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Cassidy and Chris
“I’m trained to protect,” Chris answers, never wavering. “I’m trained to eliminate those people who would hurt my family, and my country. Anything beyond that is wrong.” He shakes his head. “I just don’t want you to get used to killing, Cassidy. You’re better than that.”
I rest my hands on my hips.
“I hate killing,” I say. “But I hate Omega more.”
A cool gust of wind blows Chris’s hair into his face.
“We do what we have to so that we can survive,” Chris tells me. “We don’t do it for any other reason than to protect and serve.”
I turn away from him, angry, unshed tears spilling onto my cheeks.
“This isn’t just about survival anymore,” I say. “This is about revenge.”
To Be Human
I understand what it is to be human. To be human is to make mistakes. To be human is to feel pain and loss. To be human is to be jealous, to be insecure. To be human is to be either supremely overconfident or to second guess every decision you make.
To be human is to feel, on an incredible level, the full agony of what it means to live. Of what it means to sacrifice the things that you want – and to lose the people you love the most.
As we walk through the forest, I think of Chris.
For ten years, all he did was fight and kill and lose people he loved. It was such a painful experience that his humanity was removed. He no longer felt anything. He was numb and tired. He existed – but that was all. And then came the EMP, the militias, and me.
And now, he says he is human again.
Me? I feel like I’m getting farther and farther away from my humanity.
Cassidy Hart is Vengeance
In my mind, I see the pieces of an elaborate puzzle coming together. I feel a jolt of electricity, and I realize that I’m excited. Scared to death? Sure. But excited. The rush of going on a mission is a thrill ride like no other.
My name is Cassidy Hart, I think. I am vengeance.
Where do you write?
I write at my desk. I rarely write anywhere else. It is my bubble of creativity, I suppose. I just turn on my music, close the door, and write. Sometimes it takes me thirty minutes – sometimes it takes me seven hours. It depends on what I’m writing. It depends on how difficult it is for me to create a specific scene or convey a certain emotion. If I’m writing an emotional scene, it can take me a long time.
My favorite place to write, though, is in the mountains, in the seclusion of a quiet forest. That’s where imagination really works well.
When do you write?
Mornings. 7 to 12 is the optimal time for me. Once noon hits, I’m pretty much done for the day when it comes to creative writing. I find that writing at the same time every day is really healthy for a writer. For example, my current manuscript requires a minimum of five pages per day. I can write more, but I certainly can never write less. Setting those little goals is helpful.
Favorite movie? Favorite television show?
I don’t think it’s possible for me to choose a favorite movie. I like so many! I really enjoy anything that’s action or adventure. I adore superhero movies and animated films – don’t even get me started on Wall-e. The Book of Eli is really cool, and so is any movie with Dwayne Johnson.
As far as television goes, I usually only have time to watch TV during June and July. I love Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls (La, la, la, la!), and I’m positively obsessed – and by obsessed I mean madly in love – with The Walking Dead.
Favorite classic book?
When I was growing up, I ONLY read classic literature. I really was completely unaware until the age of sixteen that there was such a thing as “easy-to-read stories,” like Twilight or Harry Potter. I remember being so impressed with how fun it was to read a book that wasn’t written in old English (Ivanhoe, anyone?).
My favorite classic books (yes, plural!) are Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Great Expectations and Dracula. In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a thing for stories with dark undertones.
One of my currents favorites is Muse. I adore them. They have such good songs! I also like Lady Antebellum and anything with a country sound. I am fascinated with Lana Del Rey and positively enraptured by any instrumental groups like Audio Machine or Two Steps from Hell.
What’s your schedule like as a writer?
I run a publishing business – I handle several different title releases per year. I have to come up with the content, coordinate all of the marketing strategies, edit the content, sell the content and monitor the content. I don’t like taking time off, but I have to. Sometimes! My busiest months are from November to June. I basically have about four to six major deadlines per month.
From July to September, I get a little slow-down in the madness. I work half-days, and I am able to relax my brain a bit so that I can create more content when Fall rolls around again. So right now, I’m just starting to enjoy some of the lazy days of summer – I’m going to Universal Studios Hollywood, Santa Monica Beach, camping in the mountains, and checking out a firework show for Independence Day.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I really like to read. I find it nearly impossible to read while I’m writing a manuscript. I just have to focus all of my attention on the story creation. So I only read when I’m not writing a book – which is usually on the weekends. I love to crochet – I adore it. It’s very soothing.
I think the best thing to do during the summer is to go swimming, watch a movie, and then sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck, smell the fruit in the orchards, and watch the stars. I could do that forever. I guess I’m just a little country girl at heart! I also enjoy cooking. Pioneer Woman is my favorite thing ever. I’m totally serious. Ree Drummond is my hero. She needs to adopt me and teach me her ways.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Here’s where I fess up and admit that I’m a hybrid. I plot out my stories, I know who the characters are, and I know exactly what’s going to happen before I actually sit down and write the book. However, I do not plot out the specific scenes. I have general ideas, but I allow the personalities of the characters and the environments to shape and mold the scene, therefore making it – in my opinion, at least – more organic.
At this point in the Collapse Series, the characters shape their own destinies. In many ways I am just following where they lead – I simply nudge them in the right direction.
Favorite writing snack?
Tea and chocolate. It’s my favorite combination. During the hot months, it’s iced tea, and during the cold months, it’s hot tea. I literally had a stack of eighteen snickers bars behind my desk. You know. Just in case I got a craving or something.
Collapse: The Illustrated Guide comes out this summer. The paperback will release first, and then the eBook will be available around August 2015. The conclusion to the Zero Trilogy, End of Day, will release October 9th, 2015. Then I’ve got the next Collapse book coming out in January 2016, Bravo: Apocalypse Mission in March 2016, and another Collapse book in June 2016.
So yeah. When I have downtime, I seize it and don’t let go!