Cass is a vital part of our wonderful Northern Beaches Readers Festival team. Love these gals SO much! L - R: Author Sandie Docker, author & podcaster Claudine Tinellis (Talking Aussie Books), Cassie, podcaster Rosemary Puddy (The Book Podcast) and yours truly, The Author Stalker!
Well last night it finally happened. I officially lost the plot. Covid-19 ISO caught up with me. Well my brain actually. As I sat on the lounge, casually scrolling through Facebook and Instagram posts, a glass of Cab Sav at my side, a reference to May 1st appeared. A thought slowly traversed my mind...Oh it's May??? Isn't it still April??? And then it hit me.
OH...MY...GOD!!! It's May 1st...and you all know what that means...It's AUTHOR STALKER time! Only it wasn't. As I had totally forgotten about it. I hadn't written my blog post. I hadn't posted a teaser earlier in the day. I have never forgotten an Author Stalker post. I WAS ABSOLUTELY MORTIFIED!!!!!!
My intended victim was my dear friend, NBRF team mate and writing tribe buddy Cassie Hamer. Now I can hear you all say, 'Oh don't stress...she's your friend...she'll be fine with it (which of course she was because Cass is a total sweetheart), but I still felt awful.
In these unprecedented times, launching a new book into the world and securing good sales numbers, is even more difficult than normal. Now I am not egoic enough to think that my little ol' blog post would make or break her, but every little bit helps. And so I felt like I had let her down although Cass assured me I hadn't. In fact her reply was 'Oh lordy. Don't worry!! So many bigger things right now.'
After reading Cass's fabulous debut After the Party (2019), which had a lot of people comparing her to Liane Moriarty, https://cassiehamer.com/after-the-party/ I was lucky enough to meet up with her in person. Cass is so down to earth and willing to help emerging writers like myself and she soon became a part of my writing tribe. Every second Wednesday Cass, and fellow writers Sandie Docker, Claudine Tinellis, Georgie Clark, and myself would all meet up for a group writing session and lunch. It was so much fun and such a nurturing environment. We could all share the high and lows of writing a manuscript.
Writing is such a solitary activity most of the time, so when you can share your writing space it is truly a magical experience. Hopefully it won't be too long until we can all meet again and write together.
But until then, I will ask you all a favour. If you possibly can, PLEASE go out and buy some books. There are so many wonderful novels being launched in these trying times. And EVERY SALE HELPS.x
So without further ado, I will hand you over to the gorgeous Cass.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: Don’t write the book you think you should be writing, but write the book that reflects who you are and what you love to read. My first manuscript was sad and serious, and that’s not me at all! It took me two manuscripts to work out that it was okay to inject fun and humour into my novels. That’s what I did with my third manuscript. ‘After the Party’ was my third manuscript, and it was the first to be published.
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: ‘Big Little Lies.’ Liane Moriarty is a genius, and reading that book gave me permission to be the writer I wanted to be.
'My Writing Space. The first picture represents how I look to the outside world when I'm writing. The second picture represents how it often feels, inside my head. Like many writers, I constantly battle self-doubt, the little internal voice that tells me my work is no good, that no one will ever read it and why did I EVER think I could actually do this. I call my internal critic 'Dorothy'. She wears cardigans and sniffs a lot. Often, I tell her to shut up. She doesn't listen.'
(And the third photo is how we all see you Cass - vibrant, gorgeous and a fabulous writer! I love these photos Cass sent through. They show the reality of how hard it is to write a book, to get those words from your head to the page. And I love your description of Dorothy. You are too funny Cass. Shelley.xx)
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: Ooh, tough question. I can’t remember the first, but I can remember the last – ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. This book gave me the worst book hangover. I couldn’t read anything else for months without making comparisons. It’s a tough, gut-wrenching read, with some sublime moments of humanity. I consider Hanya Yanagihara to have an other-worldly mind.
Q4: Coffee, tea or ? (what is your favourite drink?)
A: Both. And I have a very precise routine. Cup of tea (white, one sugar) on waking. Then a coffee (Nespresso machine with frothed soy milk and a quarter teaspoon of sugar) before I go for a walk. Another coffee on return around 9am. Then a cup of earl grey tea (again, white with one sugar) around 3:30pm. Rinse and repeat.
