"An ordinary woman (?) with an extra-ordinary collection."
Here’s something a little different. It’s an interview. Yes, we’ve been there before, but not quite like this. This time, Sin and I are joining forces to chat to long time fan and friend, Cindy Harper. Now, you know Sin can ramble on, so I’ll try to keep him in check. Not sure how successful I’ll be.
Ey up, me ol’ china! Sin here. Me and what’s his name were wondering if you’d be willing to answer a few questions. Not in a ‘You’re nicked’ police kind of way, more in a ‘You’re a fan? How weird!’ kind of way.
Shaun: Hi Cindy. What he means is, would you mind being interviewed about your ‘love’ of Sin? Before he gets excited, I mean the story, of course.
Cindy: I'd be happy to. Good thing I just finished reading his story again.
Sin: Again? How many times is that now?
Shaun: Are you finding new things each time you read it, or are you simply enjoying the ride (I assume there’s enjoyment in there)?
Cindy - Sin: I've read your story close to a dozen times now. The prologue maybe a half dozen more.
Cindy - Shaun: I do find new things every now and again. Or certain parts will resonate stronger than before. The first time I read Sin's story, it was the shorter, original version. I could only get a few pages in at a time, because it was so strange being that far inside someone's head. Then, the longer version came out. Once I'd gotten through the complete book, I was going along for whatever ride Sin wanted to take.
Sin: Wow. And they call me insane! I have to admit to feeling a little flattered though.
Shaun: That’s impressive. I’ve watched the same film more than once and occasionally read a book a few times (The Belgariad and Ocean at the End of the Lane) but none that many times. What is it about Sin which captivates you so?
Sin: Yes. What he said.
Cindy: OK. Why am I insane?
Sin: Reading my story so many times! I didn’t realise I was that interesting!
Shaun: He said it, not me. I think reading my book so many times is a little weird. I mean a sign of impeccable taste!
Cindy - Sin: You are unlike any other character I've ever read. That you openly allow your reader so far inside your head? I can only marvel at, and wonder where and what you're going to do next.
Cindy - Shaun: Admit it, you're pleased. I know I've told family and friends that if they don't want to read the whole book, at least read the prologue. After that, then decide if you want to read the rest of the story. More often than not, I end up loaning out my printed copy of the book.
Sin's story will stay with you long after reading. I know a couple of friends that won't pick up coins from the ground anymore. I've watched them reach for a penny, but pull back at the last moment before touching said coin. They'll laugh at themselves, and then move on. The coin left behind.
For a while there, I kept finding dimes. Even when I knew my pocket was empty, a dime would show up. No clue where it came from; it was just there. Creeped me out for a bit. I laughed about it, but it was still weird.
I do know the "Flip. Catch." has captured my imagination. I've been designing a quilt based on some of the imagery from the story. I've been given a two pence to work and play with. It's been an interesting experiment to try and photograph the coin flipping in midair. I haven't gotten all of the quilt designed yet. I'm still trying to decide if I want to storyboard key scenes, or just focus on the coin. You'll know once the quilt is done.
Sin: Hey, if I have to walk through the darkened halls of my mind, I want someone there holding my hand! Who knows what might jump out at us?!
Shaun: OK, I admit it. You’re my very own
stalker cheerleader and it’s very flattering. As for the coins, a few people have told me that. I think it’s so cool that my book can have that effect on them!
Sin: I think I’ll avoid all currency that isn’t in note form from now on! Much safer. You can’t flip a tenner!
Shaun: Chicken. So, Cindy – What do you think to Joy? Do you think she helps or hinders Sin?
Sin: Don’t just be nice because she’s my sister!
Cindy - Sin: The idea that you'd "want" someone to hold your hand... I'm almost speechless. That you'd be afraid of what might jump out at you?!? Who are you? And what have you done with Sin??
*peers at Shaun a bit closer* Cindy - Shaun, are you messing around with Sin's psyche again? I'd have never thought Sin would be the one to be 'afraid' of anything, let alone what might be in the dark.
Unless... *pauses to consider* Unless... Sin's getting sweet on a dame. *eyes twinkling* Sin? Have you gotten yourself a dame stashed somewhere?
