The Roots of the Writing
The very first book I wrote was in kindergarten, written in crayon and stapled together on construction paper. It was about a robin who lost her nest with her eggs, and it was followed up quickly by my version of a fairy tale about a princess and her three jealous sisters. This time, I upgraded to writing on a typewriter. These oh-so-brilliant stories never made it past being tucked carefully by my mother into my baby book for safekeeping, but my love of reading and writing was already born.
There have been a lot of times that I’ve joked that I am both embarrassingly and wonderfully the real-life version of Hermione Granger, and I can identify with her all too much. I would sit in class with a book propped behind my textbook so I could read instead of pay attention to the lesson. I was that kid, who would correct the teacher in class or “helpfully” try to tell other students what to do, having no idea what a bossy know-it-all I was being. Foraying into the real world helped get rid of a lot of the more troubling impulses, but the urge to disappear into the pages of a book have always stayed with me. And it’s as if I’ve lived and experienced the world inside my own head, the words swirling around in my mind describing what was happening as if it had been written on a page.
I cycled through a lot of career choices in my childhood, some of which were really, really out there — astronaut! doctor! FBI profiler! — while others were more suited to my strengths. I considered being a teacher, a historian, or a journalist, but writing was always my passion, and it eventually became the way I made my living. I always wanted to write novels, but it just never seemed to click. Freelancing ended up as the answer to my perfect career, or so I thought; it gave me the freedom to take care of my family while also working on my own schedule.
And my schedule got increasingly busy: I married a man in the Marine Corps, and found out I was pregnant just weeks before his third deployment, this time to Afghanistan. He came home from that deployment the day we went to the hospital to have our first child. We got pregnant again quickly, and he deployed to Afghanistan again just as quickly, only this time, I found out that our second son has Down syndrome less than a week after he left. I gave birth to that son three weeks before my husband came home, a friend by my side in the operating room instead. As the years passed, three more girls came along, and he eventually left the Marine Corps. We juggled five kids, two full-time schedules, as well as my husband’s newfound desire to get his bachelor’s degree, sending him to school full-time as well. As if we weren’t busy enough, we began fostering a 12-year-old girl, and adopted her last year. The cherry on top of the cake was moving across the country, from sunny Florida to snowy Nebraska.
But through it all, I kept writing, and that lifelong dream of becoming a novelist never went away. I started various novels over the years and gave up, thinking it would likely just never happen for me. But then I joined a fantastic writer’s group, who pushed me through Nanowrimo in 2018, and before I knew it, the first draft of Rising Water had been finished. It was hard, having to balance work, raising kids, and working on a novel, but the sense of pride and accomplishment more than made up for it. And it was as if Rising Water helped unlock all of my creative blocks; new stories, settings, and characters are now living in my mind, just ready to be unleashed.
Rising Water is a historical mystery, and much of it is inspired by my own life. My family is from the outskirts of Boston, while the island in the Georgia swamps is inspired by the real-life Chesser Island, where my husband’s ancestral family settled. I’ve always been fascinated by history as well; it was my favorite subject in school, and I worked in the history department of a local museum for four years. Growing up near our nation’s oldest city fueled my love for the past, too. That love for times gone by has emerged in my writing; Rising Water takes place during the Gilded Age, while my next novel is set during the Great Depression. What can we learn from the past? What were people really like? Are we that different from those who lived hundreds of years ago? I love being transported to a different time and soaking up all I can, and I hope that through my novels, you’ll be transported with me.
Learn more about Casandra and her endeavors on her Author Page here.