Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery is the first book in The Adventures of Sophie and Scottie series. This book has won the Gold 2015 Family Choice Award, the 2015 Finalist Award from San Diego Book Awards for Best Published Children’s Book for Excellence, 5 stars from Readersfavorite.com, and has earned 4 stars from a Top 100 Reviewer on Amazon.com.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Cindy. Could you tell us a little bit about your books?
Cindy C. Murray: My books are adventure mysteries. I have three of them published; Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery, Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of Something’s Fishy, and Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of Sweet Tooth Rock (2014 Silver Mom’s Choice Award). The main characters, Sophie and Scottie, are adventure seekers who are 11 and a half (as they always say) non-identical twin sisters. They live on a 10,000 acre sheep shearing ranch called Shear Heaven. To reward them for their hard work on the ranch, their globetrotting Auntie Jill sends them a gift. Little do they know that this gift; a crystal covered frame, is magical and acts as a portal to distant lands and amazing adventures. The girls must use their wit, bravery, and teamwork to empower themselves to help solve the mystery within the frame.
Ferrante: All three books in your Sophie and Scottie series have won a Silver Mom’s Choice Award (as well as other awards). Why do you think mothers like these books so much?
Murray: Because the books are about pure adventure without social and personal drama. I wanted the reader to be able to escape their day-to-day challenges and join Sophie and Scottie on their amazing journeys.
Ferrante: Why have you chosen to write books for 8 to 12-year-olds? Do you plan on continuing for this age group?
Murray: I focused on this age group because this is the age where kids need to be really comfortable reading this amount of text in chapter books. When I would volunteer in my daughters’ classrooms within this age group, I would see how much the students loved to read, but I could also see their frustration with the amount of pages (without illustrations and smaller font sizes) the books would have. I really want to promote literacy for this age group as well and writing these books are helping me to achieve this goal. Therefore, I will continue to write for this group. In fact, I’m working on my 4th book now.
Ferrante: From your book settings, I would guess that you travel a lot. Do you? What do you get from it? Do you feel it is important for writers to travel?
Murray: I’ve traveled a bit, and I enjoy learning about different cultures, lifestyles and their environment. But, I don’t think a writer needs to travel as much as they need to have various experiences to include in their writing.
Ferrante: Are your books pure escapism or do they carry subtle messages for children to absorb?
Murray: I want the readers to know that they can accomplish anything if they put their mind and resources to work for them.
This is what Sophie and Scottie figure out in their adventures. My books also have “Edutainment” in them. I use a dash of science to, hopefully, encourage the reader to research some of the topics included into the plot. For instance, in the “Monarch” book, the reader learns about pollination, pulley systems, Monarch butterflies, and a zip line. In the “Fishy” book, the reader learns about ocean currents, magnets, Amelia Earhart, yurts, and dolphins. In the “Sweet Tooth Rock” book, the reader learns about where sugar comes from, the freeze drying process, the mechanics of skiing, grizzly bears, and the Northern Lights.
Ferrante: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? How do you manage it?
Murray: The biggest challenge was making a writing process that worked for me and supported my writing style. Then once I figured this out, I just carve out a time of day I like to write and go!
Ferrante: How do story ideas come to you?
Murray: They come to me by hearing what interests kids, what’s trending environmentally, as well as, in the entertainment world, and with topics I like that I have to figure out if this age group will like it too.
Ferrante: Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Murray: I do outline all subplots and the entire book. The outlines do change, but at least I have a sort of road map to my book that I’m writing.
Ferrante: What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Murray: I have been encouraged to write a screenplay for all of my books. I’m told that studios will be very interested in my story. Therefore, I’m working on book one, “Monarch,” now. I’m almost done with it and hope to see Sophie and Scottie leap from the written page and onto the digital stage!
Ferrante: What is the best hundred dollars you have ever spent in your life?
Murray: I donated this money to a young burn victim that couldn’t escape the flames in her neighborhood.
Ferrante: If you were a songwriter drawing from recent experiences in your own life as material for your next big hit, what would be the song’s title?
Murray: Everything is Possible.
Ferrante: If you could change one – and only one – aspect of the US presidential election process, what would it be?
Murray: To use donations more to encourage all registered voters to vote.
Ferrante: Interesting response. Thank you, Cindy, for spending the time with us today. Best of luck with all your writing.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.