Perception by Heather Cashman1.  Tell us about your latest book.

Perception (The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy, Book 1) was published in July 2011. It’s having a difficult time finding a genre niche, because it has a small foundation in science fiction, reads like an epic fantasy, is set in a dystopian future, and has romance woven in.

2.  Where did the idea of mixing mental links between humans and animals come from? 

When I was young, my favorite author was Anne McCaffrey. Her novels were about dragons with telepathic links. As I grew up and studied genetics and gene splicing, my imagination took over. I decided that if it could happen with dragons, it could happen with anything I wanted it to.

3.  What was the most difficult part of creating a future world? 

I type slowly. I could see it like a movie but could never get my ideas down fast enough. I also found that world-building requires a certain amount of finesse with words. When describing things that I could see clearly, it was easy to leave out important details, and one word can change the entire meaning of a scene.

Heather Cashman, author4.  How did your main characters come to you? 

Like a thief in the night. I don’t know how, but they were just there. When I first met Kliax, he was talking with Baelon. I knew right away that he had a dead mother, that he was complex, and had the ability to deceive everyone around him. No one knew who he was, nor cared. They only used him for power and gain.

When I saw Ana sneaking behind the buildings, I knew she had a brother, that she needed to see him, and that she wanted to run away. The original first chapter was supposed to be Ana and her brother Kade making their way to the President’s Challenge. It took 125,000 words. Ooops.

5.  How have you incorporated your love of gardening into your novel?

This might seem strange, but Mythbusters proved my original theories: plants have feelings, too. When I garden, I begin to care for my plants, whether they have what they need for nutrients, if they are being eaten, or if their leaves are being burned by the sun. I have always felt that all living things have some kind of awareness. I don’t know how far that goes in real life, but in Perception, the Passion Vine is as human as we are.

6.  What was involved in naming your characters?

I study Latin and like many of the Hebrew names from the Old Testament. These languages have meaning and depth, and so my characters (mostly) are derivatives of those.

The Jazzinator, Heather Cashman's dog7.  Tell us about your favorite pet — we love animals (any mental communication between you and the pet?)

Pet? You mean my fourth child? Oh, yes, her name is Jasmine. She and I speak on a regular basis. The limits to this are the words treats, walk, outside, and I even count down when she stands at the door too long before going out. I know she understands that I love her, and I know my desire to communicate with her was a part of why the world of Perception came into being. She sings along with the piano and has an ever-changing middle name depending on her behavior. When she is bad, she is Jasmine Bin-Laden Cashman. When her hair pokes up on her head she is Jasmine Cindy Lou Who Cashman. (There are hundreds.) She looks like an Eewok from Star Wars.

8.  What do you like best about your home town? — we love to travel.

Tucson,AZis where I grew up. The desert is hot and dry, and you can feel the sun warming your skin. The bright green leaves of theMesquitetrees and yellow flowers of the Palo Verde are a bold contrast to the brown rocks and sand. The mountains are majestic and turn purple in the dying sun. It has a beauty all its own.

9.  How did you meet your husband? — we love a romance.

I was discussing celibacy with a girlfriend because men were idiots. Patrick (the love of my life) was eavesdropping on our conversation and dared to disagree. My girlfriend took his side. It was an ambush.

10.  Which authors have you been compared to?

Vlad Taltos, the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, or the Farseekers Trilogy; these have been suggested by reviewers. Most people tell me that my work is unlike the other novels they’ve read. I’m hoping that’s a good thing.

11.  Concerning the craft of writing, what will you do differently with the next novel?

I hope that every novel I write improves in every way. The plot definitely thickens. I believe I am getting better at structure, from the word to the paragraph to the chapter. I continue to study the art of writing and hope to put what I’ve learned to use as well as maintain my own individual style.

12.  What’s next in the series?

Deception (The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy, Book 2). It is set to be out December of 2011.

The final novel, Insurrection, will come out in 2012. I am also working on a prequel, Resurrection, but do not have any idea as to the date for that.

Heather Cashman graduated from theUniversityofArizonawith a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry but has always loved to write, winning her first contest in the second grade. Married since 1992, she has three unique children and has moved fromArizonatoNew YorktoKansas. She loves to kayak and canoe down the windiest rivers she can find. She welcomes opportunities to visit schools, libraries, and book groups in person or via Skype. Born inTucson,Arizona, Heather currently lives nearWichita,Kansaswith her husband and three children. Visit her website: http://www.heathercashman.com/