Today the Motown Writer’s Network would like to introduce you to one of Detroit’s brightest stars, Young Adult author Cassandra Carter.
Cassandra Charisse Carter is the 23-year-old authoress of two novels for young adults, Fast Life (July 2007) and 16 Isn’t Always Sweet (March 2008). Born on Tuesday, February 21, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Cassandra is the product of a single-parent home.
While her interests range from fashion to music, Cassandra exhibited a passion for writing at a young age. Her unique talent for storytelling was first noticed in short stories written for her mother, but she also received praise from her teachers and her peers. At the tender age of 9, Cassandra and her mother moved to Michigan where Cassandra continued to explore different ways to express herself on paper. While studying various writing styles throughout the years, she has preserved an original voice that today’s generation can relate to.
Cassandra was only 14 years-old when she created the concept for Fast Life. Inspired by a dream, she completed what would be her very first novel the following summer when she was just 15. With the encouragement of her family and help from a literary agent, Cassandra signed a contract with the Harlequin imprint, Kimani Tru, two years later. An honors graduate from Huron High School in Ann Arbor, MI Cassandra received her diploma just one month before welcoming the release of her first published title, Fast Life.
Ms. Carter currently resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan with her Mom, Susan, and the cutest cat ever named Oreon. She is a proud member of the Motown Writer’s Network based in Detroit, MI. Whenever she is not working on her newest book, Cassandra is busy speaking to youth in the community. For more info please visit http://www.facebook.com/AuthoressCassandraCarter!
5 Questions with Cassandra…
You began writing at such a young age; do you remember what your first short story was about?
I don’t remember what my first story was about, but there is one in particular that stands out. . . I was in 3rd grade when I made up this story about a chocolate volcano that erupted and washed away my hometown (Reading, PA). I incorporated my neighbors into the story and everything. It was so funny. Needless to say, my teacher at the time was so pleased with what I’d done, after raving about it to my Mom at a parent-teacher conference, she took it to her Master’s class to share it with them because she was so impressed.
Where do you believe your passion for writing comes from?
I would say I’m a natural-born writer. It’s hard to explain, but I always knew that’s what I was meant to do. I even wrote an essay about it once. I think it all began when my mom would read to me as a child. I always loved to read, and since reading and writing go hand in hand it came naturally. It didn’t take long before I got to the point where I didn’t want to just sit back and enjoy the story I wanted to find a way to get involved and come up with my own. I started off by taking stories I already knew, like the story of Pocahontas, and re-writing them. Then I progressed to writing original material which was mostly scary stories. Over time, I’ve nurtured my craft by taking just about every writing class I could: journalism, composition, etc. but I never thought it was practical to think I would ever actually become an authoress so I never thought to write a book until a dream inspired me. When I woke up I heard this voice say “Cassandra, you should write a book about that,” and it was a wrap. Fast Life is the first book I ever wrote. Two years later it was published.
What have been the most rewarding challenges you’ve faced while being a young author?
With Fast Life, I faced one of the biggest challenges any author can face and that’s editing. The original version of Fast Life was over 120,000 words which came out to over 500 pages so we had the task of cutting the book in half for length and content, all while trying to maintain a solid storyline and have everything still make sense. Any author reading this right now is probably like, “What?!” But in the end I feel like Fast Life came out even better because of the changes and I was extremely happy that my voice was preserved throughout. Another big thing for me has just been trying to adjust to being a part of the industry and learn the business side of things all while making the transition from a teenager to adulthood myself. What a lot of people don’t know is there is a lot more that comes along with being an author than just writing the book. The industry is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn.
What are some of your goals in your writing career?
In hopes of establishing myself as a full time writer, I hope to release new books, and soon. I would like to branch out into urban fiction in addition to romance and Young adult fiction. Hopefully one of my books will make the New York Time’s Best Seller’s list one day. I would love to turn my books into movies eventually. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about that. I would also like to be a guest writer for different newspapers and magazines. I am still playing around with the idea of blogging, too. I think one of the best things for me personally, is when I have a chance to have one-on-one interaction with my readers so I’m looking forward to more speaking opportunities. Like Drake said, “I just want to be successful.”
What advice would you give today’s young writer?
Believe in yourself and your talent. Never doubt yourself. I know you’ve heard it a million times to the point where it almost sounds cliché, but it’s true , especially as an artist. It’s something even I have struggled with. It can be scary to think about putting your work out there for everyone to see, but it is important to remain open to criticism without taking it personally. Before Fast Life came out I remember being anxious over the language and content and the fact that now everyone I know, including my teachers and my family, were going to be able to see it. I was worried I might get in trouble since I’d written it when I was 14 – 15 but then my grandmother told me, “This is your writing and no one can take it from you,” and that stayed with me.