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An Interview with Cynthia Griffin, author of Empire’s Son

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Cynthia Dawn Griffin is passionate about learning. Her favorite way of doing that is through reading and writing. She’s done a lot of different kinds of writing over the years, but her favorite has been working on her EthiaVerse stories. She resides in Maryland with her son and spoiled-rotten dog.

You can find out more about Cynthia’s current writing projects at

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I think I have always had a love of writing, because I have also always had a love of reading. I can remember in my youth and teens years gobbling up whole books in a day or so. I loved becoming totally engrossed into another person’s characters and world. These stories inspired me so much I wanted to create my own characters and worlds too.

When I was in my teens, I was really big into writing short stories, but then life happened, and I stopped writing all together. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I picked it back up again because I loved J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series so much, I couldn’t help but write my version of book seven as I impatiently waited for her to finish Deathly Hallows.

I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction for several years before I decided to start on my own stories. For a while, I did mostly short stories, until I mustered the courage to try out a novel. My first three novels never got anywhere, but I realized that I enjoyed the process of writing, so for a long while, my writing journey wasn’t about completing fiction, but learning the intricate craft of writing.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

Empire’s Son has had a very long journey, even though I only started that particular book in December of 2022. The world of Adar and friends has been a story I’ve been working on since around 2014 when I first conceived it. In fact, I can honestly say that the EthiaVerse world I started has been what truly led me to be a writer. This is the story that not only became a playground for me to practice the majority of my writing skills, it also kept my writing desire burning for years, even when I took an almost complete break from fiction writing in 2018 and all the way through most of 2022. I might have stopped writing, but the story lived on in my imagination.

Through my journey with the EthiaVerse, I did end up publishing my first book in that series called Blood Feud in early 2018. I was thrilled to finally see one of my novels become complete to the point of publishing, but I was also dissatisfied with it too. While the story worked and was adequate, it didn’t fully fit my vision of what it could be. So I never followed through with the book to market it or drum up an audience, and while I did start working on book 2, I quickly lost the fire to keep going with the series. I was disappointed in my writing journey, but I had also entered a new period in my life where I wanted to explore new hobbies and interests, so decided to shelve writing and the series for a time to work on other projects.

Then near the end of 2022 something miraculous happened, I started to want to write again, specifically on my EthiaVerse story, and before I knew it, a whole new version sprang into life. Little by little Empire’s Son began to form, and the series I thought had died a slow and miserable death, had been born again into something I loved and felt proud of and wanted to write on consistently.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Well, the first title was Blood Feud. Though I will say that the story in Blood Feud and Empire’s Son is so different that it could be said they are two completely different books. That being said, Empire’s Son does have several characters and plot points that are similar or the same to Blood Feud. Other titles I considered for Empire’s Son was Emperor’s Choice and also Heir to the Empire, but ultimately, I went with Empire’s Son, because I felt it fit the best with the story I was trying to tell and I also decided it would be the name of this series as well. I am planning (right now) two other series besides Empire’s Son in my EthiaVerse world.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

I have come to believe that to be good at writing, you have to be an avid reader. Reading really is the best way to learn how to write (besides writing itself). Not only do you pick up on how other authors write, you also get a feel for how stories are made (the good and the bad). Also, I find my greatest inspiration to write is when I read about awesome characters and mesmerizing stories that capture my attention. It inspires me to want to do the same. But there have certainly been books and series that I have used as research to help me write or just been inspiration for how I want to write. Here are a few that stand out to me (and as you can tell from the list, I much prefer reading series)…

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind

The Expanse by James S.A. Corey

The Longmire Series by Craig Johnson

Harry Dresden Files by Jim Buthcher

The Alex Verus Series by Benedict Jacka

Cradle Series by Will Wright

The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne

Chronicles of an Urban Druid Series by Auburn Tempest and Michael Anderle

The Incredible Mr. Brownstone Series by Michael Anderle

Severance by Chris Bucholz

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Martian by Andy Weir

All the Star Wars books written before Disney took over and rebranded and changed the story.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I write because it’s fun and it has meaning for me, and that’s what I want for my readers. I want readers to read my work and know they’d had a fun time, but maybe even find some sort of meaning in my works as well. Mostly, I want readers to be inspired to write their own stories or create in whatever way that speaks to them. I think that one of the greatest ways we can truly realize our potential and purpose in this world is to find the best way for self-expression, and for me, this is it.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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