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Friday, February 18, 2022

Author Interview - Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding by Cynthia Fridsma #Horror #UrbanFantasy

Why Are Book Covers are So Important?

A book cover is important because it grabs the readers’ attention. A cover engages the emotions of readers.

For my book, Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding, I wanted a cover that captured the essence of my book. I needed a picture of an angry-looking main character (Sybil Crewes), holding her gun against a backdrop of dripping blood.

One look at my book cover, you’ll know it’s an action-packed story. 

And that’s what I wanted to achieve. I created the cover using 3D software to render a picture of main character Sybil Crewes holding the gun. Then I used DTP (Desktop Publishing) software to put it all together…

Give us a Quick Look at A Day in the Life of Cynthia Fridsma.

Around 6:30 a.m., I wake up to go to the bathroom. I tiptoe my way out of the bedroom—my husband Gerard is still fast asleep. After visiting the bathroom, and washing my hands, I go to the living room because my furry friend, Max, is waiting for me.

Max is a free-roam tan rabbit and part of the family. We made our condo bunny proof many years ago. I go to him as he hops into his hay box—it’s a basket made of reeds.It’s my guilty pleasure to watch Max eating a strand of hay. Seeing him chewing hay is like eye candy and fun. After he’s done enjoying chewing hay, he hops out and lies down, waiting for me to pet him. Which I do.

I tell him about my plans for the day—Max knows how to keep a secret—and after an hour; I return to bed. I wake up at eleven, enjoying breakfast in bed with Gerard (he retired last year) and then I turn on my computer, browse the Internet, read some news articles, and collect the ones I think might be useful as a backdrop for a new writing project. 

At six I fix dinner and turn on the laptop that’s hooked up to a projector and a 70-inch display. It’s equipped with an external soundcard attached to a Dolby digital surround set.

We don’t have a TV. Well, we do, but we use our 70-inch display as a monitor, and most of the time we’re using the projector.

I love watching movies on our home cinema set. Gerard doesn’t know how to operate the laptop using Windows Phone as a remote control, so I’m in charge of the remote control (my Windows cell phone). Together we watch Netflix, Disney Plus, or Prime Video. Before we go to bed, we watch the news.

Gerard gets in bed at 0:30 a.m., but I usually go to bed at 2:30 a.m. (after cuddling with Max).

This is, in short, my life during this pandemic. Gerard still goes out, but (just like my main character Sybil) I stay home most of the time. 

I almost forgot to mention that Gerard and I both got fully vaccinated and we also had our booster shots.

Any Advice for Making Characters Believable?

Before you introduce a character to your readers, you must know your character first. A great help is to create a character sheet. It’s something I always do for my main characters. 

Look at your character like you’re looking at a picture. Start by describing her face. The color of her eyes. The color of her hair. Then look at her length, body build, shape, weight, and physical condition.

Then think of your character’s clothing. What kind of clothes does your character wear? What is your character’s favorite color? If your character resembles anything like me, the answer would be black. And if that’s the case, you cannot dress her in a pink dress, a pink shirt or something like that.  

Does your character follow the latest fashion trends? If not, then don’t dress your character into something flashy and new… 

After you’re done, think of her basic personality, talents, and habits. Emphasize the positive qualities and the negative qualities. We all have them, so your character should have them too.

Is your character stubborn? Or easy-going? 

What kind of education has your character? 

The more you know about your character, the easier it will be to write a story involving your character. That’s how you make your character believable to your audience.

What Inspired You to Write Your Book?

I was working on a 3D animation involving terrorism and the current pandemic, after collecting intel about the pandemic, COVID-19 and fake news, using reliable news sources (CNN, NPR, AP, Boston Globe, etc.).

While working on this animation (still not finished), I received an email from my editor, Lee Ann. She suggested writing something about an accident that happened on July 21, 1999, regarding the Deer Island Outfall Tunnel, which cost the life of two divers—Billy Juse and Time Nordeen.

