Today I am interviewing Cynthia Adina Kirkwood, author of the new literary, digital dystopian novel, Turn On, Tune Out.
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DJ: Hi Cynthia! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Cynthia Adina Kirkwood: Thank you, DJ. I’m a former San Francisco Chronicle journalist. I’m also a baby boomer straddling two centuries. I learned how to type on a manual typewriter. Now, I type on a computer. So, I can see both the wonder and the danger of computers and the Internet.
DJ: What is Turn On, Tune Out about?
Cynthia: A British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles. Angelica Morgan flouts a computer law that cripples creativity by mandating four daily hours of screen-watching. In the year 2033 in California, artists, who steal time off-line, are considered suspect, criminal, and dangerous.
DJ: If you could compare this book with any book out there that we might be familiar with, which book would it be?
Cynthia: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury introduces us to a world where people watch wall-size televisions incessantly (the novel was published in 1953 before the age of big screen TVs) and so-called firefighters burn books for peace of mind of the populace. Over several decades, people had embraced new media – TV and films – and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged to accommodate shorter and shorter attention spans, while minority groups protested against perceived controversial content.DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Cynthia: Angelica, 30 and single, wakes at 4 in the morning to compose music by candlelight and caffeine. She is a trusting soul. Her artist friend, Rosetta, cautions the musician about the Stop, Look and Listen law. But Angelica dismisses the warning. . .DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Turn On, Tune Out?
Cynthia: Witnessing Angelica’s shift from her concern for herself to that of her country. She develops a passion to stop the insidious computer law from taking hold in Britain.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Cynthia: Readers will recognize that they still have the freedom to think for themselves, something that requires space and quiet and time off-line. Hopefully, they will appreciate artists, whom we need for inspiration and spiritual survival. And if they are composers or writers or musicians, painters or sculptors, they will be inspired to continue to create. DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Turn On, Tune Out? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Cynthia: No, it was never my intention to write a story with a message or a moral. Turn On, Tune Out began with a character, Angelica Morgan. I got to know her just as I would a person in my waking life. The story grew out of this relationship.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Turn On, Tune Out that you can share with us?
Cynthia: “Last night was nothing more than one of those desperate lunges at intimacy so common in this part of the world, where sex is easy and loneliness rampant.”
“Let’s not get existential, Angel. I’m not talking Camus’ The Stranger here. I’m talking about having a body to wrap my arms around at night.”
“In this country, especially in California, computers have become the great equalizer. With the turn of the century, racism, feminism, ageism, all the “isms” which either deny or demand the same rights for everyone had vanished. All the riots, marches, laws, blood, guilt and shame of hundreds of years hadn’t made a dent in the country’s mindset. With the click of its keys, the computer vanquished those social maladies. People gained prestige according to the amount of disc space they had on their machines. It was called the Computer Revolution, yet there was nothing revolutionary about it. A computer is a tool, a machine for storing and accessing information. It is only as smart as the person who programmed it and as fast as its chip laid out by an engineer. Today, most people have lost sight of that. They invest these tools with power, respect and, even, awe.”
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Turn On, Tune Out that we haven’t talked about yet?
Cynthia: If you feel bombarded with information and noise, take a break with Turn On, Tune Out.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Cynthia: Thank you, DJ. It was a pleasure.
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*** Turn On, Tune Out is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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A British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles in the award-winning Turn On, Tune Out. Angelica Morgan flouts a computer law that cripples creativity. In L.A., Angelica finds an audience, love, and a passion to stop the insidious law from taking hold in Britain. In the near future of California, artists, who steal time off-line, are considered suspect, criminal, and dangerous.
About the Author:
My characters — a 21st-century composer in future Los Angeles, 17th-century buccaneers in the Caribbean, a 19th-century black mountain man in America, an Irishwoman in a Druid society, I, myself, straddling two centuries as I emigrated from Britain to Portugal, and others — seem disparate. However, in whatever time or place, they have one thing in common:
Their journey toward freedom.
All my characters seek freedom – physical, mental and spiritual. Therefore, I call myself a freedom writer.
I am also a born traveler.
I was born and raised in New York, where my parents emigrated from Belize in Central America. I studied at Williams College in the Berkshire Mountains, the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. At the University of California at Berkeley, I earned a Certificate of Journalism from the Summer Program for Minority Journalists.
I began my journalism career as a newspaper reporter in Norfolk, Virginia. I worked at newspapers in the east, west, and south of the United States. More than 20 years ago, I left the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE for Sicily and have been living in Europe since then.
A few years ago, my son and I left a sedentary life in Cornwall, England, for a farming one in the heart of Portugal. We have 4 acres of terraced land with olive trees, grapevines and fruit trees.
New York – any city – seems far away in time and space.
Yet, I am still the child belly-laughing at “I Love Lucy”, reading books within arm’s reach from the Astoria Public Library, and studying ballet and tap in Manhattan.
I am still a girl from “the projects”, a first-generation American, giving voice to those without one.