Jun 202014
 

The Interview

Recently I was able to send author Christine Amsden (The Cassie Scot Series) 20 interview questions. Her answers are amazing and I am so excited to get to share them with you today. There are some juicy details about upcoming books and characters, her faith, how she planned and researched the books and so much more! If you have a question for Christine please leave it in the comment section below.

Q.1 –When would you say that your love for the paranormal began?

I don’t remember ever not loving things that were strange and unusual. It wasn’t specifically the paranormal, though – I have loved science fiction and fantasy with equal fervor since my childhood, and for pretty much the same reasons. Aliens. Ghosts. Robots. Witches. It’s all magic; the only difference is the delivery mechanism. At first, what I loved was the imagination of it all, but gradually I came to appreciate a more human aspect. I love seeing real, sympathetic human characters defining themselves through extraordinary ways.

Q.2 –Have you studied the Occult, Paganism or any religions that tend to be associated more with the paranormal?

Yes, I have. I’m no expert, but then there are so many different ideas out there that it would be hard for anyone to become one! The part that spoke to me personally was the part I used as the foundation for magic in my books – meditation. Ground and center. Finding your quiet place. I find these exercises, whatever you like to call them (even prayer), to be peaceful, spiritual, and powerful.

Q.3 –Have you heard of the term “Psychic Vampire” and if so have you done any research into this feeding on energy?

I have not specifically heard of that term, but I’ve heard of vampires who suck energy rather than blood. They are sometimes called succubi or incubi (depending upon gender) or just plain demons. I haven’t done any research along these lines. Vampires are not my favorite fantasy trope.

Q.4 –When you wrote your first book did you plan to write a book or was it pen-to-paper that evolved?

There was a plan. In fact, I planned half the series before I started on the first book! It also evolved. I rewrote it several times as both it and the series changed. 🙂

Q.5 –How do you take the leap from a thought to having three books now in the Cassie Scot series?

Four. It’s finished. Stolen Dreams is coming very, very soon. 🙂
But it didn’t write itself. This series was a labor of love and an investment in time. Years of my life went into writing it, and not every day was a good day. But you just go at it, one day at a time. Some of it is planned, some of it surprises you, but day by day it takes shape.

I coach young writers, and one of the things I ask them to do is to figure out how many words they can realistically write in the time they have to devote to writing every day. I once worked with someone who had a full time job and kids who said she had 30 minutes and in that time, could write about 500 words. She was so discouraged! So I broke down the math for her: A standard adult novel is 100k words. She was writing YA, which can be shorter, but assume 100k anyway. 100,000 words divided by 500 = 200 days. If she didn’t even write on the weekends, she would have a rough draft in 40 weeks of steady progress. It happens. It just takes dedication. <

Q.6 –Does your family support your interest in the paranormal?

My family supports my writing career. Fantasy/paranormal isn’t everyone’s favorite genre, but they love it anyway. 🙂

Q.7 –Have you had any experiences that you feel were paranormal? {ghost sightings, premonitions, etc}

No. Those aren’t the parts of my books that come from personal experience – those are the parts that are fun to imagine. The parts that come from personal experience are the struggle for self-identity and the need to make personal changes. Earlier, I mentioned bringing meditation into the forefront of this magical world. Mind over body is a powerful tool – almost magical. I believe our greatest power is the ability to change ourselves and in so doing, effect the world around us.

Q.8 –Do you believe in aliens or extra-terrestrials and do you see yourself ever writing about them?

It’s a big universe out there. I wouldn’t presume to believe or disbelieve anything about it without a lot more proof. 🙂

I have written about aliens before, at least in short stories. I’m not a big short story writer, but Betrayal was published in Aoife’s Kiss in June 2008. I’m not sure if it’s still available any longer.

I also have a science fiction novel available, The Immortality Virus, though no aliens appear in that particular book.

Q.9 –With Wicca and Paganism coming out of the woodwork and into mainstream society did you find that you had to do extra research for your books to have facts or are they unresearched works of fiction?

These books are not about any specific religious system. I think it is important to point out that first and foremost, Wicca is a religion. It is not synonymous with witchcraft, and some Wiccans prefer not to call themselves witches. (Some even take offense.) As for “pagan,” the term derives from a Latin word referring to someone from the countryside, such as a farmer or villager. Since Christianity initially spread like wildfire through cities, pagans were some of the last to convert. Nowadays the term is often misused and misinterpreted. In its most correct sense, pagan simply means “not Christian” or even “not Judeo-Christian” (including Judaism, Islam, and Christianity). So-called “Neo-Pagans” believe a wide variety of things and do not subscribe to one central, organized doctrine. (Neither do Wiccans, for the most part.)

