I first became aware of the work of Spencer L Casey earlier this year when I read his new novel, ‘Dalia’s Fire’. It is a thriller about Jay and his daughter Dalia, who must face adversaries of both the human and supernatural kind, set against the backdrop of a raging fire in the Californian mountains. I found it an absorbing read. He very kindly agreed to be interviewed for my inaugural author of the month.
Hello Spencer, it is very exciting interviewing you for my blog. I really enjoyed ‘Dalia’s Fire’. I’m interested to know how long you have been writing?
My first poem came out in the fourth grade. It's a funny story, actually. We had a writing contest to get into a book published by educators in our county. Probably 30 schools and 15,000 kids. So our teacher had everyone write a poem. I wrote mine and threw it away. She retrieved it - love this woman forever - submitted it and it was chosen for the book along with maybe a hundred other pieces.
More than twenty-five years later, after I had been married to my love for several years, we were digging through some old boxes and discovered that we were both in that same book. The poem she "wrote" at five years old from a school sixty miles away, two decades before we would meet was published on the page just before mine. Weird, eh?
My first short story was in my late teens and my first novel was about nine years ago.
How you describe your writing style?
When I wrote for the county's Scripps Howard paper I was told I had a friendly writing style. I think I write in the moment. If you know horror, Dean Koontz would be in the moment and Anne Rice would be in a more abstract state. I'm closer to Mr. Koontz. I write mostly complex, difficult, emotional, sometimes horrific stories in a very straightforward way.
Is 'Dalia’s Fire' your first published novel?
I've written six books. Two are short-story compilations published under a different name. The other three are, well, practice novels. They will never be seen by any eyes but my own. So, yes, this is my first published novel. I have three more in various states of composition and plan on releasing one a year.
Can you tell me a little about your inspiration for the book?
I grew up and live in the area where the book takes place. In my early 20's a blaze called Fountain Fire swept through the hills and trees I had known like friends since I was old enough to know, much the way Jack Bastion knows and loves the wilderness near his home. The fire was a devastating time. My grandparents lost their home of twenty years or so in Round Mountain, Rounders Mountain in the book. The story grew from there, fueled by my fascination with the power of the human mind to create beyond the boundaries of thought.
I notice that a percentage from each copy of your book sold goes to help people who have suffered from the recent fires in California, which is a lovely idea. How often do real life events influence your work?
Real life events almost always influence what I write, whether it's for a setting, a character, an emotion or an idea. Even the most fantastical creations are filled with pieces of my own life. Real life is the fuel that burns during the writing process and the resulting flames are the story.
I heard you say once that you find writing in different genres helps you keep your writing fresh. You likened writing in one genre all the time to being like only eating one type of food. With that in mind, which genre do you consider the staple of your literary diet?
It's horror, definitely, although I'm afraid that turns many people off. I've tried dressing it up with words like suspense and thriller. I believe when many people think of horror they picture "Friday the 13th" movies where everyone must die, save that one final victim. That is miles from what I do. But horror is the accepted term for what I write most often.
Do you have a writing routine that you would mind sharing with us?
It varies, certainly. With four kids, a full-time job and seemingly endless obligations, I have to find writing time where I can. I think it's that way with many writers these days. But I carry with me either my MacBook or AlphaSmart NEO almost all the time, so I can take advantage of unexpected bits of time.
They say every writer should first be a reader. Which authors are your favourites and why?
I read a lot. I think that's as important as writing to an author. Favorites are hard, but I think my top five right now would be Koontz and King for their style and fantastical stories, Terry Brooks for nostalgic reasons, Orson Scott Card for his pure brilliance and Christopher Moore for his blending of horror and comedy.
I really enjoyed 'Dalia’s Fire'. It gripped me from start to finish and I would like to find out more about the characters introduced in the book. Have you plans for a sequel?
There are five element novels. The second is called "Twin Waters" and I expect to complete it in 2010. Right now I have two others in process, a wonderful futuristic fantasy I conceived many years ago and am finally capable of writing and a pure fantasy which may or may not take precedence.
And finally Spencer, if you only had one paragraph to describe 'Dalia’s Fire' to potential readers, what would you say?
Well, that standard blurb is : In the beautiful mountains of Northern California, a young women is abducted and thought murdered by her estranged father. Now she must fight for her life and the life of her unborn daughter, a child who holds the key to the greatest power the world has ever known.
If I was just talking to someone I might say, "This book is a ride. It's about sacrifice and courage and the power of the mind. But in the end, as with nearly everything I write, this novel is about love, and what a human being can accomplish and endure simply because love exists. That theme is what I write and why I write it."
If you would like to find out more about Spencer L Casey and ‘Dalia’s Fire’, check out his blog, which he writes under the name George Coddard, a character in a D.H. Lawrence book, his Facebook Fan Page for Dalia’s Fire and Dalia’s Fire is also for sale on Lulu.com and Amazon.com.
Next week I will post a review of ‘Dalia’s Fire.’