A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received. (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.) I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted. My friend and fellow-blogger, Cassidy Frazee, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure you will find as fascinating as I did. When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to Cassidy’s blog and make sure you follow her for more entertaining tales. And now, I pass the torch to Cassidy…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
Cassidy Frazee. I’m originally from Northwest Indiana, where I’ve lived most of my life, but at the moment I’m working as an independent contractor in another state. I’ve been writing off and on most of my life, but it’s only been since late 2010 that I finally overcame most of my personal issues and returned to writing every day, and with the intention of being published.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
My blog is Wide Awake and Dreaming (http:www.//wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com/) and I am found on Twitter as @CGFrazee (https://twitter.com/CGFrazee/). You may also find information on my work at my author’s page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Cassidy-Frazee/290684390958750). I blog every day, which some people find a little strange, but it helps me keep writing.
3 .How many books have you written?
That’s a good question, and I actually had to check because I couldn’t remember. I’ve a huge slush pile of work I’ve completed since 2011. As of this moment—15 March, 2014—I’ve written seven novels, three novellas, two novelette, and two short stories. I’m currently working on another novel as we speak, something that I started right before NaNoWriMo 2013.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
I’ve published three works. You may find the links on my author’s page, which will take you to Amazon (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Cassidy-Frazee/290684390958750?id=290684390958750&sk=app_191387770912394). It’s my intention to send out a few things this year and see if I can sell my work.
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
Two of my works, Kuntilanak and Her Demonic Majesty, were self-published. I’ll admit right now, I’m not happy with doing this; both works were released with errors, and I was extremely upset with myself for releasing flawed work. I’ve taken steps to correct them, and I’ll likely perform something of a rewrite on Her Demonic Majesty this summer, so don’t buy it now—wait a while! I know, not many writers tell people not to buy their work, but I’d rather it be right.
The third, Command and Control—which is an erotica story, which deviates from what I normally write—was sold to a small house, Naughty Nights Press. I actually wrote it for a friend, who wanted to see what sort of erotica I could create if I keep things “normal” and didn’t delve into too much fantasy. After they read it they suggested I try and sell it, and that’s what happened.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I was a teenager when I started writing; I think my first attempt at writing a story happened when I was sixteen. I couldn’t keep at it, however. I know this seems cliched, but I had a lot of issues, mostly mental, when I was that age, and it seemed like every time I’d start back into writing, my mind became my own worst enemy, and I’d give up and fall into despair and depression.
It wasn’t until after I took a created writing class in 2010 that I was finally encouraged by several friends to keep writing, because I didn’t suck and they believed I had something to say. Since then I’ve kept at my writing, because I do believe in myself these days, and I believe I have interesting stories to tell.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
A desire to tell stories, and a need to succeed as a writer. It’s something I’ve wanted all my life, and given my age I’d like to find some modicum of success before I leave this mortal coil behind. I don’t expect to be the Next Big Thing, but I’d find it nice to know I had fans interested in reading my next novel.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
I was exposed to science fiction at an early age, and the first adult stories I read—at the age of seven—were Earthlight and A Fall of Moondust, by Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke has always been a favorite of mine; the same with Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Stephen Baxter. I’m also a great fan of Stephen King, Joseph Wambaugh, and Clive Cussler, though I admit I don’t read either as much as before.
The last book I read was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the next one I’ll read is Divergent by Veronica Roth. I’m a member of the HodgePodge Book Club, an informal group of friend on Facebook who get together every month, pick a novel, and read it with the intention of discussing the story and the themes found within. It’s actually a lot of fun to see how other interpret the same story you’ve read; it also makes you wonder after reading some of the impression that others have, if you even read the same book. *laughs*
I also have NOS4A2 by Joe Hill on my list of “to read soon.”
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I own one of the first Sony ebooks, though I don’t use it as much these days. I still read the “old fashion way,” but ebooks are great if you want to go somewhere and don’t feel like hauling around a bunch of books. A Kindle would have been a great thing to have in the late 1990’s when I used to travel to Hong Kong on business.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
I’ve written in both, though I tend to write mostly in third person omnipotent. I also keep things in present tense, but falling into past tense happens when the characters are back on something that happened to them.
I’ll write in first person if I feel the character is speaking directly to someone. I did that with my novel Transporting: while most of it is written in third person, there are “diary chapters” where one of the main characters is recording their recollection of events, and it’s written in first person because the character is actually recording their thoughts. That’s the only thing I’ve written that way, and I have only one other story written in first person.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I usually take breaks these days because I’m so busy with my writing. When I was younger I was always reading, and with this book club I’m in I’m starting to get back into the habit of reading on a regular basis again.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I only read one book at a time; I read between a dozen and eighteen books a year.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
My current work in progress and my most recently completed manuscript are actually connected. My current WiP is titled The Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced, which was started during the last few days of October, 2013. It’s a huge novel, and I expect it to take most of 2014 to complete.
