A Conversation with Christine Amsden, author of Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective

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CassieScot_medABOUT 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.

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Q: Thank you for this interview, Christine. Can you tell us what your latest book, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, is all about?

A: Thanks for having me!

“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.”

At least, that’s the book blurb. From the heart – this is about a young woman who is clever, brave, and compassionate. She’s not the traditional fantasy heroine because she’s not the “chosen one” or the most powerful one. Just the opposite in fact. She’s everyman, but through her we see that there is more than one way to be a hero. Cassie herself will also have to learn this over the course of the series (4 books). Her journey of self-acceptance only just begins in this first book, but to me it is the most important aspect of the story.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: I think I’ve covered Cassie pretty well. (If you want more, read the book!) This is Cassie’s story, but she is surrounded by friends, family, and enemies. Cassie is the oldest of 7 children, and all of her brothers and sisters appear in the story. (Don’t worry about keeping them all straight. I’ve got your back.)

Evan Blackwood has a long history with Cassie going back to the first grade, but they’re all grown up now and seeing one another in a completely different light. Evan is among the most powerful sorcerers in town. Or let’s face it, the whole world – he’s the guy this kind of story is usually about. But his father and Cassie’s father hate one another, and according to Cassie’s dad, “You don’t know everything about him.” I can’t tell you what he means by that, but I promise a bumpy road ahead!

Finally, I also wanted to mention two of Cassie’s friends – Madison and Kaitlin – because they ended up getting away from me and are now demanding spin-offs. Their roles aren’t big in the first book in the series, but you’ll start to see what I mean when you read further.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: Yes.

I like to get inside characters’ heads and figure out what makes them tick. It’s the reason I read more than I watch TV or movies, and it’s the reason I write. I’ve never been inside anyone’s head but my own (and it’s a mess up there) so really, these characters are all in my mind. But I’m influenced by everyone I’ve ever known or read about. There is no character in my book who I can point to and say, “Hey, there’s my mom!” But my mom has influenced me from the cradle so bits of her have to be in there somewhere.

There’s a lot of me in Cassie. That’s not the same thing as saying she is me, but I let myself go when I wrote her so she’s definitely using my voice. My brother even said he had to keep reminding himself, “This is Cassie, not Christine.”

As much as Cassie sounds like me, though, I almost relate more to her shy friend, Madison. (That’s why writing Madison’s spin-off has been such a challenge!)

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: Yes. (And since I’m a passionate centrist, you’ll hear that answer a lot from me!)

I can’t start writing if I don’t know where I’m going. I tried that when I first got into the writing thing as a child/teenager and usually got stuck by the end of the first chapter. These days, I brainstorm. I don’t call it an outline because that suggests there’s some attempt to make order of the chaos. Instead, I dump the contents of my brain onto the page as quickly as I can. And then, as I write the actual story, I keep a companion file where I work out all the things I did wrong in the first place. It all looks something like this:

“Okay, so chapter two was boring and needs to be cut completely. But I still need to say that stuff somewhere. Oh, and I need another dead body. Or maybe just a different dead body. And…

NO!!! I’ve got it now. Forget what I just said. I mean really forget it.”

And on and on. I told you, it’s a mess up there in my mind!

Q: Your book is set in Eagle Rock, Missouri.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Since the real Eagle Rock had a population of about 14 the last time I went through there, I’m not sure I can call it a town let alone a city! My father used to have friends who lived there, just off of Table Rock Lake. My brother and I would get to drive their motorboat across the water and it was such a beautiful area that it stuck with me even after 20+ years.

When I conceived Cassie’s world, I decided I wanted to isolate a pocket of strong magic users inside a small town and Eagle Rock popped into my mind. Well, it was too small, but why not use the name and location to create my own alternate reality? I knew the area at least, and it’s good to write what you know.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: The setting is important, especially as the series unfolds and the reader learns that Eagle Rock is unique when it comes to just how strong its average sorcerer is. The third volume in the series explains a lot about how Eagle Rock fits into the bigger magical world, but since I don’t want to get too fat ahead of myself I’ll just say that I spent a lot of time thinking about the setting, and yes, it is important.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Cassie is at home where her parents are giving magic lessons to the younger kids. She desperately needs to talk to her parents to warn them there’s a vampire in town. Plus, she needs to get in touch with her cousin, Jason, a vampire hunter. (You should have picked page 71. Cassie’s on fire on page 71. :) )

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A:

“        Belinda’s collection of potions was extensive and many of her customers believed in the power of her brews. They were probably crap, especially those offering up money and wishes, because if she really could brew them, why would she need to sell them? Others, such as those offering weight loss or hair regrowth, might have been legitimate–I had no real way of knowing.

