Cassie Sanchez is an award-winning author of romantic fantasy. Chasing the Darkness (Morgan James Fiction, November 2021) was her debut novel and the first book in The Darkness Trilogy. Book two in the series, Embracing the Darkness (October 2022), is described as the weaving of “a complicated, compelling story…a powerful saga of change, redemption, and transformation.” Visit Cassie on her website at CassieSanchez.com, on Facebook and Instagram, and on her Amazon author page.
What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in The Darkness Trilogy?
The Darkness Trilogy, starting with Chasing the Darkness, is about a man’s journey of self: his purpose, his worth, and his values. It’s a romantic fantasy full of magic, sword fights, and love.
What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
As a debut author, navigating the publishing world, building my platform, and marketing were very challenging with the first book. With the second, the challenge was that there were now expectations that weren’t there before. Imposter Syndrome is very real and has a tendency to rear its ugly head, often.
What sparked the story idea for Chasing the Darkness? What about book two, Embracing the Darkness?
One day, my two sons were playing a video game and a character in that game got my attention. The creativity bug struck, and I wrote a scene about an assassin betrayed by his team and left to die in a dungeon. This became chapter four of Chasing the Darkness and from there the story evolved. Embracing the Darkness is a continuation of my main character’s story, but now he faces new challenges yet with old temptations and habits tightening their grip.
You published the first two books in the trilogy about a year apart. How did the books come together?
I began writing Chasing in early 2020 and signed with Morgan James Publishing in February 2021. The eBook released in November and the paperback released February 1, 2022. I was already working on the second book when the first released, but I’d say it took me around a year and half to write each book from start to finish, including the editing and cover design process.
Who are your main characters? Did they surprise you as you wrote their story?
Azrael, the Angel of Death, also known as Jasce Farone, is my main character. He’s a morally gray assassin who’s fiercely loyal and yet has some anger management problems. Kord Haring, my gentle giant, became a fan favorite, which surprised me. He is a very likable character and honestly, I’m not sure how I did that. He’s the wiser, older brother of Kenz Haring, the love interest in the story. I’ve found that many women love Kenz while quite a few men are annoyed by her (including my husband). She’s got a chip on her shoulder and a need to prove herself but would do anything to protect her family.
What was the most difficult aspect of world building for the series?
Probably the fact that I did it backwards since the world developed as I wrote the story. I assume most fantasy authors already have their world and magic figured out before their fingers hit the keys. I had my magic system down, so to speak, but the world grew as my characters traveled across it. The one thing I did have planned was the Desert of Souls. In this desert grows a plant that suppresses magic. It was a way to add tension with the setting.
With two books in the trilogy published and the third in the works, what has been your favorite part of putting this project together so far?
I love the writing (or should I say the rewrite/editing phase). The first draft is so hard for me. I also love meeting new people at book signings or Comic-Cons. Of course, winning awards or getting positive reviews adds a lot of joy to the process.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still struggle with calling myself an author, but I’m getting better at it. Once I saw my name on the cover of Chasing the Darkness the reality began to set in. Now that I have two books under my belt and the third in its beginning stages, it’s easier to say, “Hi, I’m an author.”
What marketing techniques have been most helpful to you?
Instagram (Bookstagram) has been hugely successful for me. I had learned to engage and post consistent content about myself and my brand way before I ever talked about my book. I was on Instagram for around nine months before I mentioned Chasing the Darkness. I’m now trying to build some momentum on TikTok but coming up with content is a challenge.
Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
Redemption, identity, and forgiveness are themes that occur in the first two books, and I imagine will also run through the third.
Tell us about your writing process and/or your writing routine.
I’m more of a plotter than a pantser but still give myself a lot of wiggle room to let the creativity flow. My best times for writing are in the morning. By the afternoon, my brain is usually fried. And I absolutely need coffee and my writing playlist to write.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the third (and final) book in the series. It will be called either Defeating the Darkness or Destroying the Darkness. Which one do you like better?
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Stop by my website to learn more about me and my books at www.cassiesanchez.com. Also, sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop of all things Darkness and get two short story prequels for free.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.