Cindy - Shaun: I am but a fan. Ok, a cheerleader, too. I'm working hard at not falling into the 'stalker' category. :-P I've met stalker-fans. *cringes* Yeah, so NOT want to be like that. As my job as cheerleader, how goes the sequel "Mortal Sin"? Please don't tell me I'm going to have to wait 10 years before getting my fingers on a copy of that story.
Cindy - Sin: Or, you could just get yourself a debit card. You'd never have to touch currency of any sort. Although, it might be interesting to see what would happen if you did a 'flip, catch' with any other sort of currency. I'll admit to be curious about what other sorts of things may or may not happen. *pauses to consider* Or, is it just that particular coin that forces you to focus?
Cindy - Shaun: Joy adds depth to Sin's story. While I get that she has "rules" she can't break, it's interesting watching her try to bend them to attempt to help Sin. As for whether or not she's there to help him? I haven't quite decided. She's there for a purpose. At first, I thought she was more of a manifestation of his conscience, and this was just another way of showing how he's trying to deal with himself (and what he's done). When Joy's story came out, I needed to reassess my original thoughts on her. The Matthews family has issues. Like SERIOUS issues. Where did those come from? Why did they manifest the way they did? Was there more to the parents (in particular, the dad) that we've been shown?
Cindy - Sin: You should know me well enough, by now, to know I'm not going to hold any punches about your story or the characters in it. Joy is a beacon. I'm reserving judgment if she's there as a savior or destroyer.
Sin: Wouldn’t you be afraid wandering around inside my head? If not, then maybe you need to be in the asylum yourself! As for me getting sweet on a ‘dame’, my lips are sealed. Nothing and no-one stashed here, no way, no how.
Shaun: Don’t be blaming me. He’s a law (of physics) unto himself! I don’t think he’s afraid of the dark, I think he’s afraid of his dark.
Sin: Ohhh, get you, Mr. Deep Thinker. Didn’t know you had it in you.
Shaun: Don’t start. I’ve got you in me! Anyway, Cindy. You’re more than a fan. Definitely cheerleader material, with everything you’ve done for us. We appreciate it. The sequel is going… Sin, being Sin was meant to visit a certain place. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t and it’s kind of surprised me, so I’ve stalled a little. I need to research with a policeman what might happen next. I do hope it won’t be ten years!
Sin: Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t mean to get myself arrested!
Sin: A debit card is a good idea. Saying that, I never had an issue with, say, a fifty pence piece. It was always that two pence coin.
Shaun: I did, actually, think Joy may have been Sin’s sub-conscious. Things are often not as I expect, though, so it turned out she wasn’t. She holds him in check as much as she can but can’t help certain things happening. Hopefully, in the sequel, she’ll have more success. She’ll certainly try. I think their parents may have an appearance, and we may see behind the boarded up door. Not sure yet.
Sin: Joy is bacon? Oh, you meant… Well, we’ll see. So, this all happens where we grew up. Could you see stories written about where you grew up, or is it all too ‘normal’?
Shaun: Good point. I always thought Grimsby was a bit ‘grim’ and here am I writing about it!
Cindy - Sin: Oh, Sin. Whatever am I to do with you? There are days you give me hope. In the most unexpected ways.
Cindy - Shaun: Now that Sin's story is released as an audiobook, how do you feel about the 'voice' that's been given to him? How close is the actor's voice to the voice that ping-pongs inside your head?
Cindy - Sin: How close is this bloke's voice (on the audiobook format) to your own?
Sin: Cindy, the fact that I could give anyone hope gives me hope. And proves the world is weirder than I ever imagined. Or you are, not sure which.
Shaun: At first, I wasn’t so sure. Because Sin is so much a part of me (Sin: Or you a part of me…), I expected him to sound, well… like me! The fact he doesn’t took some getting used to. Roger, the (Grammy nominated) narrator, put on something of an accent to ‘Northernise’ his own accent, but still, it didn’t sound like I thought he should. It didn’t take long, however, to become accustomed and then to feel he had it spot on. The depth and warmth to his voice matches perfectly. Now, I can’t imagine any other voice. He’s going to be doing Dark Places soon, I believe.
Sin: I don’t sound that much like you, Shaun. Too nasally. Roger is a well-spoken Southerner, as he describes himself, so he doesn’t particularly sound like me either. But yes, I agree. Once you get well into in, it feels natural. Maybe more natural than I do. It’s very strange having someone else read my words as me. What do you think Cindy? Do you know how Shaun speaks? Is it anywhere close to how you imagine I speak?