After Lee Ann’s email, I dug for more information about the accident and that’s when I transformed my 3D animation into a writing project. I used the accident as a backdrop for my book, Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding. 

I’m still planning on finishing my animation, but I can’t tell you when I finish the project.

Do you have a music playlist for your book?

When working on a writing project, just like in the old days, when I used to work on a freelance programming project for third parties, I like to listen to Jimi Hendrix, Blue Oyster Cult, and Nirvana. Their music keeps me sharp and on edge. 

My book is full of twists and turns, that all come together nicely and the music just goes along with the book. 

My husband, Gerard doesn’t like rock music—he’s more into soul music from the 1960s.

If your book was made into a movie...

If my book was made into a movie, it’d be an action-packed, fast-paced, modern horror/thriller starring Milla Jovovich as Sybil Crewes, Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Hunter, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Felicity Walker, and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Vanessa Dogscape.

What are your hobbies or other interests that get you away from the stress of writing?

Besides writing, I play guitar. I love to cook, and I love watching movies in our home cinema.

What made you decide to be a published author?

Until 2014, I was a professional freelance programmer. Specialized in backend PHP programming and programming Windows applications. 

Since 2014,I have had a handicap that started as an RSI (repetitive strain injury). It resulted in a tremor in my right hand, numbness in the fingers, and pain in my wrist.

I had to give up on programming, because I cannot tell how long it will take to finish a project. I have to take breaks during the day. Which is why I switched careers. 

Give us two random thoughts about yourself, something that might surprise your readers.

This is a good one. Until recently I was a real digital dinosaur. Using Windows Phone instead of a modern cell phone. But with the pandemic, you need to show a digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record. This QR code of my digital vaccination record doesn’t work on Windows cell phones. Which is why I had to buy a new cell phone (a surface duo). 

I faint at the sight of blood, even though my protagonist (Sybil Crewes) is a vampire.

Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding
Cynthia Fridsma

Genre: horror/thriller/urban fantasy
Publisher: CynhiaFridsma.COM
Date of Publication: November 24, 2021
ISBN Paperback: 979-8773139225
ISBN Hardcover: 979-8779427166 
ISBN Audiobook: 978-1669614173
Number of pages: 280
Word Count: 67,415
Cover Artist: Cynthia Fridsma

Tagline: Since the pandemic, she stayed home. Then they kidnapped her friend.

Book Description:

Since the pandemic, Sybil Crewes hasn’t left home. She stopped her duties as an ATU agent (Anti-Terrorism Unit). But then, she got a disturbing phone call. Her friend, Harry Brown, has been kidnapped, and this forces Sybil out of her house.

While doing so, she uncovers an illegal lab where they created a deadly COVID-19 variant that turns its victims into skinned zombies. She contacts the ATU to resume her duties as an ATU agent to stop the new threat and save the world from its undoing.

Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding is a fast-paced modern horror/thriller novel, and partly based on true events.

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The cold air was refreshing as she sprinted to her Ford Mustang in the parking lot. After she sat down in the driver’s seat, she opened Windows Maps on her cell phone to search for the address her evil handler had texted. Since Microsoft stopped supporting Windows Phone, she couldn’t use her voice to enter the address in the navigation app of her cell phone.
It felt weird to go unarmed, on a mission unknown, while the navigation calculated the best route from her current location. Whoever captured Harry held all the cards. At the moment, she had no other choice but to follow up on their instructions. She started the car and drove off. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic on her way to the mansion.

Since the pandemic, life was slow. People had more time on their hands, working from home, distracted by their kids and spouse. Eating more comfort food—watching TV all day, or in Sybil’s case, spending time with her pet rabbit, Max, and trying to avoid the news. She didn’t have a TV. Well, she did, but she used her 70-inch display as a monitor. It was connected to a Windows 10 laptop with an external soundcard attached to a Dolby digital surround set. Felicity installed the equipment and showed Sybil how to use her dinosaur cell phone as a remote control for the laptop.

