Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh

Today I have a special guest on my blog; you're probably already familiar with him, his blog, and his works. I originally hoped to interview Alex J. Cavanaugh for the Blog Ring of Power, but that format didn't work this time. So here's the full interview with Alex. Enjoy!

 When and why did you begin writing?

 I started when I was a teen and I wrote so I could read stories I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote?

I vaguely recall writing a few short stories, but I remember my first full length manuscript very clearly. It was incomplete and not very good. Sat in a drawer for thirty years before I decided to rewrite it from scratch. It became CassaStar, my first published novel.

When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?

I guess when I signed the contract for my first book. I still don’t feel like a professional though.

What genre do you write?

Science fiction – space opera/adventure

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Rock star! Believe it or not, I don’t think I’d ever want to be a full time author.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

When I’m working on a manuscript, some things just have to go. Usually I play fewer games and watch less television, which is probably a good thing.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

Two to four hours during the week. On the weekends, it’s usually double that.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

Strongest criticism was that I was a child trying to rewrite Star Wars. It just made me chuckle.

My first book makes a lot of women cry, which they tell me is a good thing. (Although I still feel bad.) But the best compliment was from a reader connected perfectly with the characters and said I’d mastered emotion and intimacy.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

This online community! I get so much support from fans and fellow writers here.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

I learn from them. I try to make the next book better.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Most are sparked through movies and music.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t think I’ve ever had it. I outline my stories in so much detail before I begin writing that I never get stuck.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

Extensive outline of the plot and characters – if I didn’t, my stories would wander into the desert and never return.

Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

Both! I have two test readers who get an early read on the manuscript and then several critique partners who go over it after many edits. All of them have helped me so much!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?

I used to think writing from a woman’s point of view (or a kid’s) was difficult, but I’ve since done both. I guess now writing anything dark would be a challenge. My mind just doesn’t go there.

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

CassaStorm is the third book in the trilogy and follows Byron as he deals with galactic war, a possible alien invasion, and a son plagued by nightmares. It came out in September and is available in both print and all eBook formats: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Goodreads.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Writing from the point of view of a ten-year-old. I don’t have kids and it’s been a LONG time since I was that age.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Byron’s son has a surprise encounter with someone in the desert, and I really liked the scene and their exchange.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Acceptance, approval, and love. I tackle racial differences in this novel and the need of every human for approval, plus the love between parent and child.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

My publisher’s illustrator always asks questions before designing the cover art so he can capture the essence of the story. I think he did a really amazing job with the third book.

Tell us about your route to success –how did you land your agent/publisher?

I’d queried a lot of science fiction publishers with no luck. I started turning to small publishers, and that’s when I finally got an offer.

What are the most important elements of good writing?

I think the most important is connecting with the characters, because that can propel the reader through an average story.

What tools are must-haves for writers?

I could provide a long list, but I’ll just say critique partners are critical.

What do you feel is the key to your success?

I write stories driven by characters that appeal to readers outside of my genre. Success has also come because I was persistent in my online activities and involvement.

What are your current / future project(s)?

Right now, I’m not sure. I never imagined more than one book, let alone a trilogy. I’m not sure if I will continue writing or pursue my music instead.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

WebsiteTwitter Goodreads -

CassaStorm, By Alex J Cavanaugh

 From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

 Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019

Science fiction-adventure/space opera

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

$16.95 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

 Find CassaStorm:

Barnes and Noble -

Amazon -

Goodreads -

Book trailer


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Nice interview! I love the way that you can take feedback to make the next book better...I think it's really the best way to treat constructive criticism. And your writing routine is the way you devote so much time to getting your story right (from outline to editing).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sandra, thanks for the interview today!

Thank you, Elizabeth. It must be the perfectionist in me.

Laura Marcella said...

Great tips, Alex! Your persistence is inspirational. I love it that you barely imagined having one book out and now you have three!! I expect there will be more! Congrats!

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Bish Denham said...

Wow, nice interview, Alex. Yes... making a woman cry while she reads a book is a good thing. :)

Old Kitty said...

The Capn may not be a panster but he does claim to wear transparent underpants.


Take care

Karen Walker said...

Awesome interview, you guys.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I love peeking inside the persona of the Ninja Captain. I agree, critique partners are essential! Wonderful tips. Great interview.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview! I always like learning more about my writer friends. :)

Kat Sheridan said...

What a great interview! And I totally envy anyone who doesn't get writer's block. And I love that cover!

Brian Miller said...

your first one sat there for 30 have a pretty cool story man....

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Laura, we'll find out.

Bish, I still feel bad...

Kitty, I'll never reveal the truth...

Thanks, Kat!

Brian, it really did.

Thanks, everyone!

Andrew Leon said...

You know, I could have loaned you a 10-year-old.

Cate Masters said...

Wonderful interview! Always good to learn more about you, Alex.
TV's usually the first thing to go when I'm in the middle of something, too.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

No Writer's Block is a good thing, Alex. And I understand what you mean about writing from the POV of a child. It's tough, but a great challenge. Kudos for being such a great role model.

Misha Gericke said...

Great interview. :-)

I also loved that scene where Bassan bumps into someone new.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Andrew, as long as it wasn't Ruth...

Misha, that's good to know!

Johanna Garth said...

Mastered emotion and intimacy! That's a pretty amazing compliment!! :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I am not at all surprised that CassaStorm came from that first manuscript. The ninja master is nothing if not focused and determined!

Mina Burrows said...

I'm with Johanna. That's a wonderful compliment.

Great interview, Sandra.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! It's always fun to learn more about authors and their books.

Julie Musil said...

Alex, you're already a rock star in the writing community. No doubt about it. I also appreciate how you learn from criticism. Not easy to do, but so important.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Johanna and Mina, yes it was!

Elizabeth, or he's just nothing...

Julie, I just want to do better.

Lexa Cain said...

Your novel makes women cry? And you weren't even trying? You're definitely doing something right. "wander into the desert and never return." Haha! I know just what you mean. One of my novels got away from me and is still wandering around somewhere...

Fun interview! :-)

Rusty Webb said...

Great Interview. If Alex becomes a rock star and then decides to quit after 3 albums to focus on being an astronaut... I'll be officially upset.

Sherry Ellis said...

Good interview! Since you watch a lot of movies, I bet you get all kinds of inspirational ideas for writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lexa, hope I can do it again right...

Rusty, I guarantee that won't happen!!

Sherry, every single day...

Liz Blocker said...

Great interview! Alex, it's amazing to me that even after so many interviews, you still say new and fascinating things every time. I'm not sure how you do it, but I'm a fan.

Toinette Thomas said...

Nice interview. There is a healthy mixture of the standard questions along with a few originals to which I was very happy to see. I always look forward to seeing what Alex has to say and share; it's always a good opportunity to learn something.

Yolanda Renee said...

Great Interview Alex and Sandra!

Love learning all your secrets! LOL

M Pax said...

I tried to comment yesterday, but Blogger threw a hissy fit for some reason.

Partners are a must. The kind at home that let us do what we do, and the writerly kind that go through this craziness with us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Liz, I don't know how I do it either.

Mary, you got it!

Thanks everyone.

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