3Ws – Cassandra Dunn

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What do you create?

I write novels and short stories, and occasionally blog posts, but those are a tad inconsistent these days.

My debut novel, The Art of Adapting, came out this summer from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. It’s the story of a family in transition: Lana is recently separated and seeking a balance between caring for her family single-handedly and caring for herself. Lana’s brother Matt, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, moves in with Lana after he suffers an accidental overdose. Lana’s children, Byron and Abby, are in the thick of their own teen dramas, reluctant to warm up to their quirky uncle, feeling distant from their estranged parents, and not sure where they fit in. As each of the four characters finds their own way, they also learn to pull together in their new, unconventional family.

 

Why do you create?

I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend my time. There’s something about following the paths of made-up characters, giving them challenges to overcome and moments of pure joy to keep them going, digging in until they are as real to me as actual people, that really fulfills me. I write every day, and a lot of it never leaves my notebook or Word file. It’s all part of a process for me, looking for the story I have to tell or character I can’t let go of. I’m writing even when I don’t have a blank page in front of me. I tell my daughters a story every night at bedtime, made up on the spot: maybe about a turtle who has a squirrel best friend, until the other turtles make fun of him for it, and how he convinces all the turtles that this is one awesome squirrel, and they all become friends. A simple story, a real issue, and a resolution, all dreamed up and delivered in five minutes. It’s my nightly creative mind workout. I love the short story form, and I’ve published a dozen short stories in various literary journals, but novels are the greatest challenge and passion for me.

 

What do you consume?

Books, books, and more books. And coffee. And chocolate. But mostly books. I have a dozen to-read books on my nightstand, another pile in my office, a couple in my car, and never enough time to get to all of them. In one of the piles right now is Tinkers, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Chalice and the Blade, Gilead, Conflict Resolution in the Elementary Classroom, Sharp Objects, and Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? My tastes are eclectic. I like movies, everything from dramas to comedies to action pictures–pretty much whatever Netflix has just added. I love yoga, hiking with my dog, and just sitting in the back yard sun listening to the birds for a peaceful moment. I’m a single mom to two amazing, busy kids, so I don’t have a lot of down time. Most of my non-writing time is about them: school drop off and pick up, homework, field trips, gymnastics, horseback riding, play dates, birthday parties, playing referee in their fights, and just sitting with them and listening to what they have to say. Their activities and outings get me out of my head and into the world, where I can observe new and different people, and then drift back into my head, dreaming up stories to stick them into.

 

Links

Website: http://www.cassandradunn.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cassdunn
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cassandra.a.dunn
The Art of Adapting: http://amzn.com/1476761604

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