Then my eyes fell on a tiny vial with the word “MAGIC” on the label. I picked it up and turned it over to read the details: “Tap into magical energies you never knew were there. You’ll be able to cast spells and brew potions. Curse your neighbors and find true love. $15.95”

“Impossible,” I muttered. Surely, if such a thing could be, my parents would have fed it to me years ago.

“That stuff is crap,” Evan said.

I jumped. I had almost forgotten he was there. He stood by a bulletin board, where he had been staring at pictures of Belinda, her friends, and her family. “Belinda mostly knows how to brew love potions, and even then she keeps the strongest ones to herself…the ones that truly ensnare the mind and heart.”

I replaced the vial of MAGIC, with just a tiny twinge of regret, and moved on to Belinda’s love potions. She had one full shelf dedicated to love, decorated with pink hearts and red roses. A lot of these potions were in the form of perfumes, creams, shampoos, and most especially–chocolates. The bottom third of the shelf was dedicated to boxes of chocolate candy in different flavors and potencies.

While a strong love potion will ensnare the mind and the heart, most of the weaker love potions are what you might call suggestive magic. They could cause you to feel affection, adoration, or arousal, but they typically left the higher brain functions intact.

At random, I picked up a bottle of perfume from the top shelf and read: “Induces powerful lust. Spray on your intended and make sure you are the first person they see. Lasts about an hour.”

The thing you have to understand about any magic is that there are good ways to use it, and bad ways to use it. The concept of black magic is a hotly debated topic among sorcerers. Even death, in self defense, is a shade of gray. As I stood there, reading the functions of the various love potions, I thought of all the innocent and harmful ways they could be used. A couple in a committed relationship might have a lot of fun with a spray of lust. On the other hand, using it on an unwilling victim…

I shuddered as I replaced the bottle and accidentally knocked one of the neighboring bottles of perfume to the ground. It shattered, splashing perfume all over my open-toed sandals.

“Crap.”

“What happened?” Evan asked, his voice hard and alert. I could hear him moving closer.

“Stop! I don’t want to see you right now.”

“Which potion was that?” Evan asked, still in that hard-edged voice of command.

I pointed to the row of similar bottles on the top shelf. “Lust.”

One of the little bottles floated away from the shelf, but I did not turn around to see what Evan was doing with it. Instead, I started looking through my purse for a pack of tissues to clean the mess off my feet.

“Cassie, I have some bad news for you.”

“Worse, you mean?”

“This potion doesn’t take affect until you actually look at someone. Your hour starts then.”

“Crap. I don’t suppose there’s an antidote?”

“Sure,, but it will take me about three days to brew, once the moon is full.”

“Okay.” I considered my options as I wiped the mess off my foot and started gathering the tiny shards of glass. “Well, I guess I could-” I stopped, I had nothing to put at the end of that sentence. I kind of hoped Evan would have a suggestion, but to my surprise, he started laughing at me. “This isn’t funny.”

“Come on, it is a little funny.”

Maybe it would be funny in a few days, if I didn’t die of embarrassment first. “I suppose I could call my boyfriend.” I didn’t want to explain any of this to him, and though I trusted him, I didn’t really want him to become the object of my uncontrolled lust for an hour. I just didn’t know what else to do.

“Who are you seeing?” Evan asked, all traces of amusement gone.

“Braden,” I said.

“Who?”

“Braden Walker. He was a year ahead of us in school. He was on the football team.”

“Oh. I think I remember him.” Evan paused for a long moment. “You know you could do better, right?”

“It’s none of your business.” I had to fight the urge to glare at him when I said that. He barely knew Braden, so what made him think he could make any judgments? Besides, I didn’t know why he thought I could do better, when I had done very little dating in high school. I hadn’t known if my family name scared people off, or if there was something fundamentally wrong with me, but Braden had at least restored my confidence that the latter was not true.

“Listen,” Evan said. “I need to do another spell. It’ll just be a few minutes. We’ll figure something out after, just don’t look at me until I’m done.”

“I get that.” I sounded more annoyed at the admonition than I should have, because his quip about Braden still stung.

Within seconds, I smelled candles and incense, and heard Evan muttering under his breath. I found a trash can by a nearby desk, and tossed the damp tissues inside. Then I spotted a black day planner on top of the desk. It was the sort of thing that ancient relatives used to buy me for school, but I never used. Belinda seemed to have liked it, though. Nearly every page through the end of July was covered in notes and reminders.

