Today I am delighted to welcome Cassandra Rose Clarke to my blog for an author interview. Some of Cassandra’s books include The Mad Scientist’s Daughter and the Assassin’s Curse series. She is a remarkably talented writer, and if you haven’t read any of her books, you should definitely check them out!
You have written both young adult novels (The Assassin’s Curse series) and adult novels (The Mad Scientist’s Daughter). What kind of challenges do you see in each? Which is more fun to write?
Interestingly enough, I feel like writing YA has more challenges. One of the biggest is that the books are shorter, so my writing has to be more compact—compact storytelling doesn’t come naturally to me. I like to ramble. YA is also unique in that you are writing from a teenager’s POV for teenagers. It’s one thing to write about teenagers from the perspective of adulthood, but that viewpoint tends to be either cynical or overly idealized, neither of which reflect the reality of adolescence. With YA, I have to really push outside my own current experiences and remember what it was really like being sixteen.
That being said, I wouldn’t say one is more fun to write than the other. They’re just different! It’s nice to switch between the two, as well, since it mixes things up.
Similarly, you’ve written in both the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Which do you enjoy most? Is there a difference in your writing process when you switch between the two?
Science fiction will always be my first love–I’ve been a fan of both of the Stars (Wars and Trek) for a long time, and I have a soft spot for a lot of the tropes associated with science fiction, like robots and cyborgs, planetary romance, aliens… the list goes on!
That said, I’m not sure I would say my writing process switches that much between the two. I did write the Assassin’s Curse a little differently than I do my science fiction novels, but that was mostly because my number one goal in writing the Assassin’s Curse was to write an adventure story, which meant I was all about having fun and making my characters do awesome things. I still tried to ensure that the worldbuilding made sense, though, and that awesome didn’t get in the way of the logic of the story—just like I do with my science fiction novels. So in the end, there’s really quite a lot of overlap between the two genres.
In the Mad Scientist’s Daughter, one of the major themes is that it’s our imperfections that make us human. This plays out in Cat and Finn’s relationship. Is it hard to let your characters make mistakes?
Definitely. If left to my own devices, I would write stories that are largely conflict-free: characters exploring a world, interacting, going on pleasant adventures. I have to really struggle to make sure bad things happen to my characters. At the same time, though, I don’t want my characters to be perfect, because perfect characters are boring (in fact, I find them even more boring than a conflict-free story: conflict is overrated!). One of my favorite ways to introduce conflict is to introduce flaws in the characters and then let the characters clash, but at the same time, it can hurt to mess up the neat little world I created.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
My go-to answer for this question is always flight, because how awesome would that be? I’d never have to wait in traffic again! But that’s more a question of what superpower I want–the truth is that no superhero in the history of time has been able to choose their own superpower. So if a superpower was thrust upon me, it would probably be something weird and only vaguely useful, like being able to talk to cats. Theoretically this would lead to attack cats, but I don’t imagine the cats would actually listen to me.
Do you have any upcoming books or works in progress?
I have a book coming out next fall from Saga Press, called Our Lady of the Ice. It’s an adult science fiction novel set in a domed city in Argentine Antarctica, and it deals with a clash between robots and humans for control of the city. I’ve also got a new YA novel in the works, but I probably shouldn’t say anything more about that just yet.
This is a sore subject, so you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Now that Strange Chemistry is closed, what are your future plans for the Assassin’s Curse series? Is there anything that we as readers/bloggers can do to help?
The Assassin’s Curse series is, at the moment, still up in the air, although things are slooowly inching forward. I’m hoping that I will have some good news soon! I do want to say that support I’ve gotten from readers and bloggers has been incredibly overwhelming, so I just want to give you all a big Internet hug and thank you. The biggest thing you can do to help is to keep talking about the books, if you can—keep the names of them out there. A book can go out of print but that doesn’t mean it has to vanish forever.
Thank you so much for taking the opportunity to talk with me and share so many wonderful insights into your writing!