Interview with Author Cas Peace

You can follow Cas more on her blog (here)
Cas Peace is an author of the non-fiction book ‘For the Love of Daisy’ and the triple-trilogy fantasy series, ‘Artesans of Albia’. She is also a freelance editor that loves helping fellow writers improve.

 

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First
I’d like to thank Toni Grace for inviting me to be a part of March Madness. I
am honoured to be here! Second, I’d like to mention that as well as being a
fantasy and non fiction author, I’m a freelance editor, proofreader, and
creative writing coach. I also do manuscript critiques. Please see my website –
www.caspeace.com/writers-services – for full details and testimonials from satisfied clients.
There is a set pricing table but I am always open to negotiation. Why not give
me a try?
Cas.
1.   What made you want to be
an Author?
I didn’t ever really
want to be an author. It was something that came about by accident! I was bored
one day and started to write out a little scene that had been in my mind since
watching a kids TV show back in the 1970s (I know – showing my age!). That
innocuous little scene burgeoned all by itself into a novel and suddenly, I
became a writer. Before I knew what was happening, I’d written a fantasy series
of nine books! Once a few people had read and liked what I’d written, I decided
to try to get my work published. And now I’m an author!
2.   How did you come up with
your character ideas for your books?
My main male character,
Taran, was inspired by the kids TV show I mentioned, although he’s nothing like
the magician in the show. It was called ‘Tarot, Ace of Wands’ but I didn’t want
to use the name Tarot, so I changed it to Taran. I’ve since learned that this
is the Welsh word for ‘thunder’, which is cool! My main female character (I
won’t give more details here in case people haven’t read the book) is really my
ideal kind of fantasy ‘heroine’. She’s strong without being arrogant, is
powerful yet humble, loyal yet vulnerable, confident yet flawed. She excels in
a male dominated world without being some kind of super-Amazonian female, and
she’s extremely beautiful without being soft or vain. Sound too good to be
true? Read King’s Envoy for yourself and see! (Buy it through my website
http://caspeace.com/books/artesans-of-albia-kings-envoy/kings-envoy-excerpt
and you’ll get a signed
copy).
The other characters came
purely out of my imagination, except for King Elias. He’s the only character
based on a ‘real’ person. My favourite film or TV actor is Sean Bean, and I
simply love his portrayal of Richard Sharp, from Bernard Cornwell’s Sharp
novels. Elias is a slightly older Richard Sharp, and each time I see Elias,
he’s wearing Sean Bean’s face. *Swoon*!
3.   Are any of the events in
your book based on real life experiences?
There are no real-life events in my book as such but, as all
writers should, I drew heavily on my own feelings, emotions and expectations
when constructing my characters’ natures. Taran has a deep-rooted lack of
self-confidence, which I share, whereas my female lead exhibits qualities I
aspire to. I have experienced tragedy and bereavement in my life, and used
these to understand how different characters would react to such things in my
books.
4.   Do you enjoy living in
UK or Italy more?
I love living in the UK. I love the weight of history the land
carries, and the feelings I get of connection to that history. There is an old
Roman road going through the fields where I walk my dogs, and my nearest town,
Basingstoke, was a stronghold of the Danes back in King Alfred’s day (871-899).
The name ‘Basingstoke’ comes from the Danish Basingas tribe, and in the name of
our local pub, the Hoddington Arms, ‘Hoddington’ is a derivation of ‘Odin’s
town’, as is Odiham, another nearby village. We are surrounded by ancient
history and I love how it colors my writing.
Yet I also love Italy and consider it a second home. I speak
Italian, although not fluently, and Rome is my favourite city of all. I love
returning for holidays whenever I can.
5.    Where is your favorite place to write?
     When I wrote my Artesans
of Albia series, I was living in a different house to my current cottage. It
was a very small house and at this time, my husband was also working from home.