I feel that this is important to point out because religion is not a theme of the Cassie Scot series, nor do I spend much time discussing it. And whatever else they sometimes are in individual interpretations, Wicca and Neo-Paganism are primarily religions. They have gods, goddesses, ceremonies, etc. Most of it is spiritual, not magical.

Having said all that, I did do some research to try to lend a foundation of credibility to the Cassie Scot series. I drew upon known (scientific, medicinal, or claimed magical) properties of certain plants and herbs before using them in the book. There are those who say snap dragons can be used to deflect a curse, for instance. Various forms of tea, meanwhile, are common herbal remedies with real-world medicinal applications. I also associated colors as correctly as I could with known applications in spells and religious rituals.

After that, I let my imagination carry the rest away. 🙂

Q.10 –Do you personally associate with a certain faith/belief system? If so, which?

I was born and raised Catholic, but these days I go my own way. I suppose you could call me pagan, although since the word carries certain negative connotations, I usually say “not otherwise specified” or else mumble and dodge the question. 🙂

I do not fully subscribe to any belief system that I am aware of – and I am aware of a lot of them! I take a bit here, a bit there. I am spiritual but not religious. Generally speaking, I believe that God, whoever or whatever He is, is as vast as the universe and as such can be many things to many people. Or to put it another way, my primary belief is that there is no wrong way to believe in God – including not believing in Him at all. Starting here has given me the freedom to ask the next logical question: If He can be many things to many people, depending upon their needs, then what do *I* need? It is a question I never fully expect to answer, but I keep looking! 🙂

Q.11 –Which of your characters do you feel you most relate to and why? In Book One I felt most like Cassie as she was different than everyone around her and felt she had something to prove.

There is a lot of me in Cassie so it’s easy for me to relate to her, of course! She has my voice. I sort of let myself talk through her as I wrote the book. But Cassie Is, in some ways, my ideal me rather than my real me. So I also relate to Madison, her shy friend swimming in self-esteem issues. Madison doesn’t get a point of view in the series, so the reader may not fully understand her until her spin-off sequel, Madison’s Song, which I’ve recently completed.

Q.12 –Do you have a favorite psychic/medium that your readers may have heard of or a favorite paranormal show like Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Children of the Paranormal etc?

At the moment, I’m all about Sleepy Hollow! I discovered it shortly after the first (and currently only) season ended, but wow! I was just about to give up on paranormal television (honestly, I prefer scifi on TV, fantasy in books – not sure why) and then someone convinced me to give this a try. It’s not perfect. There are a few bumpy moments, especially early on, but what an amazing, dynamic group of characters. I’m a character girl, first and foremost, and a show finally gave me some to love. 🙂

Q.13 –Do you personally feel like you have any psychic abilities or have you had any notable unexplainable things occur?

No. I did successfully cast a spell once, but it was a classic case of using self-affirmation and meditation to do what I was already capable of doing, if only I would have faith in myself.

Q.14 –What scares you?

Being alone.

Q.15 –How is the book tour coming along? Do you think you will set up your own in the future or is this more than you expected?

Great! It’s a lot of up-front work. (A LOT of up-front work!) But I do think I’m going to set up my own again, at least for the Cassie Scot books and spin-offs. There’s really no point getting new reviewers on board for book 4 of a series meant to be read in order anyway, so I’m going to stick with the bloggers who have supported me so far. You’ve all been great!

Q.16 –If you have children now or in the future will you expose them to the paranormal and teach them there is nothing to fear or will you keep them away from it until they are older?

I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old. We are currently reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows together. 🙂

Q.17 –Why young adult and not something aimed at the more mature reader? Perhaps something more along the lines of author Ann Rice? I think you would do very well at creating stories of that calibre.

I don’t consider Cassie Scot to be young adult. I know a lot of people are calling it that, but I feel that Cassie is an adult book, maybe “new adult” but not really YA. For one thing, Cassie is 21. I chose her age, not because I was targeting an audience, but because the early 20’s are a time when I felt I learned a lot about who I was. A lot of people think of the teenage years that way but not me – too much peer pressure and too little self-definition. After that, I tried my best to stay true to the character. I wrote an article a while back called “What is Young Adult Fiction? (And Why Cassie Scot Isn’t)” that discusses this issue in depth. You can find it here: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?p=2945

As for whether or not I will write a more adult book in the future … Madison’s Song, which I mentioned earlier, is more mature. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to explain it to followers of the series who may be surprised by its direction. It went where the characters needed it to go, so I stand by it, but I guess the way to put it is this: Madison is not Cassie and Scott is not Evan. They are darker and more grown up characters.

