Tell us about the Cassidy Jones adventure novels.
Cassidy Jones is an ordinary girl who finds herself in an extraordinary situation. She wakes up the morning after a minor accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist, Professor Serena Phillips, to discover that her senses, strength, and speed have been radically enhanced. Each book presents a new adventure and ongoing storylines that involve the mysterious Phillips family and school drama.
What genre are they?
Young Adult, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction, Action-Adventure, Mystery…It’s hard to confine Cassidy Jones to one genre. Content is appropriate for young readers, but the series has proven to have great crossover appeal.
How have you managed to write books for kids that adults really love? What’s the secret?
Oh, that’s very nice. Thank you. I’m not really sure. I have a wild imagination, so there’s no end to the bizarre situations Cassidy finds herself in. I also place her in situations that are familiar, especially in school and with her peers. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, Cassidy’s emotions, feelings, and reactions will be relatable and resonate. I was and still am a lot like her. Maybe that’s why she rings true to so many? I’m also very conscious about moving the story along, not veering the reader off track, and keeping my “plot thread” passing through each storyline to the “reveal.”
Complete this sentence for us: If you like ___________, you’ll love the Cassidy Jones novels.
Maximum Ride by James Patterson.
What can you tell us about book 3 in the series? There will be a third book, right?
Yes, there will be a Book Three, very soon. If all goes to plan, Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant will be released in May. I launched a crowd fundraiser via Indiegogo (igg.me/at/CJSA3) on February 9, 2013 to cover editing and publishing costs. Any support would be greatly appreciated. Here’s the blurb for Book Three:
Some secrets are better left buried…
When the mysterious Gavin Phillips returns to Seattle after a prolonged and unexplained absence, he threatens to expose fifteen-year-old Cassidy Jones’s incredible secret: she is a superhero. But his presence is far more sinister than she realizes, for it soon becomes apparent that his hidden agenda holds a dark and dangerous intent that will unleash an unparalleled evil upon an unsuspecting world.
Can Cassidy stop him before all is lost?
Is Cassidy going to age as the series progresses? She won’t be a bitter, chainsmoking divorcee by book 20, will she?
Yes and, by all means, no. It’s funny. An agent with a prestigious literary agency enjoyed the first book but felt teenage girls wouldn’t relate to Cassidy or like Serena Phillips’ son, Emery. At that point, over a dozen girls had beta read Book One. Their feedback: Cassidy seemed “real,” was fun and likeable, and Emery was a boy they’d like to date. They also talked quite a bit about Cassidy’s tight-knit family, which frankly surprised me. I hadn’t expected teenagers to zero in on her family, let alone appreciate their healthy relationships. Their response and the response of readers since then shows that the agent had been wrong; A teenage superhero who is a good kid, has a solid family, loyal friends, and is attracted to kind and noble boys has market appeal. Those qualities will continue throughout the series.
Talking about superpowers, if you could have any superpower, which would you want?
Space-time manipulation, like Hiro from Heroes.
You have said that you want your books to help young teens value individualism, integrity and intelligence. Teenagers rebel when they feel they are being preached to; so how do you get your message across without seeming to ram it down their throats?
Far be it from me to preach. I model these characteristics in the behaviour of my main characters and contrast them with familiar yet less than admirable traits in minor characters or villains. Readers are smart. They glean “the message” on their own.
What was your favourite book when you were a teenager?
East Of Eden by John Steinbeck. When I was a tween, the Trixie Belden mystery series, which actually sparked my interest in writing.
Your books are rather popular; what are your marketing secrets?
Thanks you for that, and I’m grateful readers have taken to Cassidy. I don’t know if I have any marketing secrets per se other than take time to read your Twitter feed and interact. Twitter is essentially how I promote my series. I don’t blog or do paid advertising. Listing a newly released book in Goodreads giveaways is also a great way to drive awareness, as is doing events and promoting with other authors. There is definitely power in numbers.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’ve been married for over twenty years. My husband and I have four children between the ages of 9 and 18. I’m a former elementary school teacher and a big fan of The Walking Dead, though I do watch most of it peeking over a blanket.
How can we keep up with you on the internet?