Our author Q&A for March is with the fabulous Cassidy. Like Kara last month, I first came across Cassidy on Instagram and in a few Facebook writing groups. We have since become great friends, and I have enjoyed reading her books tremendously. In fact, I’m reading her second novel, The Sentinels 2: Saving Him, right now. Here’s a little bio to start us off.
Cassidy Reyne is the Alter Ego of a Swedish girl living in England. She’s been happily married for over 25 years and has two grown up children.
Cassidy writes contemporary romance with some suspense thrown in for fun and excitement. She currently has two books published in The Sentinels series and is working on book 3 as well, as a standalone romance novel.
She currently lives in South London, UK, where she and her husband run their own business from home.
When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading, going to the theatre, spending time with friends, travelling, visiting her family on an island in Sweden, and drinking a glass or two of a good wine. Sometimes the wine is replaced with vodka or rum. A cocktail would never be refused.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author?
This all started just over 2 years ago when I was sitting at home with nothing much to do. My husband and I have our own business but there isn’t enough for both of us to work full time. I think I was also experiencing ‘empty nest’ syndrome as my daughter had just gone back to Australia, where she is currently studying for her Masters in Marine Science, and my son spent his time either at school, playing sports or with his then-girlfriend, so was rarely at home.
I was going a bit stir crazy and needed to challenge myself, and the scariest thing I could think of was to write a book. I’d had a story in my head for over 10 years that sprang from a dream and I decided to finally write it down. The thing is, I always believed I could never write a piece of fiction after my English teacher in Senior High told me to stick to analytical essays. I know she meant that as a way for me to get top grades and not that I was useless at storytelling, but it stuck and stayed with me for all these years.
Putting those first few words down on the screen was terrifying and I had to keep telling myself that no one else had to see it. It could just stay as a private document on my computer. A few months later I took the plunge and published it on Amazon. I decided early on I wanted to go the indie route as I wanted to keep control of my own work and do everything myself from start to finish. I wanted to stay busy and, oh my goodness, have I stayed busy.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
That’s a difficult question since I write on and off all day, most days of the week, as I really enjoy it. But, when I’m not in front of my keyboard, I enjoy meeting up with friends, going to the theatre or seeing a movie, eating out, and spending time with my family. On Saturdays I work at a small dance school in the reception and doing admin for the principal. I also love to travel and we tend to go on at least one big holiday every year. Last year we went to Australia for a couple of weeks for our daughter’s graduation and also had one week in Dubai before we came home. As I’m Swedish I go back there as often as I can to see my parents and the rest of my family and, even though it doesn’t feel as if I’m going on holiday, it’s still a nice change of environment.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Hmmmm, let me think. It’s probably seeing the story that’s bouncing around in my head build up on the screen and the characters come alive with their personalities. As most writers will tell you, they tend to take on a life of their own and go off on tangents you hadn’t expected. That’s part of what makes it so… addictive, I think is the right word. No matter how much you plan and plot (I’m a pantser by the way so not much plotting here) the story and the people in it will make it their own and you’re just along for the ride.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process?
As I mentioned, I’m a pantser. I like having the outlines of a story in my head, but I don’t plot or plan the chapters or keep to a strict schedule of events. I usually have the beginning, middle and end, and everything else just seems to slot into place. Saying that, I have finished the first draft of the third book in The Sentinels Series and I had to draw up a timeline to know when and where previous events had taken place. I’m also prepping for the fourth book and suddenly I was really glad I’d created that timeline as it has its beginnings during the third book and spans three years in total. There were a lot of events and details to keep straight and having it all laid out over months and years definitely helped.
The actual writing process is just that. Writing. I don’t edit as I go along and instead keep getting those words down until the story is mostly finished. Once the first draft is finished I go back and look at the story and try to find the plot holes, continuity mistakes, and all the other stuff that you always find in a rough draft. After that, it’s time to really start the editing part, which is the tough bit, but it has to be done. I wish I could just write and leave everything else to others, but unless I become hugely successful and can hire people to do it, I just have to get on with it myself. To be honest, I don’t dislike it all that much. It’s a nurturing process and it’s kind of amazing to see how the story changes and evolves into something other people might just want to read.
How do you get inspired to write?
