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INTERVIEW: Cass Grafton’s Journey from Fan Fiction to Traditional Publishing

Updated: Jan 30


Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


I've been a fan of Cass Grafton's for more than a decade, way back when I discovered Jane Austen fanfiction online and read A Fair Prospect. I have loved following her career from online posts to self-publishing and on to her current projects with Canelo Press. Over the years, I've been fortunate to even edit a book or two of Cass's. I love when she sends me her work because I know I am about to fully immerse into the world of a gifted storyteller, no matter the genre.


CHRISTINA: If you were to revise any of your books, which would you choose and why?

 

CASS: All of them! I only have to cast my eyes over a random chapter, and I always want to tweak, tweak, tweak!

 

The one that needs the most work, however, is the first thing I published, A Fair Prospect. It’s way too long, too repetitive (the downside of posting online in serial form over many years), too descriptive! Too everything! It’s the perfect example of a book that needs a good editor.

 


a calico cat and a fluffy dark cat sitting on a fence with blue sky background
Cass's cats, Tig and Tag

CHRISTINA: Too everything! Ha! And yet, it's the story that started you on this writing journey. Your writing has come a long way since then, but still, I'm sentimental about it as it's how I first found you.


What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love?

 

CASS: On a practical level, it’s our cats, Tig and Tag. They know when they’re ready to go out, and they leave us in no doubt about it. It’s a bit tougher in the summer months, when it gets light so early, so we’re looking forward to lying in a bit longer as the days grow shorter.

 

In reality, it’s the fact I feel blessed with my life. I feel lucky that my commute is to cross the landing to my study, sit at my desk and escape into a fictional world all day long, and then spend the evening with the man who makes all that possible. Without my husband’s constant love, support, understanding and ridiculous sense of humor, there would be no point to anything. 


CHRISTINA: I love that you don't seem to take any of these blessings for granted. Sounds lovely.


What is your current project or latest release?

 

CASS: I’m writing a five-book series of contemporary romances set in beautiful Cornwall. The first in the series (which was originally published in 2020 as The Cottage in a Cornish Cove), is coming out from my publisher in September this year, re-titled as New Dreams at Polkerran Point. The second book in the series—Escape to Polkerran Point—is due out in early 2024. At the moment, I’m busy writing the third, which is set at Christmas.


CHRISTINA: Yes, yes, yes! I loved The Cottage in a Cornish Cove, and I am thrilled you are continuing the series. Thrilled!


What is your favorite of your own novels?

 

CASS: I think New Dreams at Polkerran Point, but outside of what I’m currently writing, it would be the Austen-inspired A Quest for Mr. Darcy.

 

I really enjoyed creating the purely original characters, such as Bingley's twin sisters and the Lassiter family, and I loved, loved, loved the mystery intertwined with the romance.

 

CHRISTINA: I always have a soft spot for any of your Austen stories but am really looking forward to the rest of the Polkerran Point books.


Have you gone on an author pilgrimage or research trip? Where and what was the most memorable moment?

 

CASS: Yes, a few times, but the most memorable wasn’t the first. I’d been on the Jane Austen trail many a time, but in 2014, I managed something I’d longed for: a stay at No.4 Sydney Place, Bath, the Austens’ main residence during their few years living in the city.

 

Crossing the hallowed threshold was a ‘shake me’ moment but staying for a couple of nights in the ground floor apartment—rooms which I believe housed the family parlor and Mr. Austen’s study in Jane’s day—became inspirational due to a particular incident. 


White lady under arched white doorway. Number 4 marked prominently to the left of the door.
Cass Grafton under the threshold of No. 4., Sydney Place

The drawing room of the holiday let fronted onto the street, and the bedroom (which contained an old iron safe built into the back wall) faced the walled back garden. They were divided by a wide door with no lock or fastening, just a plain handle. When I woke after my first night, I couldn’t open the door. It wouldn’t yield at all. Aside from the practical issue of my car keys and the only pair of shoes I’d brought on my short trip being on the other side of the door, it set me off imagining that it wouldn’t open because Jane was on the other side, having slipped through time from 1803, when she lived there, to the present day.

 

That was the moment that the plot bunny for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen hopped into being.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to stay at No. 4 a couple more times, once in the first floor apartment, which would have been the smart drawing room in Jane’s day, and once in the second floor one, which included sleeping in the bedroom alleged to have been Jane and Cassandra’s during their residence.

