Today's interview is with Heather Cashman who writes YA fantasy. She likes fantasy and so do I.
1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
My first trilogy is YA Fantasy loosely based on Science Fiction. I am also working on a YA Urban Fantasy set in the near future. I suppose Fantasy is what I prefer, though I have several outlines for books that are not Fantasy, so we’ll see what happens when I get to those.
2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I suppose it chose me. But my favorite books to read are Speculative Fiction, so I suppose it’s not a surprise that I like to write it as well.
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I write the stories that play in my head. I have also written articles about things I’m interested in. I doubt I would ever attempt books on parenting or any type of advice, self-help, etc. I really don’t like reading those books, and am sure I would be terrible at writing them.
4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
I read all kinds of YA fiction and classics.
5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I have a difficult time remembering names and ages, including my own. My
favorite season is fall (especially in New York). I enjoy rainy days and lightening storms, and currently live in Kansas. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but didn’t begin anything serious until about five years ago when I found I had some free time to fill—a concept that seems incredible now.
6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
My characters are like my children—no favorites. But I do love certain characteristics that some of them possess, and other times they irritate me or make me downright angry. I love that Ardana is strong, can persevere through trials and come out on the other side stronger than before. She is also very rash and does things her own way, a trait that often complicates things.
Her brother Kade is rational, a planner, kind of the turtle mentality that gives him a distinct advantage. But he is also gullible and does stupid things for people to earn their love.
7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Definitely villains. Some of my favorite shows are the melodramas where the damsel gets tied up and laid across the train tracks. You always see
the villain twitching his black mustache, rubbing his hands in anticipation for the train to smash the woman to bits when the muscled hero comes riding in on the horse. It’s cheesy, but I love it.
I know there are some excellent books out there without villains, but for me, there are people who have a moral code that dictates their actions. There are also people who would do anything to get what they want and often turn out to be villains without even knowing it, or if they know it, they just don’t care.
I think that’s how people are, and it carries through to all my characters.
8. What are you working on now?
I am currently refining the second novel of The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy, Deception. I also take breaks to clear my mind and work on my Urban Fantasy once in awhile.
9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
My only release to date is Perception ( The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy, Book 1). The idea arrived much like a dream: a compilation of all your experiences that your mind somehow works over as a remix. It has similar elements to books I’ve read, but also has my own unique touches.
10. Tell me about your latest book. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
Perception is set in a post-apocalyptic future that seems more like the dark ages. When a deep-space meteor hits Mars, shards of the broken planet fly into Earth and its orbit. While most of mankind is destroyed, small pockets of survivors begin again. (This is the basis for the prequel, Resurrection.) The characters in Perception are the descendants of a group of those survivors—military experiments to create super-human soldiers. Five-hundred years later, those animals and humans have developed telepathic links with individual animals, called ingenium.
Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.
More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.
Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn’t as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.
First 400 words:
Be careful. Rijan’s faint thought echoed from deep in the forest where she hunted with her brother, Adamas.
I will. My thought reached to Rijan, my ingenium. I watched, rapt with admiration for my great white tiger, the other half of my soul. Her vision momentarily clouded my mind: a large buck bounding through the forest ahead and Adamas, my brother Kade’s ingenium, concealed not far distant.
Hearing only the twittering and snapping sounds of the forest behind me, I peeked around the small wooden message board. The area was deserted. Small puffs of dust betrayed my steps as I crept, cat-like, behind the northern row of two-story shops with their owners’ apartments above.
A lifetime of cruelty had ingrained a correlation in our minds: going to see Kade would risk the loss of a few meals. I paused to reconsider and stared at the strange colors of dusk, a bright orange on the horizon that melted into a deep purple. Our mother Maran could no longer beat me, and we would be of age in little more than a ten-day. The news from the message board left me no other option. I blazed down the back of the buildings like fire in dry grass. My legs and chest tightened with the anticipation of seeing him and the fear of possible discovery.
An abrupt halt at the back door found me winded. I took a deep breath and held it, controlled it because I needed to control something. The door swung easily as I lifted the handle to silence the screeching hinges.
He was there, alone.
My heartbeat slowed, and I sighed with relief. His eighteen-year-old back hunched like an old man’s over the red-hot piece of steel he was hammering into a scythe. If only it were a sword, the head of a spear, or a lance. My anger and hatred yearned for a weapon, a weapon I could fight back with. A weapon might be the difference between living and dying if I left—when I left—now that I had a reason, a destination.
I slipped inside. The soot-covered walls of the forge remained dark while white-hot fire, like half a miniature sun, lit his small world from behind. Beads of sweat on his forehead caught the light. Brilliant eyes intently focused on their work. The muscles of his square jaw tightened before each blow of the hammer.