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Author Interview: Christine Amsden

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Today, I am interviewing with Christine Amsden, author of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I think I was born a writer. I wrote my first short story when I was about 8 -- it involved Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. I've always like to write, and it has always been about strange or unusual events (science fiction or fantasy).

I got "serious" about writing in 2003, when I attended a by-audition boot camp with Orson Scott Card. Before that, becoming an author was a dream. After that, it became a goal.

I love writing about characters more than anything else. Give me a person with a problem and I'll give you a wonderful story of overcoming adversity.

It's wonderful how the writing camp turned your dream into a goal and how you made it become a reality. What inspired you to blend urban fantasy and crime together in a novel?
This is a pretty typical mix. At least, from my own reading. I was into Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series for years before I thought of Cassie. There might have been some inspiration there, although I definitely went my own way with Cassie.

The great thing about mystery/crime is that it allows each of my books to have a beginning, middle, and end (the solution to the mystery), while the bigger story arc continues (Cassie's personal character journey).

Characters make a book for me. I love how the greater story gives plenty of room for Cassie's personal journey. Describe her story within ten words.
You can call me Cassie.

Many books center on paranormal characters in normal families. What drew you to writing about a normal girl in a paranormal family and how do you feel this is important in shaping Cassie's character?
The idea clicked into my head one day and felt absolutely right. You hit on the answer in your question, I think -- lots of paranormal stories focus on paranormal characters in normal families. Lots of paranormal stories focus on "the chosen one" or someone with incredibly strength. I didn't want to write a story that has been told a thousand times before.

It was a challenge! Cassie is almost defined by her lack of magic in a magical family at first. It hurts her self-worth, though she tries to put a brave face on it. (She uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism.) But Cassie is more than she realizes. (And I don't mean that she has a secret magical talent she's somehow repressed for 21 years. I'm proud of the fact that I gave her a problem and owned it.)

Fantasy is a lot of fun. We all like to daydream about what it would be like if we had this or that magical power. How we could save the world. Cassie finds ways to help people without any magic at all. She smart, knowledgeable, brave, and compassionate.

I love how Cassie is able to help people without magic even in a magic-prominent world. It's something we can all learn from. Are there perks to being a normal girl living in a paranormal world?
I'm not sure there are perks in this case. It's a bit like being born deaf in a hearing world. Or blind in a sighted world. The best I can say for it is that since Cassie can't rely on magic, she has to rely on other things -- like her wits.

It would be a serious handicap; at the same time, it must lend to innovation since Cassie has to find other ways to work around her lack of magic. Supposing you got the chance to visit Cassie's world, who would you ask to be your guide and which places would you visit?
Cassie herself would be a great guide. She's got a good heart, and is a great friend. And even though she doesn't have the magic, she's smart enough to steer me away from any real dangers. I'd love to see her parents' castle home, and visit with her friends at the diner. I'd like to meet Evan Blackwood face to face as well.

Oh, Evan. He would be a delight to meet. If you were to write a spinoff for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, who would it be about and why?
I've already done it! Well, I have a rough draft, anyway. Cassie has two good friends that stick with her throughout the series -- Madison and Kaitlin. They were supposed to be minor characters and in Cassie's story, they are. But they kept demanding subplots until finally, I realized that each one needs a story of her own. I've written a rough draft of Madison's story already. I'm not ready for Kaitlin yet. She's a bit of a mess, to be honest. She's had a rough life and I haven't figured out how to deal with all of it yet.

It is worth noting that there are 4 books in the Cassie Scot series -- all written and all coming out in the next year or so.

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for these stories! What are you working on right now?
I'm developing a new story and a new world about people who can walk through dreams. I've got a few chapters written, but it is still very early in the process, so I don't want to say too much about it. I'm also hoping to finish Madison's spin-off story sometime this year.

Your new story sounds like a delight. I can't wait to hear more about it. Thanks for interviewing!

About the Author

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Christine Amsden is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.
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