Heather Cashman graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry but has always loved to write, winning her first contest in the second grade. Married since 1992, she has three unique children and has moved from Arizona to New York to Kansas. She loves to kayak and canoe down the windiest rivers she can find. She welcomes opportunities to visit schools, libraries, and book groups in person or via Skype. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Heather currently lives near Wichita, Kansas with her husband and three children.
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Heather: It wasn't until after I published that I realized that sharing my novels would be so rewarding. At first, I thought only my friends and family would be interested, but as more and more people read my novel and love it, I find a great sense of connection with my readers. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can have a positive influence on the world beyond myself and my immediate relations.
Deirdra: How does writing help you in your personal life?
Heather: Writing is my balm. For some reason, I only feel sane when I can write a bit every day. It helps me use my imagination and skills rather than letting my mind stagnate.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Heather: I wrote several novels before I found my editor. Once I plucked up the courage to have it edited, Perception became more than it ever could have on its own. That's when I wanted to perfect it. I cut and mended over and over until the finished manuscript was one I could be proud of. Even though my editor encouraged me to find an agent, I still wasn't sure I wanted to publish. Rather than going traditional, I decided to self publish and see what would happen. So far, so good.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Heather: There were many times I wondered what I was doing. I hated learning to format ebooks, the printing process, and general computer savvy. I felt the learning curve acutely. Instead of writing, my endeavor had turned into a full time job that kept me from my writing. It is still a battle, but one I am learning how to win. The desire to write was what kept me going--almost as necessary as eating and sleeping. My family also continues to encourage me all the time.
Other discouragement came from a lack of confidence in my writing, but the more I write, the more I believe in my writing. The positive reviews and comments from fans are helping as well.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Heather: I write all day when my three teenagers are in school. I fit in interviews, reviews, reading, social media, blogging, etc. when my kids are doing homework, at lessons, or after everyone else goes to bed.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Heather: Characters tend to walk into my imagination fully formed, and like every person on the face of the earth, they are every one good enough to write about. I believe a really good writer can spin a tale out of just about anything. The question is: Am I a good enough writer to write about this character? It's more a question of my worthiness than theirs. Some of my stories are waiting in the recesses of my brain until I can write well enough to do them justice.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Perception?
Heather: Perception is the first of a trilogy. It is an Epic Fantasy set in a dystopian future where genetic engineering for military purposes has spliced humans with different living things to make a more powerful soldier. The novel begins over five hundred years later. The genes of humans and their individual animal companions have continued to mutate, refine, and combine, until they have become telepathically linked. Ardana and her tiger Rijan take us on their journey to escape a life of abuse and exile and find their way in a complicated world of politics and prejudice.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Heather: I try to make all my writing an exciting exploration of each person's imagination. I don't care how names are pronounced. Make them your own names. I don't care how you picture the characters. Make them your own. Reading should be a creation of the reader's mind that is guided by the author. I also hope to share some of my own insights about life and make each of us question what we believe, how we should act, and become a better person by reading them.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Heather: It has to be quiet enough that I can focus. I can't listen to music, but my children tell me I can block them out well enough.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Heather: Like my characters, the settings are often already formed. And I pray a lot.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Heather: So many people have helped me along, but I would have to say that beyond my own raw desire to write, my editor (and now one of my best friends) has made the biggest difference in my writing. She knows just what to say, has this amazing quality of pulling things out of me I never knew were there, and has always believed in my abilities. (Her information is on my blog.)
Deirdra: Besides writing, what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Heather: I think being a good mother is a talent. I have devoted most of my life to it. I also like to garden, read, kayak, cook and bake.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Heather: Follow the path that suits you. So many people think there's only one way. In reality, there's only one way for you individually. For some people, they feel the need to be traditionally published. Perhaps now I could accept being traditionally published because I know what the industry is like, what it's about. I never would have made it before. And I am having a lot of fun getting to know other authors in a way that might have been impossible if I had not self-published. Who knows? Just keep trying different things until something works.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Heather: I am currently revising Deception (The Tigers' Eye Trilogy, Book 2) and am also writing an Urban Fantasy series.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?