SHELLEY CASS  - INDIE AUTHOR

While their country prepares for war, they prepare for the battle of their lives.

The Gods have given their warning. A deadly threat will be born at the end of the ninth age and will find a divided world easy to consume. All will be destroyed in a storm of ice and fire, unless Three can be found to stand against the threat, and to bring all magical and mortal peoples together. A huntress and two runaways have been drawn together for an impossible Quest. Their world is threatened by disunity, by the growing sickness of Mother Nature, and by the ambitions of a Sorcerer who is hunting down one magical race after another.

 

Book one in the ‘A Fairy Tale’ trilogy…

 

“A magical and wonderful first book in this series and an exciting adventure for all ages to savour and be enchanted…a great new voice in the genre and a very talented author…looking forward to book two in this trilogy…”

Amanda, Indiebooks reviewer.

 

Shelley Cass started as the embarrassed kid who needed more help than everyone else to learn to read. She still remembers the moment – the complete internal shift and awe-struck surprise – when she realised, she could make sense of it all and that entire new worlds had opened before her. As an awkward, gangly junior student, Shelley began to write her own worlds. While growing up, she always came back to her own story, where she confronted the frightening things that threaten the real world and explored the things that save it.

Who inspires you?

SE Hinton inspired me when I was first starting out as a scared little year 8 student. Knowing that Hinton had written ‘The Outsiders’ at such a young age made me feel less like a fraud for my trying to be a writer at that age.

However my inspiration was more of a ‘what’ than a ‘who’. Every scene and event I write is a reflection of what I need to write and to express. Things I felt in the angsty days of teenagedom, things I daydreamed so vividly that they just had to be painted onto a page in words. Characters’ moods could reflect my moods because scenes did not always get written in sequence (and in fact, breakthrough moments often involved me having a ‘vision of the future’ for my characters. These would give me purpose in going back to fill in the story that would lead to that future).

But a deep undercurrent, and then a driving plot point of my novel was a focus on our world. I was often most worried, and most moved, by what I could make of the state of nature and humanity.

I was inspired by the beauty of nature, and also feared how this complex, miraculous thing could be so mistreated – this thing that we most need to support and be supported by. Symbolically, the terrible threat, the sickness of magic, Mother Nature and the world in my novels, correlated to the lack of connection and care of the peoples living on it.

I was scared of how divided this world can be, how in modern times we seem to be pulling even further apart from each other, growing colder on a global and local scale. So I would look to the real world examples of individual kindness, of people reaching out to each other, to feel better.

 

How many books have you published?

Ten so far…

 

A Fairy’s Tale Series:

Book One – The Larnaeradee

Book Two – The Raiden

Book Three – The Army for the World

 

Darkling

 

Awaken Dreamer

 

The Sleep Sweet Children’s Series:

Book One – Little Pixie’s Christmas

Book Two – The Adventures of the Bored Baby Ace

Book Three – Mum and Me

Book Four – The Cloud and the Flower

Book Five – Hush

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Fifteen years ago (currently at 30, that was half my life ago!) when the image of a huntress, arrow notched and ready to shoot, came to me in a daydream. She was strong, serious, and saw no limits for herself. She was Kiana.

I, on the other hand, was a quiet, mousy little junior student who normally took refuge from the pressures of normality in the fantastical lives of other people’s characters. Yet there I was, seeing the life of this huntress before my eyes like a movie playing in my head.

Just for fun, I filled a few pages of a notebook with descriptions of the scenes I could ‘see’. Just for fun, I filled a few more pages – with other characters joining Kiana, being saved by and saving her. Soon the note book was full, there was a rough map of this new world, a terrible threat facing it, and my Three main heroes coming together with as much surprise as I felt about it, to face the Sorcerer Darziates and his Witch.

Any chance I could, I would be back in Kiana’s world. I would be talking with Mother Nature, the Elves and Nymphs in the oldest forest in the world. I would be with Dalin and Noal, right by Kiana’s side. I learned about the characters as they did, and found my way to solutions as they did. Three novels poured from me, and they would later become known as ‘The Last Larnaeradee’, ‘The Raiden’ and ‘The Army for the World’.

I polished them, re-working and sacrificing precious words until their stories were right. And then I published them … and became an author, Shelley Cass.

 

How long does it take you to write a book?

Annoyingly, I feel most creative when I also feel most time poor and stifled. I think it’s the sense of yearning to express myself rather than be trapped in the ‘hum-drum’. When I most want to write, I have the least brain energy to do it! Study, marking essays, social life, deadlines, housework, everything can get in the way … and fifteen years can slip by, just like that, before a trilogy is complete.

