Rising Star Spotlight: Casey Wyatt


You grew up in Connecticut, do you still live there? 
I do still live in Connecticut, not far from my childhood home.
Your work for a "large corporation" during the day... tell us about that.
Ah yes, the necessary day job. It's not all that exciting. I kind of stumbled into the insurance industry straight out of college. At the time, Connecticut was the fabled insurance capital! Those college loans for my Anthropology and Psychology degrees had to be repaid somehow. I believed at the time that I wouldn't work there for long, but fate is kind of funny. I met my husband (working part-time at a movie theater while waiting to start the corporate job). Next came the kids, and I'm very lucky that my employer was an early work-at-home pioneer so I stayed for the convenience and flexibility. Thirty years later, I'm still at the same company.  I currently work in IT although I'm not a programmer. I help solve problems and it pays the bills so I don't have to worry about making money from my art.
What spurred you into writing?
I've always loved writing. As a kid I used to make up stories and write them in notebooks.  I was the student who took every art class, loved English class, and was in drama club. I always had a book to read in between classes. Basically I gravitated toward anything that didn't involve math or business. I truly believed I wanted to go to art school, then I talked myself out of it. I thought I needed to do a job where I could make a living (don't ask me why I thought that I could do that with anthropology). Silly me! At the time, I had no idea that I would never actually escape my creative urges. If I had to name a regret, that choice is it. I still draw and I have other creative pursuits. Publication was a pipe dream. I started and stopped a bunch of books because I had no idea what I was doing. That lasted for a few years. I taught myself to knit and crochet. I hated that I had unfinished ideas and knew those stories could be better. I avoided dealing with writing until 2009. I found Kelly Armstrong's Otherworldly forum. She had an outline for NaNoWrimo (which I knew nothing about). That was the lightbulb moment. I took one of my unfinished ideas and turned it into a completed,114,000-word story. In January 2010, I decided to check out the local library's writer group. That was another turning point, I met two like-minded people (we are still friends) and we eventually found our way to the CT Romance Writers chapter. My second completed novel was “Mystic Ink” which I sold and was published in 2012. I've been at it ever since, all while working and raising my family.
Why science fiction and urban fantasy?
 I grew up reading nothing but fantasy and science fiction novels. My first memory of television was Star Trek. I was eleven when Star Wars came out and a lifelong love of sci-fi and fantasy was cemented. I still have my original Star Wars figures in a shoebox under my bed! Then, in the early 2000s, I discovered paranormal romance and was hooked. Most of my published works are either paranormal romance or urban fantasy, although I also independently published two contemporary romances.
So tell us, what are your best and worst qualities?
Best qualities? My curiosity. I love learning new things, meeting people, and having "experiences" over acquiring "stuff." I love to go to museums. It hasn't been a great year for museum visits, but the maniacs (me and my sons) did manage to make a few stops in June and July. I'm super loyal to my friends and I'm always happy to help them which includes being honest (but not tactless!) I'm also not afraid of public speaking. All those years of drama club in school paid off later in life.
My worst quality my kids would say, is that I nag them too much, LOL! Really, I'm my own worst critic and I can be too hard on myself for not meeting goals and I often question the quality of my writing. I'm very aware of how self-doubt can sabotage creativity, but that doesn't mean I don't have moments where I beat myself up. For anyone out there doubting their creativity, I'd say, it's okay, even normal, to feel that way sometimes. This is what I tell my critique partners when they're doubt-ridden: “Be Carol Danvers. Pick yourself up and do it anyway.” I have an image on my desktop from Captain Marvel, where Carol stands every time she's been knocked down. I have it there to remind me to do the same because that movie moment still gives me the feels.
Tell us the craziest thing that has happened to you as a writer!
Becoming part of the comic convention scene. Through chance circumstances, Michael J
Sullivan and I started chatting on Goodreads. I noticed he was attending a local convention so he suggested we meet there. It was CTConn 2013 (a mid-sized pop culture con that averages between 10,000 - 15,000 attendees). I'd been dying to go to this con for years but the timing never worked. I roped my shy husband into going. We had a very nice few hours of discussion with Michael and his wife Robin. On the convention floor, my hubby had no idea what he was about to experience! He was very skeptical about the cosplayers, but by the end of the day, he was hooked. That con was also memorable because I got to meet Dan Dos Santos (he is the artist for Patricia Biggs's Mercy Thompson books). He was extremely nice and I still have one of his prints hanging next to my desk! After that, we attended the convention every year, but here is the crazy thing - CTConn is a fan-driven con and they have tons of fan panels. In 2016, me and two of my geek-minded writer friends ran a panel called Kick Butt Women of Pop Culture. The room filled to capacity (about 150 people). We were shocked that so many people attended and participated in the discussion. The convention invited us back the next year and gave us a bigger room, 450 seats, and we nearly maxed it out. We've been doing the panel every year since (we have regulars now!)  We also have popular writing workshops and other fun panels.
What is it that keeps you coming back and writing stories?
My imagination never stops. The sad thing is, and I think this is true of most writers, that there are more ideas than we can ever realize in a lifetime. Right now, I am reimagining the very first book I finished way back in 2009. Writing has been a particular challenge this year. I've been taking this book slowly. It's weird revisiting the characters after so long. I know I should probably be working on another series book for my publisher (and I will, I promise!) but this is something that I've wanted to redo for a long time now.
What is the one thing you still dream of doing?
I dream of traveling to New Zealand. I've been smitten since watching Hercules and Xena. Obviously, I want to visit the Hobbiton set. I hope to get there one day soon!
If you could only write on more book - what would it be about?
My badass elves, natch! I love them. They are tortured heroes and heroines just trying to get by and find love.  Also, a few years ago, my son was taking a screenwriting class in college. We brainstormed two ideas. The one idea he didn't use, I plan to turn into an urban fantasy novel.