Broken Heart Club: Q & A with Cathy Cassidy
Read our fascinating Q & A below with bestselling author Cathy Cassidy, to find out more about what inspires her writing and her new book Broken Heart Club.
What inspired you to write your new book, Broken Heart Club? And what made you decide to write a standalone book after the Chocolate Box Girls series?
Broken Heart Club was originally inspired by a group of five girls I met after a school book talk and signing, maybe five or six years ago. As I signed books for them, they told me that they were best friends and that the initials of their names could be jumbled up to spell the word ‘heart’. ‘We’re the Heart Club,’ one of them explained. ‘Can you put us in a story?’ Afterwards, thinking about the name, I came up with the title Broken Heart Club and a storyline about a group of teens whose friendship group has shattered in a very dramatic way. The girls emailed for quite a while, and I told them I had an idea for a story, but I was writing the Chocolate Box Girls series by then and had no time to explore the idea further. Once the series was finished, I finally had the chance to write Broken Heart Club. It isn’t about those original five girls, but it was definitely inspired by them! I love that the story is told from two alternating viewpoints, a girl and a boy, and that it has a few surprises along the way!
I wanted to write a stand alone after the Chocolate Box Girls series to give myself a bit of a breathing space… there will be another series, but that planning/ dreaming time to work out what I wanted that to be has been invaluable. Plus, I love writing one-off books… they’re kind of cool!
What kind of books did you enjoy when you were growing up?
All my books came from public libraries when I was growing up, so I had the luxury of reading widely across many genres. I loved all kinds of books – adventure, fantasy, classics, thrillers and more. I had a little brother and I would borrow picture books to read to him, although clearly it was me who loved them most, and in the end I went to art college and trained to be an illustrator! I read art books, history books, books about travel, philosophy, fashion, animals… the list was endless. My best tip for any young bookworm – get yourself a library ticket and use your local libraries. Libraries open doors, open minds, open imaginations.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
Probably The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, which I read aged sixteen – I had never read anything quite like it. I loved it and it changed the way I thought about books and stories.
What made you want to be a writer?
The daydreams in my head, I think! I’ve been inventing characters and stories in my mind for as long as I can remember… writing them down was the next logical step! Even as a child I loved making home-made books and comics for friends and family. That desire to share a story has always been there!
Do you have a favourite place to write?
When I lived in Scotland, I had a little blue writing shed where most of my books were written. I loved it, but it was freezing in winter! We moved down to Merseyside three years ago and now I have a writing room at home with all my favourite vintage books and toys displayed around the room. There are fairy lights, a rainbow-maker and usually a lurcher dog or two drifting about the place. In the summer, I open up the sash windows and curl up on the balcony that looks out across the park. I’m not saying I get much work done, but it’s great for daydreaming!
What helps you write? (music, food, TV, etc)
Not music – the lyrics get stuck in my head and distract me, although I’m often inspired by music at the planning/ daydreaming stage. Chocolate has been known to help me through the last few chapters of a book, but chocolate and I have a kind of love/hate relationship and currently it’s off the menu. TV? I actually don’t watch much TV at all, and only give one houseroom because the rest of the family quite like it. I can’t imagine it helping anyone to write. So what does help me to write? Discipline, daydreams and the sheer terror of letting down my readers!
Do you have any writing tips for any aspiring writers out there?
Write a little every day if you can – outside school, not just in class. Write about what you care about, because the passion will show in your work. Believe in what you are doing, even if others do not. Lastly, don’t expect instant success… as with any skill, practice makes perfect, so you have to be determined and keep at it!
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