Taking ownership of who I am as a writer, the books that inspired me and other randoms

Cindi Page Author

Hello, my name is Cindi and I’m a romance  writer…

It look me the longest time to own the fact that I really want to write love stories. I guess I always thought that if I ever did write, it had to be something more (substantial?) than a love story / chicklit. I’m over that kind of thinking now. I just want to write what makes me happy, and for now that’s romance. Oh, and I reserve the right to change my mind about genres without prior notice 🙂

I’ve always loved reading and very soon after devouring all the Danielle Steel books in the local library I moved onto the classics. Reading has never been a chore for me, so I dedicated myself to reading widely, although it was only in adulthood that I really embraced fantasy.

Here’s a list of the love stories, for varying reasons that have touched me and linger with me still (in no particular order):

Cindi Page Author blog
The Love Stories that have lingered.

 

 

Message from Nam – Danielle Steele, Like Water for ChocolateLaura Esquivel, Possession – A.S. Byatt, The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger, The Promise of StardustPriscille Sibley, Me Before You– Jojo Moyes, Outlander (the book series) – Diana Gabaldon, TwilightStephenie Meyer, Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë’, The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton, Love Story – Erich Segal, The Fault in Our Stars – John Green, Love, in English – Karina Halle, Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy, Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami.

At university in the late nineties I was totally in my element studying English, and that exposed me to even more genres and styles than before. I guess it also taught me how to think about stories, plots and interpretation and I definitely grew as a reader.

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I lacked the self-confidence to write because I believed that if I ever did it,  actually wrote something, I had to write something amazing and award winning and something “literary”. I was Michiel Heyns’ student, damnit, and if there’s ever pressure to be a late bloomer in writing and a phenomenon, well, he is it!  Being a writer was nothing more than an elusive dream… until one day. I woke up and realised: holy cow, I’m 32 years old and I’ve never written anything! I no longer felt like I had the “rest of my life” to do thing I’ve always wanted to do. So, one Saturday morning in 2013 I started writing “A Piece of My Heart” – back then the title I had in mind was “The Kilim Collector”. It was the first time I’d ever attempted to write anything more than a short piece of poetry and it was an odd start – as in: I remember writing a whole chapter: the final chapter, essentially the ending of a story,  to a book I hadn’t even started plotting.

My trip to Istanbul in 2002 had made such an impression me, and even though I met a Turkish hunk, I certainly did not embark on a romantic relationship with him. Perhaps if there was a real romance then I would not have battled coming up with a plot for my story initially! I really started writing the story blind. There was no plan, no plot, no nothing; just a whisper of a story in the back of my mind about a South African girl falling madly in love with a Turkish hunk who was too old for her.649921

My original ending for A Piece of My Heart, which I ditched

Perhaps it would tickle the people who have read it now to know that in my initial start, the book ended with Alkan arriving at Victoria’s door with an engagement ring. Ha! But every time I went back to that ending I was dissatisfied. It just wasn’t right, because let’s face it, your Turkish heartthrob isn’t just going to pitch up at your door with the family heirloom to put on your finger because you are pregnant. No, happily ever after had to be something else (more) for me. I wanted something more for Victoria than: then comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes a baby in a bay carriage! So although my book is a romance novel and although the ending isn’t tied up with a red ribbon and roses, it is a satisfactory ending where future happiness is still on the cards.

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Being a writer was a romantic notion in itself. What a wake-up call.

I saw myself as a Carey Bradshaw in Sex in the City, sitting behind my laptop and the words just flowing. I saw myself writing with long stem goblets of wine perched on my desk, but always just writing. Hollywood is a dirty little liar. I never once saw Carey being distracted by toddler boys who were either hungry or needed the toilet that minute (or both!). I never saw her leave her perfect minimalist desk to go and wee or boil a kettle. And she never ever sat down to write in a styling combination of pajamas and tracksuits without a perfectly made up face and hair pinned up with whatever was lying on the bathroom sink…

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And the biggest secret of all is that writing is hard work and hardly no-one wants to pay for you it. Most people, even those in the profession, do not tell you that. So it takes an enormous amount of sheer pigheadedness to actually write despite all of this.  To write when you don’t feel like it. To write when you have no time. To keep going even though you believe more and more that what you are writing is the biggest load of sh*t.  And to steak time to do it: on the train on your way to work, during lunch breaks, when your kids are watching Barney… Write, write write.

