If you are interested in interviewing Cas, here is a selection of Author Questions and Answers. Please feel free to pick your favourites
Was it always your ambition to be an author?
Actually, it was never my ambition to be an author! It came about by accident one day when I was looking for something to occupy my time. No one was more surprised than me when some inconsequential scribblings turned into a nine-novel fantasy saga.
Are you saying that none of your books were planned?
That’s exactly what I’m saying. All I ever knew with each of my Artesan books was the beginning, the middle, and the end. The rest was allowed to flow naturally and it all connected by itself.
How long did the entire series take to write?
I started in December 2001 and wrote pretty much non-stop for the next nine years. Although it wasn’t precisely like that, you could say I wrote a book a year. At the same time as writing the next book, I was also still working on the one before.
Do you always write like this?
Mostly. I have written a few short stories, some of which are published, and they all appeared in my mind pretty much fully formed. However, I have also written a non-fiction book, For the Love of Daisy, and that, of course, had to be meticulously planned.
For the Love of Daisy – what is it about?
It’s the story of my beloved Dalmatian dog. At age 10 she developed disc disease, and the operation that should have fixed this didn’t go well. Daisy ended up a paraplegic and the specialist advised euthanasia. Daisy didn’t want to die though, and we spent the next two years utilizing every alternative therapy we could find to finally enable her to walk again. I wrote the book in order to inform other owners of disabled pets how these therapies can help.
Which do you enjoy writing most – fiction or non-fiction?
That’s not an easy question to answer, they are so different. Writing my fantasy series was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. A rollercoaster ride of ideas and scenes. It was like being taken over – as if I had no control. Eerie and fabulous all at the same time. Writing Daisy’s book was totally different – it was difficult and emotional, but at the same time, cathartic.
Going back to your Artesan series, why do you think the fantasy genre is so popular?
That’s easy. We all like to escape. Sometimes the crazy world we live in gets a bit much and we need a break from it. Immersing ourselves in another world, a created world, can offer that degree of separation. I love the sense of wonder I get when I enter a newly created fantasy world. It’s our human nature to explore, and fantasy satisfies this urge.
How do you go about creating a believable fantasy world?
I think every fantasy author has a different opinion on this one. My own belief is that if the author can clearly visualize that world as he/she creates it, then it will feel authentic to the reader.
What about your characters? Are they based on people you know?
None of my characters are based on real people except for one. High King Elias of Albia, who doesn’t appear as a physical character until Book Three, King’s Artesan, is very loosely based on the English actor Sean Bean. More accurately, on some of the characters Sean Bean has played. Elias is a kind of cross between Richard Sharpe (created by author Bernard Cornwell) and Boromir from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.
When did you start thinking your book could be good enough to publish?
I was fortunate in that I had some very honest family members and friends who read my early drafts. None of them fed my ego, but neither did they ridicule my work. Many of them gave me valuable pointers in how to improve, and once those pointers were addressed, I knew the books were in with a chance.
What was your experience of submitting your manuscript?
I also count myself fortunate in my submitting experience. Right from the start I received encouraging rejection letters, many of them containing valuable advice. One agent, Meg Davis of MBA Literary Agents Ltd in London, looked at my sample chapters more than once, and even passed my query on to another agent. Although she didn’t take me on, I am very grateful to her for her encouraging comments.
How long before you found a publisher?
I confess that in 2010 I was thinking about self-publishing the series. Then I read about Rhemalda Publishing on someone’s Facebook page and decided to give them a try. This just goes to reinforce what writers are often told: Never Give Up!
Your family and friends gave you advice, but are they fans of your fantasy writing?
In the main, yes. I don’t have a large family but they all support me 100%. Out of the friends who read drafts for me, most have remained keen on the series.
Where do you like to write?
I have moved house since writing the Artesans series and now have more of a choice where I write. I have a study in the front of the house, which I use in the summer because it is always cool. If it is warm enough, I like to write outdoors. In the winter, when my study is too dark, I write in my conservatory, surrounded by plants. I can also look out on my garden, which I love.
Are you a disciplined writer?
When I was writing Artesans I had no choice. I had to be disciplined because the story wouldn’t let me go. It demanded to be written and the days when other commitments prevented me from writing were agony. Writing Daisy was a totally different experience and I had to plan both the book and my day.
How would you describe your writing style?
In Artesans I think my writing is emotive. I am always deeply involved with my characters and I think – I hope! – that my style reflects this. In Daisy, I tried to inject some humour, and so my style is quite different.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m concentrating on publicizing my Artesans series but once the initial excitement is over I plan to return to a prequel to the series that I started a few years ago. I also have plenty of ideas concerning the other races mentioned in my series.
Who are your favourite authors? Did they influence your writing?
I adore Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. No one writes dragons like she did! In fantasy, I also love Tolkein, Stephen Donaldson, Barbara Hambly, Terry Brooks, Louise Cooper, Juliet Marillier and the dark, earthy mystery of Charles De Lint. For witty writing, you can’t beat Terry Pratchett. I love historical drama too, authors such as Manda Scott and Bernard Cornwell. In crime thrillers a favorite is Peter James. I suspect that every one of these authors has influenced me in some respect, but I couldn’t be more specific.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
It’s been said many times, but it’s still true. Write what you enjoy reading. Don’t worry about what’s popular right now, or what’s hitting the big news – that can quickly change. Immerse yourself in what you’re creating and make it the very best you can. Pouring yourself into your writing is the only way to make an honest connection with your readers.
You are also a singer – what made you put songs into your fantasy stories?
My novels are set in a medieval style world and in those times, music was a free and popular form of entertainment. The nobility all kept musicians and travelling bards did their rounds, entertaining at fairs and social gatherings. So it felt natural to include references to music in my work.