The latest in our interview series is a conversation with
YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Cass Kim who, in addition to two book series, does an annual anthology with proceeds going to charity.
In addition to your book series you edit and publish a series of
anthologies that support charities. Do you draw work from writers you
know or is there an open submission period?
I usually choose from the writing community on twitter, because it allows me a chance to help boost the writing of my friends, and to also have a good idea of their general social media vibe. A lot of anthologies do an open submission period, but I do a creation based anthology where the story is written after being chosen, vs pre-writing and submitting. I just taped a talk about these anthologies for the Write Hive online writing convention, too!
Can you tell me a little bit about how you use your writing to support
charities? What inspired you to do this and what inspired you to choose
Ah, I’m so glad you asked this! 100% of the profits from the ebook and paperback sales go to the charities chosen, and 50% of the audiobook sales (50% go to pay the narrator for their awesome and hard work!).We chose the ASPCA originally because the theme of the 2019 Autumn Nights included a black cat in each story. We chose Feeding America for the 2020 anthology because I heard one of their ads on the radio driving to work, and I was like “Yup. I need to donate to this. And significantly more than I personally can afford. Time to do another anthology.”
In addition to supporting charity work through anthologies, you also
give back with your time by helping people with TBIs and stroke. When
did you get into this?
Actually, I get paid to help people with TBI and CVA. I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in my day job, so I help people: return to eating by mouth, speak/voice/find words, understand other’s speech, read, write, and a lot of other cognitive aspects of communication. I had graduated with a psych and theater degree and was teaching at a community college, but felt really unfulfilled. I considered going back to school for social work, but a nurse friend said, “You are way too softhearted for that. You should look into speech therapy or something like that.” I did a few observation rounds…and it was love!
What draws you to the field of Young Adult literature and science
fiction and fantasy?
I have always loved reading in those areas. I grew up reading the Sword of Truth series and Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey. With my background in a medical field, I guess I tend to gravitate toward that a bit too.
What are some of your favorite authors and works in YA lit and sci-fi
and fantasy and just in general?
Oh man..in addition to those above, I love Holly Black, Sarah J Maas, and so many more. I could re-read Anne McCaffrey books yearly until I die. I also really like the Red Rising series. Enders Game is a staple of my re-reading collection.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what was your original choice
for career growing up?
Well, I’m mostly a writer by hobby at this point..or low paying ‘side hustle” maybe. I did write a lot as a kid and took AP English in high school (hahah..no other AP classes for me). As a preschool and elementary kid I wanted to own a ballet studio with a vet clinic attached, and run both. It was also supposed to be next door to my parents so my mom could still make me dinner.
Can you tell us a little bit about taking the plunge into professional
I hope to someday be able to answer that. My dream is that once I’ve paid off my student loans I can change to working PRN (as needed/on-call) as an SLP and focus on cranking out books more frequently to try to make a go of it as a professional writer.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to break into
Write a lot. read a lot. Find other writers to connect with and use them to beta read (do so in exchange as well). If your beta readers only tell you it’s great, you need different readers…every book will have areas that need work, and if your first several readers don’t help you find where those areas are, you’re not going to reach your best draft.
I’ve seen on your website you offer chances to win prizes and get free
and discounted books by signing up to your mailing list, can you let
readers know more about how that works and what to expect from your
Oh yeah! I love to give out freebies. I did an Amazon gift card, I did free signed Wilders Special edition paperbacks (which are about to become very rare as that edition will be unpublished as soon as the trilogy set becomes available). I also take part in free ebook and free audiobook offers with other authors, and those links get sent out in the mailing list. Otherwise you get short updates and sometimes pet photos from me. I usually email 2x a month, but it may fluctuate based on releases.
Tell us a little about the Wilders series you wrote.
Oh boy. A little. I’ll keep it simple! Wilders is a trilogy, and the first book is set 10 years before the original Wilders book. The Change covers the initial outbreak of a virus, and the terrified flight through the city by a girl named Holly. Wilders follows Renna as the virus that has been stable for 10 years starts to morph and reveals secrets nobody could have expected. Consequences was written only because the fans asked for more, to be honest. It’s the most action packed of the series and winds the series up with some finality, which is nice.
What do you think about what’s going on with the coronavirus,
considering Wilders deals with an apocalyptic setting that’s ravaged by
That’s a loaded question! I think people need to take the stay inside stuff more seriously. As a health professional that is currently looking at the shortage of PPE (which we use to protect ourselves and our patients from other things as well, like MRSA and Influenza) it’s very scary. I have asthma. I have parents, and a grandma who is 92 and they’re very far away from me, so that’s scary too. I text my Mom everyday to ask how they are feeling and remind them to stay home. My dad is a firefighter and EMT, so he’s also exposed regularly to potential infection. Other health situations, like giving birth, having strokes, falling and hitting your head, cancer, kidney failure…they don’t stop because of this virus. Everybody needs to do their part to help slow the spread. It will spread. That’s inevitable. We need the spread to slow to a manageable pace to avoid further overwhelming hospitals and to allow more time for supplies to be made and delivered.
The Rallyist series is a group of novelettes you’ve written. Does it
exist in the same universe as Wilders, like before the outbreak, or is
it a completely different literary dimension?
Totally different. It’s a futuristic space series. Good reminder – I need to keep working on that!
You are also an indie book reviewer. How long have you been reviewing
books? Does it predate your book review blog?
I actually did not realize how important reviews are for book sales. So, I admit to not reviewing books often prior to publishing. My blog is on hold right now, due to the demands on my time, but I hope to start it up again eventually.
What is in the works at the moment?
Box set of the full Wilders Trilogy with a professionally designed (beautiful! exciting!) cover by Fay Lane. “Autumn Nights: 12 Chilling Tales for Midnight” (Profits to Feeding America), and the first Sage Roberts full book, based off the short story I wrote for the first Autumn Nights anthology. It will be Urban Fantasy.
Who are your biggest inspirations, influences and role models?
That’s a really good question. I think it changes day to day. I have to say right now it’s my boos at my job. She is amazing. She always keeps her cool, she manages a million moving parts without snapping or snipping, and she truly cares about each and every patient. It’s inspiring to have a boss that works just as hard, if not longer and harder, than those that they supervise.
We’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month this March and are asking
all the talented women we’re talking to to name a few women who have
changed their lives for the better. It can be someone you know
personally or just someone you admired.
My Mom, Meg Holeva, Dixon Reuel, K.A. Miltimore, I’m starting to really admire Jerusha from Write Hive. Man, there are so many amazing women out there in our everyday lives…I’m glad you’re asking people to recognize them.
Where can people find you online and on social media?