Author’s Spotlight: Kassidy VanGundy Interview

Kassidy VanGundy, author of Cursed Fate

– First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is Kassidy VanGundy and I’m an author! I’m originally from South Bend, Indiana (USA) but for the past couple of years I’ve been living in Boston, MA.

 Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My most recent published work is my first book, Cursed Fate. It’s a Dark Fantasy story that follows an 18-year-old named Vincent who is trying to reconnect with his lost magical ancestry and find his missing father. He has to travel to another realm inspired by the geography, plants, and animals of Madagascar and meet princesses with extraordinary powers and supernatural animal companions along the way. I intended it to be an edgy YA book, but I think adults will enjoy it as well. I’m currently working on the sequel as we speak!

– Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Vincent starts of as a lonely, handsome, privileged, rich kid with a lot of anger in him. He feels like he is constantly misunderstood and constantly craves a close family connection. His mother is rarely in his life anymore and his father is completely absent, so he is left to be raised by his maid. However, he quickly learns that he can’t trust anything from his previous life once he sets out on his new journey. Eventually he learns to be more compassionate, patient, and kind once he meets people just as tormented as him. He heals through humor and sass, which I hope others can relate to. I modeled him after my younger brother and my angsty teenage self.

– What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

Endings are very hard for me in general, as I tend to procrastinate finishing a book. It’s kind of an emotional process for me, but I’m not sure why. There are also a couple of scenes in the book that turned out a lot darker than I originally intended them to be. Chapter 6 comes to mind in particular, which involves the death of a parent, and another one in which someone is held down and forced to swallow grass. I don’t want to give away too much about these scenes, but I realized after I wrote them that they were more personal to me and what I’ve been through in my life than I’d like to admit. But I assume that happens for a lot of creatives when they make art.

– Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

So I’m actually published through Ukiyoto Publishing, which is a small traditional publisher based out of Ontario. They’ve been very helpful for a brand-new author like myself who didn’t have a lot of knowledge about publishing prior to this book. I plan on submitting the sequel to them as well, but for future projects I’m toying with the idea of querying to larger publishers and agents.

– What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

I know I struggle with imposter syndrome sometimes, especially when book sales aren’t going super well or I’m having a hard time hitting my daily writing quota. It’s easy to see people online who you think are doing better than you and get discouraged, but you can’t give up! I’m someone who is getting back into writing after years of going to school for a completely different field, so if I can do it, you can do it! It’s good to connect with other authors because you eventually find that we’re all in the same boat one way or another. As long as you’re making personal progress for yourself, you’re doing alright.

– Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Cursed Fate and its sequel, Cursed Descent, are obviously connected, and one day in the future I think it would be interesting to write a prequel from the villain’s perspective. However, before then I would like to do a couple of one-shot projects that have been on the backburner for quite some time just to get some variety in my portfolio. My strongest ideas right now are a murder mystery noir based in a cyberpunk dystopian future where the main characters are the last real boyband in an industry comprised solely of holograms and synthesized music, and a Lovecraftian horror set in the Midwest where the main character is a widowed grandmother. I like both of them and I’m unsure which one I’ll work on first!

– What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

Honestly, I love Instagram. I don’t have a very big following, but some of my biggest supporters are on that platform. People have ordered my book because they like my page and my smaller chunks of writing content. Some people just follow me because I post my word count every now and then and it motivates them to get writing too! Either way, it’s the best community building tool out there in my opinion. I’m hoping to translate this following to my YouTube channel (Kutiefly) and my Tiktok, but right now I’m happy with Instagram.

– Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

My pet peeve is OBVIOUS self-insert characters, or if the entire book is an apparent ego trip for the author. Of course, good writing comes from writing what you know or basing stories on things that have a personal significance to you, but if you don’t add anything else, you’ll lose the reader because they don’t have anything to grab onto. Art is therapy, but once you release it onto the world, it is no longer about you. I think a lot of creatives struggle with this concept or let their egos get in the way of having a story naturally evolve into something more than what they originally intended.

–  Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I do read reviews and luckily, I haven’t had to deal with too much negative feedback. I’m still a small author, so I know that may change over time or if my books get more popular, but right now I’m still in the first-year honeymoon phase. Honestly, everyone is allowed to have an opinion on books, and if I read anything especially nasty, I’ll probably cry into my stuffed animals or laugh and be like “same bestie” because sometimes my insecurities pick on me before any haters can.

–  What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

So I tend to have a loose outline for the plot of a project but I leave plenty of wiggle room to wing it. Whenever I’m stuck on the choreography of a scene or whatever, it helps to sketch it out in a notebook so I can get a better look at what’s going on in my head. Likewise, I tend to keep a dev diary (thanks to my husband’s suggestion as a software engineer) where I take notes after every writing session. I just reflect on how I’m feeling, what I’m excited about, what is frustrating me in the moment, what I need to work on next time, etc. so that I can keep track of my word count and not get lost in a side quest. This has helped me a lot because with my mental health sometimes it’s very easy for me to lose focus if I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also listen to music when I write because both of us work from home and things can get very noisy on our city street. I almost exclusively listen to pop music when I write because it is upbeat and motivational, and kinda quirky like me!

–  What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Writing is a practice, a verb. It requires repetition to get better, like any other sport or art, so try to write a little bit everyday if you can. You can cycle through projects if that helps, but as long as you’re making writing a habit, you’ll be fine. All good writing takes time, so make sure you’re dedicating enough time to it.

– What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I’m currently finishing the first draft of Cursed Descent, the sequel to Cursed Fate. I’m planning on spending the entire month of July editing it before sending it off to readers/editors. With this timeline, hopefully it will be out during the end of Summer or early Fall, but I’ll let you know as the time comes.

– Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

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