Showing posts with label Anne Cassidy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anne Cassidy. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita kalhan

 It’s not often that I get to share good news – good book news – with the world. But today is one of those precious days! I have a book being published on May 1st by Troika Books. 

Yes there was a lot of singing and dancing and generally making an idiot of myself – but it was okay as no one else was at home when the package from my publisher came through the letter box and landed on my door mat. I knew exactly what was inside: the first review copy of my book – so I took my time tearing open the package, well, all of about three seconds flat!

So here’s a picture of the very same book.

And here’s one of me flicking through it, with added sparkles. If the video doesn't work, then follow this link to The Girl in the Broken Mirror

So what is The Girl in the Broken Mirror about? It’s about Jay, a fifteen year old British Asian girl, who is struggling with a major culture clash after she and her mum are forced to move in with distant relatives. The relatives are extremely strict – strict about Indian girls, what they can and can’t do, how they should dress, how they should behave, who their friends should be. Boys get to do what they like, which Jay thinks is so unfair. And then she is raped.

I started writing the book about twelve years ago, before I wrote The Long Weekend, and then I set it aside to write The Long Weekend. I came back to it many times and it went through several titles and rewritings over the years, but the main core scenes of the book remained untouched. 

Rape and sexual abuse are difficult to write about – and even more difficult to write about for teenagers and young adults.

I know of three other books that deal with the subject of rape, all very different, all excellent:

No Virgin by Anne Cassidy

Asking for it by Louise O’Neill

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I think it’s important that these are books out there, particularly when you look at the horrific rape stats for rapes and sexual abuse reported by under eighteen year olds. I think it’s also important for teenagers to know that there is help out there for them, that they are not alone, that there is light at the end of the darkness.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

It Takes A Lot More Than One Person To Write A Book Anne Cassidy

I often say to people that one of the drawbacks of being a writer is the isolation. Essentially I make an agreement to write a book for a publisher and then for six months I am on my own in front of the computer. I am currently working on a book called MOTH GIRLS for Hot key Books. It’s going well and I am close to finishing it. But the last six or so months while I’ve been writing it has been me ALONE  facing the screen placing one word after another on the page breathing life into characters and making bad things happen.

Or so I thought…..

It occurs to me that many other people are involved when I write a book. 

Here are the ones I can think of.

Other writers: I read constantly, a book a week perhaps. In six months that’s 26 books.  26 other writers have contributed to the stuff in my head and my emotional state while I’m writing this book.

Writers who I know: people I talk to on the phone, have lunch with, email frequently. These are people who I try out ideas on.

My agent: she was the first one to hear the idea for MOTH GIRLS and she didn’t roll her eyes.

My editor: She listens with enthusiasm. Sometimes she demands too much story from me (I hate to give away secrets) but the talking about the planned book firms up ideas.

My husband: I talk to him about books, movies, box sets. We talk ‘stories’ a lot. He deals with low periods when it’s all going wrong and he waits (I like to think impatiently) to be the first reader.

My mum: I tell the stories of all my books to my mum who listens avidly.

My son: who gave me a cracking idea to use in MOTH GIRLS.

Fans who send emails: I read the things they say about my books and it reinforces what I do or it make me reassess what I do.

Reviewers and Bloggers: I take seriously the views of these people and shape my work accordingly (note to Kirkus – not more ‘awkward exposition’ from me!)

Students who I teach from time to time: I love teaching creative writing because it really makes me think about how a story is put together, what makes it work well. In order to teach them I have to work it out in my head. And the things they say teach me too.

People I see on trains and tubes: I watch their mannerisms and listen to the way they talk to each other. I try to imagine their lives and their problems. Some of them appear in my books.

School Students: I visit schools while writing my books and the students ask revealing questions and make interesting suggestions and ask me to use their name  in one of my books (sometimes I do).

So, maybe being a writer isn’t such an ‘isolated’ thing after all.

