Hi and welcome to my blog, Cassandra. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks so much for having me here, Raine! I’m Cassandra Dean, and I write historical romance with a bit of the erotic for Decadent Publishing. I’m Australian and I’m intensely obsessed with cameras – I own 11 of the lovely things and I would love to own more!
Apart from that, I’m very excited to be sharing with you all- Oh, thanks for the pina colada, Zeke, how lovely of you!
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Everything I write is through the filter of my brain (um, obviously, Cassandra!) As such, my personality and life experiences influence everything. Nothing is overtly used, but I take bits and pieces of what I’ve experienced, and different aspects of my personality, and assemble a story and characters.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about two to three months to write the first draft, and then another two to three to edit the story to the point where I’m happy for my editor to see it. After that, it can take anywhere from two months to six months for the editorial process to be complete. Then, the book is done!
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
For some insane reason, I get creative around10.30pm. This is a horrible habit I’m trying to break myself of – it doesn’t help the day job when I’m bone-tired from writing. So, for writing routines, there’s the late nights ;p
Apart from that, I don’t have much of a routine. I write when I can, around the distractions of The Real Life. *sigh* The Writing Life would be so much easier if The Real Life didn’t intervene quite so much!
Tell us about your latest release or upcoming release. What inspired it?
TEACH ME is the tale of a curious widow who wishes to learn of erotic pleasure and the dissolute earl who undertakes her tutelage. Sounds pretty nifty, huh? :D
TEACH ME was inspired by a slew of books that came out a few years ago where an innocent heroine was taught the sexy times by a world-weary dude. I thought, I could write one of those, and while on holiday inScotland, I did! Yay for those books and yay for the very inspiring scenery ofScotland.
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write? (if you don’t have love scenes in your books, disregard this question)
I think love scenes are awesome, provided they are integral to the story. If it’s a gratuitous scene, and just there for the titillation, then it’s not so much fun and will probably have me rolling my eyes and setting the story aside.
As for my work, I have lots of fun writing love scenes, and think sex is an important part of romance. It’s a way of showing your affection and love for another person, a supremely important part of human interaction. I’m privileged to be able to write these stories, in way that is true and honest for me, and I hope those who read them feel the same.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
I do all sorts! The internet is a treasure trove of information, full of pictures and photos and research papers that help shape your story. I find fiction books of great help, although you should always remember an author will bend the truth to suit her purposes – take everything with a grain of salt! Similarly, television shows are fantastic for research.
I also use children reference books. These are great as they boil the idea down to an easily digestible concept. This way, you can assess if the history is applicable and if so, you can research it in greater depth with more adult books.
What are some of your favorite things or hobbies to do?
I really like to cook, and have about 30 or so cookbooks. I like the pretty pictures as well :D
I’m also a big fan of cameras, as previously mentioned, and love taking photos. I love film cameras, as it’s always a surprise as to what the photo is going to look like!
Who are some of your other favorite authors and genres to read?
Ohhh, fave authors! I’m a big fan of fantasy/urban fantasy and steampunk and as such, I heart Meljean Brook big time. I also love Ilona Andrews, Moira J. Moore, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Jennifer Roberson.
I also adore young adult, and have a real love for Sarah Rees Brennan and Holly Black :D
Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?
I love all my books. They are all special to me, and I heart them big time. However, TEACH ME holds a special placein my heart. The story came about after a dark period in my life, and the fact that I could write a story I love so intensely helped set me on the path to publication.
Elizabeth and Malvern were a reaction to this dark time, and intrinsically tied to the joy and relief I experienced at the end of the dark period. As such, they are some of my favourite characters, just for that reason alone.
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Oh wow, this is a toughie! My kneejerk is to say they’re all bound together, and it’s a bit of a chicken or the egg situation. However, I would say the setting would be first, then characters, then story.
Hmm, but then again when I first think of characters, they are so tied to the setting that it sort of occurs at the same time! Wow, this is a bit of a non-answer, isn’t it? :D
Okay, proper answer. For me, character and setting are tied together, and then the story is teased out after. Phew! I’m glad we all got there eventually!
What part of a book has been the easiest to write? The hardest?
The easiest to write is the third draft. You have all the nuts and bolts worked out, you know exactly where the story is going, and all you have to do is make is shine. I LOVE this part.
The hardest is the first draft. Getting that story out is like pulling teeth. At the same time, you have to battle the notion that you should be writing something that’s perfect first go. Of course it’s not going to be fantastic first go, and once you give yourself permission to be less than perfect, the better off you’ll be. In fact, I read Felicia Day calls the first draft the ‘vomit draft’ and that fits the first draft to a tee.