However, my children’s books and my standalone books have taken much less time to develop and edit – because there is less to invest in their world. Less complexity, less time in that setting, and the story can just flow – spilling out of me in weeks or months rather than years. Working on those shorter books is a great creative break.

 

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Despite how resentful I get when I finally have a chance to be creative and then feel too tired or stuck or doubtful to just do it, it’s often actually because I am swept up in the ‘hum-drum’ that I have these flashes of appreciation for beauty around me. When I have a moment of surfacing to take a breath, I feel and see with so much more clarity than I would when I’m comfortable and stress-free.

I remember vividly one such moment of this kind of ‘surfacing’ – I had just sat myself down on the back step, taking the dogs outside to run. I had rubbed my face to stop myself from staring like a zombie, and I found myself really looking and really seeing what was around me. The grass! Each blade, curving in a spreading wave as the wind made tracks across the yard. The trees! The leaves singing in a whisper and waving as they rustled to and fro.

The way the water on those leaves, little individual drops like crystals, showed the light through them before they danced their way down to the earth.

So, oddly, being frustrated that I am too busy or stressed, makes my creative energy build up to explosive levels until it simply must be expressed.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I find that songs and even film clips can get me into the right mind frame. The spark of inspiration from one song on the drive home from work can give me the image of a new scene that then gets the words bubbling up from me. A song planted the opening image in my head of Jackson Flint, sitting in the shadows of a night club, watching the wild-eyed dancers writhe in flashes of pulsating strobe lights, while his murderess stalked through the crowds to find him. Needless to say, with an opening like that, I had to get started on ‘Darkling’ at once.

Images of scenes also come to me when I’m on the cusp of sleep, as if I’m lapsing into my characters’ worlds when I am least trying to or controlling it. I’ve lost many ideas by letting myself fall asleep, I’ve given myself some good laughs when I wake up to read my ‘brilliant’ ideas from the night before, but I’ve also taken some good notes.

And lastly – I’m always listening. Words inspire words. Rather than seeing a scene first, and then letting it play out, sometimes I hear it. (Hearing voices … not always a bad sign). These stand out words became the blurbs for two of my novels. Book three, ‘The Army for the World’, had this:

“You could save yourself damage,” the Witch warned. “But it’s all the same to me. As long as I get the Fairy.”

My heart was racing. I felt like every pulse point in my body was going to explode.

“So …” I swallowed. “I guess I’m going to get damaged.”

“It was your choice.”

The Gods have given their warning. The Sorcerer’s threat grows. And the Three must unite the Army for the World. Or risk losing each other, and life itself.

 

How did you find the publishing process?

Disheartening – I felt like one little speck of sand on the beach. I could sparkle and glisten all I liked, but an endless shore of others were doing the same.

But a time of being more self-critical, and moving on from the idea of traditional publishing, meant that I really had to upskill and work for myself. I became a better editor, shedding hundreds of unnecessary pages that had been there to just help me find my own way into the story (The last Larnaeradee was literally halved when I realized that, hey – I spend every day as a teacher editing and refining other peoples’ words – why not my own?!). I am especially proud, though, of the fact that I (a person totally lacking in techspertise), have learnt to self publish, have learned to create covers, have learned to narrate audiobooks, and have learned to make a (shoddy, but still) website.

 

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Everything I’m scared of, worried about, saddened by, happiest about, most moved by, given hope by –

is expressed in my novels.

I’ve probably saved heaps of money on therapy by dealing with environmental, political, social and just global issues in general within the confines of my pages.

I also cling to certain images, settings or times that I want to explore – very specific and small things, and entire stories seem to evolve from them. I have a photo that I purchased once, thinking it could be a good cover. There is a 1950s style woman in the photo, with red lips that pop,  laying back and laughing. And I just really want to tell her story one day.

 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was fourteen when I started on my trilogy. Book one was re-written almost yearly until I was twenty-nine and told myself to just stop it.

To stop pretending it could ever be perfect, and hiding behind that as an excuse to do nothing with it.

 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I am a spectacularly good potato. In this idealistic potato dream you can find me on the couch. Otherwise, I like to be walking with my fur-baby Ace, on a hot date with my fiancé Jarryd, surrounded in my family, or being left alone to do something creative like illustrations.

 

What does your family think of your writing?

They are extremely supportive. They are also quite biased.

My mum somehow managed to slog through The last Larnaeradee when it was double its size and still sounded like a fourteen year old wrote it.

