I’d like to introduce you to the fifty-third interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Cass McMain.
Hi, Cass! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Well, I was a reader from an early age, and it was just natural that I’d start to write. I wrote stories to amuse my mother when I was a child. When I got older, I wrote poetry and short stories, mostly just for the fun of writing. I always loved written words.
Your literary novel, Sunflower, will be published by Holland House Books in June, 2013. Can you tell us a bit about your book? What inspired you to write it?
I had a dream about a man named Moonrich. I described it to my husband and he said it sounded like a good story. “Why don’t you go write a book?” he said. So I went in to do that, and what came out was not the story of Edgar Moonrich. Instead, I wrote Sunflower, which is very (very!) loosely based on something that happened when I was a girl.
Are you working on another book?
Yes. After I finished Sunflower, I went on to write Watch (the book about the Moonrich family), and I am now working on a third book. It’s about a dog, and also about almost everything but the dog. You know how that is. I hope to have that one finished up by the end of the year.
Can you tell us about your other works? Do you write genre fiction, too?
I had no idea that writing took place inside boundaries until I discovered I did not fit the mold. Nothing I’ve written fits neatly anywhere. I like that.
What has your experience with your publisher been like? Is it everything you’d hoped for?
I am very fond of my publisher. I had never dared to hope for anything, so that comparison isn’t one I can really make. But I like my editor, and I think his suggestions have been helpful to my work.
How does it feel to be a soon to be published author? How are you dealing with marketing and advertising?
I’m tickled to think my work will be published. Marketing and advertising are a challenge for me, because I suffer from social phobia and a bit of avoidant personality. The idea that someone might actually see my book frightens me, and the act of “blogging” has nearly driven me over the edge. I have arranged to hold a “launch party” at a local bookstore, at which I will be so terrified that it is possible I will hide under a table, and I’ve been sent a stack of postcards by my publisher which I have been staring at for a week, too afraid to send them to anyone I know. I am, to say the least, not well-suited to self-promotion. It is my hope that I manage to improve at this before my publisher hires a hit man to be rid of me!
You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with your husband, your pets, and a huge assortment of plants. Do you ever have incidents between your pets and your plants? I ask because we have an indoor tropical plant that lures our mischevious black cat to it, thus getting the cat into trouble.
My pets know better than to screw with my plants in any way. They are actually very cautious. When someone does knock a plant over, they are apologetic about it. I’d estimate this as a twice-a-year thing, that a plant falls over on us. My cats get plenty of grass to eat from the lawn. If your cat is eating your houseplant, you may wish to grow him or her some grass to eat instead. If the cat is using the plant as a digging site, line the soil with aluminum foil.
Are all of your plants indoors, or do you garden outdoors? What kind of plants do you grow? Do you incorporate your knowledge and interest in plants into your stories?
I have over two hundred indoor plants. Outdoors, well. My thumb is greener inside. I do have a yard, but I don’t spend much time working on it. I sunburn too easily for much outdoor activity, so I leave that to my husband. I have not written much about plants in any of my books so far, but I’m sure it will happen eventually.
How do you feel about the “rules” of contemporary writing: no adverbs, no dialogue tags, show don’t tell, etc.? In your opinion, how important are they to writing? Are there any that you particularly adhere to?
As with the genre question, I had no idea all these rules existed. I just wrote, and I continue to just write. If something seems off, I write it a different way until it seems right to me. How do I feel about the rules now I’ve heard of them? Well. Sure, they make sense. But to me, writing feels sort of like making soup.
My husband bakes. He bakes bread, and he’s very meticulous. He measures the ingredients by weight. He adjusts for humidity. His recipes are precise. And his bread is good. Predictably good, always exactly the same. But I don’t bake. I make soup. And my soup is measured in pinches and dollops. A dab of this, a twist of that. It’s a more or less thing. I make great soup, without recipes, just going on how I feel and what my tongue tells me when I taste it. I don’t get the exact same soup twice in a row, but I rarely get complaints about it either. My baking, however, sucks. Absolutely sucks.
So, for some things, yes. A precise set of rules, followed in a very precise way. And for other things, go with your gut. That’s how I feel about writing.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Hm. I never thought of it that way before. I guess my least favorite part is when I lie awake nights trying to figure out something and I can’t, or when I realize something that was about to happen isn’t right. But the best part is when you feel the characters taking over and you know you aren’t alone on the page anymore.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
I write at my desk, on my days off, usually for about two hours at a time. I need quiet to write. Any distractions complicate my life when I’m trying to write.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
I read too much to answer that one. Everything I read has influenced me to some extent.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!