Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Author Interview: JC Cassels

Yes, I've been meeting a lot of authors and writers lately through my SFFS writer's ring, and not least of them is JC Cassels, who I've invited to spend some time on my blog today. I hope that you'll find her interview as interesting as I have. I must confess, I have yet to read one of her books, but it's sitting quite near the top of my to-be-read pile, and who knows, I may pick it up tomorrow! Nevertheless, JC is an intriguing person - especially when it comes to her haunted hospital :-)

JC, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Six children call me mom. I gave birth to three of them. I have four grandchildren. I’m happily married to a retired military man who teaches History to local high school students. Before I took on the motherhood mantle, I had amazing dual careers in writing and television, freelancing in both fields. With our children in school, my husband facilitated a meeting with a local writer, which led to my editing her book. The process renewed my passion for writing and I think he may feel like he’s created a monster.

Poor guy! Guess he can only blame himself, right?
Your Black Wing Chronicles is a science fiction work. What attracts you to this genre?
I’m a product of my environment. I grew up in West Central Florida during NASA’s glory years between Apollo 11 and the space shuttles. My dad was a contractor at the Kennedy Space Center. We were mad for anything about space. Put an astronaut or rocket on it and we kids had to have it, we didn’t care what it was. It was an exciting time to live in Florida. On a clear day, or night, you can see a launch all the way in Tampa.
Closer to home, we were in the flight path for MacDill AFB, which at the time, had a fighter wing of F-4 Phantoms that would be scrambled in the wee hours to rattle the windows with sonic booms as they’d go screaming past. Growing up in that kind of environment, and then on top of that to have the glut of Sci Fi programming on television in the 70’s and 80’s, it was pretty much fate. What brought Space Opera into the mix rather than Hard SF or Military SF, was the pirate culture found in Tampa. Growing up, I wanted to go into the military and become a space pirate, so naturally I write about ex-military space pirates.

What (to me) a wonderful childhood! Really cool about the launches!!
Why do you write?
It’s a compulsion. I can’t NOT write. Even as a child I read books and didn’t like the way the stories were resolved, so I reworked them to suit me. I had a running narrative of my own life in my head by the fourth grade. I wrote my first novel by the time I was ten. My first screenplay by the time I was twelve.

Your den is the notorious "Haunted Hospital". Tell us a bit about it, and why you love it there.
I love it because my children wouldn’t follow me in there and it’s the only place on our acreage where I can find a minute’s peace and quiet. The hospital is a time capsule. After the doctor who built it died in 1978, the place was shut up with all the equipment left inside and forgotten. The crumbling walls and rusting medical equipment make it look like something you’d pay good money to be scared witless in at Halloween.
My daughter, Tamica stopped by for a visit shortly after we acquired the property. Tamica is a horror film buff and while on a tour of the place, she was frightened out of her wits by her little brother, whom she mistook for a ghost.
With a lively active family and small children who won’t leave my things alone, I needed a quiet workspace that wouldn’t be disturbed. My retreat really fills the bill. Unlike the rest of the building, it’s clean, tidy and very cozy with lace curtains, comfortable chairs, paraphernalia from my writing career BC (Before Children,) inspiring artwork, and large walls that I can tape my index cards to for storyboarding.

Not sure I'd have the guts to go in there without a hand to hold onto - an ATTACHED hand!
What one piece of advice would you give to other writers?
Find a writer’s group. I was blessed early in my career to find not one but three wonderful local writer’s groups. Interacting with published authors and journalists helped me hone my skills in ways I never could have done on my own. Through those groups I found critique groups, learned about the business of writing, and made some wonderful contacts through whom I got most of my paid writing assignments. A good writer’s group will take you from being a starry-eyed wannabe to a professional as painlessly as possible, and they’ll console you on your failures and celebrate your successes with you along the way.

Any upcoming news or plans?
Well, funny you should ask… SOVRAN’S PAWN, Book One of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES, is in the final stages and I’m hearing rumors of an April 20 e-publication date. I’m very excited about this.
I am also working on a companion series called THE MERCENARY ADVENTURES OF BLADE DEVON which picks up after Book Two of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES in which Blade leaves his day job to join a team of mercenaries. This series is obviously more swashbuckling action/adventure and less romance. The first book in this series is ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS, and will likely be published in the fall.

