Questions to ask an Author - Cassie Hamer
Remember when we could leave the house? And see people IN PERSON? I do...almost. I remember attending the 2019 RWA conference and being awed by a beautiful lady who seemed to shimmer and wore the most beautiful sweaters. This beautiful person also turned out to be as beautiful on the inside, and didn't seem to mind me staring covetously at her so-soft-I-want-to-stroke-it sweaters.
Cassie is a fantastic writer and is a bit of a legend around writers town; Slushpile success! two book deal!
I picked up After the Party and could see immediately why she had been plucked from that never-ending pile of desperate authors. Her writing is warm, engaging and oh-so relatable.
I was thrilled when she agreed to share her publishing journey as it mirrors so many of us out there submitting/querying/pitching. You can get The End of Cuthbert Close here And Cassie's first book, After the Party here. Take it away Cassie!
What made you choose the genre you write in?
I write contemporary women’s fiction and so the obvious answer would be that I write in this genre because I’m a contemporary woman, and you should write what you know etc etc.
But I think it’s more than this. It’s about what you grew up reading, what you love to read now, what really gets your mind ticking, your heart thumping, and your funny bone tickling.
Women’s contemporary fiction offers all of this and it allows me to examine my own life in a way that other genres don’t. Once, I tried writing a rural crime story and it was awful. So, it’s also a case of writing what you can …
How long did it take you to write your first book?
First draft took six months, working three days a week while my three children were at school/day care. After that, I engaged an editor for an assessment and spent another few months re-writing. Once the book was signed by Harlequin, I re-wrote 20,000 words, and added 10,000. But that happened super-quick - all within the space of a few weeks.
How long did it take you to get your first book published?
I finished writing the book in late 2017, then spent the next 11 months sending it out to every agent and publisher in Australia. I was about to give up when I got the magical email from Harlequin, saying they were interested. By October 2017 I had signed a contract for two books and After the Party came out in March 2019. This is quite a shortened version of what actually happened, so if you’d like to read about it in more detail, visit these two blog posts
The best writing tip you ever received?
ALL WRITING IS RE-WRITING! Tattoo this to your forehead. Or, if that sounds too painful, stick it on a post-it note. When I first heard this sage piece of advice delivered by my uni lecturer, my heart sank. I hated it. I was no good at editing my own work. But over the years, I’ve learned to embrace it. It really is the only option. First drafts are NEVER your best work.
Any advice for the unpublished/querying author?
Worry about the work. Everything else (marketing, PR, building a platform) is secondary. It begins and ends with a great story, well told. And while you’re waiting for a response, keep writing. If a publisher buys your book, they’ll want to know what else you’ve got in the bottom drawer so make sure you have something ready to go.
Who is your inspiration in the writing world?
Nearly ten years ago, I started reading this blog called ‘While the Kids Were Sleeping.’ It was written by a Perth mum, an author of two works of literary women’s fiction. She wasn’t that well known at the time, but she chronicled her experience in amazing detail and gave excellent writing advice. I read her blog and her books religiously and followed every up and down in her career. And yes, there were some downs. Her journey inspired me to get started on my own – I had two kids under two (which then became three) but if this woman could do it, so could I!
I’m so delighted to report that in 2019, that Perth writer hit the New York Times bestseller list. Incredible! Natasha Lester – I bow down. And I’m not surprised by the success. I’ve always known she was fabulous, both as a story-teller and writer, but also as a generous and giving teacher and all-round ‘good citizen’ of the writing community.