Back to MOTH GIRLS……………

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Who Would You Be? by Keren David

It’s unusual to be completely thrown by a question from the audience, but a teenager in the audience at my most recent event managed to do just that.
The event was the Hay Festival, my fellow panellists were Sally Nicholls and Anne Cassidy and the question was this: ‘If you could be any other writer, who would you be?’
‘Homer,’ said Sally, for his wonderful stories and use of language.  ‘J K Rowling,’ said Anne, ‘just think of the money.’
I mumbled something about Shakespeare, but it wasn’t really true, and over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering which writer I should have picked. Anne Tyler, whose novel ‘The Accidental Tourist’ is written so beautifully that I have line-envy on every page? Antonia Forest, because then I’d know more about the Marlows, possibly my favourite family in children’s fiction? Hilary McKay for creating the Casson family, who run the Marlows a close second? Lauren Child, because I’d love to have her visual imagination? Jodie Picoult or Joanna Trollope, because I feel I could do what they do, but then I wouldn’t have to do it and I’d have all their royalties.
No. The answer, I realised was simple. I write because I like to create my own stories. I don’t want to write other people’s books or plays, even if they are more lucrative than mine, win more awards, are better written. I don’t want to be another writer, is what I should have said. I just want to work on being an even better version of me.

How about you? Is there an author you’d like to be? 

Monday, 14 April 2014

When A Writer Loses Her Voice Anne Cassidy

At first glance you will think post is about some form of Writers’ Block. You may think that I am going to describe a time when I sat down at my computer and couldn’t think of a single things to write. This has never happened to me. I have too many stories in my head.

This post is about me losing my actual voice and the effect it has had on being a writer.

Last summer I had a hoarse voice. I expected it to get better within a week or so but it didn’t. I put up with it for a few further weeks enjoying the sympathy I got from friends and family and thought I’d wake up one day back to normal with my regular voice. It didn’t happen.
I went to the doctors. She sent me to see a specialist and a quick scan was organised and I was told that thankfully it wasn’t anything ‘bad’ but that my left vocal chord was not working. They could give no reason for this and called it ‘idiopathic’ which means that they didn’t know what caused it. It could be a virus and if so might take eighteen months to go away (if it did). Meanwhile I could get some speech therapy to help.

The manifestation of this problem was a voice with less volume. It meant that I seemed out of breath and husky and struggled to make myself heard. Initially I tried all sorts of remedies. I stopped the inhaler I used for asthma. I gargled loads. I ‘saved’ my voice. I whispered.  Nothing worked.

I make my living by writing. So fortunately my voice isn’t an issue here. Is it?

I’ve always been one to argue on the importance of talking about books. For me talking about books and writers is a crucial way of promoting books and reading in general. A chat about a writer or a book makes me go and look up their books and try one. But the act of talking, itself, is a way of making sense of the world and what we might like to do or read or not read. So a discussion on books is a way of my sorting out in my head what it is I like and don’t like. So the ability to talk unfettered is an important part of the reading process.

Equally, for me, talking is a crucial part of the writing process. Having ideas about stories and talking them through with friends or family (or editors) is one of the ways in which I build my stories. Discussing a plot development is a way of trying it out outside my head. My character will do this or maybe it would be better if she does that… Walking the dogs and running through a possible plotline with my husband or my sister or my mum is a way of making that story real, testing its convinceability meter (spellcheck went mad here).

We learn through talk. My twenty years teaching showed me that. I am still learning as a writer.

But when the act of talking is an effort sometimes you don’t bother. When I’m explaining and my husband says What? Pardon? Several times I tend to give up. When I say things and it’s quite clear that people haven’t heard me I think, why bother? Not good. I remember watching Musharaf, the boy with the stutter on Educating Yorkshire, and understanding why people might give up trying.

There is another problem. I have always been happy to do school visit and of course my first concern was that I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of a large crowd and give a one hour talk. The funny that was that didn’t turn out to be the problem. The school provided a microphone. After an initial apology for my scratchy voice I was able to give my usual talk. The problem came with the ‘social’ aspect to the visit. Meeting teenagers and trying to talk to them. They are usually incredibly shy anyway and don’t come very close. In the past I would talk to them about what they were reading and what kind of books they liked, just chit chat. But now I found I couldn’t do it because they couldn’t hear me.

I am now (after eight months) used to my voice. I am persevering with the speech therapy. In my struggle to pronounce words I am beginning to end them succinctly (if at a low volume) and my husband says I am beginning to sound ‘posh’. That would be a funny outcome for this cockney girl. To end up sounding like a BBC reader!

