This morning I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cassandra O’Leary, author of Girl on a Plane. Her debut novel is part of HarperCollins UK’s summer line up—let’s pause for a moment and wish we were enjoying a summer right now—and it is receiving smash reviews from Amazon reviewers and book bloggers, and authors such as Amy Andrews, Stefanie London, Victoria Purman and Philippa Ashley.
We caught up to chat about a lot of things—what a big 2016 has been for us both and it’s only half over—and she agreed to be the first author interviewed on These Bookish Days. To celebrate we are giving away three copies of her novel! Details after the interview.
So we were talking earlier about the Harry Potter resurgence now that The Cursed Child is about to be released, and how pretty much every child of this generation has read them. What were your favourite books as a kid?
Some of my favourite books early on were Little Golden Books such as The
Little Engine That Could (I think I can, I think I can…) and Hans Christian Anderson fairytales. When I was a bit older, I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, both authors who made a huge impression on me. I’ve re-read both books as an adult and I still love them.
It feels like we were pretty similar as kids. Throw in a little Little Women and Black Beauty and you’ve pretty much got a young girl’s reading list in the 1980s/90s. How did growing up affect your reading habits?
As a teenager, I read in fits and spurts, and I got sick of reading boring ‘old’ books at school. Sorry Dickens, but I couldn’t stand Hard Times. But by the time I was in Year 12, I devoured a whole lot of science fiction books such as Dune by Frank Herbert and then when I got to university, I was all about the cyberpunk books by William Gibson, especially Neuromancer.
I found I got bored easily (still do) when I was supposed to be concentrating on learning one thing, so I picked up a book or three from the library instead. This is how I discovered Jane Austen. I binge-read all her books while I was supposed to be studying economics or statistics or some other awful thing. Then when I started working and commuting, I read heaps of books on the train. I had a few years where I read classics that I’d never been forced to read, and some I loved. The second-hand bookshop near my office was the best!
I never really shook the reading habit, but I’ve got into it again in recent years, falling in love with chick lit, romance and women’s fiction genres. You can probably blame Danielle Steel, Marian Keyes and other 90s chick lit authors for getting me interested in women writers. Now I prefer a female voice in fiction.
I think that’s where we our journeys parted. I moved from Austen to modern historical romance authors—although that feels like a contradiction. I never really got in to chick lit. What sort of books do you read now? What’s coming out that you’re really looking forward to?
I read widely, but I especially love romance with humour, which is also what I write. At the moment my tablet is full of e-books in my ‘to be read’ list. I’m looking forward to romantic comedies such as Four Weddings and a Fiasco by Catherine Ferguson, plus Nuts and Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton. I’m also looking forward to Tessa Dare’s next regency romance, having recently read all of her Spindle Cove series. They’re fabulous!
How has what you’ve read inspired/influenced your writing?
I find influences popping into my writing, whether it’s choosing to write a quirky Irish heroine because I admire Irish author Marian Keyes, or learning how to incorporate women’s concerns and issues from everyday life in my writing, like Jane Austen (I only hope to write as well as she did, of course).
The other big influence on me is actually romantic comedy movies. Readers might spot references to Love Actually and When Harry Met Sally in my debut novel, Girl on a Plane.
I love those movies. I have a tendency to get turn to them for ‘research’ when I’m procrastinating…I mean writing. I’ve seen them so many times they’re like old friends.
I know the feeling. At the moment I want to be hanging out with Chris Hemsworth’s character, Kevin, in Ghostbusters…because *reasons*. But seriously, I’d be friends with most of Jane Austen’s heroines, and I’d love to give them a tour of a modern day city like my home town of Melbourne and go out for coffee.
What fictional characters do you think would be friends with your lead characters from Girl on a Plane, Sinead and Gabriel?
Hmm, I think Sinead would be friends with Kylie Scott’s heroines from the Stage Dive series, because Sinead is a punk and pop music fan and would probably try to get backstage passes. They could all hang out together drinking cocktails and singing karaoke.
Gabriel might be friends with Gideon Cross from Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, because you know, they’re both CEOs and kind of serious. But Gabriel would be more fun once you got to know him. Actually, I think he’d get along well with Mr Darcy in another era!
Well three people are going to get a chance to get to know them Gabriel a little better because we’re doing a giveaway—three copies of your book! I’ve giving my copy to someone who like TheseBookishDays on Facebook. Who are you giving your copy to?
I’m giving my copy to someone who signs up to my mailing list. I promise, no spam, just updates on my writing, exclusive content and maybe a few more giveaways.
Awesome. Third copy?
Someone who comments on this blog post and tells us what fictional person they’d be friends with? They can comment either on the site or on Facebook?
So there you have it. The first TheseBookishDays author interview. The first TheseBookishDays giveaway. The winners will be announce on Saturday 13th August (my birthday so it seems fitting). Big news? It’s the first of four I’m doing over the next four weeks, so make sure you follow the page!
Until next week…
From the back cover of Girl on a Plane
A sexy, sassy, summer read. CLIMB ON BOARD . . .
When feisty Irish flight attendant Sinead Kennealy locks eyes with sexy Australian CEO Gabriel Anderson in First Class, sparks fly. But as they jet across the globe from Melbourne to London, it’s clear that they’re in for a turbulent journey . . .
Stressed-out Gabriel doesn’t do relationships. And Sinead isn’t about to be fooled by another bad boy after escaping her stalker ex. Then a storm hits, causing the plane to land unexpectedly, and Sinead and Gabriel are thrown together in Singapore.
The pressure rises as Sinead’s unhappy past threatens to catch up with her. But might Gabriel be the one to heal her heartbreak? If he could open up about his troubling secrets, maybe a relationship could actually get off the ground. Fasten your seatbelts – this WON’T be a smooth ride . . .
Buy Girl on a Plane: http://cassandraolearyauthor.com/books/
About Cassandra O’Leary
Cassandra O’Leary is a romance and women’s fiction writer, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.
In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK and her debut contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, was released in July 2016. She was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest run by Romance Writers of Australia.
Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous.
Read more on Cassandra’s website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.