Spotlight on “Chasing Sylvia Beach” by Cynthia Morris, latest interview from Denise E Gow at Club Libro.

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Hi Cynthia,

I love being able to languish in the literary Paris that existed between the wars, which is the setting for your novel. How did you find out about Sylvia Beach and want to write the novel?

As a bookseller in Denver, I discovered Sylvia Beach, who moved to Paris in 1919 and survived there as owner of Shakespeare and Company. I read Noel Riley Fitch’s book: Sylvia Beach and the Lost generation: Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties.

This literary heroine sparked my imagination and provided inspiration to dare a life of adventure. Part of that journey was to become an author of a novel inspired by her.

Do you have a writing routine? Do you need all your pens in a row before you can start? Tidy or messy environment? Food, drinks, a bout of praying, or smashing cutlery to get going?

I play several roles: coach, business woman, artist and writer. When I make specific and separate time for each of these roles, things flow smoothly.

I do my writing in batches. I draft a bunch of articles at once. Then, in the next session, I revise, fleshing out the articles. Subsequent sessions see me revising again, and finalizing the articles.

It’s easiest for me to write away from the office. When I go to a cafe to write, I know that’s what I am there to do. Not to look things up online. Not to work on other projects.

So it’s less about the right pen and tidiness and more about structuring my days so I can focus, follow through, and finish.

I know that you are an inspiring coach and have personally enjoyed a month writing with you. It’s also fair to say that a prompt you used helped bring my current novel to mind and is now coming onto the page.

Do you ever get a sticky patch when you might get stuck, or even seem to irrationally hate your work? If so, how does someone who encourages so many others get out of a rut?

I don’t really get stuck. I think the variety of things I do in the creative realm – running a business, making art and writing – all help me feel fresh and engaged in the work. When I don’t feel I have anything for the writing, I turn to the painting. This refreshes me, gives me space to think, and new ideas come for the writing.

The challenge with having this many balls in the air is making sure I finish things that are important to me. This is where my coach comes in. She uses all the skills I offer my clients to help me finish projects and not just have a bunch of random things going at once.

I am also very disciplined. I know that sometimes I don’t want to work. But I don’t spend a lot of time wavering about ‘not wanting to’. I just plunge in and do the next task, and the next task.

That said, I’ve built a great deal of trust in myself and my process. I’ve completed and launched many things. I know I can get things done and out the door. So I don’t have to stress or worry if I am not doing things in the time frame I’ve allotted.

What do you think holds back many writers and creative artists from their true potential?

Fear. That’s it. People claim lack of time, money and focus, but underneath all those seemingly plausible excuses, it’s really fear that prevents us from creating. It’s that simple.

Manage your fear and grow your potential.

What next? Can we peek into your new work and what preoccupies you at the moment?

I’m working on mixing images with text. Using paintings and illustrations to tell a story. I’m making an illustrated book called Another Perfect Couple. You can peek at it on my blog:

You can find the novel Sylvia Beach on and more about Cynthia’s literary support work on


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