Shelley Cass - Crave Books

Shelley Cass

  • Author
I was an awkward, reserved year 8 student – totally in love with the escape and comfort offered by the novels I read. I could hear the voices of the authors’ characters, I could tune out my stresses and uncertainties as I journeyed with each protagonist through their own troubles. And then one day I could hear the voices of characters who hadn’t been written yet, in places that hadn’t been created, and I decided to write my own worlds.In the real world I became a high school teacher, and still face the epic battle of staying afloat in all the papers I must assess. And in the real world the magic has also sometimes been hard to find. Stress and disunity surface like cancer – making the nightly news too hard to watch on most days.But in the real world there has also been inspiration – incredible students, loved ones, golden memories, growing up, warm hugs, big laughs and good people.One of the greatest things achieved in my lifetime that I can remember, and that had a profound impact on me, was when Australia legalised equal marriage. I’d had this terrible sick fear that it wouldn’t happen, and that I would have to face the fact that a majority of the people in my country do not want progress or equality. I would have to face the fact that some of my students and friends would not have the same rights or access to a future that I could choose to have. Teaching teens to reach for their dreams in a climate like that just seemed too hopeless. But instead, I remember sitting next to mum – happy tears streaming down her face – as something incredibly good was achieved. We proved that the majority of people appreciate love and the right to love in all forms. That love is love. Which is damn important in a world that can be so harsh. So I wrote of the things that threaten the world, and of the big and small things that save it. I wish for a real world where the air is clean, the trees can grow without concrete borders, the darkness can be cured with the switch of a light, and the people can all have long days and happy lives.
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Interview

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your hobbies and interests.

I've spent half my life writing - building entire worlds and people with my words. Epic fantasies, gritty erotic adventures, dystopian fantasies, children's books and now an urban gang vs corrupt system series with everything 'boy love'. Writing is my soul-burning passion, and teaching is my Clark Kent disguise.

2. When and why did you start writing books?

Funnily enough, I was not always a natural writer let alone author. I was terrible at maths, and was such a dunce with reading and writing that I had to do special programs (I stayed down in PREP!) to help my five year old self catch up. My sister made sure I knew the funny little shapes that made up the letters to my name, but I was otherwise the child who stared out the window, coloured the pictures rather than solving the activity sheet problems, and asked questions that had already been answered. Thanks to my miraculous childhood teachers, and my persistent mother, I went from drawing squiggles and mumbling/fake reading when it was my turn to read aloud in class ... to devouring picture books and everything beyond. I remember groaning every time mum made me sound out each word, reading each excruciating sentence over and over and feeling like I was never going to get it. I also remember feeling like the school library was a barrier, a place to feel embarrassed and jealous, until one day all of that practice seemed to make sense. I hadn't even realised it was happening until I half-heartedly-picked up 'Green Eggs and Ham' and realised I didn't have to fake read it - even on my own. I can't explain the shift in who I was at that moment. I was no longer the kid who was stuck. I was the kid who had proud parents, and who was given a whole Dr. Seuss book set to celebrate. I was the kid who came to rely on books for an escape from high school and who started writing for myself. I was also the kid who was never cured of the maths issues though. This isn't a fairy tale after all.

3. What made you decide to tackle writing as a career?

4. Which one of your books or characters is your favourite?

Raze of the 'Raze Warfare' series. He is Kiddo's opposite - a larrikin, a flirt, a wild card, and yet completely, unabashedly devoted to Kid. Kiddo grounds Raze, and Raze creates all of the noise and colour for them. I love that he is a comfort and constant for Kiddo (probably because Kiddo is most like me).

5. Which one of your books was the hardest to write and stretched you the most as a writer?

My epic fantasy 'A Fairy's Tale' series took me fifteen years to agonise over and perfect. It literally is EPIC, and intricate, and beautiful. Whereas the 'Raze Warfare' series is set against a gritty, urban backdrop, with very real people and relationships - it could be pared right back and gets straight into the action.

6. Who is your favourite author and book?

Megan Whalen Turner's 'Thief' series will never fade for me. It is brilliant, and I discover new things or continue to curl up inside as I read it, every single time.

7. What book are you reading right now?

'Raze Warfare' book three, 'Raze vs The Wolf'. It's nearly ready to be born.

8. Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

I sound like a crazy person. But it all comes from images and phrases that pop into my head, playing out a like a movie. A random song or moment I'm experiencing in reality might just suddenly spark it off.

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

What is spare time? I struggle to relax. I have a motor going inside me all the time. Teach, write, mark, create, reasearch, repeat. But movies, TV series and audiobooks are sometimes the only things that help me get out of my own head, transplanting me into someone else's (still not crazy).

10. Do you have any new books in the works?

The final 'Raze Warfare' novel should be out by the end of 2021. Considering my fantasy trilogy took me fifteen years, starting as a teen, I'm doing pretty well these days. The urge takes over, and in my two week holidays I can smash out a whole novel (then spend every spare minute across the term refinining or recording it as audio). 'Raze Warfare' has been created in three separate stints across one year.


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