• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

Cathy Cassidy: The Queen of Teen

Writing.ie | Magazine | Children & Young Adult | Interviews
cathy-cassidy

By Sarah Downey

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Ginger Snaps, Sundae Girl and Angel Cake are among Cathy Cassidy’s books loved by young people the world over and  have helped her win the coveted crown of ‘Queen of Teen’ award. Sarah Downey ofWriting.ie caught up with the reigning queen of young adult fiction.

Cathy Cassidy began at the age of just eight to create her own picture books- complete with features, stories and even competitions.  “I have loved inventing stories ever since I can remember. I’m not sure where the compulsion came from, but it has always been there! I also loved art from an early age, so art and writing were my first loves.” Unsurprisingly, given her obvious talents, Cathy landed a job as Features Editor with Jackie magazine after finishing Art College in Liverpool.  Later on, she dished out advice to thousands of teens as an agony aunt for Shout magazine for over twelve years, as well as teaching art to children in local schools.  These days Cathy is a full-time author and her days are filled with writing her beloved books.

“I have always been drawn to working with or for teens and children: as a teen-mag journalist; as an art teacher in high school and primary; as a teen-mag agony aunt. All of those things helped me to understand kids more, which has in turn helped with the books.”  This means Cathy can easily relate to young people and keeps her fans reading and relating to her stories.  “These days I have two teen kids of my own, so they and their friends help me to keep in touch – and school and book festival events around the country and beyond also keep the connection strong.”  Her website is also highly interactive with lots of writing advice, competitions and her popular Dream Team fan club offers readers the chance to see her new books first, “I am very lucky – my readers are very responsive and contact me via the website, through email, Facebook and letters to share their feedback and their feelings. That feedback matters hugely to me.”

So what keeps her dedicated readers coming to her books again and again? “They see themselves in the stories, and feel somehow recognized, understood. The books are fiction, but there’s a real-life setting, so they can connect the story to their own lives in some way. Kids often write that they feel they are ‘in the story’ which is a pretty brilliant compliment!”  Cathy achieves this by seeing the world through her characters eyes, “I usually write in the first person, present tense, and like to step into the shoes of my characters and imagine how it feels to be them. They do become pretty real to me! I love being able to see the world through someone else’s eyes… it gets kind of addictive!”  Cathy lists Mouse as a character she loved writing and found it hard to say goodbye to him, “he is probably my favourite character, and has appeared in two books (Dizzy & Lucky Star) and also two short stories.”

Cathy finds her inspiration in people, with many of her books featuring the themes of friendship, family and first love.”People are always my biggest inspiration… trying to work out what motivates them, how they might feel, how they might act. I love to people-watch, and sometimes the most random thing can trigger an idea for a story.” Cathy notes that the person who influenced her the most was her father, “he taught me to work hard and never let go of my dreams.”

Daydreaming is one of Cathy’s favourite sources for ideas and helps her explore all aspects of her novels in depth. “Ideas come from all around, but daydreaming is my favourite way to develop an idea. It’s like having a hotline to the imagination! Daydreaming is quite free and fluid, which works for me… plotting things down in a formal way has a tendency to kill a story dead for me, which is a little unfortunate! Because of this, the daydreams have become the main way for me to explore plot, character and story, and having the story running through your mind in such a vivid way seems to keep things alive and real! What’s the best part of being an author for Cathy? “Daydreaming – and getting paid for it!”

 

Cathy Cassidy will be visiting these shores twice this year; you can catch her at the West Cork Literary Festival on the 4th of July and at the “fab Mountain to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire on the 11th of September. Looking forward to it!” We’re sure her fanatical fans are looking forward to it even more.  This year has plenty more in store for her, she says: “Lots of writing and lots of reader events, and a cool holiday to Crete as well! Strike a Pose Daizy Star will be out on June 3rd and Marshmallow Skye, the second book in my Chocolate Box Girls series, will be out on 1st September. Exciting!”

 

About the author

Cathy Cassidy attended Art College in Liverpool and went on to work at Jackie Magazine as well as become an art teacher.   She lives in the Galloway hills with her husband and her teenage children.  She is the author of a number of bestselling books for young adults. She was awarded the title of “Queen of Teen” for 2010.

Cathy Cassidy is the author of Dizzy (2004), Indigo Blue (2005), Driftwood (2005), Scarlett (2006), Lucky Star (2008), Gingersnaps (2009), Shine On, Daizy Star (2009), Letters to Cathy (2009), Angel Cake(2010), Love, Peace and Chocolate (2010), Daizy Star and the Pink Guitar (2010) and Chocolate Box Girls : Cherry Crush (2010).

For more information on Cathy and her books, check out her wonderful website,www.cathycassidy.com

(c) Sarah Downey for writing.ie

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