I’m pleased to welcome urban fantasy writer Cassie Alexander today. Read about what’s in her writing pipeline, how becoming a nurse spawned a fantastic book, the importance of honesty in a writer’s tool-kit, and more…
1. First things first…a name and bio.
Cassie Alexander is a registered nurse and the author of Nightshifted, out now from St. Martin’s Press.
2. Where are you from and what’s your favorite thing about where you live?
I’m originally from Texas…and every summer now that I live in Northern California I miss swimming pools. So badly. Sooooo badly.
3. Tell about your latest book. What made you want to write it?
Nightshifted was a way for me to deal with being a new nurse. I knew nursing would be hard…but I had no idea just how hard until I started my job back in the day. You’re so busy, and you don’t really know how to do everything yet, you don’t get what’s expected of you, other people yell (in general, and at you in particular) a lot, and you’re confronted with some of the saddest – and oddly heartening – things you’ll ever see. No one else understands what you’re going through. It’s so frightening and lonely.
So I dealt with it how I always deal with things – I wrote it out, and it became a book.
4. Where can people find your books?
Here you go:
5. What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on the fourth book in my series, Deadshifted.
6. What inspired you to be a writer?
I got bounced around a lot as a kid. Not that my parents didn’t do the best they could, they did, but I always had a displaced feeling. Books were the only things I could take with me that stayed the same. I think I started writing stories as a way to finally make myself heard, in the only medium I knew how.
I think now I write them to give other people hope. Which sounds lame, I know – and Nightshifted’s a really dark book. But I hope other people find Edie’s story empowering.
7. Who is your favorite character in your stories? Why?
I like writing Dren because he’s crazy. And I like writing Anna because she’s strong. And I like writing Grandfather because he’s inscrutable ;).
8. What is your favorite comfort food?
9. What character from your stories was the hardest to write?
Hmmm. That’s tough. It’s first person POV, so I’m really mostly writing Edie, so technically it should be her. I think it actually is her, in fact. Oftentimes I’ll do what I want the story to do, and I’ll run afoul of what Edie would actually do and I have to go back.
10. What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer?
For the longest time, it’s getting anyone else to believe in you. This lasts until you get pissed off and realize you don’t need them believing in you anyhow, as long as you believe in yourself. Which I know sounds silly. But it’s true. Other people’s support and agreement and kindness is nice, and not having those things kills a thousand possible writers a day. But eventually you learn you have to be able to do it without all that too. In the end it’s just you and the page and accepting that that’s where you want to be.
11. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Keep trying. They tell you that, and after a few years and a few books you think they’re wrong and maybe you should have chosen a slightly more fulfilling hobby. (I lie. Writing is always fun. Right? Right?! ;))
But it took 15 years of pretty solid effort on my part to get anywhere. And Nightshifted is the tenth book I’d ever written. So it really is worth sticking it out if you can.
12. Who are your favorite authors and why?
Alfred Bester, for his wide ranging vision and fearless plots. The Stars my Destination is my favorite book of all time.
Sergei Lukyanenko for his Night Watch series, which probably also helped to start all this.
13. What books have most influenced your writing?
Hmmm. See above ;).
I have a lot of writers I admire, whose books I wish I could have written.
I really like Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, it’s probably the most dogearred book on my shelf right now. (I dogear anything that’s awesome so I can find it easily later.)
And I read Dune when I was eight which wound up being pretty formative for me.
14. What tools are in your writer’s tool-kit?
Persistence is number one.
Honesty is a closer runner up.
If you can keep a character emotionally honest, whatever you write will be so much more powerful than it would be otherwise. It’s when you get to that place where your characters aren’t pawns on a chessboard, but they’re living their own lives, having their own experiences – that’s where the good writing is.
I think it startles some readers how honest my books are. Honesty can be uncomfortable, and I think that’s why people shy away from it. But that’s really where all the good motivation and tension is.
15. Where can people find out more about you and your books?
My website www.cassiealexander.com has everything on it.
If you are a writer interested in participating in Writer Wednesday, please send an email with a short biography to ww (at) ambersistla (dot) com.