Cunningham began writing the Cynthia’s Attic series 12 years ago with no clear plan as to where the story would go or how many books there would be. The end result was five books that see the main characters — Gus (Augusta) and Cynthia — using a magic trunk in Cynthia’s attic to travel in time to a wide assortment of places.
“This was all based on a lot of my ancestors and a lot of my old family stories I remember hearing when I was growing up,” Cunningham said. “I’ve, of course, embellished a bit since it involves time travel.”
The latest release, “Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods,” takes place in France and sums up the previous four books and ties up loose ends. In it, Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel. This time, the 12-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers.
“All the things Cynthia and Gus have done in the first four stories seemingly are coming undone, so they have to figure out what’s happened and how they can fix it,” Cunningham said.
“I feel like I ended the series the way I wanted to. We thought about ending it at four books and then I had this idea for the fifth book. I am thrilled with the fifth book because I think it’s the best, it ties everything up and ends the series in a way I think readers will be very satisfied with. At least I was satisfied.”
Cunningham had no real plans to write a series, but the story took on a life of its own. She actually wrote the first two books in the series together and wasn’t sure how to get them published or if she would even try. However, once she did send the manuscripts out she mentioned to an interested publisher that a third story was in the works even though she hadn’t written the first word of a third story. The next thing she knew she was being provided a publishing contract and was asked to provide a synopsis of the third book.
“I had nothing written down,” she said. “Believe me it was harder to write the synopsis for the third book than it was to actually write the first two books.”
Now that Cynthia and Gus have run their course, Cunningham said she is ready to move on to something else. A new series aimed at tweens ages 10-14 is already in the works, with the Pine Mountain Gold Museum acting as the backdrop for the two main characters, a boy and girl, who travel back to the West Georgia mining days. Other stories will take the characters to other locales.
“It’s going to be more historical-based, rather than fantasy-based like the other series,” Cunningham said.
Due to the popularity of e-books, the first five books in the new series will be released through that medium and the sixth book will tie the first five stories together and be released in a print edition.
“I like that idea for a number of different reasons,” she said. “I think it brings in a larger audience to the stories.”
Cunningham’s favorite activities away from the keyboard include marketing her book through school visits and she encourages teachers to contact her if they’d like her to come talk about her books.
“I do a lot of that and I really enjoy it,” she said.
Cunningham can be contacted through her website at www.marycunninghambooks.com. Her books are available in any online bookstore and a host of e-book sites, including Kindle and Book Nook.