in The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: It focuses on Meadow Woodson, a 16-year-old girl whose father has trained her to kill to survive, and Zephyr James, a 17-year-old orphan, whose job is to clean the streets of carnage once the latest murders have happened.
Brock: What elements of your faith are woven into The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: It’s my take on Revelation—with a futuristic, assassin twist.
Brock: Is there anything you wish for your readers to take away from The Murder Complex?
Lindsay: I simply want readers to enjoy the book. I want them to be able to connect with the story, and just have fun with it. I wrote this first book while I was very sick, post-surgery, and writing it was therapeutic for me. If one person is struggling with the same type of thing, and my book helped them get through it…well, that would be pretty cool for me!
Brock: How many books are planned for The Murder Complex, and can you give us any insight on what to expect next.
Lindsay: The Death Code is book 2, and it has the same fast-paced, short chapters that alternate between Meadow and Zephyr. It’s a fun book. It took me about 7 drafts to get it right, so now that it’s done, I’m really excited for readers to get it in 2015.
Brock: Now you also have a Kids fiction series. Tell us about Balance Keepers.
Lindsay: Balance Keepers is a fantasy trilogy, about kids who go to school in the Core of the earth. From there, they learn to harness one unique set of special powers through a Tile necklace they each get. In the Core, they train to enter hidden Realms that, when they are out of Balance, threaten the surface world above.
Brock: Who is Balance Keepers written for?
Lindsay: Balance Keepers is considered Middle Grade, so upper elementary through middle school. But again, it’s a fun, light-hearted book that anyone can enjoy!
Brock: Who are the main characters in Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: Albert Flynn is an eleven-year-old boy whose parents are divorced. He goes to spend the summer with his dad in Herman, Wyoming, where he discovers the Core. Albert is fun as most boys his age are. He has a companion dog named Farnsworth, a magical dog that has glowing blue eyes! Albert is joined by Birdie Howell, a spitfire of a girl who’s whip smart, and Leroy Jones, a somewhat nerdy, scaredy-cat kid who is the comic relief in every chapter.
Brock: What elements of your faith are woven into the Balance Keepers series if any?
Lindsay: Not many—but when I do school visits, I’m not afraid to tell kids who I put my trust in!
Brock: Is there anything you wish for your readers to take away from Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: I just want them to have fun while they read it. I want them to smile and laugh. It’s such a fun series, and I feel like the books can just make people happy!
Brock: How many books are planned for Balance Keepers?
Lindsay: There are 3 books planned for Balance Keepers. Book 2 comes out September 2015.
Brock: I noticed your acknowledgements in the back of the books mention Jesus. Why did you feel it necessary to give Him credit?
Lindsay: I am nothing without God, and I want the world to know that.
Brock: Tell us all the amazing ways readers can find you and connect with you.
Lindsay: I’m on Twitter @authorlindsayc, Instagram @authorlindsaycummings, and www.lindsaycummingsbooks.com
Brock: Thank you Lindsay for introducing us to you and for giving us a look into your work.
Lindsay: Thanks for chatting with me! It’s great to be able to openly talk about my faith, and just let people know that God is the reason for it all. God bless you, and everyone else who reads this!
You can read more about Lindsay Cummings through her websites lindsaycummingsbooks.com and booknerdigans.com.
Her three released titles are:
The Murder Complex (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins)
The Fear Trials (A Murder Complex Prequel Novella) (HarperTeen Impulse)
Balance Keepers: The Fires of Calderon (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins)