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Author of the Week – An Interview with author Cassandra O'Leary

What was your inspiration to start (and keep) writing?

I’ve been a business writer for many years, working in PR and corporate communications. So, I had plenty of experience writing articles, newsletters, web content and editing content that others had written. But I’d been in the same job for many years, and with the big 4-0 birthday approaching, I decided to try writing a novel. It’s something I’d always wanted to do, but life got in the way.

Many years before at university, I’d taken electives in Film Studies and even wrote a complete screenplay. I loved writing back then, coming up with the story and setting, fleshing out the characters and dialogue. When I started creative writing again, I found the love and enjoyment of story was still there.

I’ve now been writing seriously for about three years, and there’s no stopping me! My first novel, Girl on a Plane, was released by Avon Books/HarperCollins UK in July 2016, and I’m working on two more novels and some short stories.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write in and how it found you?

I started writing fiction again for a romance writing contest, and I’d had a love story floating around in my brain for a while. I did managed to get that story down in a complete-ish novel format, although I now know how horrible that draft must have been.

Once I started writing the next two stories (a short story, and what turned into my debut novel), a more comedic voice emerged seemingly out of nowhere. But now I realise how much my love of chick lit books and romantic comedy movies has influenced my writing. If I can squeeze in a reference to Love Actually, Working Girl or When Harry Met Sally in my own books, I will!

Is there any author whom you’d admire and read every book they publish?  Who and why?

There are a few. I adore Marian Keyes’ books, and glommed the entire series of the Walsh sisters novels starting with Watermelon. Later, I discovered some other chick lit/women’s fiction authors such as Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones books and other novels including Handbags and Gladrags by Maggie Alderson. In Romancelandia, I love Alice Clayton, Amy Andrews, Victoria Dahl, Tessa Dare, Jackie Ashenden and many more.

If you watch TV what are your shows right now?

I’m binging on the Gilmore Girls on Netflix at the moment! The world news has been getting me down lately, so I’m enjoying a show that’s lighthearted and funny, with smart women characters. But I have eclectic tastes, so I’m keeping up with the zombies in The Walking Dead too. I may have a thing for actor, Andrew Lincoln…

Do you have any talents other than writing that your fans maybe don’t know about?

I’m hesitant to mention that I’m an okay singer…people will be expecting YouTube clips of me belting out show tunes. Don’t expect that. I’m serious. Anyway, back in my schooldays I was in a jazz choir and sang solo in school musicals, etc.

If you could go on vacation anywhere where would you choose and why?

Oh, that’s a hard choice for me, because I love to travel. At the moment, I’m dreaming of England and Ireland, including a visit to the regions where both sides of my family came from (Manchester area and Cork, Ireland). Spain and Italy are also favourite destinations I want to re-visit.

And closer to home for me, I’d also love to do another family trip to Queensland in Australia. We’ve previously stayed on the beautiful Hamilton Island (on the Great Barrier Reef), Noosa Heads and Cairns. Just gorgeous beaches, rainforests and wonderful food.

Do you have any writing rituals we should all start doing?

No real ritual. I’m a great proponent of the Just Start philosophy. Just start writing, even if the first few hundred words are drivel. Sometimes it helps me to start a brand new document and write fresh, without thinking about what I’ve previously written.

Other times, a writing prompt helps, like a photograph or a made-up situation e.g. ‘Your character is on the bus when she drops her bag and coins roll all over the place. What happens next?’

What is your favorite movie? & then book to movie?

I’m a massive movie fan, so choosing an all-time favourite is hard! When Harry Met Sally is up there, along with Hitchcock movies like Rear Window and Vertigo, and lots of sci fi films such as the new Star Trek. My book-to-movie favourite is probably Bridget Jones’ Diary.

What are three foods you can’t live without?

Foods I literally can’t live without – gluten free foods. I have Coeliac disease so I have to follow a strict GF diet.

But three must-have foods include coffee (it’s a drink, I know, but I’d eat chocolate covered coffee beans too), fresh fruit like strawberries, and seafood (love, love, love salmon and prawns). I do adore chocolate too, but I’m not a dead-set addict.

What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Seriously, people being unkind to each other. It’s not that hard to be polite, keep your mouth shut or stop your fingers from typing, online. Be kind, and it will come back your way too.

Not-so-seriously, when my husband (a drummer) taps out a beat on every available surface…it’s maddening!

About the Author:

cassandra-oleary-aboutCassandra O’Leary


Cassandra O’Leary is a romance and women’s fiction author, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.

Cassandra was recently nominated for Best New Author in the AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards, celebrating excellence in Australian romance fiction!

In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Books/HarperCollins UK. Her debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in July 2016. She was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest, Romance Writers of Australia.

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous.

Proud member of Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America, Melbourne Romance Writers Guild and Writers Victoria.

Find them here:

Website | GoodReads  |  Twitter  |  Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

About their newest Book:
(click on cover to go to amazon page)
girlonaplane_cover_july2016Girl on a Plane


A sexy, sassy, summer read, perfect for fans of Rebecca Chance and Lindsey Kelk.


When feisty Irish flight attendant Sinead Kennealy locks eyes with sexy Australian CEO Gabriel Anderson in First Class, sparks fly. But as they jet across the globe from Melbourne to London, it’s clear that they’re in for a turbulent journey . . .

Stressed-out Gabriel doesn’t do relationships. And Sinead isn’t about to be fooled by another bad boy after escaping her stalker ex. Then a storm hits, causing the plane to land unexpectedly, and Sinead and Gabriel are thrown together in Singapore.

The pressure rises as Sinead’s unhappy past threatens to catch up with her. But might Gabriel be the one to heal her heartbreak? If he could open up about his troubling secrets, maybe a relationship could actually get off the ground. Fasten your seatbelts – this WON’T be a smooth ride . . .

Buy the Book:
Cassandra & Avon are offering 5 x Apple iBooks free download copies of Girl on a Plane

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cassandra is also offering a free copy of her romcom novelette, Chocolate Truffle Kiss when you sign up for her newsletter here:

To be Author of the Week check out this page.

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