Alex J. Cavanaugh – CassaStar

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My debut novel, CassaStar, is a science-fiction/adventure. This short synopsis sums it up best:
“Few options remain for Byron, a talented young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life. Much to his chagrin, Bassa, the toughest instructor in the fleet, takes notice of the young pilot. As war brews on the edge of space, Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive. Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?”

Tell us something about yourself.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and work in web design and graphics. I’m experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, my interests range from books and movies to music and games. I currently live in central North Carolina with my wife. As I’m always joking with my blog followers, I’m really not that interesting!

What inspired you to write this book?

The original rough draft I wrote as a teen, inspired mostly by Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. When looking for a novel idea a few years ago, I came upon the old notebook. The story was lame, but the characters were strong, so I rewrote the whole thing from scratch.

How did you choose the title?

It was the original title, named after the character’s home planet. I was pleased my publisher kept the title.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I queried presses who published science fiction with no luck. At the time, everything I read said science fiction was a dead genre. (Encouraging, huh?) So, I changed my angle and started submitting it as a young adult novel. Dancing Lemur Press accepted it and eventually placed it back in the science fiction category.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I started writing as a teen but was never serious. It wasn’t until a few years ago I decided to try my hand at a novel. It was just a personal challenge – can I do it? Surprised me when the answer was yes!

Do you have any writing rituals?

I spend time playing my guitar first, to relax. Other than that, just give me some good background music and I’m good to go.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I kept the names of the two leads from the old draft – no idea of their origins! For the secondary characters, I spent an hour brainstorming names and then matched them to the characters. I went for unique but simple – some science fiction names are downright unpronounceable!

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned there’s a lot to promoting a book! My online presence was nil when I signed the contract, so I was forced to get my butt on the web fast. I’m not comfortable with physical appearances, but I soon discovered there’s a lot one can do online to promote a book.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

Obviously, I’d start blogging sooner! At least I finally figured out Twitter.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. My favorite authors are Preston & Child. Their books read so fast and play out like a movie.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m almost finished with the first draft of a sequel to CassaStar. It picks up twenty years later and will include a female character. (Everyone keeps asking, “Why are there no women in your book?” Well, the next one has women!)

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Persevere and don’t go at it alone. Find a support group – family & friends, test readers, online friends – people who can help you be a better writer and who motivate you.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Those who enjoy Star Wars and adventure science fiction or character driven stories. And it’s suitable for teens, as there’s nothing objectionable in the book.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

They can visit my blog for details, reviews, and buying links – (My blog’s focus is movies, music, books, writing, games, tech toys – anything that appeals to a geeky fanboy!) Or they can visit my publisher – CassaStar is available as a trade paperback, ISBN 978-0-9816210-6-7 and in all eBook formats, ISBN 978-0-9827139-3-8.


  1. says

    There most definitely is a lot to the promotion part of writing. So many beginning writers have no idea how little publishers do and how much time and money authors spend on publicity and appearances.

  2. says

    It’s interesting to read about the influences on your sci-fi. I love Preston and Childs also. Did you hear they’re starting a new series with a new hero?