So, if you see me out and about don’t be put off by my little voice. Ask me about my stories and, with some difficulty, I will tell you what I’m working on.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Jennifer Jones Grows Up Anne Cassidy

In January 2004 LOOKING FOR JJ was published. The sequel FINDING JENNIFER JONES is published on 7th February 2014. The actual story takes place two years after the end of the first book. Jennifer Jones is now called Kate Rickman and she is a student at Exeter University. She has grown up a lot in two years. When we met her again she is not the sweet, sympathetic girl that she was in LOOKING FOR JJ. Now she is older, embittered.  She knows that her life will always be governed by other people and she is still obsessed by the past.  She decides to go against the conditions of her release and contact the other girl who was there on the day she killed her friend. She writes a letter and nervously posts it.

As a writer it was odd going back to a book I’d written ten years ago. I was full of trepidation. Would I be able to write about Jennifer after such a long gap? Did I have more story to tell? Would people like this book as much as they had liked Looking for JJ?

A friendly librarian (mention no names) told me not to do it. Common sense told me not to do it. How often had I read a follow up, seen a movie sequel and thought – that wasn’t as good as the first one!

But in the last ten years I had had endless questions from readers asking me what happened to Jennifer after the end of the book.  So, I took my courage in my hands and decided to tell them. My main hope for this book is that it tells Jennifer’s story with integrity and that the readers who wanted to know what happened to her will be satisfied.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Nelson, Steve and me: by Anne Cassidy

Like many other people I’ve been thinking about Nelson Mandela a lot this week. The explosion of emotion surrounding his death made me remember my first encounter with ‘apartheid’. As a young woman in the 1970s, I was interested in politics, but South Africa was on the other side of the world and in my consciousness it was at the level of news headlines, facts and figures, political speeches. I understood about apartheid but I didn’t really know about it.

I was a white woman living in one of the richest cities in the world. I was political. I was a thinking person but how could I really connect with what was going on?

It took a book to make me really feel something. It was during the year of my teacher training course that I picked up Donald Woods’ book on STEVE BIKO. He was an activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1977 he was arrested by the South African police. He was beaten and tortured by them.
During this abuse he was transported from one police station to another in the back of a van. His injured body was thrown in and he was left to lie there uncared for many hours while the van travelled from place to place lurching over the uneven roads. I remember, all those years ago, reading these passages and feeling slightly sick. This is what this system came down to. The headlines were about the injustice of apartheid as a system. The reality was a tortured man rolling about in the back of van while the police decided what to do with him.

There was a hint of fiction about this description. I don’t mean that it was made up. I mean that the writer had used the tools of fiction to heighten this experience. He had included the small details of being in the back of the van, going over the bumpy roads to put the picture in the reader’s mind. Biko had endured the cruellest abuse from these police officers and then on top of that there was this huge journey to suffer.

He died six days later.

Steve Biko is buried in King William Town in the Eastern Cape Province and is remembered by South Africans. Because of that book, written by Donald Woods, he is also remembered by me.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Never Say Never - The Story of a Sequel: by Anne Cassidy

This time ten years ago I was probably reading through the proofs of my book LOOKING FOR JJ, which was to be published in the following January (2004). This was my seventeenth novel and truthfully speaking I hadn’t made much of a splash before then. LOOKING FOR JJ was to change that. It found a wide audience and won prizes and sold lots and was made into a play. I list these things lightly but it was the most fantastic experience. To have one’s work taken seriously and yet to find it had a mainstream appeal. Things couldn’t have been better. The result of this meant that I was able to write the kind of books I liked, crime fiction for teenagers.

Many people at the time asked me if I would write a sequel and I said an uncompromising NO. It was a book that people liked, I thought, why spoil it by doing a follow up that people would probably say wasn’t as good as the first one? Why do that?

Years passed and still, whenever I went to schools or met people at events, their first comment or question was about LOOKING FOR JJ. It was wonderful for a book to be still read and enjoyed even though it had been published so long ago.

Some years ago I began writing a four book series called THE MURDER NOTEBOOKS. This was a long project, a real joy for a writer. A crime story that unfolds slowly (too slowly for some) over four books. A series that raises the question, in a number of ways, 'Can murder ever be justified?' After I’d finished this I felt pretty wrung out and looked for a comfortable place to rest for a while.