My last completed manuscript was The Foundation Chronicles: The Scouring, which I wrote for the July Camp NaNo 2013, and was something of a warm-up before getting into my current project. This manuscript ended up running fifty-three thousand words; A For Advanced is completed through Act One, and runs double the word count of The Scouring, with two acts remaining. Like I said, it’s a big project.
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
I would say it’s fantasy with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. It shows a world that hides in plain sight with our modern world, which is to say you have magic, powers, and super science existing in the year 2011. Since the two main characters start out as eleven year old kids, some might say it’s young adult, but it’s not—at least I don’t feel it’s YA. What make my story different from others in the genre? Why, because it’s mine. *laughing* The story is really character driven, but one could say that about a lot of stories, can’t they?
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
The story really began as a role playing exercise that a friend and I did over the middle part of 2011—ergo why the novel begins in 2011. The role playing ended because of things happening in real life, but the friend who started it with me said on more than a few occasions that I needed to tell the story of these characters, because theirs is a compelling story. So finally, after all this time, I’ve begun to do just that.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
At the moment I think the target audience is just about anyone. It’s not just for teenagers: in fact, there are things in the story that will come across as a bit horrifying, because my world isn’t always a nice one. I hope that should this story end up published it’ll find an audience with everyone. And I’m very gender neutral, though one will quickly discovered that the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning—the location of my story—is very much a world where the ladies pretty much run things, and the boys learn to adjust to that reality.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
The basis of the story is that there are two different worlds: that which is known, and the part that’s unknown. Over the centuries various organizations have investigated the unknown, and began to realize that there were some things that, for want of a better term, the majority of mankind wasn’t ready to know. So, these very organizations have worked hard to keep magic, powers, and super science out of the hands of “Normals,” with the intention of filtering these gifts to the rest of the world over time.
The Foundation is the current incarnation of these old organizations, formed out of a Victorian-era group of scientist who began working with witches to push the boundaries of what was “real.” By the late-1800’s they became the caretakers of keeping the world safe from advanced knowledge that they know could destroy humanity if it were left unchecked. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. And they do this by hiding in plain sight, pretending to be a philanthropist organization—one that offers free education to those children they see as “special.”
The story centers upon two children from different groups: one from a Normal family that has no idea the world isn’t what it seems, and another from a family that has lived with The Foundation’s world view for multiple generations. These children form a bond with each other—but why? Why does one of the children seem to know so much about the other child? What is it about them that makes them special? How do they adapt to this world that is really new for them both? They aren’t perfect in a personal sense—both have personal issues they bring to the school, so they not only have to contend with the pressures of school, but with the pressures the place upon themselves.
It’s a hard world when you’re eleven—it’s even harder when you are a witch in training.
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
Every day. If I’m not working on a current project, I write in my blog. I believe the last time I passed a day without writing was somewhere back in 2011.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
I do a minimum of five hundred words on by blog, and between eight hundred and twelve hundred words a day on my current project. There are time when I manage more, and a few times when I’ve managed less, but I try to keep to the schedule. Since I tend to write novels, I try to finish them in a reasonable amount of time, and not stretch them out for years on end.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I do a lot of editing during the creation of my first draft, and then read back over my work as I go along. I’ve yet to send my work off to another editor, mostly because good editors are not only hard to find, but can run into some money. I hope that my financial status improves so that in the future I can find a great editor to help improve my work.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I plan things out rather well. I write in Scrivener, so before I start a story I’ll begin setting up the layout of the story before one word is written. As with my current project, I set up each part, then chapters, then the scenes within each chapter—and then I divided each part into different acts.
With each scene I type some metainformation indicating what should happen inside the scene. With this story I’ve also set up dates and times so I know if everything is happening in the proper order. If I need to do so, I’ll take this information and enter it in Aeon Timeline because I like to know that everything is in the right order.
Once I have everything laid out, I’ll start writing. I always know the title of my story, and the end: all I have to do after that is fill in the middle.
I always write the first draft, editing as I go along. I’ll reread a page if need, and check each paragraph when I can. With my current project, because of the size of the story, I’m going over early chapters now, and I’ll continue checking and editing each chapter as I go along while adding new material. It’s something that William Gibson does, and I’m finding it works pretty well for me as well.
