Chagrin Falls Village now claims author Cinda Williams Chima on its brag list of local artistic assets. The New York Times best-selling fantasy author relocated to the village area last year.
On June 6th, she will be the third and final artist featured in this year’s “Hear Who’s Here” speaker series. The three-part series is being held at the River St. Playhouse, 56 River Street; part of the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre’s (CVLT) campus in Chagrin Falls Village.
In its second year, “Hear Who’s Here” celebrates the artistry and accomplishments of talented Chagrin Valley residents and the public recognition, from local to international, bestowed upon them.
Each speaking engagement is offered at 7:00 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month.
Chima’s “Hear Who’s Here” presentation is called “Magic on the Page: Writing and Publishing Teen Fantasy Fiction.” Chima was approached by Chagrin Falls Village author and “Hear Who’s Here” organizer Sandra Philipson about being included on this year’s speakers’ roster. Philipson is the author of the “Max and Annie” children’s book series.
Why the interest in Chima?
“She is writing in an area that not many of us know about. It’s young adult. It’s a big market and Cinda’s been very successful in it,” Philipson said. “How as an adult writing young adult fiction does she maintain that magical thinking?”
Chima’s magical thinking began, of course, in childhood, when she was labeled a chronic daydreamer, by teachers and other adults. She wrote poetry and stories in third grade, then progressed to novels in junior high school; by her own assessment, she was hardly an overnight success.
Publication lay far in the future.
High school and college employment was spent in the classified advertising department of the daily newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal; post-college jobs included registered dietitian at the former Geauga Community Hospital in Munson Township; nutrition positions at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation; and Director of Clinical Nutrition department at The MetroHealth System in Cleveland. In 2004, she left MetroHealth to join the faculty of The University of Akron as an Assistant Professor of Nutrition/Dietetics, teaching nutrition therapy to dietetics students.
Around 1990, after her sons Eric and Keith were born, Chima began publishing essays and feature stories in area publications; many of these focused on food and health topics. For a time, she had a freelance nutrition column in the Plain Dealer. When her sons were 13 and 16, she decided to write a work that they would enjoy reading. Since the whole family read fantasy, she wrote about an Ohio high school boy who discovers that he is among the last member of a guild of magical warriors.
That became her first published novel, The Warrior Heir. The Heir Chronicles young adult contemporary fantasy series includes The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir, with two books forthcoming. Chima’s other young adult fantasy series Seven Realms was launched with The Demon King, followed by The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne. The fourth book in this best-selling series, The Crimson Crown, is scheduled for a fall release.
Chima has lived in Northeast Ohio since high school – Medina, Fairview Park and Strongsville – before moving to Chagrin Falls.
“Once our sons had graduated from high school, I realized I wasn’t tied to a particular area,” she said. “My husband Rod and I have always loved Chagrin Falls, and I wanted to move to a more walkable town.”
The author mostly writes in a home office, but will walk into town, when both a needed change of scenery and strong shop-brewed coffee beckon. A typical work day lasts at least 12 hours. Chima has been writing full time for the past four years. She left The University of Akron, in 2009, after three of her books were published and a contract for another three books had been secured.
Her Seven Realms series focuses on a magical thief, a rebellious princess and wizards behaving badly. That and her varied and unconventional career choices are exactly what made her an attractive speaking recruit.
“How do you end up from being a registered dietitian, teaching at The University of Akron to being a young adult writer?” Philipson said. “How do people make this transition from one career to something totally fantastical? This is different; two very different things and how did it happen?”
Chima’s life, both personal and professional, from childhood daydreamer to a Chagrin Falls Village author-in-residence, will make for an engaging and entertaining speaking event. A meet-and-greet session, following each “Hear Who’s Here” talk, will include complimentary refreshments.
All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre.
For tickets: Contact the CVLT box office at (440) 247-8955, 40 River St. Chagrin Falls, OH 44022-3024, www.cvlt.org