Anything Could Be Lurking There

Cheryl Peña
Cheryl Peña Author Interview

The House of Wynne Lift follows two men who hunt for a wealthy recluse but when they find him they discover something much darker. What inspired the mystery at the heart of your story?

The book was inspired, strangely, after I took a nap thirty years ago, and when I woke up, I had the title and basic premise in my head. It may have also been in the dream, but I don’t remember the actual dream. However, I wanted to write it, even if it never got published. I’ve been writing books and poetry for as long as I can remember, even before I could read, but always just for the pleasure of doing so. I never thought of publishing anything, which is why the book took so long to come together.

When I was writing the book, Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” may have been in the back of my mind, as well. I liked the idea of writing about things not being what they seemed and a host who had an ulterior motive.

There are lots of caverns to explore around my city, and my family visited several when I was young. However, the one that I remember the most was one where they turned the lights out behind our tour group to preserve the delicate cave formations. It was a darkness unlike anything I’d ever experienced, growing up in a big city. The darkness and silence of that cave informed some of this story too, thinking that the space was mostly unseen, and anything could be lurking there.

I enjoyed your characters and how well developed they were. What were some sources that informed their development?

It was a challenge to write them, of course. I read some psychology books over the years and took some classes in school as I was fascinated with the subject. I wanted their actions and reactions to be realistic as much as I wanted the reader to experience what they were feeling. I didn’t think that would happen if the characters weren’t relatable.

So, part of this was picturing the characters and their backgrounds in my head as I wrote, even if that background wasn’t written expressly in the book. Initially, they were very different from each other, and it was easy to sense that they might have conflicting agendas, as well as personalities, which would make them clash with each other.

I also have a tendency to cast books in my head as I write, so I had specific people in mind as I developed the dialog. It helps me to visualize the speaker and imagine his or her voice and possible facial expressions as if it were a movie. Even when I read, I tend to do this, so the characters come alive in my head.

My two favorite classes in school were always English and Art, and writing, for me, combines both worlds. I get to be creative with language. Writing and art were escapism, always, as I got to live temporarily in someone else’s life while I was doing so. Plus, I read a lot. I’ve always loved reading, and I think people were always puzzled when I read for fun as a child, even with all of the reading I had to do in school. I always had another book or two that I took with me everywhere for my own entertainment.

Lastly, I had a twin sister growing up. We were always acting out stories that we developed and brainstorming ideas. Hers was always the first opinion that I sought, and we had always wanted to collaborate on a project, but she never had the chance. But acting helped me learn to picture myself in someone else’s situation (even a fictitious one). I even took acting classes later in life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For me, this book was somewhat personal, in that I really felt the need to express my fears and hurts from childhood. I was bullied relentlessly, and I still have the scars. Unfortunately, those “lessons” weren’t always positive. Not everyone wants to be your friend. Not everyone will understand or empathize with you. Some people are only interested in what they can get from you.

However, I also wanted to show what can happen when people work together, that problems and obstacles can be overcome, that understanding and compassion will get you farther than selfishness. This is important for us a society and not just as individuals. The characters of Livingston and Wylie only succeed when they stop arguing and try to understand each other.

For me, Wynne Lift is a tragic character, too. He’s fed up with society and the evils of civilization, as he sees it. Part of me could definitely relate to this. But Lift didn’t really want to face his rejection of those ideals alone, even if he didn’t realize it at first. He did need someone to help him keep his humanity.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’ve been writing several books, actually, but the one that is the closest to being completed is a science-fiction novel about a city built on another world, The City That Disappeared. The city sends daily transmissions to Earth for ten years before the transmissions suddenly stop. I’m not sure yet when it will be available, but I will be aiming for a release next year, if possible. It’s a character-driven story that has gotten positive feedback from those who have read it, so I hope that people will really like the book. I’ve given myself a deadline of February 2022 to finish it, revisions and everything.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Professor Foster Livingston and reporter Peter Wylie join forces in New York, but they are at odds with each other from the start. Despite frequent arguments, they journey through the wilderness to find wealthy recluse, Wynne Lift, missing from society for two decades. Intrigued with his story, they follow reports of Lift’s whereabouts in a cave in the desert, but what they find is far from what they expect. Inside, they must match wits with Lift and try to unravel a mystery twenty years in the making.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 12, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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