Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spotlight on Cass McMain

Cass McMain is someone I refer to as one of my "writer friends". We've never met in person but we've exchanged critiques of our books - I got to read Sunflower and Watch before they were available to the general public!

We met on Authonomy.com, a writer's website, years ago. Cass goes by the name Helianthus. She's known there as one of the few members who'd read a book straight to the end. And if you wanted feedback, you had to beg for it and sign a thick skin waiver because she is determined never to crush a writer's spirit.

Authonomy is shutting down at the end of the month and for those of us who spent years there, it's a tough goodbye. Cass and I had a similar experience - both of us were "discovered" by our publishers because we posted our books there. She was one of the main participants in my favorite forum thread ever - The Alphabet Thread - a totally silly experiment that went on for a year or so and might only have been funny to those of us who contributed. We've been members for close to the same amount of time and have become attached to the place and the people we met there. Here are some of her thoughts as the site gets ready to close:

I'm going to miss the place. I hated what it had become but I sure loved what it once was. 

I came to Authonomy mostly to support a friend who loaded a book there. She left almost immediately, but I like to give things a fair try, you know… so I stayed. By the time Autho closes, I will have been there almost five years.

I didn’t think I’d have the guts to put my book up, because I was sort of afraid of the reception, and what people might say. Of course, after a few months of watching I couldn’t help but wonder what people would say about it, so I did put it up for comment. That was Sunflower. I was startled by the positive comments I got, and emboldened by the people who read the whole thing and liked it. Several Authonomy readers were impatient with it and said it was too slow-paced. I wrote my second book with the Autho audience in mind: much faster pace, more hooks. And Watch did get a more favorable reception on Autho than Sunflower had. So much so, that when I was contacted by a publisher I immediately assumed it wasWatch he wanted to talk about. But he wanted Sunflower, the slower-paced story he had seen on Authonomy during a brief time on the site.

I can thank Authonomy for that, I suppose, as I’d never have had the guts to directly seek a publisher for my work. But I think the site never worked at all as advertised; the very best use of it was as a platform for writers to network with each other, learn from each other. And of course, do battle with each other. I met some great enemies there. Also some truly wonderful people that I hope to call true friends for the rest of my life. The internet being what it is, friends flit in and out like electronic butterflies, but I do think the bonds formed on artistic sites like Authonomy are strong, due to the nakedness you have to exhibit with each other. So it’s that which I will miss most: the group of people I had become accustomed to walking around naked with.

It was a time, you know. It was quite a time.

Follow Cass on her blog. She's a funny woman.

1 comment:

  1. Having read all of Sunflower when it was uploaded on Authonomy I made a point of buying it as soon as it was available. Parts of that enchanting novel have stuck with me over the years.

    All best, Cass.