Author Spotlight: Casey Hagen | CJC Photography

Author Spotlight: Casey Hagen

False Start by Casey Hagen, Casey Hagen romance author, David Wills model, Riley Rebecca model

CJC: How did you get started as an author and what made you want to pursue that field?

CH: I had different beginnings than my peers. I didn’t love reading. I hated it. Avoided it growing up at all costs. I struggled, not the actual reading, but processing what I read and retaining. I never read a single required reading book growing up and bullshitted my way through all of my book reports and papers…until a teacher beginning of senior year of high school caught on to me. He didn’t confront me, didn’t fail me, he brought in banned books. Hello! Books I’m not supposed to read…sign my ass up please and thank you! He challenged me hard. He taught me how to analyze and debate story structure, character, and themes…and boom! I was hooked. At my graduation he told me I should be writing, but I kind of laughed it off. I probably shouldn’t have. He’s now an author, screenwriter, and executive producer and look at me…an author. I ended up going to college and graduating with honors with a BA in English Literature. All because of that love of literature he sparked. When I was 21, my then mother-in-law gave me romance novels for my birthday and I felt obligated to read them…they were a gift after all. The first was This Matter of Marriage by Debbie Macomber and that was it. I was hooked again. I read a book a day for 20 years after that and during that time, started a book of my own, but set it aside because my kids were young and very busy and I just couldn’t devote the time to it. I pulled that sucker out in 2014, declared the bulk of it absolute shit, set out to fix everything, and bam…I made it happen.

CJC: What do you find to be the most rewarding and challenging part of being an author and what hurdles have you overcome while striving towards your goals?

CH: Talking about and promoting myself. Screaming from the rooftops about my accomplishments is crippling for me. I’m more of a “here you go, now I’m just going to back on out of here and you never saw me” kind of girl. I’m willing to talk about literally anything else.

CJC: Which novel has been your favorite to write and why?

CH: False Start with Devious Wingman a close second and I think part of it is that they’re in first person. When I started out, I wrote in third person as people will see by my older stories, but the indie reading community really leans toward first so I made the switch. And False Start because I’ve been wanting to write roller derby for years now and the time finally came to make it happen and not in a hokey way. In a true representation of a sport that historically was controlled by men putting women especially, on spectacle.

CJC: For first time readers of your work, which book would you recommend?

CH: I’m going to say False Start for a multitude of reasons. My craft evolves with every book so my most recent is always my strongest. There’s a powerful woman component…a sisterhood. Plus, it’s a hot new series/world and not going to lie, the first sex scene in this one even had me sitting back going, “Guuurrrrlllll, no you didn’t.”

I did. I so did, lol.

CJC: If one of your books were made into a movie, which would you select and who would you like to star in it?

CH: False Start hands down. Women need this in their lives, for real. And skating is sexy. There’s more than just roller derby skating between these covers…there’s a fair bit of jam skating by one incredibly haunted, hot hero who can do anything standing on wheels.

And I mean anything…

As for the actors, this is really hard for me to envision because I really based these characters off your models, but… Armie Hammer a little rough around the edges would have been perfect, but he had to go ruin everything by making shit weird so maybe Theo James (in a buff period) or Scott Eastwood and as surprised as I am to say it, Demi Lovato and I’m not from the Demi Lovato generation, but yeah. There’s something intriguing about that.

CJC: For those looking to become an author, what advice would you give them?

CH: You don’t need to have an opinion on every new piece of gossip, drama, or outrage in the book world and when you do, you look like someone who is humping on the latest scandal to be relevant. Your peers will remember you for it. Besides, don’t you have a book to write? And yes, I remind myself of this advice often. I’m a work in progress too.

Watch out for service providers…especially when they round you up and channel you into groups and chat threads to pitch to you. It happens a lot. Some are legit. A hell of a lot are not.

Do your research on what you’re writing. And after you do, remember that people will come along (readers, other writers, critique partners, know-it-alls) and try to school you as though you haven’t. That’s about them, not you.

Reviews are none of your business. They’re for readers. Have someone you trust keep an eye on them for you and pull awesome quotes from them. Have them scan your negative reviews for anything you can act on. Like typos/editing issues. Those are the only useful things about a negative review.

There will be readers who don’t connect with your book or even hate it and that’s okay, after all, it’s happened to you, right?

Don’t respond to reviews. Ever. No really, don’t.

Oh, and humble brags are gross. Don’t do it.

Writing fast does not mean the writing is subpar. You will run into people who tell you otherwise. Ignore them. You have a story to tell…let it out as fast or as slow as it comes.

CJC: If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be and why?

CH: I actually can’t answer this because there are plans in the works. Let’s just say, the person I’d want to co-write with knows it and well…you’ll see!

CJC: Favorite motto?

CH: Fuck the patriarchy, love fearlessly, and most importantly…stay brutal.

