The Wish Rider
An Interview with Barbara Casey Author of THE WISH RIDER
1. Where or how did you come up with the idea for this book and series?
I was doing some research for another book when I came across information about the Voynich Manuscript, considered the most mysterious manuscript in the world. For some reason it brought back memories of an orphanage I used to pass every morning when I went to my classes at the university in Raleigh, North Carolina, many years ago. For some reason, I put the two things together and came up with The Cadence of Gypsies. The three young girls I write about—Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer—and their teacher—Carolina—wouldn’t leave me alone even after my book was published. My publisher felt the same way and asked if I would make it into a series. That was when I wrote The Wish Rider, Book 2 in the F.I.G. Mysteries.
This Is such an interesting question because every writer is different. For me, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the story—how I want it to begin, how I want it to end, and key elements in between. I also think about my characters and what makes them unique. By the time I actually sit down and start writing, I pretty much know what I want to say and what my story is about. Even so, the characters do play a strong part in my creative process and very often contribute to the direction of the story. This is especially true in The F.I.G. Mysteries. These young women have become a part of my life, and the difficulties they face are my difficulties. Even though both The Cadence of Gypsies and The Wish Rider are published, it doesn’t take much for me to get emotional just thinking about their hardships and what they face. I am in the process of gathering research for Book 3 in this series, and have already started worrying about the FIGs and what is ahead for them.
3. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Without giving away too much of the story, it has to be when Carolina and “her girls”—the three FIGs were deep underground Grand Central Terminal, terrified, being threatened from all sides, yet trying to find Dara’s mother. I cry every time I think about that scene.
4. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Of course, the Voynich Manuscript really does exist, and what I write about gypsies and their culture and spells is based on research. Also, in my research, I uncovered a lot of interesting,
little-known facts about Grand Central Terminal in New York City which I include in The Wish Rider. The stories themselves in both The Cadence of Gypsies and The Wish Rider and all of the characters are based entirely on my imagination.
5. What is your favorite quote from a book of fiction?
This has a tendency to change for me, depending on what I am reading. Right now my favorite quote relates to my research for Book 3 in The F.I.G. Mysteries. It is from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins:
What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.
6. On that vein who would be your favorite Author? What writers influenced you?
I really do enjoy reading the Classics, British authors, and contemporary American mystery/suspense authors such as Dan Brown and Dean Koontz. I don’t have any one favorite author—there are just so many wonderful writers.
7. Do you have a favorite fictional character?
I would have to say Lucia from the “Mapp and Lucia” series by British author E.F. Benson. She is flawed, irritating, and hard-headed, but just so full of life. She makes me laugh.
8. What five words describe you?
Quiet, dependable, hard-working, thoughtful, and (I would hope) kind.
9. What if any project are you working on now? (go ahead promote away!)
And thank you for asking. Right now I am working on two projects that are under contract. One is Book 3 of the F.I.G. Mysteries. I am in the process of gathering my research for it now, and the story will focus on Mackenzie, one of the FIGs. Of course, all of the other primary characters will be in the story as well.
The second is a nonfiction biographical/true crime book for adults which is scheduled for publication February 15, 2017. It is the story of JoAnne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur who was sentenced to life plus thirty years in prison for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. She escaped less than three years later and has been living in Cuba since that time. In my book, which is in the final edit, I go into her life as a young child and follow her into adulthood and now when the federal government is trying to extradite her from Cuba. It is a fascinating story. Incidentally, my first nonfiction biographical/true crime book—Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly—was published in February of this year, and it has just been optioned for a television mini-series and major film.
10. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Several years ago I wrote a middle-grade novel that didn’t get published and I still think about. One of these days I might pull it back out and look at it to see if I still feel strongly about it.
11. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Usually when a reader takes the time to write to me, it is because they have something nice to say. Most of my published books are adult fiction—contemporary stories with a bit of mystery and the unexplained. So I do get compliments. One book in particular—The House of Kane—brought in elements of Santeria, an ancient religion that is still practiced. A Santeria priest I had interviewed when doing research for my book blessed me when he read it after it was published. That was certainly different, and appreciated.