My fiancé has listened to me read out the entirety of Awaken Dreamer word for word so that we could listen to its flow. He has also helped me with formatting and technological issues that would have otherwise had me gnashing my teeth down to nothing.

 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I can write books, even though I’m just me.

 

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Ten books so far. I love them all equally, for they are my children.

I’m proud of the messages and illustrations of my children’s books. I’m proud of the SEXY scenes I set in Darkling. I loved putting my passion for myth and legend into Awaken Dreamer. Though fifteen years with the ‘A Fairy’s Tale’ trilogy makes it feel almost part of my soul – more real than any other.

 

Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Ironically, considering the length of this answer compared to others – careful of overwriting.

I overwrote my first few drafts of ‘A Fairy’s Tale’ while I was feeling my way into the world. Much was needed for my own understanding of the world, but it became clunky, got in the way of the story, and I had to cut each of my novels down by half. Don’t be afraid to cut, cut, cut.

 

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

They want to know when I’m coming to dinner next and if I’ve got home safe. (Naw, mum).

 

Do you like to create books for adults/kids/cause? Why?

I write the books I want to read – and I am a complete mix of adult and child myself. I want to give children the nicest, most comforting stories that I can think of and need, and want to give YA and adult readers the kind of world they can escape into while processing our own.

 

What do you think makes a good story?

Something that is relatable and that has poured from the soul – that just had to be told. A story that bursts free of the author for the sheer enjoyment and beauty of it. Not because a certain word count had to be met or because that’s what has been popular and could earn the big bucks.

 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a singer – terrible voice. I wanted to be an actress – talk like a bogan. I wanted to be a writer – learned to read and write (phew). I also just wanted to be happy.

 

What are your plans for your future book/s?

I plan to keep unlocking my soul and imagination every time a creative flare hits. Whether it is just for the sake of myself, for one reader or for thousands.

 

What tips would you share with other new writers about your learnings?

Youtube and Google really do help you to self-teach in almost every imaginable area if you are trying to self-publish. There are great websites and many authors and platforms just waiting for your questions.

 

What were your inspirations?

Every scene and event that I wrote for the ‘A Fairy’s Tale’ trilogy was a reflection of what I needed to write and to express. Things I felt in the angsty days of teenagedom, things I daydreamed so vividly that they just had to be painted onto a page in words. Characters’ moods could reflect my moods because scenes did not always get written in sequence (and in fact, breakthrough moments often involved me having a ‘vision of the future’ for my characters.

These would give me purpose in going back to fill in the story that would lead to that future).

But a deep undercurrent, and then a driving plot point of my novel was a focus on our world. I was often most worried, and most moved, by what I could make of the state of nature and humanity.

I was inspired by the beauty of nature, and also feared how this complex, miraculous thing could be so mistreated – this thing that we most need to support and be supported by. Symbolically, the terrible threat, the sickness of magic, Mother Nature and the world in my novels, correlated to the lack of connection and care of the peoples living on it.

I was scared of how divided this world can be, how in modern times we seem to be pulling even further apart from each other, growing colder on a global and local scale. So I would look to the real world examples of individual kindness, of people reaching out to each other, to feel better.

 

How you decided on the characters in the book would be an interesting concept to describe for us please?

I had no choice – my huntress Kiana just came to me in an image. I saw a dark haired, serious faced archer, and her story had to be told. Then, just as they tumbled into Kiana’s life, Dalin and Noal appeared in my story when another scene popped into my head of two figures trying to break out of rather than into a palace.

 

 

What drew you to the subject matter or the characters? 

I was drawn to the idea of using typical fairy-tale settings and characters in a more mature setting. Fairies, unicorns, witches and figures from bedtime stories could be reinvented and pitted against each other in a war for their world.

I wanted to turn the charming princes into leaders of war, and I wanted a kick-ass heroine with unexpected skills. I also wanted to show that disunity is the one true threat to all.

What was the biggest challenge when writing the book?

Lack of time, disruptions, doubt and exhaustion. These things do not inspire great flow of one’s creative juices. My writing is often sporadic and crammed into whatever random periods I can get to quickly focus.

Requests welcomed for further information about the author –

  1. Book copies for review and discussion

  2. Full media kit, inc images and Q&A about the book by the author

  3. Interviews can be arranged via Skype, phone or email.

 

Book is available for purchase upon release at all great Australian book stores

and online direct at www.indiebooksaust.com.au


Thank you for supporting new Independent authors in Australia,

and we welcome further communications with you in the future.

Kind regards,

Publicity Manager
Shawline Publishing Group

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