I began to think again about LOOKING FOR JJ. I’d just read The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier and the sequel, written TEN years later, Beyond the Chocolate War. I’d been blown away by these books (how was it that I had never read them?). I also noted that Robert Cormier had allowed a ten year break between the two books. Ten years is enough time to stand back from the thrill, the feeling of invincibility that came about with the success of the first book. Ten years is enough time to feel humble again, uncertain. Can I do this? Can I take this character and write about her again?

Other things happened. A high profile case of a child who had killed another child had broken down and the offender had been returned to prison. It made me start thinking about Kate Rickman, the new name that Jennifer Jones had taken at the end of LOOKING FOR JJ. She was at Exeter University. Would her life be smooth? Or would she be destined to fail whatever she did? The new book is called FINDING JENNIFER JONES and is published next February by HOTKEY.

And many thanks to SCHOLASTIC, the original publishers, for giving me a lovely new cover to celebrate ten years since original publication.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An Awfully Big Beginning

When Anne Cassidy proposed to a few of her fellow Scattered Authors' Society members the idea of a communal blog, I wonder if she imagined it would still be going strong five years later? Here's Anne's first post - and the first ever post on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure -  from July 10th 2008:

My Dream Library, by Anne Cassidy

At noon, we'll look back at our first birthday celebrations - but watch out for more contributions from the team in the meantime. And scroll down on our Home page to see all today's posts!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Our first ever post, by Anne Cassidy

Without Anne Cassidy, there would be no Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Recognising the tension between the following facts:
  • publishers think writers should blog
  • blogs should be updated frequently
  • writers are often too busy writing books to blog frequently
Anne decided that the ideal solution was to get lots of authors to take turns updating a single blog. She gathered a group of 15 writers for children and young adults - all of us members of the Scattered Authors' Society - and An Awfully Big Blog Adventure was born.

So when we launched, on 10th July 2008, it obviously fell to Anne to kick the whole thing off, which she did with this understated little musing on the ideal library:

Please click the link to view the blog. It'll open in a new window. If you'd like to leave a comment, please leave it here - if you leave it below the original post, we may never see it!

Do enjoy reading our very first post. The next Birthday Blogpost will be here at 9.00am!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog - Anne Cassidy

Two years ago I saw an article in the Bookseller which argued that writers did not make enough use of blogs in order to promote their books.

I, myself, had previously tried a blog attached to my website. At first I thought I’d blog a couple of times a week. Pithy articles and insights into the life of a writer. How hard could it be? Thirty minutes each time. An hour a week. What kind of commitment was that? None at all.

I did try. And it wasn’t that I didn’t have good ideas for blogs.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Transient Readers Anne Cassidy

No, don’t panic. This isn’t a new kind of E Reader.

It’s a term I’m using to discuss the teenagers who I write for. I’ve been writing teenage fiction for over twenty years. The teenagers who read my first book BIG GIRLS’ SHOES (were there any?) are now in their early thirties. The teenagers who will read my new book HEART BURN, will, in three or four years time, leave Young Adult Fiction behind and drift towards adult books.

In other words, every four or five years I loose my readers to adult fiction. I’m constantly having to win new readers over to my books.

My most well known book LOOKING FOR JJ was read by many teenagers. Now though, when I visit schools and talk to year seven or eight (or even nine) I cannot assume that they are aware of this book or any other of my books. My reputation as a writer of teen fiction has faded as every one of my readers move into year ten/eleven/sixth form.

“Anne Cassidy? Who’s she?” So says some sweet little year seven.

I have to START AGAIN and persuade them that my books are worth a try.

This doesn’t happen in the world of adult fiction. I love many writers and will read everything they write over a lifetime. The fact that Anne Tyler is twenty years older than when I first read her doesn’t matter to me. Once a writer had made his or her way onto my ‘favourites’ list they will always be there.

I won’t grow out of them.

Unlike my readers, who will shrug off my books like a pair of sparkly jeans that belong to their younger selves.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Previously On... Anne Cassidy

As an avid watcher of TV I am used to hearing the words ‘Previously On…’

Watching series like ER or LA Law or The West Wing there is always a few moments at the beginning of each programme showing glimpses of past story lines which are important for the present episode. It’s quick and efficient. Little nudges to the viewer which will enrich the episode they are about to watch.

