Ac´cent on Cassandra Gold

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This week, my accent is on  CASSANDRA GOLD, versatile author of gay literature. Let’s get personal.

…What ten words do you think best describe you personally? 

Perfectionist, reader, writer, teacher, insomniac, outgoing, high-strung, talkative, creative, careful

…Using those few words as a theme or intro, give us an overview of your life—where you come from, where you grew up, your schooling, a few places you’ve worked—whatever paragraph you feel best encapsulates you as an individual.

I grew up in a small, rural town in Missouri. From a young age I loved words. I was the kid who had the biggest stack of books at the library, and the one who wanted to help the librarian. In elementary school I discovered the love of writing. I decided early on that I wanted to be both a writer and a teacher.  Initially, I wanted to write stories about horses. Later, it was horror.

I hated the first romance novel I read, but fortunately in college I gave the genre another chance. Still, I concentrated more on preparation for my teaching career than on writing. I was able to find a way to work reading, writing, and teaching into my life by getting my degree in English, followed by my Master’s in education.

After college, I got a job teaching middle school. I really enjoyed my job, but in the back of my mind I always wanted to write as well.  In 2006, I stumbled onto a Halloween-themed writing contest, for which a contract was the prize. I’d been reading gay romance for over a year and I really wanted to try writing one, but I never had any reason to think I could do it. The contest gave me motivation. On a whim, I started a story I jokingly titled “Bat-boy and the Wolfman.” I was one of the contest winners. My book was published that October, and I’ve never looked back. My first couple of publishers have since closed, making me a lot more cautious who I send work to, but I’ll always be grateful to that first publisher for giving me a chance.

…Give us a quick look at your homoerotica novel or novels. If you have several, how about presenting them in chronological order with a sentence or two that best describes them?

I have quite a few books, so I’ll focus on just six.

ClaysChallengeClay’s Challenge: Clay is tired of being judged for his “fem” appearance, so he signs up for a wilderness survival retreat to prove he is capable of just as much as anybody else. He ends up partnered with sexy but surly Trent Raines, who seems to dislike everyone rather than just him. As Clay and Trent struggle through the retreat together, they might learn about more than just wilderness survival.

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/ClaysChallenge.html

Institute_Healer

Healer (The Institute, Book 1): Dr. Tristan Matheson has spent years hiding his special healing abilities. Unfortunately, someone’s discovered his secret. His only chance of escape is a mysterious man known as Chameleon, and the organization he works for.

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/Institute_Healer.html

Sex and the Single Zombie: As one of the Arisen, Peter hates the way guys won’t give him a chance. He resorts to lying about his life-impaired status on a dating website, with surprising results.

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/SexSingleZombie.html

GoingDown

Going Down: A tattoo artist wants to fight for the love of his lawyer partner, who’s grown distant in the past few months, but feels like he’s too late. Then they get stuck in an elevator together. Will they make up, or break up?

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/GoingDown.html

Trust: A man who prizes his control has to learn to let go in order to win back the man he loved and lost. This is a light BDSM-themed book, my only BDSM book to date.

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/Trust.html

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Always a Groomsman: Skyler goes to his brother’s wedding expecting to meet his sister-in-law to be’s twin sister, and finds out she has a twin brother—a very attractive brother he’s met before.

http://www.loose-id.com/always-a-groomsman.html

…Would you describe yourself first as a writer of gay themes/characters; or first as a writer, period, without limiting yourself to any sub-genre?

I’m a writer of gay romance. I’ve never written anything else for publication, and so far I haven’t really wanted to. I don’t rule other genres out completely, though. Someday I might write the horror novel I wanted to write when I was in junior high and high school.

…What is your opinion of exploring the angst of the gay lifestyle in your writing? Or do you write about characters who happen to be gay and whose sexual preference is not their most defining characteristic or even an important part of the story? Maybe some of both?

I write some of both, but mostly I write about characters whose sexuality isn’t the main focus. In my paranormals, especially, being gay isn’t the primary conflict the characters face—or, in some cases, even a conflict at all.

I do have two books in which being gay is one of the big conflicts for one of the main characters.  In Clay’s Challenge, Clay is a “fem” gay man constantly rejected by both homophobes and other gay men who see him as too girly. In The Cost of Secrets, one of the main characters, Dan, is a police officer. He’s afraid to come out because of his job.

