Monday, October 12, 2009

Talking with Carol Cassella, Spotlighted Author of Oxygen!

Sharing a little more with us today is Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen! Look for notices of live chat on Facebook later this month!

Oxygen included betrayal of a friend/peer. Did something like this happen in real life?

I suppose none of us can live a very long life without at some point feeling betrayed. But the incident portrayed in OXYGEN is not derived from any actual personal experience. Primarily, I was interested in exploring what happens to a strong, professional woman when she finds her life beginning to spin out of control. Many of the plot elements in the novel are tied to this, helping me and the reader look at that question from different perspectives.

Did writing come natural to you or is it something that you had/have to work on?

I think the biggest trap I fell into for the first thirty-five years of my life was believing that if I had any talent, or was ‘meant to be a writer,’ writing should come easily. It is sad to think how many unwritten novels are walking around on the planet because of that common belief. Inspiration is great when it strikes, and one should grab it and go, but it will inevitably fade as the gap between one’s envisioned story or novel looms before the ten to one hundred thousand words it takes to translate it. Writing can be hard work. That, indeed, may be part of the reward in finishing a piece, rereading it, and deciding that—yes—it is satisfactory! My primary advice to aspiring writers is DON’T GIVE UP! It is supposed to be hard at times.

Well, yes, I think a lot of people, including me, think that "authors" have been given that special talent, especially for fiction writing! I've never had problems in business writing, but my creating other than a short story or so has always seemed an impossibility! Yes, I guess I could have a novel inside of me...but then again...who would be here waiting to read your second book!?! I think my special gift is "reading!" LOL

Do you see your future writing come from your life or from other people?

When I boil it down, all my writing comes from my own life. All the conversations I have, the people I watch on the street, the family conflicts and joys I experience, are filtered through my own emotional soup. How can it be otherwise? No matter how different any of my characters may seem from myself, they are all a part of me, because I will never truly be able to know so intimately how anyone else perceives the world. I guess that makes writing a rater selfish pursuit in the end, doesn’t it?

Interesting response...I think though that you have to have that instinctual people watching that does not always come to all of us and I'm not sure I would call it selfish. You would need a greater perception and interest in others as you communicate to effectively use those experiences in your books, I would think...

Did you go to school for writing?

I was an English Literature major in college, and books and writing have always been my passion. I did not get an MFA or any other formal degree in creative writing, but I have taken many, many classes in fiction writing as an adult. I think the best education for a writer is close observation of your world and your response to it, and reading, reading, reading. Try to read not only from the outside in, (enjoying story and character as a witness), but also from the inside out. By that I mean, read as a writer. When you get chills over a perfect paragraph or page or chapter, ask yourself why the author chose to use that particular structure, verbiage, point of view. Look at what they put into the scene as well as what they left out. Play with it—how might you have written it differently? This can be a hugely educational and fun exercise.

You certainly have taken advantage of your educational activities...writing based upon your major and your first novel, Oxygen, based upon your medical degree. Makes you a wonderful role model for young women in high school and college!

Did you ever think that your first book would be quickly picked up and you would be where you are today?

This is an easy one! Never in a million years. But even more significantly, I never understood that getting published is only the first step in a very, very long road that continues to be challenging. Most of that challenge is good, but it also involves learning a completely new industry with all its complexities in the middle of your other life; not to mention, most of that industry is in an office in New York, and I am at my desk in Seattle with no rule book! But it has also been a fun adventure and I think it can be very revitalizing to start a brand new career halfway through life, especially when you are keeping your last career going simultaneously.

Yes, I've heard it from many authors that they never realized that publishing your book was only the beginning! Well, your readers are certainly happy to have had the opportunity to "read you" and look forward to your second novel!

More from Carol Soon!