12. What do you think makes a good story?
There are so many elements that make up a good story. Probably the first thing would be the writing itself. But then the characters must be strong, and the story must be something that hasn’t already been written before. One thing that is important for me is to know the places I write about—to have actually been there and seen them in order to have a feel for what I want to write and to be able to see them in my mind’s eye.
13. I think I know your answer but, what’s more important to you Characters or plot?
All of my books are character-driven (but you know that, don’t you). I don’t intentionally write that way, but it is how my creative mind works. I get so involved with my characters, experiencing joy when they succeed and total heartbreak when they have to face difficulties. In The Wish Rider, Dara, the most outgoing and the strongest emotionally of the three FIGs, is the one who is searching for her mother—the mother who abandoned her in a candy store before she turned five years old. What Dara goes through in her search brings me to tears each time I think about it. It was difficult to write, but I am so glad I did.
14. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love my home, so when I have time, I putter around in my flower beds. There are virgin woods surrounding my property, so I enjoy taking long walks with my three wonderful rescue dogs who adopted me. And, if I have time to get away, I love to go antiquing in the surrounding historical towns.
15. How about a snippet from your book that will hook a prospective reader and make them want to read your book.
The nauseating smells of urine and rotting food were almost overwhelming, but, still, Dara kept moving through the dense, thick shadows of this ebony underworld toward the light. The sounds of breaking glass and rolling aluminum cans, moans and cries, and nonsensical
babble penetrated her consciousness, but still she moved toward the light. No longer forcing her, the three men formed a flank around Dara, as though offering her protection. Up ahead shadows began to take on shape and meaning; swirls of dense smoke and fog partially cleared and formed into tangible objects that could be identified. Then, suddenly, out of the darkness she saw it. An old rail car, painted red, with the number “61” painted in bright yellow on its side. She knew she had arrived where she was meant to be at that moment and in that place. She knew that was where she would find her mother.
16. How did you get into writing? Is this what you always wanted to do?
Many years ago I was the Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at a small co-educational college in North Carolina. I also freelanced as a book editor. At some point I knew I had my own story I wanted to write, and I gave myself one year to write it and find a publisher for it. Eight months later my first book—a middle-grade novel—was published, and a second book was under contract. I have been writing ever since. I don’t know if at a young age I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I certainly had all of the characteristics of a writer. I noticed everything and even from an early age enjoyed writing. Now, I write mostly fiction for adults as well as nonfiction, and fiction for young adults. I know I have been very fortunate to have seen the success I have in publishing, but most of all to be able to do what I love—to write.
17. Any last thoughts for our readers?
I just want to thank you, Dick, for your wonderful interview and for inviting me to be your guest. I have truly enjoyed visiting with you and having the opportunity to talk about my writing. I wish you and your bloggers all the best.
Book Description for The Wish Rider (Book 2):
Seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.’s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.
Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.
Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that
Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.
Buy the book: Amazon
Being the second book in the series you may think you need to read the first to understand this one. That’s not necessarily true. The author does do a good job bringing you up to speed with the backgrounds of the “FIGS” and their mentor. Having read the first book I skipped through a lot of the background stuff. I do still like this series as something young adult (mostly girls) would enjoy. Three very self assured young women and their adventures. The main story of a girl looking for her birth mother to find out what actually happened all those years ago. The way the three Figs put together the clues is fun . Also the way the girls go about helping each other is inspiring and a good example to young kids .They seem more sisters than friends.I do think I would like to learn a little more about the girls but maybe in book three.The Gypsy connection is of course very interesting and makes you think.Although this make a very nice read by itself I would recommend reading the first book The Cadence of Gypsies If for nothing else it has more about the life of Gypsies which I found pretty interesting.This looks to be a great series and I’m wondering what book three might be about.Guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Book Description for The Cadence of Gypsies (Book 1):
On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.
Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
Connect with the author: Website
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."