Cassandra had her first YA novel If You Wish published at just 16-years-old (I know, right?). We wanted to know exactly how she managed to write a book alongside teenage life, why she wanted to write about bullying & LGBT rights and what influenced her to begin writing. Read on to find out more about this amazing young woman.
YAL: Being so young, how do you find the time to write a whole novel between your other commitments?
CSB: I’ve been homeschooled for the majority of my life, so that gives me the time and space to really pursue my passions. When I was trying to finish the book, my mom completely cleared my schedule and gave me several months to just sit and work on it. I’m so grateful she allowed me that time. I’m also very much of a night owl, and I get most of my inspiration while sitting in bed late at night listening to music.
If You Wish is a contemporary Cinderella re-telling, but without using those words, summarise the plot in 5 words.
Oh gosh, that is a hard question. I’d probably have to say: Hollywood, friendship, LGBTQ, bullying, and romance.
What was the most influential book you have read that has influenced your own writing?
The most influential author for me is probably John Green. The way he gives voice to his characters really speaks to me more than any other author. However, the first book that really made me want to write is Brian Selznick’s book, Wonderstruck. I was fortunate enough to see Brian Selznick speak at a Barns & Noble when I was about eleven. He shared in detail his process of writing Wonderstruck, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do too.
Besides writing, what are your passions?
I love the film industry. I really enjoy making films and learning about the history of Hollywood. I don’t know if you can call this a passion, but I’m also quite obsessed with Disney, as you can probably tell by my book. It’s filed with a ton of hidden Disney Cinderella references that I had a blast slipping in there.
Your book confronts bullying, LGBT rights and drug/alcohol abuse - why did you feel these topics were important to cover in If You Wish?
I didn’t intend on having the book confront bullying, LGBTQ rights, and drug/alcohol abuse when I started writing it, but it just kind of happened. As I wrote more and more about it I realized how important is is to bring awarness to these issues. I think it’s fair to say that all teenagers today are dealing with at least one of these issues, so it only makes sense that the teenage characters in If You Wish are dealing with them as well.
Follow Cassandra on Instagram @cassandrasagebriskman