Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Author Interview: Alex J. Cavanaugh

I'm honored and thrilled to have Alex J. Cavanaugh visiting my blog today. If you're a blogger that's been around the blogosphere at all, then you know Alex. If you don't, you should. He is one of the nicest bloggers I know. He's amassed an amazingly loyal and huge ninja army who refer to him fondly as the "Ninja Master". He stuns us all with his abilty to visit hundreds of blogs a day while writing books and blog post, working a full-time job and living a life. Secretly, I think he's a robot and never sleeps. ;)

Thank you, Alex for taking the time to come by and answer all my questions.

JS:  You had a book published in 2010 (CassaStar) and one in Febuary (CassaFire). Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about your books?
 AJC:  CassaStar follows Byron, a cocky young man determined to succeed as a Cosbolt fighter pilot. Standing in his way is Bassa, the toughest trainer in the fleet. Both men need a friend and a chance to heal past wounds. When war erupts on the edge of space, Bassa follows Byron into battle as his navigator. Struggling with trust, the two must to come to terms if they hope to survive.

CassaFire begins twenty years later. Keeping his promise to Bassa, Byron is now the senior pilot on an exploration vessel. Sent to the desert planet of Tgren to investigate alien ruins, Byron finds himself saddled with the training of a young woman whose mental powers rival his own. Struggling to maintain his privacy, Byron fights his growing feelings for Athee and a budding friendship with a young scientist. A crisis with the alien ruins challenges Byron’s beliefs and plans for his life.

JS:  What book are you working on now?
 AJC:  The third and final book in the series, CassaStorm, which begins twenty years after CassaFire ends. (Note a pattern here?) It will involve an intergalactic war, the aliens who created the ruins, and a situation that could wipe out all of the races.

JS:  Will this be the last book in the series? Will you keep writing when this series is done?
 AJC:  Will I keep writing once this series is complete? I’m not sure yet. I’d never planned more than one book in the first place so I’ll have to see what happens after CassaStorm is released.

JS:  You went with traditional publishing. Why did you decide this vs. self-publishing?
 AJC:  I never even considered self-publishing. I wouldn’t know where to begin!

JS:  How many query letters did you send out?
 AJC:  Dozens to the biggest science fiction publishers before I moved on to smaller presses.

JS:  What do you like best about your main character Byron? Least?
 AJC:  I like his focus and commitment to perfection. He’s a lot like me in that aspect. However, I do not share his arrogance or demand for privacy. Sometimes those aspects make him downright unlikeable.

JS:  For someone who has never read sci-fi before is there anything people should keep in mind when reading your books?
 AJC:  What surprised me after CassaStar’s release was the amount of non science fiction readers who enjoyed my book. My novels are light science fiction, focusing on characters and adventure rather than high tech. They are good entry level books for those who have never read the genre.

JS:  You have said that you never wanted to be an author. What made you decide to write a book?
 AJC:  I know it’s funny, but it’s true! I happened upon the original manuscript for CassaStar, written over thirty years ago when I was a teen, and realized that while the story was awful, the characters were solid. On a whim, I rewrote it. A couple friends read it and suggested I seek publication, so I said what the heck. I had no idea I would actually find a publisher!

JS:  How did you become the ninja master and amass your army?
 AJC:  It’s been so long since my followers gave me that title, I don’t even remember! My Ninja Army is really special though. I’ve made some good friends and I try to focus on building and maintaining those relationships. At every opportunity, I give back to the blogging community. My Ninja Army just keeps growing - over 1500 followers now. I’m past the point of being able to visit everyone, but I do try my best!

JS:  What advice would you give to any who want to be author?
 AJC:  Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone!

Random Questions: 

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, although I’d take a box of Hot Tamales over either one.
Coffee or tea?  Neither - give me an energy drink!
Beach or mountains? Mountains - much cooler
Last book read? Jessica Bell’s String Bridge
Favorite author? Preston & Child
Most played song on iPod? Count of Tuscany by Dream Theater. Really impressive considering the song is twenty minutes long!
Favorite movie? LOTR trilogy
Favorite food? Give me the spicy Thai
Outliner or panster? Outliner - I’d get lost otherwise
Favorite joke? Don’t really have a favorite joke, but Jim Gaffigan’s skit about Hot Pockets makes me laugh every time.

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Known online as the Ninja Captain, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaFire by Alex J Cavanaugh.JPGCassaStar was only the beginning… 

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren's civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan's technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves, the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Have you read CassaStar or CassaFire? Is there anyone who doesn't know Alex? Did you learn anything new about him from this interview?



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thank you very much, Jessica!

C.M.Brown said...

Great interview Jessica and Alex. Chocolate, LOTR trilogy, Thai, all good!

Siv Maria said...

Great interview Jessica. Always fun to learn something new about Alex. Minnie has a huge crush on him ;)

Rusty Webb said...

