Today we have a visit from author Michael Phillip Cash to discuss his book The History Major.
About the Book
After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?
About the Author
Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children.
Stalk the Author!
JD: You know, after reading the blurb and excerpt for The History Major, saying “She can’t quite put her finger on it” seems to be the understatement of the century. It feels more like a dark comedy than a traditional horror or thriller. What I read definitely has a different vibe from other books in those genres. Was that part of the plan all along? What was your goal insofar as setting the mood of the book?
MPC: That’s an incredibly insightful question. It really was a cross between a dark comedy and a traditional thriller. My primary goal, for any of my books, is always to pull the reader in and not let go until I write the last page. I want people to forget about everything they are doing while reading, and I feel I accomplished that with The History Major. I wanted to write something like Gone Girl, or Luckiest Girl Alive, but I wanted the Cash twist. I didn’t want to flat out copy the other books, but I wanted to keep it grounded in comedy and being a thrill for some people. I’ve gotten compliments from both sides.
JD: Amanda Greene starts off as your stereotypical college freshman, but it quickly becomes apparent that she is anything but stereotypical. Without giving too much of the story away, what can you share about Amanda? Is there anyone in particular that served as the inspiration for the character?
MPC: There was a girl I went to college with whose name was Mandy. She was a nice girl, but she had a wicked tongue. I didn’t base my entire story about her, but I used a lot of the same attributes and mannerisms. Both Mandy and Amanda get stupidly drunk and say things that are really tough to take back. I knew I was always going to write a story about Mandy, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to come to surface. The History Major hit me like a bolt of lightning and I wrote within a few days.
JD: When the reader finishes the book, what do you hope that they take away from it?
MPC: If we don’t study history are we doomed to repeat it. Amanda’s actions all caught up to her. All of my books have lessons I learned in life. This was one of them.
JD Several reviewers have commented on the use of history not just as a plot device, but as an important part of the story itself. How much research did you have to do for this book to make sure you were getting the facts right?
MPC Tons! I love history and I love historical figures. My mom was a history teacher so I it was easy for me to interview her and take notes about what the figures would be like. My mom is like a walking Wikipedia. I took notes, and then fleshed the characters out.
JD: You are also a screenwriter. So if you were going to cast the movie for The History Major, who do you cast for your major characters?
MPC: Anna Kendrick all day. She was my Amanda Greene the entire time I was writing. The girl in college that I based Amanda off of looks like Anna Kendrick too. I was writing Hugo Weaving as Socrates. He had this Elrond feel to him. An all-knowing, all-wise teacher who is trying to teach Amanda about her choices and history.
JD: As a full-time writer, how do you structure your day? Do you have a writing schedule that you adhere to? How much of your day is actually dedicated to writing, as opposed to everything else that goes into publishing?
MPC: 9am to 4pm is research and development. I cannot write a word of dialogue until I know my characters, what makes them tic and their surroundings. 5pm I take a break to cook my family dinner. I play with my kids from 6 to 8pm, then they go to sleep. My wife is in bed by 8:30pm. Then I write in my den with the Food Network on mute in the background. I do this everyday until my eyes go – generally around midnight. Repeat the next day.
JD: We authors tend to talk about our “muses” as if they are real people. So if your “muse” was a real person, describe him or her.
MPC: My wife, my soulmate, is by far my biggest inspiration. She is so supportive of me and my endeavors to write. She never complains, she loves everything I do, and if there is something that she doesn’t agree with, she will always be honest and tell me. I wouldn’t be anything today without her backing. She is the strongest person I know. She also happens to be a knockout – I’m a very lucky guy.
JD: When not writing, do you have other creative pursuits?
MPC: I want to direct movies one day, but I feel light years away from it. I don’t want to leave my children now for an extended period of time. That’s why writing has been the easiest and most creative route to go. I write from home, surrounded by my family. Can’t get any better than that.
JD: Who were some of your favorite writers early in your career? Have you found that your favorite writers list has changed as you have progressed as a writer? Or has it remained fairly constant?
MPC: Surprisingly, my list has not varied much over the years. I find to read the same works over and over again by the same writers. I primarily read tons of screenplays, and weed out the ones I think are inferior to the rest. Screenwriters like Quentin Tarantino, Brian Koppelman & David Levien, Scott Rosenberg, Bob Gale, Charlie Kaufman, Diablo Cody – these are my heroes. They have guided me into a storytelling journey that I don’t want to leave. Joseph Campbell and Blake Snyder have been extremely influential in my career.
JD: Anything interesting on your current reading list? What are you reading now? Either for research purposes or recreational?
MPC: I took a break from writing this summer. I have an entertainment attorney and literary agent who are shopping my books to some major publishing houses. I still wrote, but not with the tenacity and ferociousness that I generally do. I have found a new love for health books. I’ve devoured Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, Trick and Treat by Barry Groves, Brain Grain by David Perlmutter and Eat Bacon, Don’t Job by Grant Petersen. I have an amazing writing career. I’d like to continue it being healthy too.