Monday, 13 January 2014

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Cassandra Webb

1. Tell me about your book Kemla : LIFE and where you got your inspiration for it?

I was a real ‘Tamora Pearce’ fan as a kid. I feel like I kinds grew up with my main character, Kemla, because I began imagining her life when I was quite young. Now she is very much alive in my head, and I just write down what she’s up to. Might sound slightly insane, but insanity makes life exciting.

2. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

I love imagining myself into a book or movie, especially on long drives, but usually I invent a new character for myself and interact with the existing characters. Who wouldn’t want to cut Bella out of ‘Twilight’ and put themselves in there instead? Who would you choose??? Me, definitely Edward! Immortality all the way.

3. What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer and how did you bounce back from it?

Actually I said the ‘thing’ myself once. In conversation with my daughters teacher I said ‘oh, I’m a published author’ and I hated the sound of it. I much prefer saying that ‘I write’, because that’s what I ‘do’ and it’s the part of all this business that I simply love.

4. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Ohh, now you’re making me think. I don’t need to lie as an adult but when I was a teenager I certainly did. I think the most out and out lie I ever told was after holidaying with my girlfriend in highschool. We were going through a rebellious thing, and a bit of a curiosity phase too. We snuck out and walked all of the way out of town to try out the old spirit board in the cemetery. We took a few pics, but I forgot that I then had to get said photo’s developed (yes, pre digital cameras) and my mum was the one who picked the photo’s up.

I babbled out something like, ‘We did it for a school project, we just needed some interesting, night time, pictures. We didn’t do anything else. Her parents were in the car right there. No that isn’t a cigarette in her hand!’

My friend and I couldn’t talk to each other for six months.

5. While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?

A lot of my mood goes into a story, and usually into the main character. In Kemla you can tell when I was feeling down, she did get captured by slave traders, and you can tell when I was feeling romantic… hence meeting Orin.

A few other things that have snuck into Kemla are: magical white horse – that was on my Christmas list one year. Learning to wield a sword – that was right about when the movie ‘A Nights Tale’ came out. And the rescue that goes kind of wrong – that’s me and my partner all over!

6. Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Often the opposite. I think it’s fantastic. Then I share it with other writers, friends, critique groups etc. And they point out a heap of flaws. I work on it, and work on it some more, and I’m sure it’s so CRAP that I should just throw it out. Just as I am about to hit the delete button I order myself to take a break. Posting Kemla on the blog is like having a deadline I can’t get out of. No matter what I think of the chapter I simply must hit the ‘Publish’ button. Take a deep breath and let it go. I know it’s not perfect (remember I wanted to delete it) but the blog is going nuts, I have over 600 followers and reviews on goodreads. So I tell myself that I am not allowed to hate it. That’s not my job.

My job is to write it, hit publish, and let it live out it’s life.

7. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Does it really make it go faster?

Lol, not. But I was once on an elevator that jumped and jolted and made me cling to the railing. I wish that one had gone faster, I was sure I was about to die!

8. If you were the ruler of the world, what laws would you make?

Hot topic in Australia is the illegal smugglers/boat people/refuge debate. I’ve put some thought into this and I’m sure ALL politicians have got this one wrong. If I had the power, and a magic wand because let’s face it I get bored easily and politics takes a lot of time, I’d make the detention centres productive. Why can’t people waiting for the yay-or-nay learn a trade? Let’s face it some of them wait amazing lengths of time, like seven years, and then get sent home. In seven years they could be going home with degrees in law or medicine or education and make a difference in their own countries. Why can’t detention centres give the homeless jobs and accommodation? Why can’t they be big and green with gardens and a sense of community?

Like I said, hot topic. Not what I usually write about.

9. If you had to do it all over again, would you changed anything in your latest book?

Because Kemla is a book-via-blog I often get quick comments about things that can/should be changed.

‘Why didn’t Kemla see that coming?’

‘Where’s Leon?’

‘Spelling error on page 2.’

And so on. This medium means the book is very interactive. I can edit out spelling/grammar issues when I need to (I’ll admit I don’t get many comments so I hope that means I don’t have a lot of errors!) But I don’t make changes to the plot.

I do have the benefit of releasing a new chapter each week and I can, if I’m feeling nice, address reader questions. ‘Where’s Leon?’ Kemla thinks, ‘is he already in Aquilla Realm?’

10. Do you prefer blue or black inked pens?

Purple and white actually. I love doing art on black paper, it’s just so refreshingly different. And my fav colour is purple in any medium, even my hair.

11. Would you break a law to save a loved one?

Yes. No grey area there.

12. Is there a message in your novels you want the readers to grasp?

Not deliberately. I try to convey what my character really would do. Even if my character really would stupidly try to seduce a slave trader, thinking that would create an escape attempt. Sometimes we all do stupid things.

Thinking about it there is one message throughout most of my work. Never give up.

But that’s displaying my personality, not a deliberate message.

13. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I mentioned Tamora Pearce above. It was because of her books that I began writing Fantasy. I lived on some 21000 acres in rural Australia and I loved to read. When I finished one book I had months to wait for her next instalment. So my imagination took over.

14. If you could try out any job for a day (real or fictional) what would you like to try?

Oh, got me thinking. I love questions that get me thinking. I’d like to see what it takes to direct a movie. I think that would open my mind to the way I write and how that might be translated into a visual medium.

15. Do you watch horror movies on or from behind the couch?

Behind, definitely behind.

16. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it all imagination?

I wish the magic was based on real life experience, sadly it’s not. I used to horse ride, so much of the description of horses is based on real life. That’s about it.

17. What’s next for you?

I’ve been working on a few things. Some childrens picture books, a new young adult fantasy and maybe even something adult for NaNoWriMo.

18. What was the point you realised that being an author was no longer a dream but a reality?

Ha ha, *laughs* I don’t think I have yet.

19. How do you handle working with an editor without letting pride get in the way?

I have a philosophy. The work is my baby, my pride and joy, up until the point where I share it.

Once I share it the work is not mine anymore. It is bigger than me, and I have a duty to do it justice.

I switch off my mothering-writer brain and switch on my business-academic brain. Listen to every crit, smile and thank people for their time, make a plan according to advice given and step-by-step follow through.

The following through part can be very hard.


Kemla is a teenager living in the Summer’s Mountains.

She’s quick witted, not shy of action and smart however life outside the protective circle where she lives is all but beyond her reach. Then one day she’s kidnapped by slave traders, helped by magic and learns to trust. All the while she’s trying to avoid her past.

About Cassandra
For Cassandra writing is a passion, an art and some days an effort. She finds there are so many amazing facets to explore, new ideas, fantastic works, a lifetime writing is just not enough. Mother to a delightful daughter, 9 years old, and darling son, 1 year old, and partner to an amazing man (she can say that because she know he will never read this and is not in danger of getting a fat head)
She is currently knuckling down with YA and MG fiction manuscripts as well as writing Children’s Picture Books. 

Twitter: @casswebb1

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