Because he works with large maps (he’s a geophysicist) he needed my kitchen
table, so the only place left for me to work in peace was the conservatory on
the back of the house. This overlooked our garden and was full of my cactus
collection. It was a lovely place to write, although it was often too bright
and too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. Since we moved, my
husband has his own office in the grounds of our garden, and I have a dedicated
study. Finally I have the leather-topped desk I’ve always wanted, plus the
walls are covered in bookshelves and posters of my book covers and maps. Yet in
the summer, I still often write in the conservatory, which is still full of my
cactus collection!  
6.     Do your pets make any special appearances in
your writing?
     My current pets, two
rescue dogs, do not make any appearances in my fantasy novels. However, I adore
horses (I am a qualified horse-riding instructor and once owned my own Welsh
cob which I rode and drove in harness) and so horses feature strongly in my fantasy
series. Drum, the huge black stallion ridden by my heroine, is based on a breed
of horse called Friesian, and is the type of horse I would dearly love to own.
     My non-fiction book, For
the Love of Daisy, features my beautiful Dalmatian dog. Later in her life she
suffered spinal problems and underwent an operation which didn’t go well. We
were advised to have her euthanized but Daisy didn’t want to die, so we
embarked on a series of therapies which eventually enabled her to regain some
semblance of a normal life. I had to do a lot of research into what was
available to help Daisy, and wrote the book with the aim of informing other
owners of disabled pets and giving them some hope.
7.        Which book did you have the most fun writing?
     It would have to be my
fantasy series. Because I never intended to be a writer, the process by which
these books came into existence was a complete surprise to me. I was constantly
amazed at the stream of ideas that just kept coming into my head, and it was
even a bit scary. I never had to plan or plot anything, and if ever I felt I
was stuck, or couldn’t see how the story continued, I simply had to go walk the
dogs, or do some gardening, or something that freed up my mind, and the answer would
appear. I know now that other writers have experienced this phenomenon too, but
to me it was new and wonderful and so exciting. I really hope it happens again,
one day!
8.        What do you do to reward yourself after a book
is published?
For
the Love of Daisy was my first published book, in 2008, and it was with a very
small, independent publisher. Because of this, and because all the marketing
and promotion was down to me, I didn’t feel as excited about it as I do about
my Artesans series with Rhemalda. So there was no real sense of wanting a
reward. Getting offered a three-book contract with Rhemalda Publishing,
however, was certainly the real thing and I felt so special. Some friends
bought me a bottle of Champagne with the book name and publication date on it,
and I will reward myself by drinking it once I feel the book is truly
successful. Other than that, the knowledge that my work is out there, being
read and hopefully enjoyed by readers I’ve never met is reward aplenty for me!
9.        Do you read a lot?
I
read every day. I read before I go to sleep, as a way of switching off my brain.
I also have very early memories of being read to by my parents, and then as a
young child, going to the local Library and choosing a book to read for myself.
To this day, reading is the one sure way I can make myself relax. I feel
comfortable and safe when I’m reading a good book; it’s like my security
blanket!
10.    What are
your favorite types of books to read and your favorite authors?
I
am a huge fantasy fan, always have been. My early writing heroes were Kenneth Grahame,
C S Lewis, Alan Garner, Peter S Beagle, Lord Dunsany, Anne McCaffrey, God rest
her soul, and Tolkien. McCaffrey is the reason I could never write about
dragons because, in my opinion, no one could write dragon books as well as she
did. Since those early days, I have become a great fan of Stephen Donaldson
(the Thomas Covenant Chronicles), Barbara Hambly and Charles De Lint. I also
love Terry Pratchett, Louise Cooper, Juliet Marillier, Terry Brooks and James
Barclay.
I
do read in other genres, particularly historical drama. I enjoy Bernard
Cornwell and Manda Scott – her Boudicca series was brilliant. I also like crime
novels – UK author Peter James’ Roy Grace novels are extremely well done.
11.   Over time you’ve had different job titles, which
one was your favorite?
Being
a horse-riding instructor was definitely my favourite. It was hard work, very
physical, but it helped keep me fit. I liked that I was a teacher, helping
people learn, but the best thing about this kind of teaching, as opposed to
teaching in a school, is that I got clients of all ages. One minute I could be
working with an eight-year-old child, the next a grandmother in her 70’s.
