On a cold and snowy night in 1951, I was born in a humble, one room cabin, the fourteenth child of a poor but honest— no, wait! This isn’t a story, this is supposed to be true. Darn! Making things up is so much fun. That’s why I love writing fiction. But now I need to stick to the facts. Okay, then. Let me start again….
The 1951 part is true.
My father, William Carter, was a psychiatrist. He was a good listener, which is a fine thing for a father to be. My mother, Ann Carter, was an English teacher, until she started raising my brothers and sisters and me. Lucky for me, my mother read to the four of us children almost every night. She’s the one who made me love books and stories and is, I’m sure, the reason why I am a writer.
As kids, my brothers and sister and I all had nicknames. Corinne was Corky, William was Chip or Shamoo, Ashton was Ash or Stoobie. I was DeDe or Bernice. There are silly stories behind all these nicknames, but they are a little embarrassing, and my family might not want me to tell them! I was called DeDe my whole life until 1974, when I married Ralph DeFelice. I couldn’t go around introducing myself as DeDe DeFelice. It sounded ridiculous – too many D’s! So I began to use my real name. I’ve actually grown accustomed to it. Sometimes I even answer when people call me Cynthia.
If you had asked me when I was a child “what I wanted to be” when I grew up, I would have said, “Happy.” I would never have said, “I want to be an author.” I loved to read, but I never dreamed of writing.
It wasn’t until 1987, when I was 36 years old, that I decided to try writing a book for children. I was working at the time as an elementary school librarian. I loved reading aloud to children, telling them stories, recommending books for them, and hearing their responses when they brought the books back. I loved watching their faces when they were enthralled by a wonderful book or story: they were quiet as mice, their eyes were wide, and their mouths hung open. I said to myself, “How wonderful it would be to write a book that would make kids’ faces look like that!” And I decided to try…now, 21 years, 17 novels, and 12 picture books later, I still cherish that feeling.
Children often ask me, “What is the best thing about being an author?” There are so many best things! I love creating a character out of thin air, and feeling that character come to life beneath my fingers on the computer keyboard. I like working at two o’clock in the morning if I want to, and wearing pajamas or sweatpants to work. I like being my own boss. I’m a very nice boss, too…most of the time. Sometimes I have to say to myself, “I know you don’t feel like working today, but you put your rear end down in that chair and don’t get up until you’ve written five pages!!” I am trying to write books that I would have loved to read when I was a child. It is extremely gratifying to hear from children who say that something I wrote touched them, made them laugh or cry, or think and feel something special.
I live in Geneva, New York, with my husband Ralph (nicknamed “Buzz” way before anyone knew he would grow up to be a dentist!) and our wonder dog Josie. My stepchildren, Ralph and Shellie, are all grown up and off living exciting lives of their own. Ralph is a web developer, married to Zoe, an obstetrician-gynecologist, and they have a son, Enzo and a daughter Emi. Shellie is a dentist, practicing with her husband Ron. They have twin girls, Annabelle and Elizabeth! All of my grandchildren are beautiful and brilliant. Best of all, they love books!