Friday, June 15, 2018

Weekly Author Fridays featuring Erin Cashman - Author Interview

It's Friday again!!  This time I will be featuring Erin Cashman, author of Uncharted.




Interview
What made you start writing? 
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start seriously writing until I was pregnant with my oldest son. I was 27, and on bed rest, and I wrote a very bad thriller. After that, I wrote in starts and spurts. With three little kids and my work as an attorney I found it hard to find the time or the energy! But on a family vacation, I told my husband and kids about a dream I had about a family of vampires, and by some miracle my kids all set still for almost an hour, and it was my kids who encouraged me to turn it into a story! That middle grade book did not land me an agent or a publisher (nor did the next book I wrote), but I was hooked. 

Can you tell us a little about your book? 
Uncharted tells the story of seventeen-year-old Annabeth, who reluctantly attend the funerals of family friends who drowned. Annabeth is struggling to come to terms with her guilt over her own mother’s death, and far prefers the refuge of fantasy fiction and art over company, yet while in Maine she becomes reacquainted with Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s father goes missing in the woods. Annabeth launches her own hunt for her father, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death. Eventually Annabeth stumbles upon a secret, a secret that some would die to protect and others would kill to expose, a secret the very knowledge of which endangers all she holds dear. You can read the full description here, from Goodreads! 

How did you get the idea for writing Uncharted? Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 
Yes! Uncharted, was inspired by Irish legends and mythology. But it was also inspired by my mother, who was born and raised in Galway Ireland, and the stories she told me from the time I was little, her love of Irish myths and legends, and her own battle with mental illness. 

How did you come up with the title Uncharted
I didn’t! My dear friend and critique partner, the wonderful Diana Renn, did! And it fits the story perfectly. 

Who is your favorite character in the book and why? Or, which character was the most fun to write and why? 
Griffin is my favorite character. He’s been through so much, and has so much guilt, and because of the secrets he must keep he’s so misunderstood. Annabeth describes him as Broken, beautiful, Griffin. And that sums him up perfectly. 

If you could meet any characters in your book, who would it be and why? 
That’s a tough one! My answer to this one would also be Griffin, because, without giving anything away, he is definitely like no other person. 

How long did it take for you to finish writing the book? 
I wrote a first draft of this book in 2013, which took me about 6 months with revisions, and then I put it aside. Something just wasn’t working. Then I did a major revision for about two months in 2014. Still, something wasn’t right and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I put it aside again for a few years, and then did another big revision, which took me a few months. That was the version that was picked up by Page Street Publishing in 2017. 

Why did you choose to write YA novels? 
I love YA literature, both as a reader and as a writer, because often the books involve change, journeys, and choices. Annabeth, for example, must decide what kind of future she wants for herself in Uncharted, and it isn’t the future she thought she wanted at the beginning of the novel. Near the end of the book, there is a section that describes her journey: 

Sliding open the window, I inhaled the cool, crisp air as it caressed my face. Already, the wind carried with it notes of autumn; notes of change. So many things had changed this summer. I had changed. I was no longer the Annabeth-before, or the Annabeth-since. 
I was just Annabeth. 

What’s the next step in your writing career? 
I recently completed a middle grade contemporary fantasy, also inspired by Irish mythology and legends, and I’m working on an adult contemporary fantasy now. 

Any advice for future authors? 
Mainly, to just keep at it and don’t give up! My writing improved dramatically when I did two things. First, I try to write most days. Even if it’s just a half an hour. It helps keep the story fresh in my mind, and in turn I think about the characters more—when I’m driving, or walking my dog, and I find I do far more world-building that way, without even consciously doing it. Second, read, read, read. But read slowly, pay attention to cadence, character arc, setting, etc. There are also so many wonderful, and free, opportunities for writers now—from pitch contests, to workshops. I am the coordinator and a permanent mentor of the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop, which is a great opportunity for writers to have their pages critiqued by other writers and a literary agent. (You can read more about it, here!) 

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog, Stephanie!
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