I interviewed Cathy Cassidy for my Writing 4 Children double page spread in the national writing magazine, Writers’ Forum, in 2016. She revealed some of her writing secrets and tips.
Cathy explained to me writers do not really get to choose the voice or genre they write, it is more of an organic process.
I’m not sure you get to choose your voice or genre… not always, anyway. I have always worked with and for young people, as an art teacher, a teen mag agony aunt, a journalist etc… that age group did and still does fascinate me, perhaps because it was a part of my life I didn’t manage especially well. When I finally did work out how to write a book length story, it turned out to be young teen rather than the YA I had envisaged.
Most of Cathy’s readers fall between the ages of nine and fourteen and she calls the genre, ‘real-life, growing up’ books, as she often tackles quite difficult themes. But generally her books are about family, friendship and fitting in.
Cathy told me that she thinks the most important thing for any writer is to find your own voice and find your story, and then stay true to it
Don’t assume that children’s books are somehow less important than those aimed at adults, because that’s not the case. Often, the books we read as children are the ones that shape us, the ones we remember forever… let’s make them awesome!
Her top tip on writing for children is to write from the heart, and put everything you have into what you’re writing. If this means re-arranging your to-do list for the day, do it – writing has to come first, for the duration of the book at least. Set yourself a challenge to write a certain amount each day – it may just be 1000 words, but if you stick to it, those words will soon mount up. And when you start to doubt yourself and feel like throwing your laptop out of the window, don’t.
Her message is write because you love it, because you can’t help it, because you love words and stories. Don’t do it for fame, fortune or an easy life, as those things are most unlikely to happen.
I’m lucky enough to write full-time now, but when I say full-time I mean it… sometimes it is seven days a week, and I can’t recall a break where I didn’t bring my laptop with me. If you love something, put all have into it… it’s worth it when you love what you do, I promise.
You can find out more about Cathy Cassidy and her books on her website: www.cathycassidy.com