The laptop offered her a safe window to the world. She had online meetings once a week, on Sunday night at eight, and sometimes she watched the news on CNN. Most of the time, she used the laptop to binge-watch streaming media. Prime video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and reruns of her favorite TV shows: Body of Proof, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she loved movies starring Denzel Washington. My life during the pandemic.

She wanted to floor the gas pedal, but then she noticed a police car and she slowed down considerably. The police vehicle turned left at the intersection. She glanced over her shoulder. A truck came into sight, and a few more cars appeared on the street ahead of her. Morning rush hour was about to begin, even though she hadn’t expected it.

Sybil reached her destination in twenty-six minutes after she floored the gas pedal when she reached the outskirts of Boston. She had some time to kill, but she didn’t want to waste it by sitting in her car. So, she explored the area. The mansion didn’t stand out by itself. It was a wooden, two-story building, Victorian architecture style, late 1800s, set in a rural landscape outside Boston, normally a thirty-five-minute drive if she hadn’t gone way above all posted speed limits. Its shingles used to be white at some point.

She exhaled and contacted Vanessa Dogscape—an ATU data analyst, and currently married to her friend and coworker Felicity Walker. Perhaps Vanessa could help her—off the record. She didn’t want to involve the ATU. It took a while before Vanessa answered the phone.

“Sybil. You know what time it is?”

“I’m aware of what time it is. Look, I need your help. Harry’s been kidnapped by—I don’t know who. Anyway, they want me to do some errands.”

“My God!” Vanessa replied in a worried voice.

“I need you on this. But please, keep it off the record. I don’t want to endanger Harry’s life.”

“Sure. How can I help?”

“Perhaps you can pinpoint them somehow and get their location so I can kick some ass?”

“I need more intel before I can do anything,” Vanessa said.

“They contacted me via my cell phone and sent me a text message. Oh, and a picture of Harry’s battered face.” She gritted her teeth at the thought.

“Send the text message and the picture to me. And please activate the ATU app Felicity programmed three years ago for your Windows Phone, so I can tap into each conversation and perhaps ping their location while you talk to them. Are you sure you want me to help you off the record? It’s better to make this an official ATU investigation. At least, let me inform Jack.”

Sybil closed her eyes for a moment. If the criminals found out she had informed the ATU, it’d complicate things. Perhaps endanger Harry’s life. But then again, she sure could use all the help she could get. Otherwise, she wouldn’t bother Vanessa with it. Taking that into consideration, and the knowledge that Jack was a professional, Sybil agreed to Vanessa’s suggestion.

Despite the sun in a clear, blue sky, her body responded with a shiver that ran down her spine. She did not know what to expect as she stood near the abandoned mansion with its weather-beaten, cracked walls covered in pointless graffiti. But she knew she had to go inside as she sat down on her haunches, studying the rusty sword lying in the mud. She took a deep breath before she carefully touched its sticky handle. Blood! Clotted blood.

Her stomach gnawed at the sight. She smelled. It wasn’t human. She stared at the mansion as she heard a strange sound she couldn’t identify. Immediately, her old instincts kicked in—weird sounds coming from an abandoned mansion equals danger. She grabbed the sword in both hands, jumped up, kicked the battered door wide open and ran inside. It was time to act; this was no time to be cautious. Lives were at stake.

The wooden planks creaked under her feet as she rushed into the dark hallway. The sound of rasping breathing reached her eardrums when she entered a dark room with just enough light to see the overturned furniture and the bloodstained, fractured walls …

About the Author:

As far back as she can remember, Cynthia Fridsma has been listening to exciting stories told by her mother. She grew up reading books by Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick, among others. It was Cynthia’s mother who inspired her to start telling—and writing—her own stories.
Ms. Fridsma’s writing career started after a handicap in 2014—she has a tremor in her right hand, numbness in the fingers, and pain in her wrist. She had to give up her other creative outlets, such as photography, computer programming, and gave up on juggling, so focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t do. Besides writing, she sometimes plays guitar—in Jimi Hendrix style.

Cynthia lives with her husband and pet bunny, Max, in Amsterdam.