Author Interview: Cassandra Lokker


Cassandra Lokker Bio:

Author of: Beyond the Fury

I am a recent graduate of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa with a degree in English: Writing. I had always dreamed of becoming an author, but it wasn’t until my senior year in college that my dreams for writing began to take shape. As a final requirement for my major, I was expected to complete a significant writing project. I committed to writing a novella, and after I graduated, I began to pursue publication of my book.

In addition to my writing, I am also active in pursuing my singing and songwriting. For many years, I have sung in various choirs, performed with my family, and pursued solo opportunities. Recently, I finished recording a CD of some of my songs. I mainly find myself writing piano-based ballads and covering some of my favorite songs from artists I greatly admire.

Currently, I live in Wisconsin, and I am blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who live nearby. I am an active member in my church, and I volunteer for various organizations, including the local library and a Christian girls’ club.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

What compelled you to write your first book?

Cassandra Lokker: My book, Beyond the Fury, was inspired over two years ago. My grandparents and I were just returning home one day when we witnessed a tornado touching down to the west of our property. We watched for a time, praying that the storm would not turn in our direction. The tornado moved off to the northeast, but even so, I couldn’t seem to erase the storm’s memory from my mind. At the time, I worked as an intern for the local paper, and when I saw the next week’s edition, I was drawn to a feature written about a tornado that touched down over one hundred years ago in a nearby community. The tornado had been rated an F5, and its effects were devastating; in all actuality, the storm’s intensity was far greater than the tornado I had witnessed from my front porch.

A few days later, I had a conversation with my mother, and she asked me if I had been doing any writing recently. She had heard of the tornado and also read the future article, and she suggested that I use the historical event as a basis for a work of historical fiction. At the time, I set the idea aside; it wasn’t until I was assigned to write my senior project that I considered the event. Before long, I began gathering research to study the twister that had practically destroyed portions of New Richmond, Wisconsin on June 12, 1899. As I wrote the book, I learned more and more every day, and the experience of completing the story is one I’ll never forget.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Cassandra Lokker: Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I can remember filling countless blank notebooks with stories when I was younger. Just recently, I found some of those stories in my storage closet. But even though I always wanted to write, I wasn’t sure that I had the skills. I took a class in fiction writing my senior year in college, and that class really gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my dream of being an author.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

Cassandra Lokker: Beyond the Fury is a story of love and endurance, set in western Wisconsin at the end of the nineteenth century. Caitlyn Schmidt, New Richmond’s schoolteacher, finds herself distracted from her duties when she encounters an intriguing gentleman at a school social. A relationship is established, and in no time at all, the two are engaged to be married. Everything seems to be perfect… until tragedy strikes and lives are drastically altered. As Caitlyn struggles to come to terms with the loss and devastation, she must consider her orphaned niece and a proposal that could forever change the face of a relationship.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Cassandra Lokker: I am currently working on a sequel to Beyond the Fury. While the first book is told from Caitlyn’s point of view, the sequel will be Elaina’s story. (Elaina is Caitlyn’s student and almost-sister). You’ll have to read Beyond the Fury to become acquainted with these characters. I am also planning to release a third book to complete a trilogy. This book will not be published for some time, but I am very excited about it!

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Cassandra Lokker: I won an award for my poem, “A Reckless Decision,” my senior year in high school. The contest judges asked that students write a poem discouraging drinking and driving. My poem took first place, and my class was awarded funds for our senior class party.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Cassandra Lokker: It was such a rewarding experience! At that moment, I felt so many different emotions. It was amazing knowing that I was finally an author!

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Cassandra Lokker: I listen to a wide variety of music when I write; it really depends on my mood and what I am writing. For the most part, I listen to Christian music. The positive message gives me the motivation to keep writing, even on the days when I can’t find the words to convey what I want to write. Sometimes, I find myself singing along with the radio and I don’t get anything done, but without music, I don’t think my writing would be the same.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Cassandra Lokker: I would have to say that my relationship with Christ motivates me the most. Although my first book is not blatantly “Christian,” I have felt God leading me to complete various projects because of a thought or idea He gave to me. There is a book that I plan to write in the distant future that contains a story that has been near to my heart for years now. I am waiting until the time is right before I communicate this story to others. Its storyline is unlike anything I have ever written before, but I think it has a message that needs to be heard.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Cassandra Lokker: I have incredible parents and three wonderful younger sisters. My family has always been supportive of my writing and my music as well. My grandparents have also been supportive, and without them, I probably wouldn’t have published my book.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Cassandra Lokker: I have been told that the main character of Beyond the Fury is a lot like me. I did not intend to put so much of myself into Caitlyn’s character, but I think it was just something that happened throughout the process of writing. I’m beginning to think that Elaina, the main character in the sequel, Beyond Expectations, is more like me than any of my characters, even more so than Caitlyn. But I’ll leave that for my family and friends to decide.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Cassandra Lokker: When I was in junior high, I read The Journals of Corrie Belle Hollister, a series by Michael Phillips. These books really gave me a love for inspirational historical fiction, and to this day, I greatly admire his work. I have since read that series three times.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Cassandra Lokker: When I write, I am usually at my computer. I have some kind of music playing in the background, even when I am editing. I would love to be able to take my writing outside of the home, but I don’t own a laptop. At one time, I used to handwrite everything in a notebook; I found my ideas flowed freely when I got them down with pen and paper. But I have become accustomed to the computer now, and I am comfortable writing in this way.

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

Cassandra Lokker: My book is a work of historical fiction with an inspirational message. I would compare my writing and genre to authors like Wanda E. Brunstetter, Lori Wick, and Janette Oke.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Cassandra Lokker: I began researching for the book, and it took about three weeks to complete any necessary reading and Internet research. I wrote the book in six weeks, but it was nearly a year before I finished editing and sent it away for publication. I know I could have spent more time on the book, so I was surprised that I was able to share my work with others so quickly. The sequel is proving to take longer to complete than the first book, and this can be discouraging at times, but I am trying not to make comparisons between the two books.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Cassandra Lokker: My grandfather passed away shortly before I published Beyond the Fury, and I have dedicated the book in honor of him. Although he didn’t get to see my book published, I know he would be excited to see it in print and my dreams fulfilled.

Tell us more about who you, anything you want your readers to know.

Beyond the Fury
is currently for sale on www.bbotw.com and www.amazon.com, among several other major booksellers’ websites. I would also invite readers to visit my website: www.cassandralokker.com. If you would like updates on my writing and musical ventures, please visit my myspace profile at www.myspace.com/cassandralokker.

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