Tell us a little bit about yourself.
First off, thank you for talking the time to speak with me and offering me a guest interview on your blog. I truly appreciate your time.
I grew up as the youngest of five siblings in Salt Lake City, Utah. I now live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I moved here about four and half years ago following the closure of the company I worked for as I was in need of a day job. Although I miss my family and friends, it was a much needed growing experience that proved to me that I can succeed at anything I put my mind to if I just take that risk. Having found this new faith in myself, I swept the dust off of some old manuscripts in the hopes of pursing my true passion—writing.
As for my personal life, I’m a single mom. I have a fourteen year old daughter with a great sense of humor who has been extremely supportive with my desire to become successful with my writing. Together, we have two dogs, a Siberian husky and a dachshund, and a grouchy, but lovable, cat.
What made you want to become a writer?
Istarted writing after I’d read V.C. Andrews book, “Flowers in the Attic”, when I was about fourteen years old. It was probably the first book that I read cover to cover three times in a row. After I read it the first time, the journal I used to keep stopped being about my life and, instead, became a collection of short stories. From then on, whenever I found the time I would find myself constantly curled up with a spiral bound notebook free-forming my ideas.
What authors have influenced your writing style?
There are so many talented authors who have influenced my writing, but if I had to narrow it down I’d say Stephen King. His Dark Tower series had me hooked. Although, to be fair, this had as much to do with the narration of the books on tape by the late, great Frank Muller as King, himself. Sometimes when I write I imagine how Muller would have given life to the voices of some of my characters. The man was a genius at narration.
Tell us what you're working on right now and what we might see from you in the near future.
Ashes to Ashes, which is the book I’m featuring here today, is the second in a series entitled The Scribing of Ishitar. At this point in the series, a great war has occurred, followed by a second revolution, and the characters of the novel are left to deal with the fallout of both. Ishitar, the protagonist of the series, is the son of the King and, now exiled, Queen of the Gods. The Queen is trying to reclaim her throne, but Ishitar has plans of his own regarding who should wear his mother’s crown. The end of Ashes to Ashes leads into the third book, which is what I’m working on now, where Ishitar is wrought with guilt because he has made a terrible, gut-wrenching miscalculation as to the extent of his true powers. The plan for book three is that this will be the point in the series where Ishitar truly transforms from a spoiled prince into a man, but this story seems to have taken on a life of its own so we will just have to wait and see.
What was your inspiration behind your latest work?
Although I was born in Salt Lake City, I wasn’t raised within an organized religion and so had the opportunity to explore various faiths. I noticed a theme between all of the religions. Even if the story was different, the message was always the same. Then in Junior High School I had a teacher who introduced me to Mythology and, once again, I connected the dots and found that even the old stories related to those of practicing faiths in these days and times. From that day forward I began compiling and comparing and, thus, The Scribing of Ishitar was born.
Did you self publish your book or was it professionally published? What was that experience like?
I did self publish both of my books. It’s been a very interesting and educational experience for me because, honestly, I never thought these books would see the light of day. Then I found another author that found out I was in the process of revising my novels who gave me further encouragement to proceed. At that point I started researching agents and publishers but found a print on demand site that made self publishing something that is fairly inexpensive to do. After the publication date was the hard part. Now that it’s out there, what do I do? Luckily there is a great community of self published authors willing and ready with excellent advice so that by the time Ashes to Ashes was published I was able to form a prepublication plan and haven’t floundered quite so much.
If your latest work was made into a movie, who do you see playing the lead character and why?
You know, I’ve actually discussed this very topic with several of my readers. I’ve read so many books that became movies and the actor looked nothing like what I pictured that I walked away from the film disappointed. One of my readers came up with two suggestions, however, that were spot on.
I have two main characters. One is Azrael, who is the Archangel of Death and the narrator of the first two books. The other is, of course, Ishitar.
For Azrael, it came down to Nathan Stewart-Jarret. He was chosen because Azrael is a wise character who is full of knowing and an illimitable supply of love. Nathan Stewart-Jarret has an extremely expressive face which can convey the idea of someone who sees something terrible happen but has no choice, no matter how deep the desire, but to sit back and watch events unfold before him.
Ishitar was a bit easier. In the first book he is extremely young and learning the ways of the world. In both books, he believes that he is far wiser than he truly is. He is still so young compared to the people that surround him that any actor who plays him would need to be able to convey all of the emotions of someone who is coming into age too fast for their own good. That being said, Robert Sheehan seems to be the actor to play the part!
If you're stuck on an island, what three books do you have to have with you?
Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien and any one of Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels.
Can you give some lessons learned for the aspiring writers out there?
Beta readers are the key to a successful book. Find them and mull over any advice that they give you before discounting it. My beta readers turned both of my books from something that was merely good writing into a something that is so much more.
Please let us know where we can find you online.
Visit my website at http://cassandjayde.wix.com/carriefshepherd-1 or like me on my Facebook Page, The Scribing of Ishitar.