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Guest Author - Cathy Cassidy

What was the picture book about that you wrote for your brother when you were a child?

It was about a very tall sunflower… shooting unexpectedly amongst a whole lot of weeds! Not sure it was too original, but I liked it!

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around – things I see, hear, remember, imagine. Then I daydream, and if I’m very lucky, a story unfolds! My readers are very inspiring, too – meeting them as often as I can is great, as it makes sure I never run short of ideas for characters!

Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite?

Mouse is my favourite. He’s a boy with a serious talent for trouble… but he is also true to himself and stands up for the things he believes in. I’ve written about him in two books, ‘Dizzy’ and also ‘Lucky Star’, which I wrote specially so I could give him the happy ending he deserved. The world needs more boys like Mouse!

Tell us more about ‘The Chocolate Box Girls’ series …

I wanted to write a series about five sisters and tell each part of the story through the eyes of a different sister. Adding a chocolate theme was great, as I have a series interest in chocolate – and after all, you should always write about the things you care about, right? Let’s just say that doing the research was fun! In ‘Cherry Crush’, the first book, Cherry moves from Glasgow to Somerset when her dad falls in love again … and she finds herself with a new stepmum and four new stepsisters! I set the book in a Somerset village where I once worked as a student, so the whole project feels quite personal …I can’t wait to write the next book!

Where did the inspiration for Cherry Costello come from?

Cherry is half Scottish and half Japanese, and the idea for that came from some second cousins in Dublin who are actually half Irish and half Japanese … I love the way they have a foot in two very different cultures! Cherry also has a habit of muddling up truth and fantasy, and that is a phase many teens go through when they are not too sure of where they belong in the world … it’s a trait that fascinates me.

Is writing a series easier or harder than writing a single book?

Harder, because each new book has to stand on the shoulders of the ones before … everything must be linked. So everything has to be right first time around … no pressure, of course! I guess that on the flip side, you DO already know your characters, or most of them, so that part may be easier!

If you could be any character from fiction who would you be and why?

I used to want to be Alice from ‘Alice In Wonderland’ … I even took style tips from her as an art student … but not so sure now if I’d like to be in her shoes!

As a fan of cupcakes is a Cathy Cassidy Cupcake Cookbook a possibility in the future?

Sounds like a plan! There is a mini book called ‘Cupcakes & Kisses’, but it would be cool to expand on the idea … as long as I get to personally test every recipe, of course!

Will any of your book series become TV shows or films?

I’d love that! It’s not up to me, of course, but I think some of the books would make great TV and my readers agree … they are always asking me this! Are you listening, Mr Spielberg?

As an art teacher as well as a writer, do you think you’ll combine the two in the future?

I do combine writing and illustrating in my Daizy star series for younger readers, and I love that … but not sure combining teaching art and writing would work so well. Teaching is an amazing career, and I loved it … but it’s something you need to give 100% to, and writing is the same.

Who are your literary idols?

Whoa … there are a lot! I worship writers like JD Salinger, William Saroyan and Sylvia Plath, but in the children’s or YA arena I love Jerry Spinelli, Michelle Magorian, Meg Rosoff, Kevin Brooks, David Levithan, Morris Gleitzman and a whole lot more.

With over 800,000 books sold in the UK alone, do you have any writing ambitions you’d still like to fulfil?

Getting to one million would be good … a nice round number! Seriously, I’d just love to go on writing and knowing that kids connect with my books. I’d love to have a magazine one day, too – my magazine roots are hard to shake off!

What advice can you give budding young writers?

Believe in the dream and work as hard as you can to make it happen. Like any other skill, you need to practice to improve – so write every day, and write about the things that matter to you. It will show in your writing!

What do fans of Cathy Cassidy have to look forward to for the rest of the year?

I’ll be settling down now to write the net book in the Chocolate Box Girls series, ‘Vanilla Skye’ … so no new books until Spring, when there will be the third in the Daizy Star series. ‘Vanilla Skye’ will be out in September 2011, and there may be a few secret projects happening too … we’ll see! As always, there is LOTS going on over on the website www.cathycassidy.com, including a brilliant comp for all budding writers on the WRITERS WORKSHOP page!

Can you sum up ‘Cherry Crush’ in 3 words?

Friendship, family & falling-in-love! (Sorry, I cheated!)

Book Review

The Chocolate Box Girls: Cherry Crush by Cathy Cassidy

Published by Puffin
Published 2nd September 2010
RRP £10.99 hardback
ISBN 978-0141384795

Cherry Costello’s life is about to change forever. She and Dad are moving to Somerset where a new mum and a bunch of brand-new sisters await. And on Cherry’s first day there she meets Shay Fletcher; with sun-tanned skin and sea-green eyes he’s the kind of boy who should carry a government health warning. But Shay already has a girlfriend, Cherry’s new stepsister, Honey. Cherry knows her friendship with Shay is dangerous – it could destroy everything. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to stay away from him ...

Recommended for readers 12+