Great interview. You can't go wrong with a LOTR day every now and then.

Em-Musing said...

Well hey there Alex, nice to see you here. And thanks to Jessica for interviewing you. I'm with you on Thai.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview Jessica and Alex. Love hearing that you wrote your first book when you were a teen, Alex.

Journaling Woman said...

This is one of your better interviews, Alex. Great job, Jessica.

CassaStorm eh? It makes me sad that it is the final book.


Sean McLachlan said...

I didn't realize Alex had a day job! Yes, he must be a robot if he visits all those blogs.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks everyone and yes I do have a real job. Just a really cool one.

Karen Lange said...

Great interview! Loved the random questions, too. Alex really does give back to the writing community - he's a great example and encourager. Thanks to both of you for sharing this!

Jessica Bell said...

It always makes me laugh when I read you had never intended to be published. It's like I'm hearing it for the first time. You're a natural born author, that's why! Nice to see you being interviewed for a change! About time :) And how the heck do you write, work and blog like a maniac???? You have a twin we don't know about, right?

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview!!! Every time someone interviews Alex, we see another layer of the awesome Ninja Captain!

Gwen Gardner said...

Nice interview! I haven't actually read any science fiction as an adult, although I seem to remember reading it as a kid. I am going to read these books, though. They sound really good and ya gotta support the kids from the writing-hood!

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting to read that Alex kind of became an author by accident. It was meant to be all along, I'm sure! I also don't know how he gets round to so many people - a blogging inspiration!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Karen, I try!

Jessica, Ninja multi-tasking skills I guess.

Gwen, thanks!

Nancy Thompson said...

Alex is my favorite blogger. I go directly to his blog first before anyone else's & before I even get out of bed! He's the kindest blogger out there, and generous to a fault.

Andrew Leon said...

Next, you're gonna rewrite LotR as sci-fi, right?

Maurice Mitchell said...

I prefer light science-fiction myself so great job. I don't need a glossary when I'm reading a book. "Hot poooockets!" LOL

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nancy, I really appreciate that.

Andrew, only if I want to slaughter it.

Maurice - see? Can't even say it without laughing.

Jessica Salyer said...

Sean- 2 votes for robot. :)

Maurice- I agree.

Rek said...

Chocolate, I know a few others who would be pleased to hear that...
I like all kinds of sci-fi but a human or alien touch adds depth and dimensions.
maybe you should try a thriller with a specualtive touch.
Finally, the general has learned to reveal personal quirks.

Southpaw said...

Energy drink? What is that? Something like the "5 hour energy" things?

The Golden Eagle said...

This was a great interview!

I think it would be hard to find someone who hasn't heard of Alex or seen him commenting these days. He's all over the blogosphere. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Rek, maybe I should. And I am still learning.

Southpaw, the ones in cans. The 5-hour ones are nasty.

Golden, I'm sure there are plenty out there, but thanks anyway!

Jessica, thank you again.

Heather Murphy said...

Great interview from you both! I learned a lot about both the book and Alex

D.G. Hudson said...

Alex is the Ninja Capt'n, and seems to be otherworldly in his capacity to reach out to so many bloggers.

Thanks, Jessica, for getting all that extra info out of Alex. Enjoyed the interview.

Jessica Salyer said...

Southpaw- I've tried the 5 hour energy drink, they're not too bad.

Alex- Thank YOU again. :)

D.G.- It was my pleasure.

Michael Pierce said...

Great interview! Alex is doing pretty amazing for someone who says he didn't want to be an author. Interesting story about rewriting CassaStar.

Kela McClelland said...

Great interview. I've tried being an outliner and it never works...I'm a pantser all the way. Lol, I've even gotten lost by my outline before. :/

Thanks for the awesome interview Jessica and Alex. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks everyone!And Michael, being an author was never in the plans.

michelle said...

Great interview!
...and he has a day job! Well, as I said before, he never ceases to amaze!
So it seems like CassaStar will most likely be the first sci-fi book I'll get hold of when I eventually get my i-Pad (taking longer than I thought...), seeing that Alex said it's a good entry level read for those who have never read the genre

Melissa Bradley said...

Jessica and Alex, what a terrific interview. I am an unrepentant pantser who has tried to outline, but it never works for me. LOL And the LOTR films are my faves as well. Can't wait for CassaStorm!

Elise Fallson said...

Awesome interview, makes me want to read the series even more! And I loved reading the part about how you rediscovered a story you wrote as a teen and decided to rewrite it. The stories behind the stories are often really interesting. (:

nutschell said...

Wohoo! Alex in the house! Of course this was a great interview. Alex truly is Ninja master. I think he needs to expand his dojo to accommodate the hundreds of new followers he gets every week:)

Jessica Salyer said...

Nutschell- It probably is overflowing. :)

Jay Noel said...

Excellent interview. I'm a big fan of Alex's work. Looking forward to reading CassaFire.