Monday, 30 April 2012

Interview with the New Girl

    I have finally figured out how to write longer blogs; pick a few questions and ask them to a woman. While not just any woman, this New York City raven haired lawyer/author/predator  (actually I am no more sure of the color of her hair than I am of any other waman’s hair) came through as a great interview besides just using lots of words in interesting ways. Cassandra is a fairly new frequent poster on the author site which is a very friendly (when she is not on it) and helpful place to learn about writing, and see how your effort is working out, and maybe even getting published.

The New Girl,  as she prefers to be called, can be studied in further detail there if she is as interesting to you as I think she is going to be.

 Writing seems to be something that tickles your pink and you wound up on the Absolute Write authors forum. Why in the world did you do that?
I keep torturing myself with that same damn question.

Initially, I came to AW because I had an issue or two with the query and opening chapter for my novel manuscript. I thought they were in decent shape overall and so did my betas. But a contentious point or two had them all bickering, and I figured the squirrels in Share Your Work might help. Ha! They all disagreed, too. So I took what I could from the experience, and now I spend all my time in the Comedy Cabaret trying to kill people. It’s very satisfying
New York City seems to have drawn you into that cesspool. What was your first day there like?
My first day in New York City as a resident, or ever? I’m going to answer the “ever” question.

My parents took the family on vacation to Massachusettettettetts when I was ten years old, and on the way back, we swung through Manhattan for a couple of days to check out the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and some other tall crap.

It was just tremendous. I can still see Dad’s hands clutching the steering wheel as my brother and I pointed excitedly out the car window: “Look Dad! This bum wants to wash our windshield! Cool – did you see how far that lady flew when the taxi hit her? Hey, what do these guys with the chains and knives want?

What can I say? I fell in love.

Who has been the most interesting person you have met there, outside of in your laundry room?
Some of the most interesting people I’ve met, I didn’t meet in NYC. For example, in law school I met Hillary and Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sonia Sotomayor, among others. And while traveling in Germany, I met Roger Moore and chatted with him in a tiny restaurant for ten minutes without having any idea I was talking to James Bond. I just thought he looked kind of familiar, maybe from a work event or something. That was pretty funny. I’d just consumed a flight of seven wines, so I was more shaken than stirred by the incident. He seemed amused, too.

Anyway, though -- you asked about New York. Alas, I’m one of those people who’s always bumping into famous people without recognizing them (or having heard of them). But I did recognize one celebrity on sight in NYC. You know the character actor Wallace Shawn? The guy in The Princess Bride who keeps saying “inconceivable?” I think he’s wonderful. Anyway, my friend and I were coming out of a tiny restaurant as he was going in, and we found ourselves nose to nose with him in the doorway. My friend (a guy) blurted out “I love you!” Wallace blushed, smiled, and said, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” We shook hands with him and went on our way. And then I teased the crap out of my friend.
You spend a great deal of time on those forums, evidently thinking it is a version of e-harmony. You could not possibly do that and have either a life or job. If you could have one or the other, which would it be and what would you do with it?
Would anyone take a job over a life? I’ll take the life. A long, healthy one, in which I’d travel to every corner of the globe without ever dealing with the TSA, and spend the rest of my time writing.

Of all you have written, what has satisfied you the most and in what way?

Book Worms, again. Even if no publisher takes it on, I know my kid betas loved it, and that makes me happy. A couple of them keep nagging me for the sequel. And two of my kid readers wrote book reports on it for school. I’ve pasted them on the wall above my desk. On bad days, they really lift my spirits.

What piece of advice would you give a new writer?

What is your favorite toy now that you are an adult?

The question I always ask: If you had a time machine that allowed you to bring anyone from any time to the table for lunch with you, who would you fill the other three chairs with and why?
The answer to that question would be different on any given day because there are so many dead people I’d love to meet. (That came out wrong, but never mind.) So I’ll just reach into my head and pull out the three on top today.

Queen Elizabeth I. What an amazing woman. Ladies weren’t supposed to be queens in their own right back then. They were supposed to marry, defer meekly to their husbands, and pop out an urchin every year -- especially royal ladies! And yet she managed to keep the throne for herself, never marry, and she became one of England’s best monarchs. She’d be amazing even if she weren’t a woman. But doing what she did as a woman of her time -- wow.

