Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Cynthia Ruchti & Afraid of the Light

Posted June 15, 2020 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, Cynthia Ruchti, giveaway / 60 Comments

It’s always such a treat for me to chat with the fabulous Cynthia Ruchti. She is one of my very favorite people in the world – if you don’t follow her, you are really missing out! Today she’s here to share about her new book, Afraid of the Light!

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope through award winning novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and through speaking events for women and writers. She is the professional relations liaison for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) connecting authors with booksellers, libraries, bookclubs, and readers. She serves as a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management, and lives in the heart of Wisconsin with her grade school sweetheart husband, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, Facebook, BookBub, Instagram and Twitter.

GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction
RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
PAGES: 352

She helps others manage their desperate lives–but who will help her? Clinical psychologist Camille Brooks isn’t put off by the lifestyle of her hoarding clients. After all, she lost her mother to the crippling anxiety disorder. She’ll go a long way to help others avoid the same pain and loss.

Despite Camille’s expertise, her growing audience for her Let in the Light podcast, and the national recognition she’s gaining for her creative coaching methods, there are some things she isn’t prepared for. A client who looks far too much like her mom catches her off guard. And the revelation that she’s also hoarding something sends her spinning.

Can she stand to let the light into her own life with the help of a friend who wants to stand by her for life and the God who created and loves her? Or will she find that defeating her demons proves too much to bear?


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Hi dear Cynthia! Welcome back to the blog!

Cynthia: That’s like choosing among my favorite children! If pressed (get it?), I’d have to say tea. Exotic blends, non herbal, tea-snob tea.

Carrie: ‘pressed’ – that was clever 🙂

Cynthia: OCEAN! It’s okay if I choose OCEAN but also love the mountains, right?

Carrie: yes, I’ll allow it haha

Cynthia: SOUP. Having to eat gluten-free makes the average sandwich less than it could be. I already have a “reserved” sticker on a croissant for my first meal in heaven.

Carrie: I don’t blame you!

Cynthia: PREFER PRINT, but for speed often need to read via ebook.

Carrie: Ebooks are definitely convenient!

Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?

Cynthia: I make a beeline for the fiction section, Christian fiction in particular. But I’m easily distracted, so I’ll stop along the way if a cover catches my eye or a title makes me go, “Ooh! Wish I’d thought of that.” I glance at the bestseller table, but that’s often more research than book-hunting.

Carrie: I’m literally right now adding to my wish list – ‘go bookstore browsing with Cynthia’ because that sounds delightful 🙂

Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?

Cynthia: If it weren’t for the bugs in summer and the ice in winter, I’d choose outdoors as a favorite writing space. I’m super-productive all by myself in a booth at an Asian restaurant, maybe because it’s quieter than a coffee shop, which is many authors’ go-to. But we recently remodeled our front porch on our more-than-a-century-old farmhouse to convert it into a sunroom. It’s small but so light-filled and glorious. I have a tiny desk and a huge monitor out there and can shut myself away from whatever else is going on in the house. Light pours in. It’s a good reminder to let the Light pour into my soul as I write.

Carrie: oh that sounds so lovely!

Q: What inspired your ideas for the plot of Afraid of the Light? What is something interesting you learned about hoarding in the process of writing this book?

Cynthia: I’m just old enough to remember life before computers. In the early days, we didn’t trust these new-fangled computer things to truly save our information, and at the time had few options for back-ups. So I saved everything in print form. If I saw a tidbit of research information for the radio scripts I wrote at the time or for magazine and book ideas, I printed it out or ripped it from a magazine and stuffed it into a physical file folder that eventually grew to consume four lateral file cabinets, one four-drawer vertical file cabinet, and four two-drawer file cabinets. And that’s not counting Rubbermaid bins of “to-be-filed.”

That didn’t inspire Afraid of the Light and the subject of hoarding disorders, but as I wrote the story, it occurred to me that in my main office, I was surrounded by an example of how fear had been at the heart of an accumulation. Without realizing it, I was afraid that if I didn’t have a paper version of what I considered important, I wouldn’t be able to find that bit of info again.

Millennials and Zoomers (Gen Z) would find that laughable bordering on sick. But I know I’m not alone among those of us who grew up keeping anything we thought we’d need later. Only recently have I been freed from that compulsion. It took yet another remodeling project for me to realize that much of what I’d saved over the years—important information—was no longer relevant. Or it was available with a simple online search. I reduced by file cabinets to one lateral file and the four-drawer vertical file cabinet (but that was my dad’s so…). I’m working my way through these remaining folders to see if I can’t trim that by digitizing as much as possible.

That paper-reduction activity was spurred by what I learned while writing the book, and by the stark realization that many who think they aren’t hoarders have their own issues. Hoarding disorders are both fascinating and heartbreaking. The psychology behind them and the fallout for families reveal layers of pain and misunderstanding and wounds. We may cringe at a mountain of empty fast food containers that serve no purpose but to draw maggots and close a person off from their most cherished relationships, but fail to see that our grudges or out-dated resentments have no grander purpose than maggot-fuel too.

It was a concept that intrigued me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have explored it through the characters in Afraid of the Light.

Carrie: that intrigues me too and this – “We may cringe at a mountain of empty fast food containers that serve no purpose but to draw maggots and close a person off from their most cherished relationships, but fail to see that our grudges or out-dated resentments have no grander purpose than maggot-fuel too.” – which one is God most concerned about? Our grudges & resentments… boy, that speaks.

Q: Which character in Afraid of the Light was the most difficult to write? 

Cynthia: The most difficult characters to write weren’t Camille’s hoarding disorder clients. I thought they would be, since (except for my paperwork addiction) I could not personally identify with the insatiable attraction of the need to accumulate and placing undue value in valueless items. But it was Camille who was the most challenging to write—the clinical psychologist who counsels hoarders and their families. She was brilliant but in some ways oblivious, could easily communicate the right thing to do but had a hard time applying it to herself, was generous with her clients and frugal with herself and her own heart’s needs. Helping Camille come alive on the page was both hard work and hugely rewarding. And watching how the other people around her helped her become who she truly was spoke volumes to me, and I pray will to readers, too.

Carrie: Applying truth to our own lives is always harder than applying it to other people’s lives for them (lol). An important reminder.

Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from Afraid of the Light & why do you love it?

Cynthia: I was going to choose this one (for obvious reasons):

“Why do good things grow slowly and the unwanted too rapidly? Chin hairs come to mind. And regrets.”

But instead, one of my favorite quotes from Afraid of the Light is:

Imagine living as if your entire life is a game of Jenga and every collapse is not merely the end of a game but the death of something inside you. Imagine watching the tottering pile increase, unaware that it is your own hand adding to the pile. Imagine pulling out one block but it’s never the right one. Never.

Now imagine a family member breathing down your neck, shouting at you to hurry and take your turn, pounding on the table in disgust, slamming the door in frustration on their way out of the house.

That’s the life of a hoarder. Or anyone with an addiction.

But now imagine acquiring skills to reduce the pile, new ways of processing information about the physics and dynamics of how the blocks are stacked. Imagine family and friends steadying the table, quieting the noise, waiting until . . .

That’s the life of a hoarder (or the addicted) on the way to freedom.

It’s a long quote, but it speaks to the heart of all of us needing to take a step back to understand the person we love whose pain we can’t comprehend. When I wrote it, I didn’t know Camille was going to say it. Or that I would need to hear it.

Carrie: Amen. A much-needed truth in today’s world. Take a step back, listen & understand. (And i literally laughed out loud at the first quote – those darn chin hairs.)

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

Cynthia: In early 2021, I have a novel releasing from Revell called Facing the Dawn. My agent says that novel’s main character has “a wicked sense of humor.” The heart journey she takes is gut-wrenching but beautiful. A many-layered story of friendship, loss, more loss, and redemption.

Carrie: … and I guarantee there’s a lot of HOPE on those pages too, my friend 🙂

Cynthia Ruchti is offering a print copy of Afraid of the Light (with a couple of little surprises to accompany it) to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What interests you most about Afraid of the Light and/or my Q&A with Cynthia Ruchti?

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60 responses to “Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Cynthia Ruchti & Afraid of the Light

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    The hoarder aspect of this book intrigues me and I hope to learn more about why people feel the need to surround themselves with things.

  2. A successful author friend told me just days ago that this book is wonderful. I know all of Cynthia’s books to be outstanding so I’ll be looking forward to getting it and am glad for her influence and success.

