A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, November 7, 2013


  I am so excited to have Christine Amsden with us today to talk about her series: CASSIE SCOT: PARANORMAL DETECTIVE, and to answer a few questions about herself.
Welcome Christine!
First of all, I have to bring up your diagnosis at age 16 of Stargardt’s disease. Do you use any special tools to read and write?
I am drafting this interview response right now in 36-point font. (Don't worry, I'll highlight everything and reduce it to 12-point when I'm done!) The computer era really helps me, because I can make almost everything as big as I like – e-mails, articles, blog posts, etc. Reading books offers a bigger challenge. I cannot read normal printed text. With magnifiers and a Herculean effort, I can make out some of it, but mostly I don't try. I listen to audiobooks, and have enjoyed reading this way for over a decade. I have a Nook and can manage it on the largest font setting, but at the end of the day it's an eye strain. Keep in mind that I don't just write – I edit! Yes, I'm a blind editor. But actually, I'm quite good. Again, I use 36-point font and I sometimes think other editors would benefit from increasing font size as well. Oh, not so much! But even before my vision went bad I used to increase the font of my documents to 14 or 16-point to do my last-round edits.
What are your favorite genre’s to read?
I like to read anything with a strong character. It's not a genre, but I'm flailing when it comes to genre lately. I've been reading a lot of romance because I enjoy reading about human relationships above all else, and it's hard to find that with any consistency in other genres. But romance doesn't always have great characters either, and the stories are often shallow. I grew up on science fiction and fantasy and still enjoy those genres, but I'm picky.
What are you reading now?
Nothing. I am reading absolutely nothing, and it is everything I hoped it could be. Okay, you have to understand that for the past four or five years, I've been reading 4+ books a week! (Listening while I do other things.) Kind of in line with the answer to my last question, I'm flailing right now. I've burned out and have decided to spend a few months not reading at all. I did this with writing once – lasted two whole months (then Cassie popped into my head and I had to write her). Now I'm trying it with reading. I think sometimes it's easy to overdo and need a break. In the meantime, I'm rewatching The Big Bang Theory.
Cassie is a young woman is search of her identity. She falls somewhere between the paranormal in the normal. While she wants her parents to be proud of her, she still feels like she needs to feel loved for who she is. Do you think all of us feel that way from time to time? Did you draw from your own experiences when developing Cassie’s character.
I do think we all feel that way, and it was one way in which I hoped readers would identify with Cassie. One of my challenges over the past decade has been coming to terms with my choice not to have a "traditional" career. My husband offered to let me stay home and write when we got married, but this is not a fiscally responsible career path. It would be Bohemian if I didn't have the financial support of my husband. But I've never wanted to do anything else, not really. I changed majors so often in college that I ended up getting two degrees – I just had so many credit hours and so many classes that it was silly not to get both. And like Cassie, I think a part of me knew who I was and what I wanted, but there were expectations. You're supposed to get a 9-5 job where you draw a stable salary.
The 20's are when people make these kind of self-discoveries, I think, which is why I made Cassie that age. The 30's, I've recently begun to understand, are a time for something else, something harder to define. Now that I'm 36, I may have to explore that in my next book. :)
Cassie suffers because she is different from her family. Do you think our parents are responsible for establishing our self esteem and are Cassie’s family in the wrong for making her feel like an outcast?
Parents have a lot to do with self-esteem. Not everything, but a lot. And Cassie's parents... well, they've made mistakes. I'd love to say more about those mistakes, but I'd be spoiling book two for you. Suffice to say that you're going to learn a lot more about Cassie's mom, in particular, in Secrets and Lies. And what you learn doesn't excuse her, but I did hope to show that she's only human. A human with self-esteem problems of her own.
What message do you hope your readers will receive when they read this book?
I buried a lot of themes into this series, most of which are only just getting started in book one. At this point, I hope they enjoy it, and I hope they love Cassie. I also hope they feel like normal people can be heroes, too – that you don't have to be chosen or be some kind of superman. That in our own ways, each and every one of us can be a hero if we play to our strengths.
What are you working on now?
At this precise moment, I am working on Madison's Song, a spin-off sequel to the Cassie Scot series (which is complete at 4 books) involving her friend Madison. Both Madison and Kaitlin got away from me and demanded stories of their own. Kaitlin's up next, and after that, who knows? I'll worry about it when the time comes. :)
Do you see writing as a career ?
Oh yes! And now that my kids are both in school full time, it's more a career than it has been before (trying to find times during naps or quiet time to squeeze in a few stolen minutes). I spend my day writing, editing to earn money to support my writing career, or trying to engage new readers.
This book is more on the YA side than New Adult. Do you see your books developing along with your audience and maybe becoming edgier?
I'm not sure what to say about the age-target anymore. To be honest, when I wrote these, I wrote them for adults, not for teens. Or to be more precise, I wrote them for me and I'm in my 30's! I made Cassie 21 because I saw that as an age of transition, not because it was particularly young or close to high school, though it was both of those things too. I do see that there is a certain YA feel to the book. It's written simply and accessibly, with a straightforward and honest voice. It's light and fun.
But readers are torn about the age for this book, judging from reviews and comments I've read. Some already think it's more mature than advertised.
I won't argue with either opinion. If you enjoy the books, then great! But kind of in line with the fact that I wrote these for me, I do sometimes feel awkward about what's coming when I think about teens reading it.
Cassie has moved out. She's going to be dealing with living on her own, career changes, her friends' life issues, marriage, and sex. Cassie will be growing and changing, whether her readers do or not. :)
Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
"There is nothing so evil in this world as what humans can do to one another." – Edward Scot (Cassie's father)

Thanks so much for having me here today. I enjoyed "talking" to you!
Thanks so much Christine for taking the time to visit with us today!
Cassie Scot Paranormal Detective is available at Amazon.com.

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