1. If you could have dinner with any author dead or alive, who would it be?
First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to do this. You are my first interview! So exciting!
To answer your question: I would have a difficult time choosing ONE author because I have so many favorites. It would be interesting to host a dinner party with such distinguished guests as the Bronte sisters, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice, William Shakespeare, Robert Browning and just to throw in some humor, Ellen Degeneres. What a party that would be, a regular Comedy of Horrors! Especially since all, except two, are deceased.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Dreaming Dangerously?
Dreaming Dangerously came from a dream. Ironic, I know, however, read the chapter, “Mind Drop” to the part where they kiss, and you basically have my exact dream in its entirety. I knew the dream held a wonderful idea for a novel, two teenagers, a boy and a girl, who are interested in each other, find out they can read each other’s minds. So, I woke up and immediately started writing at 4:30 in the morning. I wrote for three straight hours, figuring out the possible plot lines and character arcs for Cassie and Will. I originally titled the book Unwilling, a play on the name of Will, which I took from one of Shakespeare’s later sonnets in which he writes a whole sonnet punning the name and word “will.” However, I decided that the book title, Dreaming Dangerously, would entice a Young Adult audience more.
3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes! Since I could hold a crayon in my hand! Books have always fascinated me, and I started making my own little books from my preschool years. My grandmother would staple sheets of typing paper together, and I would fill my little books with pictures and scribbled words, “my stories.” None of those original writings have survived, but I’m sure they were pure preschool genius.
However, in high school and college, I wrote an overabundance of bad poetry and a few good poems as well as journals. I used one of those journals from my junior year of high school to remember what being a teenager was like for me. To remember that constant emotional state of wanting to be accepted and wanting to fall in love. Ay, me! (from Juliet at her window, thinking about Romeo.)
4. I know that you are a teacher. Is it hard to balance writing a book and teaching?
I constantly write with my students. Dream #9 in Dreaming Dangerouslycomes from a writing lesson we did about setting the scene. “My flip-flops sink with each step as beach sand sugard my feet. The moon casts a ghostly light across the dark water, and the tide gently laps against the shore. At first, I can only see the dark outlines of people, until Will holds my hand and smiles at me.”
Over the last six years, my students encouraged me to publish. However, I spent three years searching for an agent. I received many rejection emails and letters stating, “although your work has merit, it is not right for me (or said literary agency) at this time.” After Amanda Hocking went viral with her books, I decided to self-publish. I wanted my students to be able to read my books. So far, almost all fifty of this year’s female students have read the book more than once, and some said it’s the first or only book they completely read this year. They are anxiously awaiting book 2. Also, some of my boys have read it, too. Now, other students throughout the school are reading the book, since I donated seven or eight copies to the library, and my librarian bought more to keep up with the demand. One thing that teaching does make difficult is time for public appearances and marketing. I will be doing public appearances this summer at local libraries and bookstores in the Tampa Bay area.
5. How did you come up with the characters of Cassie and Will?
Cassie is that tiny insecure part of me that is afraid of everything. She was a very difficult point of view narrator to write from because she was so stubborn about giving up her thoughts and feelings. She sounded so negative to me at first. So, I had to make sure the audience could empathize with her. That took several revisions to get right. Will has the personality of my husband and is partially the confident part of me that wants to experiment and try new things, meet new people, and travel to new places. The second book in this series is from Will’s viewpoint. His p.o.v. has been much easier to write from because he is so forthcoming. I do hear Cassie and Will’s “voices” in my head now. They like to talk to me at the most inopportune moments, in the shower, driving, washing dishes, etc. I have to memorize what they said until I can get to pen and paper.
6. What is your writing process like?
The best way I can describe this is that I write in layers. I plan my drafts because I have to know what direction the story is going. I need to know my character’s motivations and goals. However, I will change my plans. I wrote about twelve revisions for Dreaming Dangerously, and I’ve written about that many for Darkness Descends, which I hope to release on June 1st of this year. Each time I revise, I add another layer. Sometimes, it’s description and metaphor, and sometimes it’s dialogue. Other times I rearrange, add or delete scenes. Another time I’ll edit for sentence structure. I plan to write the third book of this series during this summer, when I’m not teaching. Then, I’ll use the school year to revise and edit , adding layers.
7. What are you working on now/next?
I’m currently editing Darkness Descends, which is book 2 of the Children of the Psi series and I’m working on the marketing for it. I am also constantly marketing Dreaming Dangerously on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. I need to do a better job of marketing on Amazon. It’s all a learning process. I have a third book planned for the series as well as two Middle Grades novels, one about bullying and the other about the loss of a grandparent.
8. Would you want to be able to read other people's minds?
It seems like a really cool ability, but I think I’d end up like Cassie, unless my ability was more like Will’s where I actually had to touch the person to know their thoughts. That way I can choose when to mind-drop. However, his empathy skills are way too strong for me to handle, especially being a teacher because I would be crying every day. Some of my students have really tough lives.
9. Anything you would like to add about Dreaming Dangerously and the Children of Psi series?
Writing the Children of the Psi series has been a liberating experience. Self-publishing, has given me the opportunity to be my own boss, to set my own schedule, to promote my own books, my own way. It’s been hard financially because I don’t have the money to invest in advertising that the big publishing houses do, but I know I’ve earned every dime that I’ve made. I’ve been able to make my creative dream a reality.
Also, Darkness Descends, book two of the Children of the Psi series, will be available June 1st on Amazon.
Thank you so much, to Kathleen Harsch for her giveaway and interview, check out my review of Dreaming Dangerously
Here's Amazon.com page: Dreaming Dangerously on Amazon
Here's my blog: Kathleen Suzette Harsch, author
Here's my Twitter: @rockingteachHere's the Dreaming Dangerously Facebook page: Dreaming Dangerously on Facebook
a Rafflecopter giveaway