I love that Kay Cassidy's motto is about "leaving you feeling energized, inspired, and ready to make your mark on the world." I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Kay in person, but she has been ever so nice in the virtual realm. She even invited me to submit TMAS secrets for the Great Scavenger Hunt Contest (in fact, she just added TELL ME A SECRET! Go check it out!), and she's here today to chat with us about her debut novel, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY.
THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY is about a secret society of good populars dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. It about getting comfortable in your own skin, being true to who you are (no matter how many people try to bring you down), and the triumph of good over evil in the world of high school social politics.
Here's a little teaser:
I opened the card, my hands trembling in dread and the faint remnants of what I used to call hope, as a tiny silver high-heel pin bounced into my hand.
I juggled the pin for a second, barely managing to keep it from falling, and flipped open the note with my other hand. The words inside were not a message but an invitation that sent shivers down my spine:
Your presence is requested at The Grind.
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Wear the pin.
Holly Cupala: Good...evil...awesome shoes...where did your Cinderella idea originate?
Kay Cassidy: The Cinderella Society actually came from a magazine article about high school sororities. I'd never heard of that before and, once I started thinking about the kind of society I would create if I could, I realized I would want it to be an organization devoted to fighting the everyday battle of good vs. evil. The idea snowballed from there and The Cinderella Society was born.
Was it a Cinderella story all along?
Surprisingly, the book was originally called The Plain Jane Society until a friend of mine mentioned that it was kind of a Cinderella story (except Jess isn't passive like Cinderella). And suddenly, the whole Cindys vs. Wickeds theme popped into my head. I scrapped it all and started over with a much clearer vision of the battle Jess was facing.
What's at the heart of your inspiration?
People who pursue their dreams with passion. It's a rare thing these days, and something I think we should applaud when it's done with a good dose of smarts thrown in the mix. :-) There are no guarantees in this life, so you might as well make the most of it! The Olympics are a great example. Seeing someone fulfill their greatest potential is amazing. I'm such a sap during the Olympics.
How long did it take to write, and did you go through very many drafts?
I worked on the story in various incarnations for 3-4 years before deciding to scrap everything, blow the lid off the story and make the society as big as I could imagine in. I'm an obsessive plotter—I plot every scene in advance with a few sentences about why that scene matters—and then sit down to write it while it's still fresh in my mind. The final draft of The Cinderella Society (the one I wrote from scratch after the whole lid-blowing experiment) was written in 25 days. I didn't sleep much. :-) A few months of editing followed and then I subbed it to agents.
How have your life experiences helped you get to the crux of Jess' story?
Girl empowerment is something near and dear to my heart. I was a leadership development specialist in my former life and I'm passionate about helping people (especially kids) embrace their potential and stay true to who they are. People who know me well have mentioned that they see a lot of me in the book and I think that's kind of nice. Jess isn't me, but the Cindy motto—Celebrate your strength, Embrace your future, Be extraordinary—is definitely something I aspire to.
I am a ridiculously bad cook. You know how some people joke that they could burn water? I'm pretty sure I could burn air. Even though I'm very organized and detailed-oriented in other areas of my life, I dissolve into a puddle of incompetence in the kitchen. I'm terrible at timing dishes to come out at the same time, so me putting together a special dinner is cause for celebration. Me putting together a special dinner that a) is not burned, b) does not have any food that is cold or congealed by serving time, and c) does not irreversibly damage anyone's tastebuds is a miracle of biblical proportions. And cause for me to reward myself with something nice like more awesome YA books. Or a pony.
What's up next?
Right now, I'm working on the sequel to The Cinderella Society, titled Cindy on a Mission. It follows the further adventures of Jess and the Sisters as the Wickeds launch an offensive that threatens everything the Cindys hold dear. Cindy on a Mission will be on shelves in Fall 2011.
You all won't believe the awesome thing Kay is giving away in honor of her visit today: a super-cool TCS glass slipper bookmark! For a chance to win, share a secret about what makes you feel strong and special. That's what the Cindys are all about. Contest closes Monday at midnight PST!