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
A great romance for me is one that makes me feel deeply, one that grabs me and refuses to let go. I’ll be desperate to know what is going to happen next, will stay up til the wee hours of the morning to finish the story.
I want a hero and heroine who are perfectly suited to each other, who make each other better by the other’s presence. I love humour and passion, and the hero and heroine spending time just hanging out with each other.
What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?
The hardest part for me is pushing through after the excitement of beginning the first draft fades. Once I have an idea, I’m all excited and eager to get it down on paper…but then, it turns out, writing is hard. Who knew, right? So I get the bones of the first few chapters out and then comes the dreaded “OH MY LORD, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW???”
The easiest part is looking at pretty pictures on the internet for research, watching TV for research, reading for research… :D Seriously, though, the easiest part is the initial idea, and the wonderful excitement that comes with it. There are so many possibilities before you and it’s such an amazing feeling.
Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
As I progress through a manuscript, the characters will change from what I initially conceived as I get to know them better. Consequently, the story will change to encompass their personalities. I wouldn’t say they control me, but it’s all in service to the story, so I guess it’s the story controls me!
What are some of your current projects?
At the moment, I’m working on a Western, a sequel to my first book, ENSLAVED, a sequel to TEACH ME, and a couple of other projects. Phew, it’s busy, busy, busy!
Boxers, briefs, boxerbriefs…. Or commando on a man? Why?
Boxerbriefs, definitely. There’s just something about the way they hug a glorious behind… :D
What is your strangest habit?
I love keeping used movie tickets. I write the names of the people I’ve seen the movie with and then I store them in my purse. Why? This is a really good question…I have no idea!
When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
“My word, those are some dark circles under your eyes.”
What is your favorite pizza?
Homemade! My friend is Italian, and makes the best pizza ever. I asked how she did it and she told me the magic recipe – it’s all in the base. Now, for you lovely peeps, I’ll share her wisdom:
Pizza base – this will make five eight-slice pizzas
3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
Combine together and allow to froth (about 10 minutes).
Once frothified, add enough flour to make a soft dough. Voila! Your dough is ready.
Divide into five, roll out and add your favourite toppings.
Cook in a hot over for 10 to 15 minutes.
This recipe is awesome because there’s hardly any kneading, no proving, and delicious homemade pizza will be ready in about half an hour. Yay!
What is one thing scientists should invent?
A quicker mode of travel. I’d love to jet off to theUKandEuropeat a moments notice, but as I live inAustralia, it takes about 23 hours to get there! If it took…man, I’m not greedy, if it took 10 hours, I’d be very happy!
If you could time travel, where would you go?
There are so many fantastic time periods and places, itfs really hard to narrow it down. I think one time and place I would like to experience is a Victory Party inEnglandafter the end of World War II. I think it would be wonderfully emotional to stand with these people and rejoice that a long, bitter war was finally over, and at such a terrible cost to both sides.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer? (Romance or other genres)
I adore that I’m doing something I love for the cash money. Ultimately, I would write whether I was published or not, but now that I can proudly say I’m a published author, I’m so happy I can spend my time doing something I love.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
Well, you currently have a choice of two, so it’s a bit 50/50! They are vastly different, so it depends on your personal preference.
My first novel, ENSLAVED, is the story of a Roman lady and the gladiator she falls in love with. I’m not ashamed to say I was hugely influenced by Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
My second novel, TEACH ME, I’ve been talking about a lot. An early Victorian erotic romance, TEACH ME is a book near and dear to my heart and I hope you peeps enjoy!
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
I hope they enjoy the story immensely, and I was able to help them escape the real world for an hour or two.
Anything else you want to mention?
Yes! I’m offering a contest# for you peeps!
Leave a comment below and you’ll go into the running to win an ebook copy of my previous release, ENSLAVED, as well as a signed TEACH ME postcard and a TEACH ME magnet. One lucky commenter will win the whole lot!
Thank you so much for having me, Raine, I’ve enjoyed myself muchly. Also, thanks to Zeke and Jake for making my stay so, ahem, comfortable.
# The small print: Comment before midnight on 29/03/2012(Australian Central Daylight Saving Time) to be entered to win one (1) ebook copy of ENSLAVED, one (1) signed TEACH ME postcard and one (1) TEACH ME magnet. Winner will be selected via random.org, with winner’s name posted on Cassandra’s blog by 01/04/2012. Cassandra will also require the winner to contact her at http://cassandradean.wordpress.com/contact; the winner will be required to provide their postal address so Cassandra can send the prize to them. Only one entry per ISP address. International entries are welcome. No purchase necessary to enter. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Void where prohibited.
TEACH ME BUY LINK:
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 uponElizabeth. 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,Elizabethnodded. 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?”