Hi guys I hope you are all well. Today I have a very exciting author interview to share with you guys – the author of the fantastic A Tale of Star and Shadow series, Lisa Cassidy. The fourth and final book, A Duet of Sword and Song, is coming out on September 10th, so I thought it was the perfect time for another author interview. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of the fourth book from the author herself and it was so good. I highly recommend checking this series out. Let’s get onto the interview.
Lisa is a self-published fantasy author by day and book nerd in every other spare moment she has. She’s a self-confessed coffee snob (don’t try coming near her with any of that instant coffee rubbish) but is willing to accept all other hot drink aficionados, even tea drinkers.
She lives in the Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and like all Australians, is pretty much in constant danger from highly poisonous spiders, crocodiles, sharks, and drop bears, to name a few. As you can see, she is also pro-Oxford comma.
Thank you so much for doing this interview.
Before we get fully started with the questions, I have two introductory questions for you.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, for any new readers?
Hello! Thanks so much for having me, I’m SUPER excited to be here. I’m Lisa Cassidy, a self-published author living in Canberra, Australia. I’m a massive book nerd – reading is my absolute favourite thing to do when not writing. I love the fantasy genre best of all, but when I have time (admittedly, not often) I also like reading a good thriller/crime novel. I’m also an unashamed coffee snob.
Can you give a brief summary of A Tale of Stars and Shadow series for anyone who hasn’t read it yet?
A Tale of Stars and Shadow is an epic fantasy series with a strong female lead. At its heart, it’s about two people: The first is an incredibly smart, highly capable, warrior who’s trying to put the pieces of her life and self back together after a battle that went tragically wrong… she’s failing at this until an unexpected mission to a far-distant country sparks some new life in her. The second main character is a criminal who’s doing what he can, where he can, to try and improve the situation in a society that makes life incredibly hard for some people. Every failure weighs heavily on him, but he keeps trying anyway, because he won’t let himself give up. The backdrop to all that is a motley ensemble cast – including a thief and a slave – winged people, political machinations, a dash of romance and some cool magic.
I recently binged through the first three books of A Tale of Stars and Shadow series and it is amazing. What was your inspiration behind it?
I’m really happy you enjoyed it so much!! (you have no idea how good it is for an author to hear that). A Tale of Stars and Shadow came out of another series I wrote many, many, years ago that covers the backstory of how the Dumnorix monarchy came into existence and why Firthland is a vassal state. After I’d written the end to that series, I started getting an itch to write about the descendants of those characters, and so A Tale of Stars and Shadow was born. That original story was amongst the first manuscripts I ever wrote, so it’s pretty raw (bad!), but I’d love to go back to it at some point and publish that series too.
Where do you tend to get your inspiration for your stories?
EVERYWHERE!! Haha, my brain is constantly churning over thinking up ideas for plot points – I couldn’t stop it if I tried 😊. I could be at home watching TV or reading a book, or driving somewhere, and an idea will pop up. Sometimes the ideas pop up and fade away really quickly. But sometimes an idea really digs in and won’t let go, and I start building on it in my head, letting the baby story simmer away. It’s usually those ideas that turn into books. I tell you though, it’s extremely annoying when you’re working on one series, and then you get this random idea for a completely different one and it won’t go away…
What was it like writing the concluding instalment and how are you feeling now it’s about it be released?
It was HARD. A Duet of Sword and Song was definitely the most difficult book of the series to write. I really felt the pressure to land the ending in a satisfactory way for readers, and after three books of building up to such a conclusion in A King of Masks and Magic, it wasn’t easy to find that right way to bring it to an end. But with persistence and a lot of help from my editor, I’m really happy with how it all finished up. I hope all my readers agree!
Can you tell us anything about book 4?
A Duet of Sword and Song gathers up all the story threads that have been building in the previous three books and brings them exploding together. You’ll get lots of big battles, some soul-searching and growth on the parts of the main characters, some more screen time for a character that first appeared in A King of Masks and Magic and an EPIC final hundred pages or so.
When writing your books do you plan out the series’ first or does it develop organically as you write it?
I’m a pantser, which means I write without plotting anything. I get bored with a story if I know where it’s going, so I learn the story as I write it! It’s not always an easy way to write (I’ll occasionally write up to a certain point, then get totally stuck for a little while trying to figure out what comes next), and it certainly makes the editing process much longer and more difficult. I don’t think I could do it any other way though! And the bonus is, I really enjoy the editing process, so wins all round.
Speaking of writing, what is your process like? Do you listen to music, or do you need quiet? Do you have a set time of day to write? Etc.
I always listen to music when I write – primarily instrumental movie soundtracks (some of my favs are Hans Zimmer, James Horner, John Williams etc), and I’ll match the mood to the scene I’m writing. For example, the soundtrack to The Dark Knight is perfect when writing really tense/dark scenes. I pretty much always have a hot cup of coffee at my elbow too.
I don’t really have a schedule, as such, but I do write most productively in the mornings, and then sometimes if I’m on a roll I’ll fit in a second writing session later in the afternoon. I’ll write most days too – even if I’m a little bit stuck on a story, I’ll usually get down a few hundred words. Writing is always something I love, even when it’s hard.
What was your experience of self-publishing like?
In short – it has been a long learning process, and I still have a lot to learn! I wouldn’t do it any other way though. I love the control it gives me over all aspects of the publishing business, from cover design to when to release the books. There are absolutely downsides to self-publishing of course (the main example being you won’t get your books into anywhere near as many bookstores), but for me there are just so many more upsides that trump traditional publishing. You do have to do more than just write books though; it’s a business, so you have to run it like a business, and unless you learn how to advertise (and there are multiple avenues to do this), you’re probably not going to get the reach, visibility and royalties that you’re looking for.
What can we expect in the future from you?
I’m almost decided on what I’ll be publishing next. It’s a work-in-progress that I started late last year in between edits of the A Tale of Stars and Shadow series, something I’ve written entirely from scratch. If it’s not that, I’ll probably look to work on something else I wrote years ago and that needs some sprucing and re-writing before it goes to my editor and starts the publishing process. Either way, it will come out early/mid 2021.
Once I’ve firmly decided I’ll start announcing some little snippets of info about it 😊
Did you always want to be an author? If so, who inspired you?
No, I didn’t. I was a voracious reader from childhood, always reading well above my age (I think I read Lord of the Rings when I was like 8 or 9?), and my parents used to say to me ‘you should be a writer’. I always scoffed at this of course 😊 Then when I was in my later years of High School, I landed an incredibly inspiring English teacher, and suddenly I realised I really did like writing. I think I started on my first ever manuscript when I was 17.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Only that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to all the advice out there. You need to find a rhythm and a process that works for you. While you should absolutely treat it seriously – especially if you’re looking to make a living from it – if you try and fit yourself into a box of what some famous author says you should do, you’ll quickly lose your enjoyment of writing itself, and that’s the last thing you want. Write what and how you like is my advice!
Lastly, what are your favourite fantasy books?
So many! I don’t often give 5 star ratings on books I read; those are the ones that just absolutely kill me in good ways, that stick with me for days after, and that I’ll go back and reread again and again. So far for 2020 I’ve read three books I’ve given 5 stars, which is pretty good, so I’ll list those for you:
Crescent City – Sarah J Maas
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
Thank you so much to Lisa Cassidy for agreeing to do this interview with me. A Tale of Stars and Shadow series is fantastic and I highly recommend checking it out. I recently finished the fourth and final book and it was such a great end to this series. Have you guys started this series yet? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.