Sometimes I was teaching one on one, and sometimes it would be a group.
Experience ranges varied too – I could have a complete beginner, a novice and a
very experienced rider all in the course of a day. Sometimes all together in
the same group lesson! It was exciting and it was challenging, because
different people learn in different ways and at different rates. I often had to
find three or four ways of explaining the same thing, because one person would
‘get it’, while others did not. It was great fun, even if the pay was very low.
This is the main reason I enjoy being a writing coach because again I get to
work with all sorts of different people.
12.    You work
with stained glass, what is your favorite picture to make?
I
love all aspects of working with stained glass but I suppose my favourite piece
has to be the small round dragon window I made for our narrowboat. She was
called ‘Dragon’ and I wanted something special of mine to be incorporated into
the build. I designed the window as well as made it, and I was very proud when
the boat was finished. The window stayed in the boat for the five years we
owned her, and when we sold her, I took the window out. I still have it and
plan to use it in a new wooden front door one day. I have made lots of other
items in stained glass, but my dragon window is still my pride and joy.
13.   If you could spend the day with someone who
would it be? (Dead or Alive)
I
found this quite hard to answer because at first I was thinking the question
related to people I particularly looked up to, like a hero of some sort. Or
maybe a charismatic historical figure, someone like that. I can honestly say
that I don’t really have ‘heroes’ or favourite people from history. But then I
realized the question was much broader based than that, and the answer came
straight to me. A couple of years ago I made an internet connection with a lady
from Chicago. She was an avid reader, an editor, and also a counsellor. She was
elderly, and had many health issues, yet she was the gentlest, kindest, most
loving person you could ever wish to meet. She read all nine of my fantasy
books, plus my non fiction book, and loved them all. We emailed pretty much
every day and she was the sort of person you could tell your darkest secrets
to, or your most embarrassing moments. She always knew the right thing to say
if I was down, and we shared many laughs together. She died on May 6, 2011 and
my biggest regret is that I never met her face to face, never got to redeem all
those emailed hugs. Gerry Dailey, I still have your picture, smiling that
wonderfully loving smile, above my desk, sitting right next to the beautiful
sand castle you sent me. I would give much to be able to spend a day in your
company.
14.    If you
could travel anywhere in the world you haven’t been where would you go?
One
place I would really love to visit is New Zealand. I have heard that it is
extremely beautiful and when I saw the Lord of the Rings films, much of which
was shot in New Zealand, it made me want to go there even more. I hope I will
one day, but I’m not a big fan of flying (I can get quite travel sick) so I
would have to plan my trip carefully. I did once go to Australia, which was
also a long flight, and the trip back home nearly killed me! I’d be ok if we
could break the journey into shorter legs, stopping over for a day or so each
time. Maybe when my husband and I are both retired, we’ll have the time to do
it!
15.    What
advice would you give to new and upcoming authors?
First
I would say, write what you enjoy writing. Don’t try to second guess the
market, because it changes day to day. Write what you’d love to read and
chances are, you will write well.
Second,
make sure your writing is as clean and as tight as it can be. Don’t make the
mistake of thinking that a publisher will clean up your spelling or grammar for
you. That’s just plain lazy and anyway, your manuscript might not get as far as
a publisher if it’s full of errors. If spelling and grammar are not your strong
points, hire a professional editor. They don’t have to cost the earth. Writing
is a business – treat it that way.
Third,
do your research. Decide what genre your novel falls into and find agents or publishers
that deal in that genre. Don’t waste your time or theirs – get your submissions
into the right hands.
Lastly,
have faith in yourself and your writing and NEVER GIVE UP. This piece of advice
must be the most frequently-given advice to budding authors, but it is no less
valid for that. No one is going to pluck your manuscript out of obscurity
unless you submit it. Have confidence, be polite, and don’t take rejections
personally. Overnight success can take years to achieve – PERSEVERE!
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