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: At present, I’m about 200 pages into Marian Keyes’ ‘Grown Ups’. She’s such an inspiration to me, both in her writing and ‘persona’. I want her accent. Everything sounds so much more amusing in an Irish brogue.
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: Do you remember Kat Stewart from Offspring? I can see her playing Alex – the corporate lawyer who makes quite a hot mess of juggling her career and five year old twins. And I can see Richard Roxburgh playing Max – the real estate agent in Cuthbert Close. He’s charming, but maybe too charming and I think Roxburgh could capture that double edge.
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: My initial reaction was to say ‘my family’ but then I asked my 7 year old what I should say. ‘Food and water’ was her response.
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: My three young daughters, and husband, are yelling ‘Gold Coast’ (note to self: do not involve children in answering blog posts), because they are obsessed with rollercoasters. I’d actually love to go on safari in Africa, or to Petra, the city that’s built into pink sandstone cliffs in Jordan.
'This is Centennial Park - an incredibly special place to me. For the past 12 years, I've walked here on a near daily basis - through three pregnancies (and two miscarriages), through droughts and floods where the ponds were nearly empty and then overflowing, and now, through the current COVID-19 crisis. Even in the darkest times, the park has never failed to give me solace. It is Sydney's 'green' lung, abundant with bird life, bats and cyclists. I've made up so many stories in my head while walking round this place. Some of them I've remembered for long enough to write down.'
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: I think I have an okay singing voice. Video evidence suggests otherwise. Still, I’d love to be a pop star, just for one evening, and play to a massive stadium audience of 80,000 people. I think the energy would blow my head off.
Q10: Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?
A: Oh, yes! Every morning I say a prayer to the god of writing (Keyboardius Tap-Tappius) and sit in the lotus position with a spirulina smoothie at my side until the mighty Keyboardius starts whispering in my ear… Kumbaya and praise be Tap-Tappius. (Sorry Shell, but I could NOT resist that facetious answer!)
For me, writing is not spiritual. It’s absorbing and focused and when it’s going well, there’s certainly a sense of time evaporating and the world falling away. But I’m not a disciple of ‘the muse’. I’m an adherent (pun intended) to the philosophy of bum-glue ie just sit there and do it. Writing is a craft. The more you do it, the more you learn about it, the higher you raise your standards, the better you get. People who persist get published. (Note to self: less of my muse Markus and buy some bum-glue...thanks for the tip Cass. Shelley.xx)
You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your neighbours. (Trad. proverb, origin: Australian suburbia).
'Food stylist Cara, corporate lawyer Alex and stay-at-home mum Beth couldn't be more different. If it wasn't for the fact they live next door to each other in Cuthbert Close, they'd never have met and bonded over Bundt cake. The Close is an oasis of calm and kindness. The kind of street where kids play cricket together and neighbours pitch in each year for an end of summer party.
But no one's told Charlie Devine, glamorous wife of online lifestyle guru, The Primal Guy. When she roars straight into the party with her huge removal truck and her teenage daughter with no care or regard for decades-old tradition, the guacamole really hits the fan.
Cara thinks the family just needs time to get used to the village-like atmosphere. Beth wants to give them home cooked meals to help them settle in. Alex, says it's an act of war. But which one of them is right? Dead guinea pigs, cruelly discarded quiches, missing jewellery, commercial sabotage and errant husbands are just the beginning of a train of disturbing and rapidly escalating events that lead to a shocking climax.
When the truth comes out, will it be the end of Cuthbert Close?'
Cassie Hamer has a professional background in journalism and PR, but now much prefers the world of fiction over fact. In 2015, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing, and has since achieved success in numerous short story competitions.
Her debut novel, After the Party, was an Australian bestseller and her second book, The End of Cuthbert Close, is available now in all good bookshops.
Cassie lives in Sydney with her terrific husband, her three, mostly-terrific daughters, and a mini-labradoodle, Charlie, who is the newest and least demanding family member.
In between daydreaming and dog walking, Cassie is writing her next novel but always has time to connect with other passionate readers via her website or through social media.
Thank you Cass for being my May 1st (oops 2nd!) Author Stalker victim. xx
The End of Cuthbert Close is available through all leading bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Cassie, you can find her here: