Novelist Cynthia Sweeney on getting your big creative break at mid-life

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“I thought that if things were hard it somehow meant that you shouldn’t be doing them. I think that was a youthful notion.” –Cynthia Sweeney

Cynthia Sweeney (@CynthiaDSweeney) is an American author, whose debut novel, The Nest, was a New York Times bestseller.

In this episode of Deviate, Rolf speaks with Cynthia about therapy and hugging (2:00); career changes, writing her first novel, and the benefits of obtaining an MFA (6:30); writing tactics (21:15); starting a career in writing later in life (27:00); signing a seven-figure advance for her debut novel, and navigating the resulting expectations (34:00); writing in different genres, and the process of adapting a novel into a screenplay (46:40); the idea of talent, and its relationship to hard work within the creative process (57:00).

For more information on Cynthia Sweeney, you can visit her website,

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This episode was sponsored by the Paris Writing Workshop, an intensive one-month course in the artistic heart of Europe.

The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

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