Plot or Pants? Do you pre-plot your books, use an outline, fly by the seat of your pants or some combination of things? How do you keep track of characters in a series? Do you keep a journal of your characters’ statistics, such as hair and eye color, relatives, hometown, etc.
I am definitely a plantser, a combo of the two. I love to start with a rough idea of where I’m headed, but keeping a loose enough grip on the reins allows me to go along for the ride if the story starts moving in an interesting or unexpected direction.
For example, I had originally envisioned the Hot Wire series as a short story, maybe ten thousand words at the absolute max. It ended up being three books and about 150k words long, so definitely more than a little off-track from my original plan. But I’m so glad that I allowed myself to explore all the story that was there waiting to be told, and build this big, complex, beautiful neo-noir L.A. queer romance and a world to go with it.
That being said, keeping track of all the timelines and characters was definitely a bit of a challenge for me and required a lot of re-reading and searching through past books. Some authors post these pictures of their immaculately organized and colour-coded bullet journals with everything all laid out, but when it comes to that kind of thing, I definitely have more of a “Charlie Day in front of a conspiracy theory corkboard meme” vibe.
Do you write full time or part-time?
Part-time. My day job is in a STEM field, which is really right-brain oriented, so I love having writing as an outlet to flex the creative side of my brain sometimes. That being said, I think I would honestly crack under the pressure if it was my full time gig and I am always so impressed by the people that have the determination, motivation and sheer chutzpah to do this as their full-time career.
Which character still pops into your mind to visit from time to time?
I have been writing some proto-version of Peter Bauer, the MC in the Hot Wire series, since I was fourteen-years old. He remains the character that is the most dear and most painfully, unflatteringly semi-autobiographical to me. I don’t think he’ll be exorcised from my brain anytime soon. He’s a real ghost of Jerkass Woobies past.
Tell us about your first… published M/M fiction/romance
Are we counting X-Men fan-fiction? Because, oof, there is a lot of that from teenage Kat still floating around the internet if you know where to look lol.
Night Moves, book one of the Hot Wire series, in 2018. Once I realized the scope of the story that was taking shape in my head--an encounter over a stolen vehicle between a life-long car thief and an upstanding, on-the-level mechanic--I knew I wanted to follow one couple, and go beyond them just simply getting together.
Spoiler alert, I guess, but the first book ends in an HFN. Both characters have lost so much, made so many mistakes, and are trying to rebuild. You’re happy that they’ve found each other, you know they’re better off together than alone, but you can also absolutely already see some of the hairline fractures where friction is going to occur between them over the next two books.
I don’t really prescribe to the whole “healing power of dick” notion, especially when it comes to things like trauma, and I think it’s fascinating to see a couple work through those difficult, no-easy-answer things together. I also really love characters that go on a meaningful developmental arc and end up truly changed at the end of a story. Night Moves serves as the beginning of that arc and, while it’s maybe not as polished as the later books, I think it sets the tone of the series really beautifully.
and then your most recent one..
Breakdown, in November of 2021. It’s the conclusion of the trilogy, and I was able to give these characters--not just my MCs but also their world I had populated--the proper ending I felt they all deserved. Breakdown is tight, action-packed, and fast-paced as a neo-noir thriller, and the strength of Peter and Nik’s relationship serves as an emotional, grounding anchor to the whole book. I am so proud of it, and the series as a whole.
Something people would be surprised to know about you
I have played music on the same stage as the Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen (albeit thirty some odd years apart.) In my twenties, I was the bass guitarist and backup vocalist in a barely notable indie folk band and we were invited to play Canadian Music Week in Toronto. It was exceptionally cool to play at an historic venue that had hosted such big acts.
What are your writing goals for the next year? The future?
I have always been a huge fan of James Ellroy, who is just a phenomenal fiction writer in general, and more specifically, very well-known for his L.A. quartet, a loosely connected noir series of crime and corruption set in the 40s and 50s. It’s always been my goal to do a spin on the L.A. quartet, but contemporary and make it queer, you know? So I’ve got three more m/m romance stories that are set in my own version of L.A.’s seedy criminal underworld roughly outlined at the moment and I’m hoping to complete one a year for the next three years.
Where do you write? Do you have a routine?
I have an extremely busy toddler who is constantly trying to find new and exciting ways to murder himself if I turn my back for a second, which really puts a dent in what had previously been my daytime writing routine. Lately, I have taken to getting up about two hours before he does on my days off and just sprinting as many words as I can during that period before he wakes up.
My husband is a real night owl and always sleeps in, so it’s just me and the dog, a cup of coffee, my spotify playlist, and two lovable, fictional knuckleheads I am trying to guide to their HEA. In the summer, I sit out on my back deck, but for the rest of the year I am just hunched with terrible posture over my laptop on our living room couch.
What’s the hardest part about writing?
Finding the confidence to know when to let go. I think, at least for a pretty type-A personality like myself, it’s easy to get into a loop of never-ending edits and revisions. And to a certain point, it’s a good instinct: I want to make sure my story is as strong as it can be before I put it out into the world. I’d never just release a first draft of something. But when it stops being helpful and starts becoming an unproductive form of stasis, then it’s time to step back, really evaluate where I am, and move forward to the publishing step. You can’t revise forever.
What is your favorite thing about writing M/M romance?
The community! There are so many active groups, wonderful book-tokers, fantastic podcasts, and thoughtful review blogs out there celebrating M/M romance and it makes my heart so happy. The readers are so positive and lovely and enthusiastic and I wish I could go around and hug every single one of them. On top of that, the authors are hands-down some of the kindest people you could ever meet. They are always willing to help each other, provide advice without judgment, and boost each other up, no matter if you’re just starting out or have been publishing for a while. It’s such a positive space and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How can we connect with you?
You can almost always find me lurking around on facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/katcassubcribers/, https://www.facebook.com/kat.cassidy.7503/ twitter: https://twitter.com/Katcassidyauth1 , and instagram: http://instagram.com/katcassidyauthor posting writing snippets, inspiration pics, and memes. Come say hi!