CJC: What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

CH: I don’t believe in writer’s block, at least, not in the sense most use it. This is a job and when I sit down, just like if I were punching the clock at a company, this is my job and I do it. Now, that being said, when I get stuck on any level I ask myself four questions: What does your character want? What is the consequence if the character doesn’t achieve what he/she wants? What’s the worst thing that can happen to the character, in terms of story goal? How is the character different at the end of the book, as a result of the struggles he’s been through, as opposed to the beginning of the book?

If that doesn’t get my brain jump started…I call my best friend and she pummels me with what if until we figure it out.

Writers are isolated, their stories deeply personal and sometimes “writer’s block” is really just the need for another life perspective and fresh ideas from another.

CJC: In one word, how would you describe your writing style?

CH: Brutal.

CJC: Which do you find harder to do… writing the blurb for your story or selecting the cover?

CH: The blurb.

Always. The. Blurb.

I’m a wordy bitch. I don’t like to conform. Blurbs require conformity and minimal words. I mean, why not just shove splinters under my fingernails and be done with me, lol.

CJC: Which author inspires you the most and why?

CH: April Canavan hands down. She’s a living example daily of how to roll with it even as all the challenges come at you. When I make something bigger in my head than it needs to be, she’s right there to crush that shit to dust. She’s also super smart and can promo herself. I adore her in all the ways!

Okay, maybe we could stop enabling each other to spend money, but that’s it. Other than that…total adoration, lol.

CJC: What is your writing process like?

CH: I’m a full time author so the minute I get up, I’m in my office and I work until bedtime, seven days a week with breaks of course to play with my granddaughter who lives with us, cook, and have dinner with my family, but other than that, I’m working on some aspect of this business or my writing. And the book process goes a little something like this…

Fifty versions of chapter 1 before moving on. My foundation has to be perfect.

By chapter 6…look at me, I’m brilliant!

Chapter 7…no, you’re not, but funny you think so.

Chapter 10…um, I’m supposed to only have 20-25K and I have 40K, how am I going to do this? At this rate the book is going to be 120K.

On video chat with April where she says, “I told you so.”

I didn’t schedule enough days for 120K.

Panic attack.

Chapters 12-18 of laughing and crying…oh, and at this point I’ve slapped some thick ass Sharpie lines over those word count estimates on my plot. Oh, and my punch list of little tweaks for the story is now growing.

Why am I still screwing up and calling my hero’s sister Lillian? It’s Lilith. Yeesh.

Chapter 19…why haven’t they had sex yet? You’re past 50%…they need to bone. The reader is going to be pissed if they haven’t BONED!

Chapter 20…nope, bone doesn’t fit here cause that’s not how you wrote this one, duh.

Chapter 21…no one is going to like this book.

Chapter 22…BONE…my finger wagging its finger at me, “Has someone been on PornHub again?

Chapter 23…realize that this is not going to be just 30 chapters.

Maybe I should just name her Lillian at this point.

Chapter 24…I still have 15 threads to tie up, definitely not going to just be 30 chapters.

Chapter 25…I know I just cleaned my office, but it needs it again. Glares at work in progress.

Chapter 26…snarls at everyone in messenger when they message me. Where’s that punch list?

Chapter 27…April stops messaging me and instead messages my husband to see how “our girl” is doing with the race to her fourth deadline. You read that right…I’ve blown the first three.

Chapter 28…stomps around and cries that I have to break my characters. Punch list is now full so I’m scribbling crooked in the margins.

Scribbles “Find and replace Lillian with Lilith” on the punch list.

Chapter 29…break them and me.

Chapter 30…rereads something earlier in the book and mutters, “Okay, it’s actually pretty good. It’s going to be okay.”

Chapter 31…how many chapters over 30 am I going to go?

Chapter 32-?-Epilogue…it’s done and I can’t feel my hands. When did I shower last? Did I do anything for promo? Oh cool, I forgot to prep my ARC readers. That sounds like me.

Takes three days to catch up before starting it all over again.

CJC: What new projects are you currently working on and what are your goals for the remainder of the year?

CH: Right now I’m working on book 2 in the series…Hip Whip. This series will be my focus this entire year. There are preorders up for Low Block, Jam Line, Grand Slam, and Turn Stop. After that, I’m pretty sure I’m going to build on this world because I really do love it!

CJC: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photography readers?

CH: If you love a book, tell the author. Just a quick note. You never know…your message might be hitting their inbox right at their lowest point in their writing…like chapter 21 up there. That encouragement makes all the difference in a lonely and often isolated creative process. We want to hear from you. We want to know our stories are making a difference. And remember…we’re avoiding our reviews, lol, so we aren’t getting encouragement there.

CJC: Casey, It has been such a pleasure working with you on your new series. I can’t wait to read False Start featuring David and Riley, which is now available here!

Stay up to date with all of Casey’s upcoming releases here!


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