Interview and Discussion with YA Author, Cindy M Hogan: Violence in YA Literature

Today, I’d like to welcome Cindy M. Hogan to The Literary Mom. Cindy is the author of two YA thrillers, Watched and Protected. Not only is she here to discuss writing, but also the idea of violence in YA literature as well. Cindy has agreed to return to the blog and answer some of your questions later tonight! So just post your question as a comment and hopefully she’ll get to yours!

*Note: these books contain graphically violent images that may be inappropriate for some readers. Please use your own discretion.

Thanks so much for being here today, Cindy!


Me: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

Cindy: Since Protected hit the shelves, I’ve had a very sporadic writing schedule. It’s frustrating because book 3, Created needs to be done by the end of this month. My distributor has me signing at Costcos every day from 11-6 except a few when I spoke at a writer’s conference and signed at Barnes and Noble and The King’s English Bookshop. It’s a good thing I wake with the birds at 5 am. I usually get an hour in then and when I get home around 8, another hour. I write in a room that is full of windows. I love having the feel of being outside while I write. I actually brainstorm my stories as I walk in the mornings. I talk into a recorder and then type away when I get home. I’m a pantser. I never outline.


Me: Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be a self-published author?

Cindy: I self-published myself. I found a distributor who asked to distribute my books. I found a printer to print them. The hardest part about self-publishing is finding the money to print your books. The first print run of my books flew off the shelves, so I had to come up with more money to print again. You might be thinking, “But your books flew off the shelves. Didn’t you make anything?” The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!” However, you do not get paid for those sales for four months after they happen. I had to do 3 printings before I got paid. Finding that kind of money was a challenge.


Me: In your first YA thriller, Protected, you chose to portray the violence “on camera” in a graphically descriptive scene, instead of just alluding to the fact that your character had been a witness to a violent act, or even using a less descriptive scene. How did you come to this decision?

Cindy: In truth, I my first draft of the scene was quite tame. Not because I didn’t want to show the violence, just because it came out that way. When my critique groups got a hold of it, the nurses in my group described how it would really happen, so, I took their instruction and rewrote the scene. Now it is as realistic as possible.


Me: It has been said that Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, wrote her books in an effort to show that our culture has become so soaked in violence that we’ve become immune to it. One of the most notable discussions about this is found on the ABC news website. You can find the whole article here. Here’s a small quote from the article:

“But “The Hunger Games” is much heavier than most young adult fare, and some people have complained that it is too violent for kids. But Collins, whose father served in Vietnam when she was a little girl, wants young people to think critically about the brutality of war and culture’s desensitization to violence.”

How do you feel about that statement?

Cindy: I didn’t realize she had made that social comment. I think that to a great extent she is right. If you watch prime time TV, which I rarely get a chance to do, it is saturated with violence.


Me:  Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

Cindy: Funny. For Nanowrimo this year, I wrote a self-publishing book because I didn’t want any other writer’s to have to slog through the mess I had to. I wanted to give-back, alas, I haven’t had any time to edit it, yet. One day. I do, however, suggest you pick 3-4 popular “how to self-publish” ebooks and read them before you decide to go this route. It is not for the faint of heart. While many of my traditionally published friends have been shocked at the meager performance of their books, still many more of my indie published friends have felt the same way. It’s hard work to make it either route you choose. While luck does play a role, there is a strategy to be learned. Some of that learning comes from trial and error. I would never go back, though. I love being a self-published author. It suits me.


Thanks so much for being here today, Cindy!

 Remember, everyone, Cindy has agreed to answer some questions tonight, so if you have one for her, please leave it in the comment section!

You can find Cindy on the web at


8 thoughts on “Interview and Discussion with YA Author, Cindy M Hogan: Violence in YA Literature

  1. I never found “Hunger Games” all that violent. The third book especially featured a pretty massive civil war and managed two have only 3-4 action sequences.

    In comparison I’d hold up KA Applegate’s “Anirmorphs,” which is far less violent than Hung Games, but is a much more effective character study of how war effects young people.

    Great interview, what sort of self-publshing software/websites do you use Cindy? You said you contacted a distributor but how’d you go about formatting the pages and etc. ?

    • I don’t use any type of self-publishing software or websites. I use word to format my books for print and then I either format my ebooks myself or pass it on to my formatter Lucinda Campbell, who is wonderful. Would you like more information than this?

  2. I’m not sure about the inclusion of realistic violence. I can see using it for an older age group, but do you feel that it might be just too much for 14-18 year olds?

    • When I first wrote the beheading scene, my daughters were 10 and 13. I felt comfortable having them read it. When I sent this book to my distributor, I thought they would say it was appropriate for 12 and up due to the violence and subject matter, but they came back saying it was approved for 10 and up, which at the time, shocked me. In fact, when signing my books, and parents would ask me about age appropriateness, I would respond that I thought it was appropriate for 12 and up, but my distributor felt 10 and up. I would explain that there is a graphic murder scene. I would even show the parent the page and paragraph. Only one parent of hundreds felt the scene was too violent for their child. All others said it was “nothing”, so I slowly stopped giving the advice and waited for parents to ask. The only thing parents ask about are sex and swearing. I can’t remember the last time someone asked me about violence. Boy, that was a long answer. In short, I feel it is totally appropriate for 12 and up.

  3. I think that with ‘Call of Duty’ on the rise (my fifteen year old brother whips my ass at it) there’s not much in books that can shock teens. I don’t have kids myself, but I’m ten years older than my brother. I played street fighter when I was younger, so I can’t judge what’s out there today.

    In fact, I’m writing (or getting around to writing) a YA which has some fight scenes. Is there any tips you can give, Cindy, to make it more realistic? It does involve magic, but there’s a good punch to the chops involved too :o)

  4. I think you should write the scene as simply as possible and then read about 30 fight scenes from different books that you think are effective. Take notes why you think they are effective. How do they describe the movements when a person is on offense, on defense? What do you SEE in your mind when you read them. Then rewrite your scene. You will be amazed at how different it will be. Then have 5 people read it and comment on it. Could they see the characters movements as they read or was it confusing in anyway? If 3 out of 5 are confused about things, rewrite it according to what they said. Now, give it to 5 more people to read and repeat this until get 3 out of 5 completely understanding and seeing the action that you write about. Another great thing to do is to let a real fighter read the scene and comment on it. I always ask doctors and nurses about injuries in order to get them as realistic as possible.

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