Author Al Cassidy discusses his current book project with Rick Lite of Stress Free Book Marketing and shares some writing tips that he used for his recent work.
RL: Tell me about your latest book and why you wrote it?
AC: A boy and his grandfather—who everyone calls Grampa the Gray thanks to his nostalgic but wildly eccentric stories from a lifetime of adventure— about to embark on a global mission to save the world from dangerous forces threatening to shift the balance of power. Having grown up with a father 47 years my senior, I was always cognizant of the aging population around us. Now with Baby Boomers as the largest retiring group in modern history, our elders are very apparent to us, but it seems we have a different type of respect and understanding of them compared to past generations. My hope is to capture the love and admiration a boy has for his grandfather as opposed to seeing him as an old bag of bones who gives him candy and cash.
RL: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
AC: I wanted to be a write/illustrator from early age (I hear The Movie Guy reading that line to us, it’s so common). As a child growing up around the US, I loved hearing what sounded like completely outrageous stories told by parents and others. I was glued to my family’s television day and night, watching cartoons and sitcoms. A library or book store would light up my senses like the 4th of July. In my 20s, I watched every movie I could get my hands on. In all mediums, I began to think of the ways the story could or should develop as it went along, and was always thinking about how the creators could have ended things differently to make for a more impactful story. It was in high school that I wrote my first book—a story about a young boy looking forward to Christmas when his parents have a bitter separation. He finds a way to travel to the North Pole and directly ask Santa Claus to help mend their marriage. Though the book didn’t make it to publication, it inspired me to one day seriously find a way to publish a story of my own.
RL: Has publishing your first book change your process of writing?
AC: I am always coming up with ideas. Never does a day go by that I have an idea for something that would fit into what I’ve already started working on, or even a completely new concept. Now that I’ve gone through the process of creating, writing, editing and publishing two books, I am far more conscious of what readers want vs. what I want to write about…and how to bring the two together. Finding my voice and niche. Fine tuning it. I could write any number of the ideas that flood my mind, but seeing what people respond to—and also considerate of what’s new and hot and trendy and whether I want to try that road or steer clear of it—has me discerning the ideas in a more careful manner.
RL: Do you have any tips for first-time authors?
AC: Write. Create. Think. Dream. Don’t stop. Outlining really helps, but it’s not critical. Don’t worry about your story being perfect every line at a time—you can’t get bogged down in grammar and word selection at the start. Once you’ve written the full story from beginning to end, the fun begins. You get the chance on the second, third, and fourth rounds of editing to really make the story more powerful and interesting to read.
RL: Does your family support your career as a writer?
AC: I’ve noticed that people who don’t write—and certainly don’t call themselves an author—think it’s awesome what I’m doing. I look at it differently. Along with my “real” job of graphic design, illustration, and video production, it’s an amazing outlet for creative energy. But I don’t think I would continue to write without constant praise and support from friends and family. Their excitement and energy for what I’m doing makes it seem possible to do more and do better. I want them to be excited for what’s next and they look forward to hearing what’s coming. It’s a rejuvenating cycle.
RL: If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
AC: Everyone’s Dead But Me. We all experience loss and grief. Some far more than others. And while I’m somewhere in the middle, my life experiences have shown me how fragile and brief life can be when too many people once close to you leave this world, some at a very untimely stage in their life. We all question, Why am I here? Through my years of processing grief and loss, I’ve been able to consider the many positive ways to realize what life can be about. The book would begin with the grimness of life’s ultimate journey to death and dying, but end with the awe-inspiring sense that the cycle of life is filled with light and meaning—that we are all in this together and there is light at the end of the tunnel and purpose in our being.
Al Cassidy grew up all over the U.S. before settling down in the Philadelphia area. He began in marketing & advertising design—working primarily as a consultant for non-profits—creating promotional materials, websites, videos, illustration and more. After years of thinking about it, Al finally took up writing and published his first story, Freeing Linhurst, a tale he always wanted to tell. He continues to design, illustrate, write, and find ways to grow creatively every day. You can read more about Al by visiting his website at http://www.alcassidy.com