THE BOOK: On The Way.
PUBLISHED IN: 2015
THE AUTHOR: Cyn Vargas.
THE PUBLISHER: Curbside Splendor Publishing.
SUMMARY: On the Way is a collection of stories about childhood, friendship, the elderly, marriage, family secrets, and loneliness. The narrators are haunted by what is missing in their lives, but never play victim to it. Instead, they are tough and explore their ever-changing lives while discovering the world, though never tied with a bow, can have beautiful slivers of hope.
THE BACK STORY: This short story collection was my thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing. It was especially rewarding that it got published because while going to grad school full-time, I also worked full-time and was a mom to an 18-month old. I was on very little sleep, but had a lot of determination. I am grateful that it paid off.
WHY THIS TITLE?: On The Way is a title of one of the short stories in the collection. The story is about acceptance and change. It’s about taking one’s own journey while recognizing you can be there for someone else, but you can’t go on their journey with them. It felt appropriate because the narrators in my stories are on their way to grow as people, to change their world around them, to quietly be who they are while discovering there is much more to them than they realized.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My stories don’t have happy endings. I enjoy Disney movies, but I don’t want to write them. I write about real life. A sense that if you are courageous enough to explore and delve within parts of yourself you have never before, that there is where growth lies; to live is to grow. These stories will resonate with those that have fought personal battles and come out stronger. For those going through something right now and are looking for hope. These stories will (I hope) make the reader feel less alone.
“In her debut collection, Vargas invests her characters with heart while ably articulating their missed connections. An American girl cannot accept her mother’s disappearance while they are visiting relatives in Guatemala; a young woman assaulted by her father after her parents’ divorce cannot forgive her mother for failing to intervene; a diffident DMV employee cannot speak out when he falls for a young woman taking a driving test. VERDICT Moving and accomplished.” — Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal.
“Cyn Vargas’s debut collection, On the Way, is marked by a sense of universal heartbreak and hope. In a dozen stories that quietly and considerately follow the lives of displaced, alienated Central Americans whose lives revolve around immigration, expatriation and escapes, Vargas shows how deeply many of the world’s upheavals affect individuals.
“Vargas deftly uses a candid, unadorned voice to frame an often unkind world. Her hopeful conclusion in these tales, though, is that nobody is ever truly alone.” — Josh Potter, Shelf Awareness.
“On the Way is a group of stories that are often about loss, regret, and unrequited feelings. What almost every story demonstrates is the moment in a character’s life beyond which everything will have to change. However, one thing Vargas is willing to show—which many other writers are not—is the painful, often boundless stretch of time between the moment of drama and its distant resonance: her stories echo Alice Munro’s as they leapfrog months, even years, using nothing more than a paragraph break.” — Heavy Feather Review.
“The narrators of Cyn Vargas’s stories tell quiet, deceptively simple accounts of loss, family mysteries, and their earned understanding of their experiences. The stories in On the Way are simple in language and prose style and complex in their emotional freight… Each narrator has a story they know to tell, but a second story bleeds through, a story that speaks of darkness, fear, compassion, or courage, a story that reveals itself in the act of telling.” — Necessary Fiction.
AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a first-generation Latina, from El Salvador and Guatemalan ethnicity, also a mom, wife, friend, employee, and taco-lover. Pretty much a smartass for most of the time while also being a sap too. I have been writing since I was six. My first story was about a dog who loves a frog and the frog doesn’t love the dog back. Even then I didn’t write happy endings.
I am currently working on my first novel whose narrator is a 13 year old Mayan girl living in 1980s Chicago. (There are a lot of 80s references. Yay, Knight Rider!)
My prose and essays have been published in the Chicago Reader, Word Riot, Split Lip Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Midnight Breakfast, Birds Thumb, Chicago Literati, and elsewhere. Last year, I was commissioned to write a Taco Handbook, which I did. Somehow I weaved tacos and depression together (though tacos make me very happy). I also don’t feel like mental health should be taboo to talk about. So I brought the two together. The cover is also super cool, so check it out on my website.
I received a Top 25 Finalist and Honorable Mention in two of Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers Contests, the recipient of the Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction, and a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd Story.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: My collection has strong female characters. It has stories that span Chicago and Central America. Some stories speak to being 1st generation Latina, to being in love, to detesting a family member, to trusting another person, to trusting yourself. I’d like to think of it as a raw account of what real people go through, but not one that will bog you down or depress you. I hope it gives the reader that kick in the ass to get up and continue being strong.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: An older version of one the stories that appears in the collection, “Myrna’s Dad” was a winner in the 2015 Chicago Reader Fiction Issue Contest. You can read the complete story here, https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/myrnas-dad-cyn-vargas-venezuela/Content?oid=16146907
LOCAL OUTLETS: My collection is available at a number of independent bookstores around the country. To find the one nearest to you: https://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon https://www.amazon.com/On-Way-Cyn-Vargas/dp/194043047X , Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/on-the-way-cyn-vargas/1120333721.
PRICE: varies by site and whether it is hard copy or e-book
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Via my website is the best way! Let’s chat: http://cynvargas.com/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23129771-on-the-way