Cindy - Sin: The only time I've heard Shaun speak is on random videos he's posted to Facebook and on radio interviews. We've never called each other to speak on the phone. As for whether I think either of you sound alike? *shakes head* No. The both of you are vastly different. Listening to your words for the first time was an adjustment. It took me a couple of chapters to get used to this voice. I'd been expecting something a bit more 'rough around the edges'. However, now that I'm almost all of the way through, it's easier to accept the actor's voice as yours.
Cindy - Shaun: Where will you go from here? What will be the next step(s) in Sin's world? I am curious about something, if I may. How did the idea of telling Sin's story from inside his head germinate? Why tell his story from this view point? I know it took a few years to write. I get that.
Sin: Ah, I’m pleased you feel we’re so very different. I’d hate to think that people see us as the same person. I’m sure Shaun would too, considering what I’m like. Not that I’m bad or anything – just misunderstood. By the Grim Reaper. Do you like how the audiobook turned out then? I have to say I do. Well, I don’t have to say, but I want to say. You know what I mean. You’ve been in my head almost as much as I have!
Shaun: Well, there’s Sin’s blog, which he’s a bit lax on writing recently! And, of course, I have his sequel in process. I think he may write another short story, but I’m unsure about the how and where. Perhaps after Mortal Sin is done.
Sin: Lax? Me? Do you know how hard it is to get time to write, either here in the asylum or there in your head? And, talking of lax, the sequel…?
Shaun: Yes, I know. I need to work more on it. I had to finish Home and now I’m working on getting Singularity Books up. It’s going around in my head.
Sin: Yes, I know that – I’m getting dizzy!
Shaun: Writing Sin from his point of view was accident, really. I just started writing and there he was. I had no idea what sort of story it was going to be, it went the way it wanted to. I possibly needed to write it to let out my inner demons. Now I have, they still want to play and he still doesn’t want to shut up!
Sin: You just be careful with those demons. They bite. Cindy – How did you start on the quilts and so on? I’m looking forward to a certain one!
Cindy - Sin: *laughs* The two of you... sheesh. It took me a while to like the audiobook. I'd been waiting for one to come out since your story was in its shortened version on Smashwords. *pauses* That seems so long ago.
Cindy - Shaun: I've noticed a curious lack of journaling on his blog. I'm going to assume it's because you've been so busy with promoting and helping others get their stories out. (Quite noble and interesting to watch it all unfold.)
Cindy - Sin: You complain of difficulty trying to write because Shaun is so busy. Maybe you ought to try talking him into getting you some sort of tape recorder. At least you can get the words out. Have Shaun play secretary, and type up the dictation. ;-)
Cindy - Shaun: Just kidding. I hope. Singularity Books? I saw you were working on a logo. Will you be publishing works by other authors, too?
Cindy - Sin: How do I start the art quilts? Usually, it's one of two ways. The easiest is seeing a completed image done by someone. I've been working with an artist that draws his own art and an actor that does photo-art.
The more difficult way is when I think of an image. I stink at sketching and drawing. (It's not where my strongest skills are.) I have to figure out how to get the image out of my head and into a format someone else can see.
Once I have an image I can play/work with, it gets turned into a digital image (if it isn't already). From there, I process said image in photo imaging software. This step is the crucial part. If I can't get the image to work here, it's not going to work later.
At this point, I begin figuring out how big I want to make the art quilt. I try to keep the image within standard quilt sizes, as it's more comfortable. I print out my newly manipulated image in the size I want, and then start piecing my base pattern together. (Yes, this is all the prelude to working with the fabrics.)
Once the base pattern is assembled, I put it on my light wall. (It's like a light table, only bigger.) The design goes through another round of inspections. I'm looking for any areas that aren't as well defined or may give me some trouble. I'm also looking for where to start and figuring out a general path/pattern to complete the design.
By now, I've already sorted my collected fabrics and have a background picked out. From there, it's making all those pieces. Each piece is drawn (traced out) and cut out by hand. It's time consuming and tedious work, but this is where I can finally get the image completely out of my head and allow someone else to see it.
By the time I get done, the finished quilt is usually a fair size bigger than I intended. (I still haven't figured out how that one works.) I've been accused of painting and/or printing the image onto fabric. I don't. I do, somehow, manage to get a fair amount of 3-D effects. It's really neat how that works out.
