Cassondra Windwalker
Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker

Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker

What led you into writing?

I say I’ve been writing since before I could talk, since I have early memories of interpreting the world around me through inner narrative before I was speaking. My father reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven to me when I was very small had a lasting impact on how I perceived reality, and my sister and I were always hounding our mother to make up more stories for us, which happily she always managed.

How does a typical day look?

I fill my coffee cup and open the curtains over my writing desk, so I can watch day creep over the Alaskan landscape and greet the birds who visit the feeders hanging under the eaves. I work on writing prompts on Twitter and handle any marketing that needs to be done, then I turn on the music and start to work on the latest novel. When that’s exhausted, I head down to the black volcanic beach and look for treasures among the tide pools.

In what ways do your characters test your abilities?

I become my characters when writing, feeling what they feel, and interpreting the world around me through their lenses. The challenge comes in making enough room for whatever is signally myself to survive the life she’s assigned.

What’s your setup?

Wherever I write, I like to be by a window. And if there are people or other animals I can watch and eavesdrop on, all the better.

What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?

Rilke teaches me to embrace all that is hard and solitary. Hemingway makes me brutal and raw. Gaiman makes my fearless. Stewart (Mary) reminds me my voice is my own. Tolkien shows me all that is possible. DuMaurier illustrates the power of the space between the words.

What do you do for inspiration?

The best tack is always to ask a cat or have a whiskey with a dog, but failing those, I walk and walk and walk until the answers reveal themselves. The stories themselves are everywhere, all the time.

What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?

Every story worth telling is about love and death.

How do you wind down?

Wind down? What mean these words?

What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while designing your world/setting?

My biggest challenge at the moment is the neurological difficulties I have related to Lyme Disease. I have enormous trouble recalling specific words, often substitute parallel words without realizing it, or drop words altogether. So I have to spend more time with my thesaurus and screaming at my screen.

What are you reading at the moment?

Infinite Jest will be my next read when I complete the ARCs I’m reviewing.

What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?

I’m not a dispenser of advice.

Tell us about the book you’re promoting.

The Bench is a collection of poems addressing the summer of 2020 and its pandemic, its loneliness, its tragedies, its racial justice protests, and its wildfires through the lenses of several disparate characters around the fulcrum of a city bench. Challenging and provocative in many ways, I hope it prompts people to see each other with a radical and unexpected tenderness. The Bench was recently awarded the Helen Kay Chapbook Award and will be published by Evening Street Press June 2021.

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Cassondra Windwalker

Cassondra Windwalker

Cassondra Windwalker is a poet, essayist, and novelist presently writing full-time from the southern Alaskan coast. Her traditionally published works include the poetry collections The Almost-Children, tide tables and tea with god, and The Bench. Her novels include Idle Hands, Preacher Sam, and Bury The Lead. Her short-form work regularly appears in literary journals and art books.

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Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker
I remember his first breath on my body. Sweet and warm with port wine, his words skated over the little hairs on the back of my neck, tumbled down my collar.  The master chef whose cooking class I had taken plucked the sticky mess from my hands. I laughed nervously, flushed with heat from my inexpert efforts to properly knead the dough.   “Like this,” he said.


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