…What excites you most as a writer ?

It’s probably kind of strange to say this as an erotic romance author, but writing sex scenes is one of my least favorite parts of writing. I enjoy delving into my characters, and creating people who are real, who have flaws and don’t always know the right thing to do. I like exploring what happens when different personalities come into contact with each other. More recently, I’ve begun to enjoy the worldbuilding that comes with writing paranormals. My paranormal books are set in what is recognizably the real world, yet each story or series has certain details that show the world is a bit different from the one you and I deal with every day.

…By the same token, what turns you off? What are the nuts-and-bolts part of writing that you’d rather skip, but that have to be confronted and conquered?

Edits aren’t my favorite thing, to be sure, but I know they’re necessary. I think my biggest writing obstacle is my attention span. I love to start things, but finishing them is difficult sometimes. I tend to work obsessively for short periods, and then get stuck for long periods. It’s frustrating, and I have to power through my incidents of writer’s block and intermittent motivation.

…Tell us why you write works of homoerotica. Just to tell a story, where the characters just happen to be gay? Or do you have an overarching purpose, perhaps a social or moral sensitivity to the subject?

I think I write gay romance for a lot of reasons. I’m very conscious of the fact that LGBT people worldwide don’t have the same rights as straight people do, and that bothers me. On the other hand, I write romances, not political treatises. In my writing, I mainly try to create entertaining and sweet stories that readers will enjoy. If they come away from my books understanding that gay people are just like everyone else, then even better. 

…Now flesh out your ideal readers. Who do you wish you could reach out and speak to, call your fans, help you spread the word about your books? And how have you tried to do that (if at all)?

My ideal reader would be a person who loves reading, enjoys a good story, and has an open mind. I’ve tried to reach out to readers using blogging, Facebook, online chats, and even an in-person signing (which was quite an experience!). I’ve always heard that the best promotion is to write another book, however, so that’s what I concentrate on more than promotion.

…Describe your proudest moment or crowning achievement.

Wow, what a tough question! Being published for the first time was a huge achievement, and one I was very proud of, but I don’t think it’s my crowning achievement. I think submitting to larger, more established e-publishers and being accepted has been my greatest achievement so far. I was invited to submit to Amber Quill Press, which was a huge deal for me. More recently, I had my first acceptance at Loose Id. While I felt like an author when I was at smaller publishers, working with these older publishers made me feel like I was really growing as a writer, if that makes any sense.

… Please ask a question you’ve always wanted someone to ask you . . . and then answer it.

I’ve never been asked if the names of my characters are significant.

The answer is that yes, they often are. Sometimes they’re just names I like, but I often spend a lot of time researching names. I’ll look at the Social Security Administration site for popular baby names for the decade the character was born in, or I’ll spend time looking at name sites to find origins and meanings of names. This is especially true in my Outcasts series from Cobblestone Press. Many of the characters have names I chose based on their origin and meanings, both of which tell something important about the character.

…Present around 200 words from any one of your works, an excerpt that you think shows some of your best writing. Feel free to add a short intro, up to 50 words.

Clay’s Challenge features Clay, a gay man who’s been told over and over that his appearance is too feminine. He doesn’t feel he fits in with straights or other gay men. He overcompensates with a flirty, wild persona and one-night hookups, both of which leave him feeling lonely and empty.

ClaysChallenge

It’s not you, it’s me.

After you heard that old line enough times, it became pretty obvious that the problem was you. As of last night, Clay Pennington had officially reached that point. He twirled his empty margarita glass between his fingers, humiliation burning through him as he remembered the night before.

“Are you going to tell us what happened?”

Clay glanced up from the table to meet his older brother’s concerned gaze. He gave Rex a weak smile. “My date last night didn’t go well, that’s all. I’ll get over it.”

His sister-in-law, Ellie, put a hand on his arm. “Oh no. His emails seemed so sweet. What went wrong?”

A better question might be what hadn’t gone wrong. Clay swallowed hard. “I wasn’t what he expected. He didn’t take it too well.”

Indignant on his behalf, Ellie scowled. “You weren’t what he was expecting? How so? Was he mean to you?”