Yikes. Inspiration. I really don’t know where my ideas come from. They tend to just pop into my head at the most awkward times, such as when I’m driving, or in a meeting. Invariably, it’s when I can’t write it down. My first book came from a dream, though, and I developed that story in my head for 10 years. Sometimes, reading someone else’s book will trigger an idea and I then try to develop it further and make sure it’s not using the same story line as the book I’m reading.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
The most important piece of advice I think I can give is to just write. If you have a story in your head, or just the beginnings of a story, write it down. Don’t be afraid of seeing the words on that screen or in your notebook. Everything can be changed, rewritten and edited until it’s as good as it can be.
Another bit of advice is to find like minded people. The writing community on social media is huge, and incredibly helpful. Join groups, ask questions, ask for help and advice, and then try to implement everything you think will improve your work. There are so many people out there who love to help others out and have tons of experience if only you have the courage to ask.
Finally, believe in yourself but be prepared for others to criticise your work. Nearly all of the time it’s done out of love and helpfulness, but as we all know it’s not always easy to convey that in words alone. Some people will love your story and others won’t. That’s just how it is and it all makes for a balanced view to guide others to your book.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Only five?! I have so many more favourites than that!
Sheesh, this is going to be difficult. As a kid I loved the stories by Astrid Lindgren. They are so beautifully written and tell such amazing tales, both real life and fantasy. One of them is Brothers Lionheart which always fascinated me with its intrigue, spies, monsters, villains and both endless love and deep sorrow.
I also love the Earth’s Children Series by Jean M Auel as she’s brought the age of Neanderthals and Cro Magnon people so beautifully alive, based on pre-historic finds, cave drawings a huge amount of research and an incredible imagination. I feel drawn back 30 000 years into our past and it all seems perfectly real and plausible.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson is another that I absolutely love. The stories are incredibly well written, captivating and exciting. They also take place in several parts of Sweden that I know well and it gives me a little bit of home as I read.
For biographies I’d have to say Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. His recounting of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and his rise to fame is incredibly moving. I could hear his voice leap off the pages, telling me not to feel sorry for him but to think how lucky he was to have had — and continue to have — such an amazing life. I can only admire his resilience and optimism.
Among the classics I often return to Jane Eyre. It’s such a beautiful story and although it depicts life in the 19th century, much of it can be found even today. The drive to be independent and to make your own choices, a desire to love and be loved, and the courage to stand up for what you believe is right, is something we can all learn from and strive towards in our lives.
I know that’s my five but I have to mention some recent indie books that I have also come to love. The Ilvannian Chronicles by Kara S. Weaver, The Hallowed Hills Series by S.L. Mason, The Fire Salamander Chronicles by N.M. Thorn and your own Divine Prophecy Series have become some of my absolute favourites. They are well written with great story lines, amazing world building and characters you fall in love with. Or hate, as the case may be.
What books are on your reading list this year?
Eeeehrm, my reading list is huge!
I’m currently reading Murder at Macbeth by Samantha Goodwin and once that is finished I’ll be going onto Jim and Martha by Joel Schueler. I also have Fae Touched by Lisa Rae Roman, Chasing the Knight by Brittney Sahin, and Legacy of Secrets Series by Lisa Logue. Plus about a million others waiting on my Kindle. There’s just not enough time in the day for all the reading I’d like to do.
The Sentinels : Saving Her
Nikolas has finally found his soulmate. With painful experiences from previous relationships he grasps this chance of a happy future with both hands, but can he hold on or is he about to lose her forever?
After a chance meeting Nikolas knew Anya was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. When his enemies nearly kill her he doesn’t hesitate to put his life on hold to save hers. But as tragedy strikes again will he be able to save her for a second time – and at what cost?
What inspired you to write The Sentinels Series?
Well, as I mentioned before, the idea for Saving Her came from a dream I had over 10 years ago. I woke up and immediately thought it made such a good premise for a book. After that, I started to develop the story in my head and worked out how the characters acted, their likes and dislikes, and what made them who they are. Eventually, I had the whole story written in my head, but that’s where it stayed until I decided to stop being scared and just throw it out there. Saving Him builds on the first one as I felt they hadn’t finished telling their story. There were past events that needed to see the light of day and be brought to their conclusion.
Is there going to be a follow up to Saving Her and Saving Him?
Yes! I have already written the first draft of book 3, which centers around Logan Wells, and book 4 will tell Grayson Hawke’s story. Both characters are in the first two books so readers will be well acquainted with them. They have been shouting in my head for quite some time that they also want to be heard — who am I to refuse?