Back with another interview. This time, I have ridden hard across the plains of the earth to bring you a rare chance with Heather Cassady. She runs a pretty awesome blog of her own, check it out in the link questions at the end of the interview. Enjoy!
1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hello! First, thank you for this opportunity. My name is Heather L. Cassaday and I am a married mother of two middle school boys. I work a full time job and write in between. I write a little bit of everything. My main story is called In The Coming Time and it is an apocalyptic science fiction work in progress. I have eight chapters completed, so I think I’m about half way done. We’ll have to see how it turns out.
I also highly enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction, most can be found on my blog. I just put out a Part One of a futuristic series called The Void about a girl searching for her father through a failed rebellion. And, I’ve started a new venture with writing personal pieces on my blog. I share my experiences with reading and writing with learning disabilities and general life things.
2. How do you develop your plots and characters?
I like dropping little bits and pieces at a time so the story and the reasoning behind a behavior unfold at the same time. For In The Coming Time, my main character, Lilly Gene, you learn what kind of person she is and why she reacts the way she does in little chucks as the drama unfolds.
As for plot development, I like the style of writing each chapter as if it were an episode on a television show with a complete beginning, middle, and end but each one ends in a cliffhanger pushing you to read the next chapter.
3. Tell us about your current project.
I am currently multitasking. In The Coming Time is my own spin on the end of the world, surviving the circumstances, and what comes next. And, no… (for those who know me well) it’s not zombies. I was tempted but I wanted to go a different route and tell a tale where humans have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of our current world and live better lives in preparation for being part of an interstellar community. (If they can…) It starts on the last day of our existence and you follow Lilly Gene through a fast paced first chapter to move on and learn the how and why. Then, Lilly’s world view opens up as she encounters other survivors and has a clandestine run in with the antagonists. She and the other survivors are left with a hard choice, forging an alliance with a being no one trusts or fight back on their own.
In The Coming Time gets almost daily work done to it but I’ve also been putting a lot of effort into growing my blog lately. I interview and promote authors, as well as share my short stories and flash fiction. I also take submissions from other writers who need a place to showcase their skill and style. I’ve also taken some time off to build up my online presence through Facebook and Twitter.
4. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Lilly Gene is by far my favourite character. She is very much the uncomfortable person in the back of the room who’d so much rather be off alone reading a book or playing Tetris. She struggles with social anxiety and doesn’t let people in easily. Then, as someone who prefers to be alone, she’s faced with the utter silence of truly being alone and grows from there.
5. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Read. And then read. And then read some more. Think of your creativeness as a glass. You can’t pour from an empty glass and books are one of the best ways to fill it up.
6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
My initial setting is my hometown, renamed of course. I’ve been told, as most writers are told, write what you know, so I put the beginning in the real world with real locations, highways, businesses and such. As for the broader world, I have been a huge fan of Star Trek my entire life. Something about the positive message of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future has always stuck with me. I actually remember where I was and what I was doing the day that TNG came out. (Picard is by far my favorite captain)
7. What inspires you to write?
Initially, it was just the built in need to create. I love art in all it’s forms and I’ve tried quite a few different aspects of them. Turns out that writing is the one that resonated with me the best. (My stick figure drawings prove I should be a writer too, lol!) But now…
I got involved in the writer’s community and I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve made some amazing friends that I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. I joined Facebook groups, talked with people through Twitter, gotten involved in projects, book launches, support groups. Now, my inspiration comes from the successes and support of my friends.
8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Umm… everything. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started. Before these projects my experience included a half a book that I never finished and don’t have anymore… and a binder full of the worst angsty middle school poetry possible. (It resides in my mother’s attic, never to see the light of day) So I had to learn from the ground up. Before two and a half years ago, I didn’t know the difference between a manuscript and a rough draft. Had never heard of a beta-reader, didn’t know the different functions of an editor vs an agent. So I took time off to learn these things and to hone my craft. I was scared to do it because I thought I would loose momentum in the story but it turned out to be for the best. Lilly and her story deserve better.
9. What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I think it would definitely have to be the second chapter. Without giving too much away, Lilly finds herself succumbing to the effects of the end of the world and I think I nailed her character perfectly. It is a nightmarish blend of an introvert’s and a germaphobe’s worst dream. I sent it off to a friend to read for me and she responded, “Well… I did plan on sleeping tonight, ya know…” Success!
10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I’ve learned tons, a lot of them I have spoken about already, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is creating my process and the self discipline to stick to it. I have adult ADD and dyslexia and both of those are things that make reading and writing a different challenge. I have researched and read tons of material on both of my conditions. I set a realistic writing schedule. I found tools to help, like special fonts designed specifically for dyslexics, and I share what I learn through my blog.
11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I have not had many issues with Lilly as she is very much patterned after myself, but then she meets Darrius and he is a very different person from her. I had to research grief counseling, PSTD, psychotic breaks, survivor’s guilt, and that’s only part of his back story. He is a complex character that comes from tragedy (before the world ends) and draws on that pain to help others push forward. I’ve grown to understand him through the research I’ve done and through survivor’s stories I’ve read online.
12. What are your future project(s)?
I am always continuously working on In The Coming Time. But, I am also working on Part Two of The Void that I mentioned earlier. My blog is always looking for new authors to interview, and new stories to share. (Feel free to reach out!) I want to continue to grow my personal section too. It’s a little unnerving to put your innermost thoughts out there for the world to see but it’s something I need to do to conquer that fear.
13. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I think probably promotional work. I receive compliments on the thoroughness of my author interviews all the time. It is fulfilling work to do something helpful in the community.
14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I am pretty open to any form of contact and will respond to messages or emails in a timely manor.
In The Coming Time: https://hlc027.wixsite.com/inthecomingtime
You are most welcome for your interview!
I have a few articles lined up. I’ll be writing another article about my current reading shenanigans, and I’ll be preparing my next book review. It gets a bit…mystical.
Chat to everyone soon!