This week on Books Spark Joy meet Cassie Hamer.
Cassie is the debut author of After The Party, which I just happened to finish this morning and loved! If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty style stories this one is for you. Cassie completed a Masters in Creative Writing, and has since achieved success in numerous short story competitions. Her first novel, After the Party was published in March 2019 by Harlequin. She is working on her second novel, to be published in April 2020, but always has time to connect with other passionate readers via her website – CassieHamer.com – or through social media.
Over to Cassie …
There are two things I love unconditionally in this world. One is my family. The other is reading, and I can’t remember a time when it was any different. I was that kid who would always take a book wherever they went, then read at night until my eyelids fell shut. Occasionally, my parents had to tell me to stop and engage with the real world. I loved books then, I love them now, and at the end of my life, it will be my connection with books and reading that will count as being among the longest and most sustained relationships of my life. I still get flutters in my stomach when I go into a library. I could sit in a bookshop all day and inhale that new book smell. These days, I’m also a full-time author and therefore, the reading habit that I have always regarded as pure pleasure can also be quite easily justified as ‘work’.
So, obviously, my house is full of books, right?
Every month, I get the urge to throw out everything in my house (sometimes, even the husband and kids) and go live in a tiny house with a capsule wardrobe of ten clothing items. Having a house full of things stresses me out, and therefore, I have, possibly, the smallest book shelf on earth. And I don’t even curate the books that carefully. It’s a hodge podge collection of short story anthologies in which I’ve had stories published, books that were signed by their authors (I really struggle with donating these for fear the author will track them down in Vinnies and hate me forever) and a burgeoning collection of books on the craft of writing. I have a copy of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret which I will never discard because Moriarty’s work is a touch stone for me. Mostly, any books I buy, I eventually give away to charity, friends or family.
Recently, my parents downsized to a three bedroom unit, having lived in a sprawling, five bedroom house where I grew up. Littered throughout were the books of my childhood – the Trixie Beldens, the Sweet Valley Highs, the Ruth Parks, the Anne of Green Gables, the Sadler’s Wells, the Narnias and the Salingers. In the big clear out, I don’t know what happened to them – my inner Marie Kondo prevented me from even asking the question. But now they’re gone, I find myself thinking about them in the same way that I think of old, long-lost friends. Where are they now? Are they safe? Did they find someone else to love them? Was it better that we parted? Maybe they would only disappoint, if we were to reconnect. After all, some friendships are best left in the past.
Now I have children of my own and every so often, when their bookshelves become over-stuffed, I do a cull that I carry out with care and attention. I’m keeping the special books – the ones I read to them during pregnancy (‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Dr Suess) and the ones I used to read to them every night before as babies (Time for Bed, Mem Fox) and ones that I love for no other reason than I just do (The Paper Dolls, Julia Donaldson. I’m far more careful with their books than I am with my own, because I now know the truth – that books, all books, spark joy, but none will ever spark as much joy for them as the books of their childhood.