Copernicus. The whole world insisted the earth was the center of the universe. And he figured out it wasn’t. That took some serious brains and some serious balls.

I feel like I need a writer in here, and I don’t want to pick something freaking obvious like Shakespeare. So I’m going to go with my buddy Rex Stout. He seems like he would’ve been a fun guy. He had several careers before becoming a writer – he didn’t write the first Nero Wolfe mystery until he was in his late 40s! Before that, he was in the Navy, was a sightseeing guide, and devised some kind of banking system that was installed in hundreds of cities around the country. He waged public campaigns against Nazism, McCarthyism, and the use of nuclear bombs. Oh, and apparently he was a great cook, too, so I’d ask him to make our lunch.
Architecture, believe it or not. It has many amazing buildings by fancy-pancy guys like Frank Lloyd Wright. Back in the day, Buffalo was the Queen City, and some of that is still left. It’s got a great art museum too – the Albright Knox. Well worth your time. And a fine old park designed by Frederick Olmstead, who designed Central Park in NYC.

Buffalo’s actually a great place to go out, too. I kid you not. It’s cheap and friendly. People chat with you and buy you rounds. Heck, I know that’s partly because I’m a chick and don’t have a mustache. But even so. I’ve been to many places, and Buffalo is one of the best in that regard. And Buffalo has some great snack food other than chicken wings. Beef on weck sandwiches, for example. Those haven’t swept the nation the way wings have, but they deserve more attention.

Pick one worldwide problem and solve it.
Install long barbed spikes on every side of every car so people who drive and park too close to other cars would regret it.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind a sweater designed on the same principle. It would come in handy for certain social circumstances – bad dates, close talkers, people with halitosis, etc.

Which author has most influenced you or entertained you and how?

Those are two different questions, and I could give you a hundred answers for either of them. Many authors have influenced me, and even more have entertained me. The answer I’d come up with at any given time would depend on what I’m reading that week. I have my Emily Brontё days. I have my J.K. Rowling days. And all kinds of other days, too.

This last couple of months, I’ve been working my way through Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. I didn’t discover them until recently, and now I only have one or two of them left to read. I’m going to be sad when I get to the end of them. So lately, Rex has given me the most entertainment. But try me again in a month or two and you’ll likely get a different answer.
As a fledgling middle-grade writer, I can’t answer that question the way you probably hoped. My Nook Tablet. I got it for Christmas, and I’m surprised how much I love it. I have at least a thousand physical books in my apartment, and I love them, too. But it’s fabulous to be able to order up books instantly online. I used to carry a dozen books with me when I went away for a week. Now I just have to tuck this one thing in my bag. And I can check my email and the AW forum on it, not to mention play all kinds of mindless games. I could even edit my WIP on it, if I were so inclined. Of course, I don’t have much time left for that, what with all those other things.Buffalo, New York, where you are from, is mostly famous for first rate chicken wings and second rate sports teams. What is the world missing that they should be aware of about Buffalo that does not include a great deal of water?
Just one piece of advice? I guess it would be “write every day even if your output sucks azz because that’s how you get better.”
What was your favorite toy as a child?
I had a stuffed purple hippopotamus my mother made for me when I was tiny. I loved the damn thing. Slept with it every night until I was nine or ten. After that it was Lego blocks. I still like playing with those.
My current middle-grade manuscript, Book Worms. It’s the first long work I’ve finished that sings to me. (I wrote a pretentious literary fiction novel, too, but that will stay under my bed until I get a chance to burn it.) I truly enjoyed writing Book Worms (though editing it has been less fun). Have you written anything anyone else would feel that way about?

Thank you for your time, Cassandra. I’m sure only a few of the readers feel like they have lost a few minutes of their lives that they will never get back and the rest have learned just a little bit about the author whose books their middle grade children may be reading soon. Home schooling may have just gotten a boost at the same time.


  1. *makes platter of Beef on Weck sandwiches*

    *offers them to blog visitors*

    Care for some horseradish, Haggis?

  2. Just don't dribble or drool on the blog.

  3. Since when did you get so damn fussy?