Local Author Spotlight: C. S. O'Cinneide


C.S. O'Cinneide is the author of Petra’s Ghost and the Candace Starr series. Her short stories have appeared in both anthologies and magazines. She lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Starr Sign is the second book in the Candace Starr series. Was the process of writing a sequel different? 

The process of writing a sequel was hell-on-wheels (much like Candace). I really don’t know how other authors do it — produce multiple books in a series. Although, the fact that I was writing Starr Sign at the height of a pandemic might have had something to do with how difficult I found it. I wasn’t alone in that regard. Many writers discovered their muse had gone on “shut-down” with the rest of the world at that time. But deadlines loom even in the midst of a global crisis, so I locked myself in an old shed at the back of my property each day to write (because the house was full of bored people who couldn’t go anywhere). It took me several months in that shed to produce Starr Sign, but in the end I was really proud of what I produced.  A series gives you a chance to really evolve a character — that is both a challenge and a gift for a writer.

The covers of these books are so beautiful. Can you tell us the process of cover designing and the author’s role in that process?

Aren’t the covers gorgeous? Dundurn had sent me two prototypes, one typical of most current crime fiction book covers and one a wonderfully bold pulp fiction illustration. I just loved the second one, for both the use of colour and the retro feel. It seemed to fit perfectly with a novel that is a modern take on the hardboiled crime fiction of the 40’s.

Dundurn hired the talented comic creator and illustrator, Sanya Anwar to do the final copy for both books. We worked together to make sure that the image of Candace was in keeping with her character. We wanted to show a strong female protagonist, not some eye candy in a short skirt. I loved the way Sanya captured Candace’s attitude, particularly on the cover of the first book where she is introduced. While Sanya and the creative team at Dundurn deserve all the credit, they involved me in every aspect of the process, from colour to concept to the style of Candace’s hair!      

Where did you get the inspiration for Candace? Is she based on anyone you know in real life?

I always say that Candace is an anti-hero avatar for any woman who ever wanted to throw a bad guy up against a slushie machine at the 7-11. And I include myself in that group. So to some extent Candace is based on me, or the me I’d be if I wasn’t so very nice and well adjusted. She shares some other traits with me as well — we both have hair that deploys like an airbag in humid weather and we both possess a somewhat cocky sense of humour.  But unlike Candace I haven’t killed multiple people, although I came close when all those people were on lock-down with me in my house.

Purchase a copy of Starr Sign from your local independent bookstore.