  3. Sonnetta Jones

    That quote got me. I do not understand extreme hoarding but I consider it a very interesting.

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      Sonnetta, I hope you find your heart swelling with understanding…and that you simply enjoy the story too!

      • Cynthia Ruchti

        Sometimes for me, Karen, putting it into word pictures helps my understanding grow, and expands my compassion. I hope it does for readers, too!

  4. Roxanne C.

    This book sounds extremely interesting, and I am so curious to learn what it is that Camille is hoarding. I expect that it is not anything obvious.

  5. A student in my spring semester English Comp 2 class wrote her final research paper over hoarding, so the topic is fresh in my mind–and intriguing. I can’t wait to read a fictionalized version of the disorder. Plus…Cynthia Ruchti. 🙂

  6. Mj

    Hi Carrie, I enjoy, Reading is My Super Power! It is always nice to be introduced to a new author! I love that the main character Camille is a clinical pyschologist!

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      It was fun exploring the life of a clinical psychologist who wasn’t sure she wanted to do things “by the book” even though she thought she did! 🙂

  7. I love discovering an author who writes with my kind of style. Cynthia is an inspiring author. I want more than the two books of hers that I own! Fun interview.

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      Oh, Barbara, you need a whole collection! (If it’s books, it isn’t hoarding.) 🙂

  8. MJSH

    I really enjoyed the last book I read by Cynthia Ruchti and the premise in this one is quite fascinating.

  9. Pam K.

    What interests me most about the book Afraid of the Light is that the author is Cynthia Ruchti. I haven’t been able to read all of her books but I have read enough of them to know her books are always excellent.

  10. I can’t wait to read this book. I often watch “Hoarding: Buried Alive” because I find it fascinating, especially the deep wounds the individual has often suffered which triggered the hoard. My dad always called me a pack rat when I was growing up because I’m a sentimental fool, an artist, and a writer, and throwing something out was the last thing I wanted to do! As an adult, I often think I’m just a trigger away to losing control. But isn’t it fascinating? And so sad. But, even in the secular sense of the show, the individual’s redemption and restoration is beautiful.

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      Nan, those insights are so meaningful! Redemption and restoration is hard, but possible!

  11. Suzanne Sellner

    As a retired teacher, I can relate to hoarding things. I’d save all kinds of things to use in teaching reading, math, science, or history–even art at times. I’m thinking that I may benefit from a paradigm change in reading Afraid of the Light. The cost of the book would be a lot less expensive than going for counseling!

    • hahaha Suzanne – we are getting ready to move & i’m looking at all my stuff from teaching thinking a) we never had kids and b) i don’t plan to teach again … why am I keeping it? Getting rid of it leaves me more room for books…. and it’s not hoarding if it’s books 😉

  12. Cynthia Ruchti

    Every hoarder’s story is a little different, but shares a lot of common ground. Enjoy the read!

  13. What interests me the most about the book? The plot interests me the most and what happens next. I’m quite fascinated by the book and would love to read and review the book in paperback/hardback/print format.
    Thanks for chance to win. Hope I Win.

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      Thank you, Crystal! Reviews are so important. And I love picturing you plunging into the story!

  14. Jocelyn

    Sounds like such a great book. I remember reading They Almost Always Come Home. It was one of the first Christian fiction I read. So good!

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      Joceyln, this makes me so happy!!!! They Almost Always Come Home was published in 2010. Now this one, ten years later, after MANY books in between!

  15. Winnie Thomas

    I enjoyed reading this post, Carrie and Cynthia! The subject is intriguing and I loved Cynthia’s insight on it.

    Cynthia, I can relate to your saving every article and idea in file cabinets. I still have some I need to go through. I’m kind of tech-challenged, so it’s a little hard for me to trust being able to find what I need if I do it digitally. I love your stories, and I’m putting this one on my wish list! It sounds fascinating!


    Sounds like a book I really need to read. Yes, I’m a hoarder… can’t seem to throw anything out.

  17. MS Barb

    I’m also a paper “hoarder!” & gluten free, and also head for the Christian fiction section when at a bookstore! 🙂 Thanks for an opportunity to win one of your books!

  18. Megan

    I’m interested in reading about how the main character deals with a relative who was a hoarder.

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