I first met Cassie through KiwiWriters and we have become firm friends, even though we have never met face to face. I value her opinion when it comes to writing, and she is great to bounce ideas off. She has been instrumental in Tales for Canterbury, an anthology of stories to raise money for the Red Cross in the wake of the Christchurch quakes.
She has had some of her short stories published and is a budding novelist, so here is her story in her words:
I’ve been writing for a while now, though am working on my first novel in a few years. I took a break from the longer works because I had babies, and there never seemed to be enough space in my head to sink into something as big as a novel. I used short stories as an outlet for my creativity, and as a way to explore the world, and myself, and the things I was interested in both as a writer and a person.
What I discovered was that I have a real passion for writing about relationships, whether they are between couples (potential or established), family, friends or any other kind of connection. I also love exploring new worlds and am drawn primarily to stories with speculative elements in them.
What was it about the story idea that interested you enough to write it? I’m currently working on Sun-Touched, and when I first started getting inklings for it I had just a few words, and a character name come to me in the night. By the time morning came around, I was eager to write and it’s been my main squeeze since then. I love it because it’s set on a new world and there is more going on than meets the eye. I have put heaps of conflict into this and it seems to be paying off.
Where is your book set and why is it important? The novel is set on Diamnuro, it’s a recently colonized planet that’s been established for about 15 years. Everyone lives in Domes and can only go out of them for a set amount of time because too much exposure to the sunlight on the planet puts people at risk of becoming ‘Sun-Touched’, which makes people crazy. My main character, Madea, gets exposed and finds that there is more to being Sun-Touched than madness.
Why do you write? I’ve always used stories as a creative outlet, and don’t think I could ever stop. There is something challenging and rewarding about it that I love, not to mention seeing an idea become a book or story, that’s an amazing process.
Who do you read and why? I read just about anything these days! I remember in high school one of my English teachers told me that I needed to read more than just science fiction, horror and fantasy (She knew I loved to write, and thought that was important for writers). My tastes were pretty narrow then. I certainly still love those kinds of books, but I have more diverse tastes these days.
How do you go about writing? Do you have a set time a day, or a special place to write in? I try and live by the ‘at least ten minutes a day’ philosophy. If I do even that little, I can get a few hundred words written and stay in touch with whatever I am working on. I find once I am in my groove, then sitting down and getting the words out is very easy. I mostly write at my desk, and sneak the words in whenever the kids are otherwise occupied 😉
How do your characters develop? It depends on the character! Some of them whack me over the head fully formed, and others develop as I write. I usually feel like I have a good handle on them by the time I am around 10,000 words into a novel. That might sound like a lot of words, but for someone who doesn’t really plan or outline (well, until recently), I can’t tell what the character will be like until I see them on the page.
Where can we find some of your work? I have two stories in print anthologies, and two online at the moment. They are ‘The Comfort of Wood’, which is fantasy, and ‘Birth Rights‘, which is science fiction.
If you want to know more about me, or are interested in reading my meanderings, I blog at Just Cassie.