I hope that if you are writer that some of this will ring true for you too, and make you feel like you are not crazy or alone. Okay, maybe a little crazy, but certainly not alone.

[If you are keen to read my debut novel A Piece of My Heart click right here to start reading the first chapters.]

 

 

Inspiration and Insights: Places and Wine in A Piece of My Heart

A Piece of My Heart may very well be the love story of Victoria, a South African born farm girl and Alkan, a Turkish businessman, but to me, the places and settings of the story are as much part of the romance as the relationship between these two seemingly mis-matched characters.

The story starts in Chiba, Japan…

In 2002 I spent 4 weeks doing sight seeing in Japan and in 2003 I packed my suitcase for an even longer adventure: teaching English as a foreign language. Where my first trip was like a no strings attached fling, perfect because I wasn’t there long enough to experience anything bad, my second stint felt a lot like marriage. The honeymoon was over just few weeks in and I soon found myself battling the icy Japanese winter and living an apartment smaller than my father’s garage.  A life severely different to the one I was used to back home, in South Africa. But I’d be lying if I said that I did not fall in love with Japan, despite how hard it was to be there alone, not speaking the language and knowing no-one. I made friends. I loved my job and culture and I learned to read menus – that saved me!

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Japan 2003 (photos taken with a “mik en druk” camera, so excuse the poor quality).

Istanbul, Turkey

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Image credit: Bosphorus Tours

A three day layover in Istanbul in 2002 turned into a 7 day holiday in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in. I loved how ancient it was. Call me crazy, but walking along those cobbled roads, visiting Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia, it’s almost like you can feel history. All the energy that’s been expended there, the then and the now, feels meshed into one. It’s an Old world with New people. During my visit I went to numerous kilim shops, tasted more flavours of Turkish Delight that I knew existed and drank apple tea at least six times a day.

 

 

Stellenbosch, South Africa

I spent five years studying at the University in Stellenbosch, but it was only after my return to SA after a year in Japan, that I really starting exploring the winelands. In 2010 I joined a wine club and soon I was not just drinking wine for leisure, but spending many happy hours developing my palate for wine, researching and learning. I’ve had countless tutored tastings since then and been fortunate enough to meet and interview various winemakers for my tourism blog. My keen interest in wine has developed into a kind of work-hobby which has been an amazing career journey too.

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Image credit: Boschkloof wines on Twitter

Tafelsig, the farm Victoria is from in A Piece of My Heart is a fictional place, but Chateau Beau Belle, as well as Boschkloof, which are mentioned by name, are very real. (And if you ever find yourself in the Stellenbosch wine region, I highly recommend that you visit these places for their extraordinary wines). I chose to mention these specific wineries for one reason only: I love their Shiraz, and that’s saying a lot because Shiraz is not my favourite wine varietal. At Beau Belle, my favourite wine is their Reserve Shiraz (and more recently I’ve taken a liking to their easy drinking chenin blanc called the Cooper), while at Boschkloof the Epilogue is one of those award winning reds which are always sold out. In which case, the Conclusion is another great choice from their premium range. I mention all of this very much by the way as no-one has paid me to mention these places, they are simply places I like and wines I have REALLY liked.

I hope that has given you some insights into the inspiration for the setting for A Piece of My Heart.

Happy reading,

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Cover Reveal!

Say hello to the final cover of A Piece of My Heart!

Thank you for all your input, I’m absolutely thrilled at how the final product has evolved – and all thanks to you!

A Piece of My Heart paperback is now available for pre-order for a limited time: 1-10 April 2016 exclusively in South Africa. Click here to get added to the pre-order list.

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