Welcome to Cas Peace.

Please tell us a little about yourself. May I first extend my thanks to Alex for inviting me onto her blog. I really appreciate it!

So, my name is Cas Peace, and I live in the beautiful countryside of North Hampshire, UK. I was born in this county and have lived in it for most of my life, apart from a brief sojourn in Surrey, and three years spent living just outside Rome, Italy. I am also a qualified horse-riding instructor, although I don’t teach now. I still love horses though, which is why they feature so strongly in my books! I also love dogs, and have two rescue Lurchers. I am married to Dave, my wonderful husband of 23 years.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I am the author of the triple-trilogy high fantasy series, Artesans of Albia. The first trilogy is now complete, the three books being King’s Envoy, King’s Champion, and King’s Artesan. All are available to buy right now. The first book in the second trilogy will be published in Spring 2014.

I also have a non-fiction book published. Entitled For The Love of Daisy, it tells the life story of a beautiful, mischeivous Dalmatian I used to own, and all the different therapies and treatments we used to help her when she became disabled. It’s a book of hope.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences? I have always loved fantasy, and began reading at an early age. I can’t remember all my favourite authors, but William Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Lewis Caroll’s Alice books, and C S Lewis’s Narnia series were hugely influential. As I grew older, I found I also enjoyed historical drama, and devoured books by Bernard Cornwell, and Manda Scott. And then I discovered Charles de Lint, and Robert Holdstock. All have had their influences on my writing.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Because of my interest in English history, and the medieval period in particular, this is where I decided to loosely set my novels. I say ‘loosely’ because I knew I would have to take liberties. But on the whole, my research revolved around anything to do with life during that time, films especially. There’s a lot of sword-play in my books and I wanted readers to concentrate on the action, not on whether what I was describing was completely technically accurate. So all the scenes involving sword-fighting were researched using films. I wanted a cinematic, almost Hollywood feel to my writing, so readers would be able to ‘see’ the scene though my words.

I did enjoy this aspect of my research, but I’m glad I didn’t have to trawl through too many reference books!

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these?  My fantasy books are currently available in print and digital format through Amazon Create Space and KDP. (See the links below). They will soon be available through LSI and Smashwords. I will also look into creating audio books, because I believe in offering my books though every medium possible.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Interesting question, because I am also a freelance editor. I’m naturally going to say that a book can suffer through not being professionally edited, but I also believe that authors can do much for themselves. I do think that they should not do the final proofing of their books, because we are all too close to our own writing, and our brains deceive us when looking for errors. I use a professional editor for my own books, and she’s worth her weight in gold! She sees continuity issues, ferrets out all my excesses, and catches those irritating typos that escape me. I would recommend that every author has their book professionally edited.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? I’m assuming you mean authors replying to reviews they’ve received on their own books? I don’t think authors should ever leave public comments on reviews they’ve received. Especially if the revew is a bad one. In my opinion, it never looks good. There will always be readers who don’t like certain books, and there will always be trolls. Authors who want reviews have to accept that they will sometimes be bad ones – that’s just life. If you put your book out there for public consumption, you have to be prepared for what the public thinks. Trolls, of course, just love creating a stir, they love getting a reaction. Having the author respond to them – especially in a vitriolic way – just gives them the gratification they seek. I understand that trolls cause pain and anger by their actions, but they won’t be stopped by an author biting back. It’s hard, but we have to rise above the low lives and be thankful for the good reviews.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? I do sometimes listen to music when I write, but I can’t listen to anything containing words. I have often used medieval-style music to create an atmosphere while I write a certain scene, and in the later books in the series, I found a CD of Gregorian chants that was most effective. I definitely can’t have the TV on! I even hate being able to hear other people speaking in the house – their words interrupt the flow of mine.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Ooh – interesting question! I do love films and video games, but with them, you are giving yourself over to someone else’s vision. There’s no need to use your imagination, because everything’s been done for you. With a book, you are free to engage your own creativity alongside that of the author, as you allow their words to fire up your imagination, and bring their creation to life. If I can, I always like to read a book before seeing its film, because I find that my own idea of how the setting and characters look is always more complex than the film director’s. Films necessarily cut so much detail out of books, and I always want to know what the author intended before I watch a cut-down version. I also find that my senses of taste, smell, and touch are far more engaged by a book than by a film. With visual media, we are encouraged to simply look, whereas with words, we are free to use all the senses we possess.

What advice would you give new writers? Put all your heart and soul into your writing. If you don’t love what you’re doing, don’t do it, because it won’t have passion. To connect with readers – complete strangers – you must be prepared to give something of yourself. Attend courses, if that’s what you like to do, and remember that writing is a skill. Treat it like a trade – you wouldn’t expect to advertise yourself as a plumber with no training, and have people give you rave reviews for a botched plumbing job. Writing is just the same – it’s a learned skill like any other. By all means write, but be prepared to have your work critiqued and your failings pointed out. Seek out those who can help you, those who know what they’re doing, and take notice of what they advise. If two or more people advise the same thing, they’re probably right! Most importantly, enjoy what you’re doing.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? When marketing, look for the unique in your work and play to your strengths. If you can’t find something different in your writing, how will anyone else? For example, I am a folk singer and I decided to write and record songs for each of my books (btw, the first three are all available FREE from my website, see links below!). So not only can fans read my words, they can also hear my voice and the music that was playing in my head as I wrote the scene. I think that’s quite powerful, and pretty unique, as far as I know.

Regarding social media, I’d advise to interact as much as possible, in as helpful a way as possible. Never simply plug your book – people will get tired of that real quick. Try to be interesting, give advice, and be prepared to support others if you want their support in return.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? I do love reading, and I also like doing review swaps for other authors. That’s a great way of discovering new and fresh talent, or books you might not normally read. (Always be sure to agree on honest reviews – never give falsely good or bad ones!). In this way, I have recently discovered some romances I like that I might never have picked up, and horror books too. It’s good for writers to expand their reading experiences.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? Gosh – I could give you loads! The one I’m going to choose is that I don’t like rainbows. I know, I know, stupid, eh? I’m not keen on clouds either – especially if they look like storm clouds – or anything strange or unusual in the sky. I get a bit agoraphobic, I think, and scuttle indoors if I can. I’d never be able to go where you can see the Aurora Borealis, and how those storm-chasers can stand admiring huge thunderstorms or evil-looking tornadoes is beyond me. I’m petrified just seeing them on TV!

See Cas’s Blog Tour info: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/artesans-of-albia-blog-tour

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Website: http://www.caspeace.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cas.peace

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CasPeace1