Oh! I just realized you were asking how I got STARTED doing art quilts! *laughs* Oops.
A friend of mine sent me a few photos that I thought would look neat in fabrics. I asked if he was ok with letting me try it out. After a bit of negotiations, an agreement was met. My first art quilt can be seen in my Facebook photo album called "Quilts". The quilt is called 'Dream Lover'. (I know, I know. Lack of imagination on titles.) This is really the quilt that started it all. I suppose I should finish it some time.
As for a very specific quilt I've got percolating in the back of my head, I'm still trying to capture the image of a two pence coin flipping in midair. I know the effect I want, can even see it in my head. Trying to get the digital version has been entertaining.
Sin: It does seem an age ago. I still remember well churning out the words on the bank of the Nile, but the actual completion of the book feels beforethat, weirdly.
Shaun: I don’t know about noble, lol. We just know how hard it was for us when we started out, so wanted to pass on some knowledge to others. It’s taking off quite well, with local towns showing an interest and, potentially, a TV show in the offing! As for the audiobook, I spoke to the narrator a few days ago. He wanted to touch base on my feelings for the stories and the voice I felt was required. He sees some of the terminology and ways the stories are written to be quite ‘Sin-esque’ and wondered if Sin’s voice should be used. We’re going for something more with a hint of Richard Burton though. With the blog, I’m trying to fit it in around my own blog and promotion and, well, life generally!
Sin: Fit me in? Fit me in? Excuse me while I sit idly by and watch the world spin.
Shaun: Hey, don’t pout. It doesn’t suit you. You know you’re never far from my mind. There’s only so many hours in a day. Maybe you should add time-travel to your repertoire?
Sin: I wouldn’t put it past whatever’s inside of me. Anywho-be-do. Cindy. A tape recorder? He has voice memo on his phone. Never uses it. Oh, once he recorded the sound of the sea whilst in Majorca.
Shaun: I like the sound of the sea. He’s right though – I wouldn’t remember to take it out. It’d be the same if I had a notepad. I’d probably not have a pen. I get there in the end, though. And hopefully, when I do, it’s worth the wait. Regarding Singularity Books, I want to collect all my books under my own banner. They’ll have an identity and, hopefully, people will like it. I hadn’t thought about taking others on, actually. I was just doing it for my own books. I suppose it’s something I could potentially look at one day, maybe.
Sin: Your quilts do look amazing. Some of the depth to the images is brilliant. Yes, I did mean how did you start doing them in the first places, but thanks for the info. It was very interesting. You mentioned my quilt sooo long ago. You can’t complain about me keeping you waiting!
Shaun: Yeah, what he said!
Cindy: Alright guys, I'm sure Shaun has a lot going on. Plus, Sin -- you, my dear, have a sequel to finish. Whereas I've been not so subtly reminded I've got a "special" quilt to work on. I can't thank you enough for all the time you've given me. It really means a lot.
Shaun: Thanks for joining us! It means to lot to the both of us that you’re such a fan and unfaltering advocate of our work.
Sin: I agree. It’s a pleasure to know you and know I have, at least, one friend! If you’re ever passing, I’ll keep a seat warm for you, though I can’t promise Mucous Mickey hasn’t been there first.
I asked Cindy to remind me how we met. This was her answer:
"You followed me on Twitter. You kept promoting this book you'd released on Smashwords. One day, you offered a 50% discount on it. So, I looked it up. The prologue sounded intriguing, and I bought it. That's how I met Sin.
Basically. Once I'd found your webpage, I started looking into anything else you'd written. Imagine my surprise when I found Sin's blog. I wasn't sure what to make of it. Here you have a fictional character writing a not-so-fictional blog about fictional happenings. You'd grown Sin from just words on a screen to something that was as tangible as any other human that writes.
My first thoughts were, "Now that's a neat shtick." I had no clue how you were going to be able to separate yourself from your creation, or how long it'd last.
As the blog posts went up, there was a certain amount of charm to them. Since I didn't really want to let Sin go, this was a neat way to watch him grow and develop even more.
Yes, I treat Sin like he's a 'normal' human being. That's because of how you've presented him. Do I understand he's a fictional character? Yes. I'm very aware he's not a living, breathing human being. That you have the skills to make him transcend mere words on a page is incredible.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of his world."
Thank you, Cindy, for helping Sin become more than simply words.