 

I think the house is mainly returned to privately let apartments now, but the basement flat—which was rented by Rose in the time travel books—is still availabing on AirBnB!

 



CHRISTINA: Well, the next time I come to Bath, I really must see if I can stay there! Who knew?!


Do you hide any secrets in your novels only a select few might know?

 

CASS: Sort of! I love to include a mystery of some kind in most of my novels. There was one to unravel in both A Quest for Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion, and both the time travel novels featuring Jane Austen have mysteries to resolve before the characters can get out of their respective predicaments.

 

There are also small snippets—lesser-known facts about the Austen family, or a quote from Jane’s letters to her sister or early works—woven into some bits of dialogue for Austen fans to try and detect.


CHRISTINA: I do enjoy finding Easter eggs in books!


Dreamcast your next book...

 

CASS: I never used to think about actors in relation to my early works. I had my own image of Darcy in my head, and that was enough, but that changed when I started to co-write with my friend, Ada Bright. When writing The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, we realized we both needed to be imagining the same face and physical attributes for each character—that was an extremely pleasant afternoon on Google Images!

 

Although a contemporary novel, Rose’s look was inspired by Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in Poldark, with her long auburn curls and pale complexion. It seemed only fitting that Ross Poldark himself, aka Aidan Turner, became the brooding face of Dr. Aiden Trevellyan (did you see what we did there, with his initials)? Tom Mison (who played Bingley in Lost in Austen) was the inspiration for Rose’s boss, James, and Jenna Coleman (Lydia Bennet in Death Comes to Pemberley) for Rose’s American friend, Morgan. 


With the sequel, The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen, being set mainly in 1813, we also got Rose and Aiden into Regency clothing for most of the novel, which made writing it rather fun!

 

Since then, I’ve always drawn up a cast sheet of images for every character, and for New Dreams in Polkerran Point this included Richard Armitage for Oliver. There’s even a scene in the book which is an homage to the adaptation of North & South (no, not the train scene)!

 

I’m only just realizing the Austen connection in my choice of actors. Even when you think you’re writing something unrelated, the lady’s influence is clear to see!


CHRISTINA: Dreamcasting is one of my favorite things! Armitage in anything is absolutely acceptable to me. However, I will always imagine your Oliver in New Dreams in Polkerran Point as "my friend" Henry Cavill. I think he's overdue to play a contemporary, cerebral romantic lead.


Thanks so much for your time, Cass. I know as you ramp up for release of this new series you are busy, busy, busy. I wish you much success with the release. It's such a fantastic book with a thoughtful, swoon worthy romance. I hope the next trip across the pond, we finally get to share a glass of wine together at the very least.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cass began her writing life in Regency England, enlisted Jane Austen’s help to time-travel between then and the present day and is now happily ensconced in 21st century Cornwall.


Well, in her imagination and soul; her heart and physical presence reside in northern England with her ever-patient husband and Tig and Tag, their cute but exceptionally demanding moggies.


A bit of a nomad, Cass has called three countries home, as well as six different English counties, but her aspiration is to one day reunite with her beloved West Country.


In the meantime, she writes feel-good contemporary romances set in Cornwall and, in doing so, manages to live there vicariously through her characters and settings.


An Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, Cass is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Jane Austen Society UK, and the Society of Authors.


You can connect with Cass via her WEBSITE FACEBOOK TWITTER/X INSTAGRAM

 

6 Yorum


Sophia Rose
Sophia Rose
23 Eyl 2023

Lovely visit you had with Cass! Yay for her new Cornwall series book. :)

Beğen
Christina Boyd
Christina Boyd
28 Eyl 2023
Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

I loved this first book. Looking forward to the rest.

Beğen

Great interview of a great author! Many thanks, Christina and Cass!

Beğen
Christina Boyd
Christina Boyd
28 Eyl 2023
Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Cass is such a talented storyteller. Like you. xx

Beğen

Misafir
19 Eyl 2023

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Christina! Great questions!

Beğen
Christina Boyd
Christina Boyd
19 Eyl 2023
Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Thanks, Cass, for your time and candor! I wish you much success with this new series. I can’t wait to read the books.

Beğen
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