Awesome! I'll try to keep a lookout, but I may miss it, so do remind me! Now for some 'for fun' questions.
If I offered you a dream holiday, where would that be, and why?
It would involve painless travel, lots of room service, exotic locales and a wi-fi connection. Probably a luxury around-the-world cruise touring the sites of antiquity. Preferably with lots of chocolate.

Not hard to please, eh? ;-)
Coffee or Hot Chocolate?
I’m a stereotypical writer. I require copious amounts of coffee in the morning to fuel my brain. However, my friends know that in the evening, I’ve got a pot full of hot chocolate, and until recently, it was almost always spiked with peppermint schnapps.

I'm clearly very definitely atypical!
Summer or Winter?
I’m a Florida girl. I have to say Summer, but I love Winter – especially Florida Winters. I’ve always said that Florida has two season: Stinkin’ Hot and HOLY-COW-I-DIDN’T-KNOW-IT-GOT-THIS-COLD-IN-FLORIDA!!! I used to think that I’d rather live someplace with snow and four distinct seasons, but now that I do, come January, I really start to pine for the Tampa Bay Area. I don’t mind being cold as long as I can get warm. I always whine more when I can’t thaw out my marrow.

Interesting. I didn't know it got that cold in Florida - but I recently learned the same (or similar) about parts of central Africa (and I'm a B&B South African)!
Black and White, or Colour?
You know, the only preference I have to that is the original medium. I despise colorizing old black and white movies.

Favourite Food?
Chocolate. I am an unapologetic chocoholic.

Car or Motorbike?
Again, funny you should ask. I drive a car by necessity because I’m normally hauling around small children and groceries. But I have a motorcycle license that resulted in a divorce.
I’d always loved motorcycles, but my parents forbade me from having one. It’s their own fault for letting me watch all those Evel Knievel Kids-Don’t-Try-This-At-Home specials in my formative years. When I reached an age I decided I was ready for my license, I went through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and got my endorsement against my then-spouse’s wishes. He wanted me to spend my life riding the “bitch-seat.” There were other problems, but this was the proverbial last straw.
Ever since that marriage ended, I’ve carried the endorsement on my license as a point of pride.

WOW - I never expected that answer to that question! Talk about a story-to-tell! Thank you SO much for coming over to my blog today, JC, and for answering my nosy questions. It's been awesome having you over.

Personal Bio:

JC Cassels, a native of Tampa, Florida, traces her lifelong fascination with SF/Adventure to watching Star Trek on a tiny black and white portable television aboard the family boat as a child. The Space Opera trend that followed the release of Star Wars fed an obsessive need for swashbuckling adventure set in deep space. Today, JC feeds that need by writing her own adventures, heavily inspired by 1960's television adventure shows like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Wild Wild West and fueled by Firefly reruns.
When not writing in her haunted hospital, JC lives with her husband, three children, five dogs, four chickens and a horse in a century-old house in a tiny rural community, and enjoys spending her free time sewing, camping, and heckling theoretical physicists on the Science Channel.

BO BARRON is a pawn caught between two Sovrans struggle for power. As the Chief of Barron Clan she commands the Black Wing. That makes her powerful — and dangerous to a Commonwealth in turmoil. That’s the reason she was falsely convicted of treason and sentenced to be executed. Instead of letting her meekly go to her death, Bo’s people risk all-out war by breaking her out and smuggling her into hiding. It’s what they do. They’re pirates at heart.
But if she can’t be killed, she can be manipulated. How? By kidnapping her father. If Bo wants him back she has to take on a false name and steal the schematics for a phase weapon being auctioned off to the Sub-socia at a Five Point tournament. BLADE DEVON knows all about false names. He has more than his share. As Darien Roarke, he’s a pretty well-known Five Point player. If Blade is willing to use his alter ego to retrieve those schematics, the Inner Circle is willing to overlook the fact that he’s technically a deserter.
A botched assassination under the guise of a bar brawl leaves Bo blind and Blade wondering if there isn’t more to this job than he was led to believe. Never able to resist playing the hero, Blade tends her injuries and delves deeper into the intrigue only to find this mission isn’t about a weapon at all.
The catch is, no one and nothing are what they seem… not even THE TENNOVA JOB.

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