If only it were as easy as that for the novelist. When writing a series of novels it’s important to fill the reader in on what happened in previous books. One cannot simply assume that the reader has read the previous book and has all the info filed in their mind waiting for your next volume.

So you have to give the back story.

I am currently writing book two of a four book series THE MURDER NOTEBOOKS. I have to allow for the casual reader who will pick this book up WITHOUT having the read the first in the series.

It’s tricky. I don’t want to weigh the story of book two down with reminders of book one. The information has to be woven into the text in a non obvious way. How nice it would be to have a conversation between two characters at the beginning where one tells the other what happened in the last book.

“So, the murderer dressed up to look like a woman? And he escaped, saying, I’ll get you next time! How awful for you. Aren’t you afraid he will find you again?”
“And don’t forget that he took the map and my mobile phone!”
“Never mind. At least you’ve escaped from your dreadful parents.”

AND it’s not that different for a stand alone book.

My new book HEART BURN starts in the days before Christmas. An old boyfriend of Ashley’s is beaten up and left for dead. He calls for her and asks her to do him a favour. She owes him this because of things that happened a year before.

So in HEART BURN I have to weave in the back story of what happened between Tyler and Ashley one year before. It means flashbacks, memories and people dropping hints in conversations about that time. It has to be lightly done but fill in the background of a story that wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

Sigh! It would be easier to have ‘Previously On……’ No, I am only kidding.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Title Fight Anne Cassidy

I have a new book coming out in February called Heart Burn. It’s a story about a girl called Ashley who owes a favour to a boy called Tyler. She once had a relationship with this boy and she still has strong feelings for him. When she hears that he’s been beaten up and left for dead she is deeply shocked. Tyler asks her to go and see him in the hospital and then he asks for her help.

When I first thought of this story I had a working title in my head YOU OWE ME. I wrote a lot of the book calling it this. Then one day I didn’t like it. The story is told in the first person and it seemed better if the title contained the words of the girl. So I decided it had to be I OWE YOU.

I did a few school visits round this time and students often ask “What are you working on now?” I tried to explain the story to them and as soon as I said the title I OWE YOU an image of I O U came into my head. So the story ceased to be about a favour owed and became a kind of cash transaction. I spent a lot of time clarifying to the students what the title meant.

It wasn’t working so I threw it out.

When I looked at the story it was about a favour owed but that favour was only important because Ashley LOVED Tyler, had never gotten over him.
So the title HEART BURN seemed to fit.

I showed it to my husband and his response was “Indigestion?”

I ignored him. What does he know about teen fiction?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Ban the Book! Anne Cassidy

Sometimes I wonder if writers of children’s books would be better off if fiction books were banned from school (except for Mice and Men of course – no school could make it from day to day without this novel).

Stories for young adults, such as the kind I write, could be banned from the school building, much as mobile phones are.

I fantasize about this. Imagine the scene. Young people, on buses, going to school, pouring over pages in their books because once in school they have to keep them hidden. In school assembly one student nudges another and slowly draws out the cover of a paperback book from their bag. The other gasps with delight, looking round to make sure no one else sees.

In registration there may be a reminder of school rules banning books and students would roll their eyes and huff and sigh at the stupidity of it. While in IT they’ll be given a lesson on web safety – how to avoid stumbling on literary web sites, book blogs, on line book shops.

JUST SAY NO TO BOOKS! the teacher might say.

Meanwhile, in corners all round the school, people would be handing over paperback books in exchange for less prized items; cigarettes, highlighter pens, lipsticks, footballs, bags of chips and cans of fizzy drink.

Someone would get caught and made an example in front of the class. The book would be held aloft and the teacher would flick through its pages roughly with a sneer. This is FORBIDDEN she would say and CONFISCATED.

The child would blanch. There would be no story to block out the long journey home or the boring lessons or the rote learning of tables. There would be no story to balance the chaos of the day or the silence of an empty house or the homework that he or she just cannot do. There would be no story to explain about good and evil and love and friendship and heartache and heroism

But the Demon Head teacher would be happy because now she wouldn’t have to pay for a school library. Ban the book I say!