Toni: Hi Lanette, let’s dive straight in and talk about CASSIA – Can you sum up your release in 20 words?
Lanette: CASSIA is a modern lesbian “Anna Karenina” set in a 1990’s art district.
Toni: So we’ve had the short version, let’s have the full version.
Lanette: As a reporter living in an arts district, all Tanya wants is to be a part of the underground arts and music scene. But living among free thinkers and musicians doesn’t make her one of them. Then she meets the sensual, rebellious Cassia, a performance artist who struts onto the stage and into Tanya’s bed. Cassia is hiding secrets, and those secrets are far more damaging than Tanya can imagine, so she must decide whether to break from her desire or risk losing the one thing she wants most—connection to the musicians who have accepted her into their community.
Toni: What inspired you to write this book?
Lanette: There’s an area in Dallas called Deep Ellum that originally started as a Freedman’s town.Over time, it has evolved into an arts and club scene. Since I spent a lot of time there in my late teens and early twenties and developed a passion for the neighborhood, I wanted to capture it and its people in the pages of a novel.
Toni:What kind of research did you do for this book?
Lanette: Very little since I know the area and the time period well, but I did look up a few things to make sure I got some of the details right. One of those details involve my character Bonnie, a med student. Apparently, that bit of research paid off. One of my readers is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon, and he messaged me to tell me he had finished the same medical school the year my character would have started, and he was able to pinpoint that she was in her second year based on class schedule and subjects.
Toni: Did you base any of your characters on real people?
Lanette: Not directly, but some of my characters were inspired by people I’ve known. One of those real people was an early beta reader, and he was disappointed that none of the characters was him. It’s a little funny that he didn’t recognize the character he inspired, but I was also relieved because I really want my characters to be as unique as real people.
Toni: Which of your characters is your favourite? Do you dislike any of them?
Lanette: I love all my characters, even when they’re behaving badly. I think my favorite is Nick. He’s a pothead in his thirties who just wants to play his music. What makes him so compelling is his simple nature. His boss is a Jesus freak who refuses to sell alcohol in a bar, the girl he’s in love with is in a lesbian relationship, he can barely afford to eat, there is constant drama going on around him, and he just wants to strum his guitar and sing the songs he wrote.
Toni: What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?
Lanette: The most difficult scene to write was when Cassia revealed the truth to Tanya. It’s a very moving and pivotal scene, and I knew I had to get it exactly right.
Toni: Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
Lanette: From the beginning, I wasn’t sure if Cassia would reveal her secrets or even how she would. I debated with myself as I wrote the first draft. Then, when I was close to the end, Cassia made the decision for me. I love it when characters take a scene out of my hands. It’s like they’re saying, “Hush. It’s time for you to listen.” It’s like they’re giving me a great gift. Because of that, I rarely know what will happen towards the end.
Toni: How about you? Where is home for you?
Lanette: Texas. I grew up in Dallas County, but now I’m in Fort Worth.
Toni: When did you first start to consider yourself as a writer?
Lanette: I’ve always enjoyed writing, even talked about becoming a professional writer when I was a child, but it wasn’t until close to ten years ago that I decided to get serious about it.
Toni: Why is this story so important to you? How much of yourself is in your book?
Lanette: Just like my main character, I wrestled with philosophical and religious ideas and implications. Probably most, or even all, people in their twenties struggle with the deeper questions. It’s an exciting yet confusing period, and I spent part of that time in Deep Ellum. It had a huge impact on who I grew to become.
Toni: Do you have an up and coming project for us to look forward to?
Lanette: “Behind the Open Walls” will be released at the end of this year. It’s about a woman who travels to Hungary to research her grandpapa’s past. While there, she gets involved with a Romani family and discovers that her family’s past is entwined with theirs.
Toni: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Lanette: Make each scene a mini-novel. Every scene should have a protagonist, antagonist, and an arc that leads to some sort of conclusion, especially if that conclusion leads to more problems and more questions.
Toni: What’s your all-time favourite book?
Lanette: “The Door” by Magda Szabo
Toni: That’s all we have for the interview, but you can find the giveaway, all the info on the book and Lanette’s media links below!
As a reporter living in Deep Ellum, all Tanya Falgoust wants is to be accepted as part of the underground arts district. But living among free thinkers and musicians doesn’t make her one of them. Then she meets the sensual, rebellious Cassia, a performance artist who struts onto the stage and into Tanya’s bed.
No one knows who Cassia is, but her beauty and talents as an actress and dancer captivate the local scene. Tanya is mesmerized, and they quickly form a relationship. A close friend warns Tanya about Cassia, but she brushes him off. But when Cassia refuses to divulge anything about herself, where she lives, or even her real name, Tanya starts to realize her friend was right. And the secrets her lover is hiding are deeper and more damaging than Tanya could imagine.
As the pull of their relationship deepens and becomes more volatile, Tanya must decide whether to break from her desire before she loses the one thing she wants most—connection to the musicians who have accepted her into their community.
I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, TX, and moved all the way over to the next county… so, not very far. In high school, I was a serious and determined student with the goal of becoming a psychologist. However, an artistic desire awakened inside me during my late teens, and I became enamored with artists of all strains, and Deep Ellum became a home for my soul.
After a couple of years, I realized I would have to grow up eventually (actually, my mom realized that for me), so I went to nursing school and once again became a serious and determined student. While in school, I became fascinated with research, and after a few years of working as a floor nurse, I went into nephrology research and loved it!
Because just about everything interests me, I eventually picked up my long-dead hobby of writing, which I’m happy to say is now a budding career. My debut novel, HOUSE OF THISTLES, came out two years ago. I’m very proud of my latest, which takes place in an industrial arts neighborhood.
I’m married with two kids and a step-son, and I home school my youngest.
On Facebook: http://bit.ly/1PtmVJU
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LanetteKauten
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/25nB7zZ
Finally – go Here for the Giveaway: