From fact to fiction – Cassie Hamer

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Cassie Hamer explains how she moved from being a TV reporter to writing novels. ♥

Tell us about your background in journalism.

I worked in TV journalism in my twenties, mostly as an on-road news reporter, but also as a producer on shows like Sunrise and the Morning News. It was exactly how you would imagine – fast-paced, cut-throat and a lot of fun (mostly)! It’s the kind of job where one day you’d interview Miss Universe, and the next day, find yourself in a press conference with the Prime Minister. The late nineties and early two thousands were an incredibly tumultuous time in news. I was working at Channel Seven’s Sydney newsroom when September 11 happened, followed a few years later by the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

When did you decide to swap fact for fiction and how did you go about making the transition?

As I said, news reporting is lots of fun, but not terribly family friendly. I left news in my late twenties, worked for a short time in PR, met and fell and love with my (now) husband, and started a family in my early thirties. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, but found parts of it incredibly challenging. So many tears – mostly mine! I had these enormous feelings, and initially channeled them into a ‘mummy-blog’. Writing creatively seemed a natural next step. I’d always been a voracious reader, and while parenting is demanding, the tasks are often so tedious that you do have an opportunity to let your mind wander. After my second child was born, I enrolled in a Creative Writing Masters.

Take us through your writing process – from idea to finished manuscript.

I know an idea is good when it won’t leave me alone! The premise for ‘After the Party’ came from my own experience of hosting parties for my daughters (I have three.) There’s always a moment when a kid’s party ends, the parents have come and gone and you breathe a big sigh of relief at having kept 10-15 kids alive and injury-free for two hours! But after one particularly challenging party, I thought to myself – what would happen if one of the parents didn’t come back?

With this idea in mind, I wrote a first draft of ‘After the Party’. For six months, I wrote three days a week when all my children were either at school or daycare. With the draft done, I paid an editor to provide me with a manuscript assessment and, based on her feedback, re-wrote about a quarter of the book, which took another couple of months.

How did your book deal come about?

Once the draft was in okay shape, I started sending it to agents in late 2016. A couple were interested, but nothing came of it. From here, I made a list of all the publishers that took un-agented submissions, and started sending to them. I didn’t hold out much hope of success, but to my great surprise and delight, Harlequin read the draft, loved it, and signed me for a two-book deal. The whole process took about a year. I’m still pinching myself…

How have you developed your writing craft over the years?

Apart from doing a Masters, I’ve attended festivals and workshops, and I made the great decision to join the Romance Writers of Australia, even though I don’t write romance. It’s a brilliant organisation that offers many opportunities to learn and connect. I’m also a junkie for writing podcasts.

What are you working on now?

I’ve submitted a draft of my second book to Harlequin and am waiting for feedback on it. The setting reminds me a little of Wisteria Lane from that TV show, Desperate Housewives, but the women aren’t quite so desperate! In the meantime, I’m working on a third book which delves into my experiences of the TV world. There’s just so much fodder there for great fiction.

Cassie Hamer has a professional background in journalism and PR but now much prefers the world of fiction over fact. In 2015, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing, and has since achieved success in numerous short story competitions. After the Party is her first novel. She lives in Sydney with her husband and three daughters.

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