>Introducing: Allison Cassatta

>Allison Cassatta

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Allison. We are very excited and can’t wait to learn more about you. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Honestly, there is not much to tell. I went from Bartender to published author and while that might sound like an interesting adventure… it really isn’t. In fact, it was the uninteresting that actually pushed me to write. My husband and I had moved to a very, very quite Mississippi town from the big city of Memphis, TN. And well, there was absolutely nothing to do. I’d been trying to write all my life and never really thought I had the knack for it. See, my great aunt was an award-winning romance novelist, and I always thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Like I said, I wanted to write, just couldn’t find my voice. Moving to Mississippi helped. The slow pace gave me what I needed to focus on a story. As far as formal training goes, I have none. I spent a semester in college. Obviously that wasn’t my speed. I’m a network engineer by trade, but that is just a career that pays the bills. My heart and mind need to create. So, here we are.

What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?

My first full-length novel is called “Immortal,” and it’s the first book in a paranormal romance series. I started writing it in 2004. I finished it in 2008. It took a year and a half to get published, and was released in October 2010.

How many books have you written thus far?

Full length book, there are two complete and gods knows how many started. Short stories, I have about eight written, one of which is currently published. Two are waiting to be accepted—fingers crossed—with Dreamspinner Press.

When did you start writing ? What about this genre interested you the most?

Funny thing is, I never considered myself a romantic. I was a tough, rocker chick. “Immortal” was supposed to be sort of scary, sort of romantic, but not the mushy, gooey Harlequin type of romance—it isn’t—but it didn’t ended up a little more romantic than I had intended. My first attempt at M/M made for an adorable little story that never really went anywhere, but what I realized was, I REALLY enjoy writing male characters and the dynamics of the relationships where out of this world. I’d been around gay men all my life, but never really delved into the relationships. So, I’d found a new fascination and also realized I was a mushy, gooey, hopeless romantic at heart. Yeah, there was an eye-rolling sigh there.

Do you write full time?

You could say “yes,” but I also have a fulltime job. I work as a Network Engineer forty hours a week, but usually come home and spend the rest of the night in front of the computer, writing, networking, promoting and blogging. So, I guess I sort of have two full time jobs. Sleeping is an optional hobby.

Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?

My aunt being a writer put the idea in my head, but it was the very odd dream that started the first book, and from there, I just couldn’t stop myself. It was almost like once the words and ideas started flowing, there was no stopping it. I’d found my heart and my voice, I’d found myself and what I was supposed to do with my life.

On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?

Go to work, come home and write or promote. I like to spend time with my beta readers, to get an idea of what their thinking about what they’ve read. Usually, I am working until I start seeing double.

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?

I can’t be tied down to outlines and pre-conceived ideas. Usually, I just start writing and I go where the imagines and voices in my head tell me to. You guys think I’m a little nuts now, don’t you? Insert evil laugh here. Normally, bits and pieces get scrapped along the way, but I never delete or throw anything away. So yeah, my writing is just as spontaneous as my personality.

What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?

I usually research as something pops up. A good example, in “Immortal” there was a plane crash. I’ve never flown an airplane, and certainly never been in a crash. My boss was a retired Air Force pilot who had been in an emergency landing, so I asked him how it would go down. I have a friend who is a doctor, so I ask him questions. I truly have no order to my research.

How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters?

“In “Immortal” a few of my friends made an appearance. Bits of their personalities found their way into my characters, but that was the best way I knew of to make the characters have their own voices. Now, I’ll usually find a model that best suits my idea of what the character looks like and I use their image to help me get a clear idea of a “voice” or their mannerisms.

How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read?

I have one Beta Reader, Jenn, I’d trust the girl with my soul. I feed things to her a chapter at a time. Once she gives me the okay, then my group of Beta Readers gets it. There’s really no set time frame.

If you weren’t sitting there right this very moment answering our book of questions, what else would you be doing?

Writing or chatting with friends. Possibly hanging out with the hubby or watching his band play.

Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?

Definitely revise as I got along, the answer to your next question will explain why I have to revise as I go along.

Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?

I usually have to walk away from what I am working on, even the genre completely for a few days. I can pick up something I’d been working on and usually find fresh inspiration there, but doing that slows me down because I have to reread and revise.

Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?

It’s been different every time. I had “Sins of the Heart” picked out as soon as I had the idea. Another short story I have submitted took forever. It wasn’t until I read it for the fourth or fifth time that the name “Kissing is Easy…” hit me.

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?

My sense of humor can be very, very warped at times. Good grief, this question alone made me laugh. I am sitting here thinking about the things that make my chuckle or snort or laugh until I cry. Normally, it’s things that only me and my best friends would get. Again, my Beta—Jenn makes me “gigglesnort” more than anyone. She has a language all her own and it’s really, really funny to see it on a screen. Rick McGranahan, author of “Visiting the Ghost of Puppyboy,” has become a good friend and the conversations we have would make even the most humorless person cackle.

What are you working on now?

I am re-visiting\re-writing my second book in “The Immortals Saga.” I just finished a short story that I submitted to Dreamspinner Press, so I’ve decided to work for my other publisher for a little while.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?

Honestly, it wasn’t with respect to the writing itself. A fellow author, James Gillen, told me to always wear my thickest skin. He told me getting published was painful and the rejection would hurt. It did. It still does, but to fulfil a dream, the pain is ALWAYS worth it.

When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?

Does staying up until three in the morning to talk to strangers count? I’ve spent every weekend of the month away from home. I even had a radio D.J. run around a rock concert screaming, “Hot vampire sex in the back! Ten bucks!” I sold all the books I had that night.

Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?

I don’t think it really dies, not unless my brain is completely fried and I need sleep. Music keeps the juices flowing. Talking to other people or reading other authors helps sometime.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Mostly paranormal romances. Some M/M authors have really grabbed me. Other than that, I don’t like reading them, but more often than not, I am having to read technical papers. I know, I know… snore!

What is your favorite TV show?

Oh my gods, really? “Angel” or maybe some forensics show. I LOVED “Queer as Folk” and I am completely saddened it’s gone. “Californication” is a great show too. I don’t spend a lot of time in front of the T.V. though. It puts me to sleep.

What is your favorite fast food restaurant? Just thought we’d throw that in for fun…

Taco Hell… I mean Bell. But I’d rather have sushi.

Without getting up, can you tell us what’s under your bed? (yep, another sneaky question.)

Socks… and the spare animal my cat is trying to hatch.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

Dream job? A lawyer. Real life? A techie.

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

Digital photography and graphics are my Zen. I love music as well. I follow my husband’s band. I love spending time with my friends. That’s about it, I think.

Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?

If Dreamspinner picks them up, I have two short stories submitted for their “Story a Day” in June—or was it July? One is a coming out/coming of age story about a boy on his prom night, reliving the summer he’d met the boy who changed his life. The other is about a guy who realizes he’s in love with his best friend. Keep your fingers crossed.

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