Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I’m from Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It’s a funny little place, affectionately known as a giant country town. We have just over 1.6 million people in SA, and our capital and suburbs are home to about 1.2 million of that. You can walk from one side of Adelaide to the other in about twenty minutes, which I guess is a claim to fame ;p Oh, and our main shopping area, Rundle Mall (it’s a street that has been paved for pedestrian traffic only) proudly sports Mall Balls. Yep, that’s my town.
The raddest thing about Adelaide (or Radelaide, as it’s sometimes known) is every year the Fringe Festival comes to town and brings with it The Garden of Unearthly Delights. One of our city parks is decked out in lights and carnival, and becomes a venue for the weird and wonderful. I go out of my way to make sure I spend a night or two soaking up the atmosphere of the Garden, sitting on the grass and watching the coloured lights in the trees twinkle as the gasp and laughter of my fellow gardeners surround me, the smells of Poffetjes and spicy food carried by a warm breeze.
*sigh* I love the garden.
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
My latest release is TEACH ME, an historical erotic romance set in Early Victorian England. Two years a widow, Elizabeth, Viscountess Rocksley, has decided to pursue an education in pleasure of the erotic variety (Good on her, I say!). As such, she applies to the madam of a brothel, who recommends her tutelage be undertaken by the dissolute Earl of Malvern. What follows is an education that surprises them both (the best kind of education, I always say).
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
The hardest part for me is pushing through after the initial excitement of beginning a new story. I get the bones of the first few chapters down, maybe even most of the outline, and then comes the hard part…continuing on with the project. I dither and worry and am convinced I have NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON. Once I get the first draft down, and then the second draft, the process flows much easier!
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t give up.
There’s that perseverance thing again. It applies just as much after you’ve finished your novel. It’s disheartening to submit over and over again, and to keep getting knocked back. I know I was going quietly insane. However, a recent quote I heard is the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence. Keep going, you’ll get there.
Develop a thick skin.
Once you’ve written your story, in order to make it shine it will need to be edited and critiqued. When you are first introduced to this process, it’s really hard to absorb your critique partner or editor’s comments without emotion. Your baby is being dissected, and it’s painful. However, once you get past this, you can look on the comments as the constructive criticism they are and work to make your story shine.
As a bonus, this ability will come in handy once you are published and your baby is available for all and sundry to see. There are going to be some people who won’t like your work. After all, different strokes for different folks. It’s really important to be able to look upon this philisophically and get on with writing the next story. Good luck!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Of course! I’ll get stuck, unable to see what comes next.
Unfortunately, the only way to break through is to keep writing, no matter how hard it is to do so! Sometimes, to combat it, I’ll do stream of consciousness writing, where I’ll just write and write until I get the gist of the scene down. Sometimes, I find printing off my work and reading it on paper helps.
And sometimes, I’ll just walk away. It could be I need some time away, so I can see the forest instead of the trees.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
My favourite author…I would have to say Loretta Chase. Her books are amazingly inspirationaly, and kind of disheartening all at the same time. She writes such wonderfully strong heroines, and such complex, sexy heroes. Her humour is amazing, and the emotional wrench she engenders in me is why I read. I HEART her big time.
My favourite writer, though, would have to be Joss Whedon. Through his movies, tv shows and commentaries, he’s taught me so much about our craft. I had the privilege of seeing him speak at the Sydney Opera House, and his insights just blew me away. Out of everything I’ve seen or read, I would have to say Joss has influenced me the most. (For those who are interested, my trip to Sydney to see Joss is detailed on my blog – http://cassandradean.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/oh-my-god-2/]
How did you deal with rejection letters?
Red wine, chocolate and friends. Without any of those things, I would be a complete basket case.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Be a leaf on the wind – really, all this means is be flexible!
Ability to learn – absorb knowledge from all around you: your editor, your fellow writers, television, movies. Be a sponge, a sponge for knowledge!
Perseverance – we’ve discussed this one above ;p
And a real obvious one, but definitely the most important – be able to tell an engaging story.
Thanks for having me, I’ve had a blast!
CASSANDRA DEAN LINKS:
You can find Cassandra at:
her website [http://cassandradean.wordpress.com]
TEACH ME BUY LINKS:
All Romance eBooks
TEACH ME BLURB
Ever curious, Elizabeth, Viscountess Rocksley, has turned her curiosity to erotic pleasure. Three years a widow, she boldly employs the madame of a brothel for guidance but never had she expected her education to be conducted by a coldly handsome peer of the realm.
To the Earl of Malvern, the erotic tutelage of a skittish widow is little more than sport, however the woman he teaches is far from the mouse he expects. With her sly humor and insistent joy, Elizabeth obliterates all his expectations and he, unwillingly fascinated, can’t prevent his fall.
Each more intrigued than they are willing to admit, Elizabeth and Malvern embark upon a tutelage that will challenge them, change them, come to mean everything to them…until a heartbreaking betrayal threatens to tear them apart forever.
TEACH ME EXCERPT
Moments passed, the Earl’s impassive gaze weighing heavy upon Elizabeth. An overwhelming urge to twist her fingers assaulted her, but what if her fidgeting made him refuse?
He seemed to make some decision. “I shall show you carnal pleasure, madam. As you say, both to receive and to give. However, pregnancy should be avoided at all costs.” His eyes flickered, the first sign of something resembling emotion crossing his face. “I will not marry you, no matter the circumstance.”
Well, of course he wouldn’t. She wouldn’t wed him either. In any event, conception was not a concern for her, not after a marriage that had never yielded—
Good Lord. He spoke of practical application. He spoke of touching and kissing and—Was it warmer of a sudden?
He continued with barely a pause. “Actual penetration will be avoided. While many people extol the virtues of withdrawal, I remain unconvinced. We will discuss methods of contraception during your education, but the most effective method is always avoidance. You are in agreement?”
Still confused but now with cheeks aflame, Elizabeth nodded. In all her life, no one had ever spoken so frankly. This, combined with his matter-of-fact manner and lack of emotion, banished any lingering apprehension and left only the excitement. Glorious, thrilling excitement.
“Excellent.” Stepping close to her once more, he brushed his hand from her neck to her shoulder, the back of his fingers now warm against her skin. “Shall we begin?”