Over the weekend, she wrote, she had rented a cabin in the woods by the lake. She should have been back, though, because in about half an hour, she had a dinner date at Hodge Mill with Sheriff Adams. I blinked and re-read the name several times to be sure I had seen it correctly, but unfortunately, I had. My old boss and friend had been acting a little strangely that afternoon, but I hadn’t guessed he might be under the influence of a love spell.

“Finished,” Evan said. I heard him gathering up his supplies. “This isn’t good. I suspected it this afternoon, but now I’m sure–there’s no threshold on this home. Which either means Belinda has permanently moved, or else she’s dead.”

“Do you think she had something to do with your cousin’s murder?” I asked.

“I don’t know what to think. I can’t come up with a reason she’d do it, but then again, where is she?”

“I found her day planner,” I said, holding it up over my shoulder so Evan could see. “She was supposed to go to the lake this weekend, and she’s got a date tonight at Hodge Mill. You’ll never guess who it’s with.”

“Who?”

“The sheriff.”

“Huh.”

“I know it’s a long shot, but I figure we should go to Hodge Mill and see if she shows up–or if the sheriff does. After that–”

“Cassie,” Evan interrupted.

“Yeah?”

“How much do you trust me?”

“Er-Why?”

“Turn around,” he said.

“Did you figure something out?” I said, my heart beating a little faster. “Some way to stop the potion?”

“Yes.”

“But you said-” I never got a chance to finish, because just then, Evan moved into my field of vision and I turned to stare at him properly. “

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Christine.  We wish you much success!

A: Thanks again for having me.

ABOUT CHRISTINE AMSDEN

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine 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.

Her latest book is Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

WATCH THE TRAILER!

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Pump Up Your Book and Christine Amsden are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.

This promotion will run from May 13 – August 16. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on August 17, 2013.

Each blogger who participates in the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.

Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.

If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at)gmail.com.  What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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Monday, May 13 – Book reviewed at Sara’s Organized Chaos

Tuesday, May 14 – Book trailer reveal at Margay Leah Justice

Wednesday, May 15 – Book spotlight at The Busy Mom’s Daily

Thursday, May 16 – Character interview at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Friday, May 17 – Book reviewed at By the Broomstick

Monday, May 20 – Interviewed at Review From Here

Tuesday, May 21 – First chapter reveal at Offbeat Vagabond

Wednesday, May 22 – Book reviewed at Offbeat Vagabond

Thursday, May 23 – Guest blogging at You Gotta Read

Monday, May 27 – Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner

Thursday, May 30 – Guest blogging at Miki’s Hope

Monday, June 3 – Guest blogging at Janna Shay

Tuesday, June 4 – Guest blogging at The Book Connection

Thursday, June 6 – Book reviewed at Miki’s Hope

Friday, June 7 – Book reviewed at Repeat Reads

Monday, June 10 – Interviewed at From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, June 11 – First chapter reveal at By the Broomstick

Wednesday, June 12 – Book reviewed at Waiting on Sunday to Drown

Thursday, June 13 – First chapter reveal at Butterfly-o-Meter Books

Friday, June 14 – Interviewed at Literal Exposure

Monday, June 17 – Book reviewed at Carol’s Notebook

Tuesday, June 18 – Book featured at Naturally Kim B

Wednesday, June 19- First chapter reveal at Inside BJ’s Head

Thursday, June 20 – Book reviewed at Quilted Reviews

Friday, June 21 – First chapter reveal at Literary Winner

Monday, June 24 – Interviewed at The Writer’s Life

Wednesday, June 26 – Book reviewed at From the TBR Pile

Thursday, June 27 – First chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn

Wednesday, July 3 – Book trailer reveal at Pump Up Your Book

Friday, July 5 – Book reviewed at Inside BJ’s Head

Monday, July 8 – 5 Things at Literarily Speaking

Thursday, July 11 – Book reviewed at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Friday, July 12 – Interviewed at Blogher

Monday, July 15 – Interviewed at Broowaha

Friday, July 19 – Book featured at By the Broomstick

Monday, July 22 – Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz

Tuesday, July 23 – Interviewed at Examiner

Wednesday, July 24 – Book reviewed at Naturally Kim B

Thursday, July 25 – Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish

Friday, July 26 – Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Monday, August 5 – First Chapter Reveal at Confessions of a Book Habitue

Tuesday, August 6 – Book reviewed Confessions of a Book Habitue

Wednesday, August 7 – Interviewed at As the Pages Turn

Friday, August 9 – Top Ten at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Monday, August 12 – Interviewed at Beyond the Books

Tuesday, August 13 – Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life

Wednesday, August 14 – Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner

Thursday, August 15 – Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers

Friday, August 16 – Book featured at The Road to Here

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