Saturday, September 8, 2018

1 Erin Cashman, author of UNCHARTED, on finding a good critique partner

Today's interview is extra special because it is with AYAP team member Erin Cashman, who coordinates our 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop. We're thrilled to celebrate the release of UNCHARTED with her!

Erin, what was your inspiration for writing UNCHARTED?

Uncharted was inspired by an old Irish legend that my mother told me about, and I love that it feels as if I’ve brought that myth to life. My mother was born and raised in Galway, Ireland, where she was fed a steady diet of myth and legend. Even as an adult, she believed in ghosts, premonitions, kelpies, fairies, changelings, angels, and Sea Maidens. One day when we were walking on a Cape Cod beach, the fog swirling off the water like spirits rising from the sea, she recounted a time when she saw an island suddenly appear through the fog off the coast of Galway. A minute later, it simply disappeared. That island, she believed, was the legendary island of Hy-Brasil.

My mom captivated my imagination when she talked about the island, which I assumed was an Irish myth. After she died, though, I came across a reference to the island while researching a different story, and I was surprised to find that Hy-Brasil appeared on maps as a real place from 1325 through the mid-1800s, and people claimed to have visited it. The legends surrounding the island were fascinating as well – it was shrouded in fog, it only appeared once every seven years, the roads were paved with gold, the Fountain of Youth was located on the island, it was home to an advanced civilization, and it was an earthly paradise. The Boston Public Library had an exhibit on Hy-Brasil in 2016, and I was fascinated to see the old maps! (There are some map images on my Uncharted Pinterest board if you want to check them out!

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There are two torture scenes that were both very hard for me to write! My wonderful editor, Ashley Hearn, really pushed me to dig deep in the climax, which was originally much quieter. I hated to put Annabeth and Griffin through it!

I love a scene near the end of the book. Annabeth has to come to terms with her guilt over the role she played in her mother’s death, and to accept herself and her past. But her past has shaped who she is, and it is that guilt that makes her determined to try to save the people she loves. There is a passage that describes her journey:
Sliding open the window, I inhaled the cool, crisp air as it caressed my face. Already, the wind carried with it notes of autumn; notes of change. So many things had changed this summer. I had changed. I was no longer the Annabeth-before, or the Annabeth-since. 
I was just Annabeth.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I need it to be completely quiet. I can’t have music or background noise, because then I have a hard time listening to the conversations in my head, or finding the right words to say what I’m trying to say, without relying on clich├ęs. If my husband and kids are home, I hide in my bedroom with my laptop!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Mainly, to just keep at it and don’t give up! But most importantly, find a good critique partner and be open to criticism, and in turn be a good critique partner. I’d be lost without my CPs, the wonderful authors Diana Renn and Martina Boone! There are also so many wonderful, and free, opportunities for writers now—from pitch contests, to workshops. I am the coordinator and a permanent mentor of the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop – through AYAP - which is a great opportunity for writers to have their pages critiqued by published authors, other participants, and a literary agent. (You can read more about it, here!) 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another contemporary fantasy, with some legends, history, and romance thrown in!


by Erin Cashman
Released 9/4/2018

Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality―because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. She vows to make her dad’s life easier in return. But upon accompanying him to his friends' secluded manor, he goes missing in the woods.

Annabeth suspects the manor’s heir Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for the mysterious “accidents” happening at his family’s estate.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose―and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

Purchase Uncharted at Amazon
Purchase Uncharted at IndieBound
View Uncharted on Goodreads


Erin Cashman writes young adult fantasy novels. She’s the award-winning author of The Exceptionals, and Uncharted will be available in fall of 2018 from Page Street Publishing. She is a contributor to, a three-time Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers website, and the workshop coordinator and a permanent mentor at The 1st 5 Pages Workshop.

Erin has been writing stories for as long as she can remember; in grade school usually from her perch near the top of a maple tree (much to her parents’ displeasure!). Her father encouraged her love of reading, and in particular, of fantasy and sci-fi. (She was allowed to miss school to finish reading The Lord of the Rings and he got her hooked on Star Trek). Erin’s mother, who hailed from Ireland, inspired her love of myths and legends. She believed in angels, fairies, sea maidens, and leprechauns. She loved to tell the most imaginative (or who knows – maybe real!) stories. Erin’s subsequent interest in Celtic lore and mythology is what led her to the mysterious island of Hy-Brasil, which became the inspiration for Uncharted, a contemporary fantasy filled with mystery, ancient conspiracies, and romance.

Erin lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and their energetic rescue dog, Riley. When she’s not writing, Erin enjoys reading (of course!), walking her dog, hiking, and watching TV with her family (all diehard fans of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek). She also loves to bake. She’s known for making her family and friends ugly but yummy birthday cakes.


Have you had a chance to read UNCHARTED yet? Have you had a story inspired by a legend told by your parents? Have you ever entered the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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