5 with 806 Author Cynthia Weil

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Cynthia Weil

If you're not familiar with the name Cynthia Weil, you're almost certainly familiar with her work, with Grammy-winning songs like "Somewhere Out There" from AN AMERICAN TAIL, or perhaps that classic Righteous Brothers song (or Tom Cruise song, depending on your outlook), "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

Weil is also a novelist of YA books, and her latest, 806, follows three biological siblings on a search for their father, known to them only as "Donor 806."


In the hit Broadway show—Beautiful, The Carole King Musical—many of your songs are included and you and your husband/cowriter, Barry Mann, are part of the show with actors portraying your young selves…how has that impacted your career?

It has made us more known to those who are not songwriter groupies. As a behind-the-scenes person I was happy not to be known, but Barry loves our newfound fame. I reconnected with my very first childhood friend who saw the show and tracked me down. Our Nannies were friends and we were best pals before we were 4 or 5. It was sweet reconnecting with her.


How long did it take you to write 806, and was there any special research involved? 

I worked on it for about a year and I had to research sperm donor kids in that era. It was fascinating. I think because I lost my father to suicide at 9 years old I have always been interested in the search for a father.


Is the process for writing lyrics the same as writing a novel? How do they differ? How are they the same?

A song lyric is actually a very very short rhyming novel. They are the same in that they both have a beginning, a middle and an end and they both try to evoke an emotion in the listener/reader. Obviously a novel is much longer and more complex.


Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but similar to co-writing lyrics with your husband, writers of fiction also have champions outside of the author. Tell us about the revision process with your editor and how that affected the final version of 806

My editor, Peggy, was accurate with her comments, brought up many issues I had missed and I will forever be grateful for her kindness, understanding, and creativity. Please check with Peggy but I think we worked on them for about 6 months to a year. We worked by phone and email and it was mostly little errors that I had missed. I loved working with her. She is very sensitive to writers.


What kind of music do you listen to, and who are some of your current favorite artists?

I really love Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Meghan Trainor. Some lesser known singer-songwriters like Izzy Bzu and in country Margo Price. There’s a song I love sung by Daya and written by Daya and Gino Barletta called “Sit Still Look Pretty” – my twin granddaughters introduced me to that one.