If I add chapters or scenes, I’ll do it when I reach a point where I realize I need one. If I have to go back and add a chapter, then I didn’t lay out the story correctly. While I’ve never had to go back and add a chapter, I’ve added scenes as I’ve gone alone, but only rarely.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
I have one and she’s been with me a long time. She’s the one who believes in me, and the one who keeps me writing because she knows I’m good. I couldn’t live without her, and even when she doesn’t speak to me, I know she’s thinking of me and urging me on. I send her a kiss every so often, too. *Mwah!*
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
That depends. Her Demonic Majesty is eight-six thousand words, and I wrote it in twenty-five days, but I wasn’t working at the time. Kolor Ijo is seventy-three thousand words, and I wrote it in twenty-eight days, but I wasn’t working then, either. Now, Subjective Amusements is seventy-two thousand words, but that was the first novel I wrote while working a “regular” job, and that took me about ninety days. My current project is, at the moment, one hundred and forty thousand words, and I spent one hundred ten days getting that far. I can certainly write a lot more if I’m not working another job. I usually average about a thousand words a day, so with that in mind, I can write ninety thousand words in three months.
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
I stick with around a thousand words a day. I find that usually gives me a couple of hours a night to work on my story, and to keep the manuscript clean during the first draft. If you don’t have a lot of time during a day to write, you make the time you have count, and that’s what I try to do.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
With my characters I try to come up with an image of them first, and then I go with a name that seems to go with them. When the name feels right, then I keep it. I’ve only changed two character’s names because I didn’t feel it was right for the person.
Geographic locations just seem to come to me, but I also spend time looking at maps and searching around to find what I believe to be the perfect location. I’ve always been good with maps, and I love hunting around Google Maps looking for places to place my scenes.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
Depending upon how much world building I’m doing, my notes can be quite extensive. My story Kolor Ijo took place in a city in Indonesia, so I had a lot of note about the area, the sort of food eaten, taxis, hotels, the location of different well known sites, the airport, the ferry lines that worked out of the harbor. With my current project I’ve had to build a world from scratch: one of the things I did was build a scale model of the entire school in three dimensions using the program Blender, then I labeled everything so I knew the names of every building—I even created the tunnel system under the school that the students use when a major storm blows in off the Atlantic, or the grounds are buried under a foot of snow.
I’d say for this project I’ve close to thirty pages of notes, and with the possibility of turning this novel into a series, I add to the notes every time I think about what’s coming in the future.
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
I like to write with music playing, but that’s about it. Oh, and a comfortable chair: when you have to type for hours, you want a comfortable chair and good lighting. Did I mention the lighting?
I also like to drink water when writing so I don’t get hungry. And you are forced to take a break every hour or so when you need to go to the bathroom.
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
These days I write at night, usually after I’ve spent an hour or so decompressing from work. If there is something on at ten PM that I want to see, I’ll stop then, but I usually have my word count by then. I don’t watch a lot of television, so it helps I don’t have that distraction.
29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
I don’t have much of a real life, so there isn’t much of something to neglect. It would be nice to go out and do things now and then, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.
30.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
Hum . . . I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that quirky while writing. Most of the time I like writing in my pajamas, but only because I enjoy being comfortable. All work is better when you’re in your pajamas. *laughing*
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
Right now my current novel is my favorite, though I have many soft spots for Transporting and Kolor Ijo. Transporting was my first novel, and Kolor Ijo was a real research job that takes place in another country in our world. Also, both novels have some of my favorite characters ever created. However, the characters of my current project—they’re real sweethearts to me.
32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
Hum . . . It would be a toss-up between Audrey Dahl and Kerry Malibey. Both are unusual, emotionally volatile, and deeply in love with their significant others. Sometimes I wonder if they are the same people in different worlds.
And why? Both are smart, flawed, and powerful with powers and magic. They are also driven to try and do the right thing, even if it isn’t the best thing for them. They are, truly flawed heroes. Oh, and they are nothing without the person they love the most: without that person they are lost.
33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
That’s really impossible for me to define. I have used well-known people to imagine some of my characters, but if there was a movie I couldn’t say that someone would be perfect for the role. I would rather the script stay fateful to the story.
34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
Genital piercings for women. I needed to know the names and where they were placed, because one of my characters had one.
35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Finding the right stars to place habitable planets around. There is a limit to what sort of information you can find on-line, and as we discover more exoplanets, it makes it harder to keep the “fiction” in the “science.”
Beyond that I’ve not found too many things difficult to research. I grew up during the Cold War, stayed two miles from a first-strike target in Florida during the worst part of the Cuban Missile Crises, and once sat in on the autopsy of a thirty-one year old woman who’d died from cardiac arrest and got to hold her heart the next day. So “difficult” things aren’t difficult for me. It’s all part of a writer’s job to face the difficult and tell its tale.
Thank you, Cassidy, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.