It must be Monday, because I'm talking with another fantastic author! Today we have Cady Hammer, who has been a writer for most of her life. From the time she was eleven years old writing her first novel between classes, she always looked to the world to bring inspiration. She was often teased for being in her own world, but never hesitated to invite others along on the adventure. She now spends her time at the College of William and Mary pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History and minoring in Anthropology. Cady is the author of the Chasing Fae Trilogy and loves to create stories that take people away from the world for a while. She creates her universes with inspiration from her studies, trying to create a place that feels so real that readers have to explore it. These stories explore the complexities of relationships crafted around the idea that love, friendship, and grief are all interwoven. She hopes to one day become a bestselling author alongside her desired career in museum work.
You can jump right to her social media here, or you can keep reading her interview!
Website link: https://cadyhammer.com
Blog link: https://fluffaboutfantasy.com
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to publish young. I was inspired by Andrew Clements’ A
School Story where a girl in middle school and her best friend concoct a scheme to get the book that she has written to her mom’s publishing house without anyone knowing that it is her. Clements gave a thorough walkthrough of the process of publishing in a way that a young reader could understand, and it drove me to create.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first novella length piece in fifth grade; I was eleven years old. It was a sweet middle grade fantasy adventure story that will never see the light of day, but it helped build my confidence that I could in fact finish a book.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I have written two full-length books that are part of my young adult fantasy trilogy, Chasing Fae and Chasing War, as well as a companion short story collection called Chasing The Past. I also have been posting regular episodes of my young adult fantasy serial fiction project, The Ivy Labyrinth on Kindle Vella and Radish. I think my favorite so far has been Chasing War. I love the complexity of the storyline and all of the subplots.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think the most surprising part of writing my books for me has been how many
unexpected plot points I have found while writing those first drafts. I am someone who works with pretty extensive outlines just to help me frame the story and make sure I’m hitting all of my major emotional moments. But one of the best parts of writing to me is when I come up with an idea that flows perfectly from one moment to the next or a chapter that mends a gaping plot hole with only a few pages. I find those times to be when I am the most creative.
What do you think makes a good story?
In my opinion, a good story needs three things. First, it needs relatable characters. Without some trait for readers to attach themselves to, they have no desire to engage with the people you have written into existence or follow them on their journey. Second, it needs a world that readers want to dive into and walk around in, maybe even live in for a while. The world should act like a character itself, growing and changing as the plot goes on. Finally, the conflict in the plot has to reach out and grab readers. The events as they unfold need to be enough to keep the reader entertained.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
Over the course of my career, I plan on having several series and a few standalone books. While each book or grouping of books will have their own unique stories, I hope that my body of work as a whole will have some clear tropes that define my writing style. For example, I’m a huge fan of badass female protagonists, enemies-to-lovers romance, and found family in my fantasy stories.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. There’s honestly nothing quite like creating a whole new world or set of characters and bringing them to life.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
After publishing Chasing Fae, I settled into a familiar writing process. I needed to set a certain amount of time aside to plan out my story. I work through character profiles for all the main characters, make sure the worldbuilding has lots of strong supporting details, and complete a detailed plot outline so I know where to steer during my drafting stage. Publishing my first book also taught me that it takes me 4-5 drafts to complete the story and incorporate all of the details that I want to. I have really been able to streamline my revision process, and I’m really happy with it.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I have a few different strategies for marketing my books. I use BookFunnel with a free reader magnet to attract readers to my author newsletter, which I send out once a month with all kinds of news, exclusive details, and promos. I do a lot of platform building across Facebook, Instagram, and most recently, TikTok, to get my name out there and let people see who I am and what my books are. For reviews, I reach out to book bloggers in my genres and offer them a chance to read my books for free. I’m always looking for honest feedback. But overall, nothing sells a book like the next book, so I’m mainly working on building up my backlist.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers sometimes! Often, it is through book reviews o comments on my social media accounts. But occasionally, I will have a reader reach out to me via messaging or the contact form on my website. Sometimes, they share their opinions of my stories; other times, they as for advice about their own writing. I think hearing from and connecting with readers is the best part about being an author.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am part of several amazing writing groups where I have met authors that have helped shape me as a writer. Many of my writing groups have large group chats on Twitter that we swap writing ideas, ask questions, and share successes. Some of the authors that come to mind are C. S. Ratliff, Jennifer Lynn Burrows, Sherri L. Hollister, Jennifer Roachford, and Dartanyan Johnson. More recently, I formed a small writing group with two authors that I met at 20BooksVegas in November. Meryl Yourish and Laura Nelson have been amazing writers to chat with bi-weekly, and I love being able to talk craft and learn from each other.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t limit yourself to traditional publishing because you think that’s the best or even the only way to have your voice heard. There is so much to be done in indie publishing. You get to have creative control over your work, you get to make all of the decisions, and there are readers ready to devour that work even if you’re not coming from the Big 5.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Spend time reading work in your genre so that you know what your readers expect. When you’re ready to write, make sure that you write your first draft fast. Set a timeline, maybe a month to six weeks, and stick to it. The best advice I have is when you are writing an idea for the first time, you have to keep yourself from self-editing during the process. So many
writers do this, and it can prevent you from actually finishing that idea that you are so passionate about. The first draft of any story is to translate the idea from head to page. Once the framework is there, you can always build upon it.
What does literary success look like to you?
I want to have enough readers that want the next book to pester me about it. I’m not sure exactly what that number is, but I feel like I’ll know when I’ve made it. I would love to be able to fill up an indie bookstore with readers when I came to do a signing. Also, I think I will only have achieved literary success fully once all of my writing ideas are completed. When the last book is written, I think I will finally be able to rest. But to be honest, it’s going to be a while. I have a few dozen more book ideas left to write.
What do you have coming next?
What’s coming next? I plan to continue with The Ivy Labyrinth on Kindle Vella and Radish, hopefully about three episodes a month. Next month, I will be releasing a compiled volume of the first 21 episodes of that so that people who aren’t familiar with the token-based platforms. Also coming up this year, I hope to release the final book of the Chasing Fae trilogy as well as a prequel to the series. Once 2023 rolls around, I hope to alternate releases (one of each a year) of two planned series for the next several years: a fairytale retelling series and a new adult academy series.