I sat down with Kassandra Lea to talk writing, passion, and her book, A Christmas Kiss!
When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not entirely sure when that happened. According to my mom, I’ve been reading since I could hold a book and since I wanted to be a horse or Batman when I was younger, clearly my imagination is vast. Once I put pen to paper things just seemed to happen. An entirely new love for written word was formed. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
My own horrible self doubt. Something tells me that this is an annoyance that afflicts a good number of writers. Also, going full time at my day job severely restricted the amount of time I have to devote to writing, but as my mom always tells me, if you want something bad enough you will find a way. And so I have, thankfully.
How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?
I’m sort of a mix between a pantser and an outliner. I like to have a general idea of what the story is going to be, where it’s headed, and will jot down a one or two line description for each chapter to keep me going in a general direction. But for the most part, I just write and have been surprised by a few of my works. As for research and planning, lets just say that I’ve been know to waste hours lost on the Internet (falling down the rabbit hole!) and I have poorly looking notebooks that I value greatly.
Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What’s been the weirdest research you’ve ever had to do?
Anything new I’ve learned is interesting/cool simply because it’s new. I love to discover new pieces of knowledge, little head gems, and sometimes they even spark ideas of their own. The weirdest thing I’ve researched? Learning about the blood eagle was definitely different.
What advice would you give to new writers in the field?
Read everything. The genres you like, the genres you don’t like. And write everything, too. Try out every genre. Write long stories, short stories, fanfiction, doesn’t matter, just write. If writing is your passion, your dream, keep at it!
Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?
Nine times out of ten I’m huddled down on the couch with my dog, a couple of blankets and some pillows. I’m not much for coffee or tea so I tend to stick with ice water or soda. The TV might be on for background noise and there will most certainly be a candle burning in my favorite scent.
Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?
Oh wow, that’s a toughy. Of my published characters I would pick Asher from The Christmas Kiss (first book in the Sugarbush Creek series). Unpublished, I’m picking Tecumseh.
What project are you currently working on?
Everything! I never could work on just one story at a time. I get bored quickly and feel like my writing suffers.
What’s next for you?
Let’s just say I have big dreams!
About Kassandra: Born to a military family, just outside the nation’s capital, Kassandra Lea has been reading since she could hold a book. Growing up she wanted to be a horse or Batman, then she discovered writing and realized she could be whatever she wanted if she lived vicariously through her characters. When not writing, she can be found hanging out with her dog, driving flashy cars, pursuing her love of horses, and cheering on the Packers. She lives in southern Wisconsin in an old house with her mother, a gang of furry monsters, and a ghost lovingly dubbed Bob.
Where did your inspiration for the book come from?
I adore winter and have a deeply rooted passion for horses, which I’ve been blessed to work with these last 13 years. It just seemed logical to pair the two into a sweet romance.
Did you outline the story, or dive right in?
I tend to do a loose outline when it comes to my stories. I like to have a list of the important moments I would like to happen in the story, but then I tend to just write and see how the pieces wind up being connected.
How did your characters come to life?
Clara Dickens was the easiest to write, being that I love animals and once thought of becoming a vet. She’s been hurt in the past (haven’t we all?) and she’s a little bit afraid to love again, but she can’t deny her attraction to Asher. As a rancher Asher’s life is his ranch, his horses, and I’ve developed such a bond with a few of the horses I’ve worked with that I wanted to capture that.
Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?
I didn’t have to do any research for the story. I did, however, spend way too much time looking at pictures of fancy pants horses on my computer. We won’t discuss the hours spent not writing!
What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?
I don’t think there was any one point that I favored over the others. Challenging, yes. For the last few years I’ve lost out to self-doubt and failed to finish anything longer than 12,000 words. Seeing this novella through was very rewarding.
What’s next for this story – is it part of a series? When does it come out?
Yes, A Christmas Kiss is the first in the Sugarbush Creek series. The second book, Sweetest Valentine, is slated for release in February of 2018, and I’m currently putting the finishing touches on book 3.
A heavy sigh escaped Clara as she suddenly slumped in the chair. The familiar ache that accompanied a lonely heart. She certainly didn’t need to have everything right now, the big wedding and kids and all that stuff. Simply having someone as her own, someone to snuggle up to on the cold winter nights and go picnicking with in warmer weather, that would be grand enough. However, her last serious relationship ended on a bitter note three years ago and now here she was twenty-nine without a single prospect.
Shoving thoughts of love into the depths of her mind, where hopefully they would be forever lost, Clara powered up her computer and got to work. Almost an hour later as she was preparing to see Mr. Rafferty and his cat her cell phone went off. The name on the screen sent a rush of heat through her body, her heart beat ticking up a notch.
“Hello?” she answered, hoping the word didn’t come out as squeaky as it sounded.
“Miss Dickens, I need your help,” the voice on the other end said with a hint of desperation. “Can you come right away?”