Clay put his head in his hands, desperate to hide his shame. He had been so sure his latest plan to find Mr. Right would work. He should have known better. Nothing he tried ever worked. Maybe he was meant to be alone. After last night, that wasn’t hard to believe.

My own favorite word, beyond a doubt, is an f-word. First,

…What is your favorite f-word?

Fierce 

…And what is your quick, gut reaction to these f-words?

Forbidden: Why?

Frustration: Writer’s block

Fornicate: Historical (lol!)

Fractal: Math?

Fake: Barbie (My second thought was “boobs.” Yikes!)

Flip-flop: Comfy

Freak: The Mighty (young adult book…I showed my teacher roots there!)

...Let’s end with a little bit of fun. Write one word to one sentence giving your reaction to the following:

There is no such thing as failure.

Of course there is…how else could there be hilarious sites like Failblog?  (But seriously, sometimes failure is the best teacher, in my opinion.)

…Now sell a book. Give us a reason to buy it. Present an excerpt (hot or not, your choice).

From The Cost of Secrets

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For several minutes after he left the convenience store, Dan sat in his car, furious with himself. Seeing Isaac was the last thing he’d expected, but that was no excuse for being an idiot. He’d acted like an antisocial freak. After Isaac had gone out of his way to get him talking, to be nice to him, he felt worse. On top of that, he’d run out of the store without getting himself something to drink.

“God, I’m such a mess,” he groaned aloud.

He’d made a total fool of himself. But what else was new? He sat up straighter, struck by a sudden, surprising thought. What if, instead of running off and hiding at home, he gave himself a do-over? Sure, Isaac would still remember that he’d acted like an idiot, but going home with his tail between his legs wasn’t going to help. What he really wanted was to talk to Isaac again and get something to drink. He could do both of those things right now. Going back into the store might be a little embarrassing, given the way he’d lit out of there earlier, but it couldn’t be any more embarrassing than how he’d already acted.

He would get himself some chocolate milk, his go-to comfort beverage, and while he was at it, he’d talk to Isaac again. Maybe he’d manage to say something funny or flirt a little. After all, he was an okay-looking guy who had a steady job, and Isaac seemed to like him well enough to chat with at least. It was time he took a chance instead of being scared all the time.

“I can do this. What’s the worst that could happen?” Mustering up all his courage, he put the cinnamon roll on the passenger seat and slid out of the car.

He spent the short walk mentally rehearsing how he would greet Isaac. Engrossed in his thoughts, he didn’t notice anything was wrong for a second after he entered the store. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted movement. His attention snapped to a disheveled man whirling toward him. A gleaming gun barrel pointed straight at Dan. He froze where he stood, the door smacking his back when he didn’t get out of the way.

“Don’t move! Don’t anybody fucking move!” the man screamed, his eyes wide and panicked.

All thoughts flew out of Dan’s mind except for how to neutralize the gunman and protect the civilians. In an instant he took in the situation. The guy with the gun appeared agitated, strung out. He must be on something. Isaac stood behind the counter, white-faced except for a large dark mark on one cheekbone. The fucker had hit him. Dan clenched his teeth against a rush of anger. Getting mad wouldn’t help. He had to stay focused.

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My website: www.cassandragold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cassandra.gold.author

Flirty Author Bitches: http://www.flirtyauthorbitches.com/

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7 Responses to “Ac´cent on Cassandra Gold”

  1. A splendid introduction for a new-to-me author (and that won’t last long as I add to the TBR list).

  2. This was a wonderful article, a terrific glimpse into someone who will be yet another great author that gets added to my TBR list! An awesome interview, with sassy answers and great excerpts! Thank you both for the read!

  3. Very intriguing interview, and another author to add to my reading list! Thanks Erin and Cassandra 😉

  4. Oh, some more books to add to the TBR pile, it doesn’t seem to dwindle any, LOL!

  5. Nice interview! I really like the sound of Clay’s Challenge–think I’ll go add it to my TBR list now! 🙂

    ~Charley

  6. Thanks to everyone who stopped by! I’m glad to hear my books are going on some TBR lists (although if your lists are anything like mine, they’re looooooong indeed, lol)

  7. Thanks, Cass, for being brave enough to be my guest. This post wil stay up for a while, so readers may feel free to comment. I promise to moderate as best I can. Best of success in your writing career. 😀

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