I don’t know if my next project (after the spin-offs) will be adult or YA. I do think, however, that I am going to stay away from this difficult-to-define middle ground that is new adult. I like and stand by it, but it’s been challenging to market.

Q.18 –Will we see more books in the Cassie Scot series?

Stolen Dreams (book 4) is DONE! And by DONE I mean it may be released to ebook in the next week or two, a month at the outside. (Print and audiobook take longer.) This was always a planned four-book series, but there are two spin-offs coming too. Madison and Kaitlin got too big for footnotes in Cassie’s story. Madison’s Song, the first of these spin-offs, is written and undergoing editorial revisions. I expect it to be out early in 2015. I’m not as sure about Kaitlin’s Tale. To tell you the truth, putting out an entire series in barely more than a year has made it difficult to write. The reason these books are coming out so quickly is that they were more or less done when I started. (It was weird, actually, to be finishing Stolen Dreams while reading reviews of the first Cassie Scot book!) Kaitlin’s Tale will happen, but I don’t know when.

Q.19 –Is writing your main source of income or do you also have a separate career? Do you have any articles or guest posts published that you would like to link to and share with us?

Writing is my main ambition, but it doesn’t really make money. So I’m a freelance editor and writing coach too. You can find articles and guest posts on my blog here: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=200

Q.20 –If money wasn’t an issue what would you do to live your ultimate joy?

Travel the world.

Bonus: Anything Else you would like to share?

You want more?!?! LOL, this has been very thorough. Thank you so much for the interesting questions!

Thank you for answering my questions. You have been awesome to work with and get to know over the last several months.

 

Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)

By: Christine Amsden
Published: June 15th 2014
By: Twilight Times Books
ISBN13: 9781606192795
Series: Cassie Scot #3

Summary

Beware your heart and soul…

Evan broke Cassie’s heart two months ago, and she still doesn’t know why. She throws herself into family, friends and her new job at the sheriff’s department, but nothing helps. The only thing that finally allows her heal and move on is the love of a new man, mind mage Matthew Blair. Cassie finds him… irresistible

Matthew may also be the only one who can help keep the non-magical residents of Eagle Rock from going crazy over the murder of a beloved pastor’s wife. It looks like a sorcerer is to blame, but while Cassie tries to figure out who, others take matters into their own hands. With tensions running so hot, a single spark might set Eagle Rock ablaze.

My Review

Mind Games is another great book in the series and I definitely agree with the author, Christine Amsden, that the books need to be read in order. Fortunately, I was able to start working with Christine from the first book in the series and I never got behind!

She sent me Mind Games in an exchange for an honest review.

Mind Games has the characters we love from the first books and the characters we love to hate. The book is a bit darker than the previous books but it was a good darkness and in a lot of ways pulls us back into history, or I guess pulls history into the modern age of witch hunts etc.

Cassie’s struggle with not being the same as those she is surrounded in, family, friends, others in the town, continues into this book and is definitely a part of HER story.

This book doesn’t disappoint with its quick pace, many references, awesome research and a story that I think most of us can relate to in our struggle to find ourselves.

I am excited to read book four in the series!

Hands down this book is a full five stars! Great job Christine!

Don’t forget to hop back over here on Friday June 20th for an interview I had with Christine about her beliefs, the series, what she is working on next and so much more!

About the Author

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
*The giveaway begins on April 15, 2014 at midnight and ends on July 16, 2014 at midnight.

Other titles in this series:

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

First Chapter: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=1712

Buy Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detecitve

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Audible (audiobook)

Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot Book 2)

Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness.

Buy Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot Book 2)

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Audible (Audiobook)

mindgamesbanner8small

Beware your heart and soul… Evan broke Cassie’s heart two months ago, and she still doesn’t know why. She throws herself into family, friends and her new job at the sheriff’s department, but nothing helps. The only thing that finally allows her to heal and move on is the love of a new man, mind mage Matthew Blair. Cassie finds him… irresistable. Matthew may also be the only one who can help keep the non-magical residents of Eagle Rock from going crazy over the murder of a beloved pastor’s wife. It looks like a sorcerer is to blame, but while Cassie tries to figure out who, others take matters into their own hands. With tensions running so hot, a single spark might set Eagle Rock ablaze. Book 3 in the Cassie Scot series.
$17.95 USD
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