Friday, December 28, 2012

Author Interview: Cassidy Frazee

It's Friday, and you know what that means: time for another author interview. Today we have Cassidy Frazee!

Hi, Cassidy! Thanks for joining us today.

You’re very welcome.

So tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m fifty-five, though I’m edging into that “closer to fifty-six” part of life.  I’ve worked as a computer programmer most of my life, and I’ve done everything from work for a small trucking company to a large chemical firm.  I’ve also worked for the State of Indiana, and — I always like to throw this out — I’ve worked for Playboy.

Wow, that's definitely a wide range of jobs! When did you write your first book, and how old were you?

I tried writing when I was in high school, but I’m a horrible speller, and slightly dyslexic, so that went nowhere.  I started writing in earnest in the late 1980’s, but it wasn't until about 1990 that I got serious.  That novel ended up taking twenty years to complete, which I did over the summer of 2012.

How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?

Lets see:  if I include my NaNo 2012 novel, I’ve written five novels, two novellas, and three novelettes, a couple of which are almost short stories.  As for a favorite?  I can’t say for certain, because they’re all very good to me.

Want to tell us about your current project?

It’s my novel for NaNoWriMo 2012, called Kolor Ijo.  It’s a horror story that takes place in the Indonesian city of Makassar in the year 2013 — yes, I’m thinking ahead.  I finished it last night (26 November), and I’m going to let it set for a while before getting back into editing it.

Can you share a little of your book with us?

The story has two characters I created for a story I wrote last year, called Kuntilanak, which also takes place in Indonesia, on the island of Bali.  One of the characters is a traditional Balinese healer, and the other is a young Muslim woman who is a paranormal investigator.  They end up working together in Makassar to investigate a series of murders which, at the beginning of the story, is said to have carried out by the “kolor ijo", which was actually a supernaturally-inspired hoax carried out around Jakarta in late 2003 and early 2004.  As these two people get deeper into the investigation, they find out what they’re actually dealing with, and why it’s engaged in this killing spree.

I'm officially intrigued! So, do you plan to indie publish or publish traditionally, or are you just writing for fun?

I’ve self-published the story Kuntilanak, and I’ve sold one story, Captivate and Control, to Naughty Nights Press.  Right now I have two novels out to publishing houses for consideration, but I’m considering taking one of those books and self-publishing it.

I’m not only looking to publish, I’m looking to do this full time.  This is really about what I want to do, and where I want to go with the rest of my life.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Not getting depressed and believing that you’re wasting your time.  I’ve been there more than a few times in the past, and it’s no fun at all.  You have to keep reminding yourself that you can do this, that others have said you’re good at what you do, and if you keep pushing, eventually you’ll find some modicum of success.  I write about this a lot on my blog, because it’s something that tends to come back to me again and again.

How long does it usually take for you to write a book?

Putting aside the one novel that took twenty years, I can usually write anywhere from seven hundred to two thousand words a night, so if I’m looking at a novel between fifty-five and eighty thousand words, I can do the first draft in thirty to fifty days.

After that, I’ll do an edit that will usually take two, three weeks, then another edit that’ll take another three weeks.  With my novel that I sent to Harper Voyager, I spent three weeks on a final polish, and I was glad that I did that, because I cleaned up a lot of junk that felt very clumsy.

So add all that up, and from first word to final draft I spend about one hundred to one hundred twenty-five days to complete a story.  I should mention that this isn’t all at once; I’ll take a few weeks between edits to work on other things.  For my NaNo 2011 novel — the one I submitted to Harper Voyager — from the start of the novel, to the final submission, was almost a year of off/on work.

What does your family think of your writing?

They don’t say much about my writing.  They don’t give me a lot of encouragement, but they don’t tell me I’m wasting my time, either.  So sort of neutral there.

Do you usually make outlines and stick to them, or just go wherever your typing fingers lead you?

I work exclusively in Scrivener when I write, and I tend to do some metaplotting when writing a novel.  Usually nothing more than a chapter card, and a very short description of what’s happening — no more than two to five words.  From that I write, but what happens when I’m writing stays within the guidelines of that metaplot.

I’ll also do time lines on each chapter — putting in a date and an approximate time — but for Kolor Ijo, I needed to know who was getting murdered, who was being attacked, who was seeing this spirit — and I needed to know when.  So I used a program called TimeLine to help with that.  I had a few people sort of giving me a bit of grief over that, but I finished NaNo, and you’re — where?

For what I did this time, timelining and some detailed plotting was needed.  For my really big novel, Transporting, I deal with time travels and traveling between different locations on different planets — and this happened over the course of almost three hundred thousand words.  If I didn’t have just a little bit of a plot in place, I’d be lost — which is one of the reasons why the novel took so long, because it was a huge, somewhat overwhelming project.  Now I know better; then, I didn’t.

E-books, paperbacks, or hardcover?

I have about two thousand paperbacks, and I do love them a lot.  But I have a lot of good things to say about e-books, and let me tell you:  when I used to travel to China on business, I wish they’d had e-books then, because a reader with twenty novels on it would have been a lot better than hauling along eight books in your luggage.

I agree with that! Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you’re serious, treat it like a job.  Write every day, and make sure you set a certain goal for yourself.  For me, I work on my blog in the morning, then I’ll work on my stories in the evening.  I try to get in seven hundred and fifty to a thousand words a night, but for NaNo, I pushed that up to two thousand a day.  Once you’re done with the story, edit and edit and edit, then get it published.  You want to self-publish, do it right and try to get it in the big shops.  Try to submit at least one of your stories to a house, just because it’s a good way to learn how to deal with guidelines.

Something I need to work on is marketing, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about self-publishing, it’s that people don’t come when you write it.  Getting the word out is hard, and as self-publishing becomes more of the norm, that means writers are going to need to know more about marketing themselves.

Did I mention I want to do this for a living?

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut — that was one of the reasons I read so much science fiction.  I would still love to go into space, but I don’t have ten million dollars sitting around that I can give the Russians.

Where can readers stalk you?

Blog:               Wide Awake but Dreaming

Facebook:       Cassidy Frazee 

Thanks Cassidy! Readers, be sure to check out all Cassidy's links and show some love. And come back next Friday for an interview with the lovely Rebecca Harris!

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