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Interview with Neal Cassidy

He is an American writer who grew up in Forest, Va. An ex-tennis pro, he also spent his winters competing in Big Air & Slopestyle competitions on skis. After many years of an undiscerning lifestyle, he decided to put his experiences into his first novel.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
A. I have a stuffed woolly mammoth that I bought in the fifth grade that I take everywhere with me. I've lived in dozens of countries and moved a lot, but that is something that I always have with me.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
A. I'm working on my second novel right now and hoping to have it done by the end of the year. It has to do with the seven deadly sins and a group of people that go to an island.

Q.3 When did you decide to write The Final Weekend: A Stoned Tale?
A. It had been on my mind for at least a year, but I definitively sat down to write it after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc through St Croix in September of 2017. I was stuck on the island for over a month with no electricity and a lot of time, so that's when I just dove in.

Q.4 Is your book inspired by certain events/memory/person, etc.?
A. There are several people, events, and memories throughout my life that are in the book, yes. For instance, Nene, the fruit vendor, the first non-major character the reader is introduced to, is my mom. 

Q.5 What were your feelings when your novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
A. I can't begin to describe the feeling...the accomplishment and pride I felt knew no bounds.

Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?
A. That's a good question. Most of them were just made up and were names that I thought fit the characters I was writing about. A few of the names are from events in my past. For example, Claudette, the infamous blowup doll in the novel, is named after a sandwich shop, I used to frequent on Nantucket Island.

Q.7 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
A. How long it would take and how picky I would be. There were days when I would log sixteen hours of writing, sometimes writing until the next morning. One day it took me six hours to write a three-sentence paragraph because I didn't think it was "quite right."

Q.8 How will you describe your life before and after getting published?
A.  Nothing has really changed except for the number of emails and messages I get, which I really appreciate. To think that someone took the time to read my novel and reach out to me means the world to me.

Q.9 If you could change one thing about your novel, what would it be and why?
A. Nothing. I did it my way just as wanted to.

Q.10 What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
A. No, no sequel for this book. But if you'd like to see what may lie in the future for the characters, please check out the book.

Q.11 Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
A. My mom because she rocks. She is the most amazing person I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and none of this would be possible without her.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Meh. I do and I don't. I think there are times when you just need a break or you've been so involved that you just need to pull yourself away for a bit. Whenever I feel like this, I always just go to the window and puff on a blunt.

Q.13 Tell us about your writing process while you’re working?
A. Every morning starts out pretty much the same. I roll five blunts, fix a cup of hot, black tea and make a bowl of fruits and frozen chocolates. Then I smoke a little and dance wildly to one of three songs (Make Em' Say Uh by Master P, September by Earth, Wind & Fire, or It's All About the Benjamins, by Puff Daddy, Rob Zombie, Fuzz bubble, etc.) After that I put Tchaikovsky on a low level and begin writing.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I don't think so...well, maybe smoking copious amounts of weed while writing.

Q.15 How does your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
A. Some are quite supportive and some not so much. But I have found that with friends, too. It is what it is.

Q.16 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad ones?
A. Some of them...and nope.

Q.17 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A.  I think just getting into a woman's mindset. Would she talk this way? Would she react this way? How differently to two female friends speak with each other as opposed to two male friends?

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. I'd skip the famous person and just have lunch with my mom.

Q.19 What books have most influenced your life?
A.  Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, & American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, The Devil All the Time, by Donal Ray Pollock.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. It has been a wonderful experience so far. Writing and publishing this book has allowed me to meet some wonderful and very cool people. I've grown as a person and that along with the joy it has given me is what life is all about.

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