interview with Erin Cashman, author of UNCHARTED

I'm beyond excited today as I get to publish this very special interview with the author of one of my absolute favorite 2018 books: Erin Cashman! 

Erin is the author of The Exceptionals as well as her latest novel, Uncharted - out now! 

I was intrigued by the Uncharted from the very first moment I glimpsed its cover and description. And I just knew then I was going to love it, and... I did! I mean, what I can say; this book is pretty much my 'catnip' of a story: a dark mystery, mysterious parents, secret societies, ancient legends brought out of the shadows and into the light, and a determined, uniquely voiced protagonist. I loved every moment!

And so I reached out to Erin and invited her to answer some questions about her writing, reading, and everything. 

Here it is:) Please check it out! 

Hi Erin, and welcome! As it's become a tradition on my blog, I start all my author interviews with this question: What was the book that influenced you the most when you were a child (and why)?

I always loved the Winnie the Pooh books as a child, and they were also cherished by my three children. There is something so magical about the hundred acre wood, the wonderful and unique characters, and the tales with themes of friendship, courage, and love, which are entertaining without ever being didactic. As a teen I fell in love with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, reading all three books in a matter of days. (I pretended I was sick so I could stay home from school - not that I’m recommending that!) As in the Winnie the Pooh books, I became completely immersed in the world of Middle Earth and felt as though the main characters were all my friends. I hated to see the story come to an end! Lord of the Rings inspired me in so many ways, but particularly in my writing. I came to realize that readers will go on any journey with a character—even a flawed character—that we love. I’ve re-read the books several times since then, and I still love them! 

If you have one, what is your favorite book of all time?

I’d have to say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I love everything about it; how the story unfolds, Harry’s outsider perspective, the writing, the worldbuilding, and mostly the characters. I’ve read that series from start to finish at least a half a dozen times, and I always find something new to love! 

In addition to writing books, you’re also a contributor to a really cool blog dedicated to all things writing called Adventures In YA Publishing (AYAP) as well as the coordinator and a permanent mentor at The 1st 5 Pages Workshop. So what I’d like to know is which Erin came first – the writer or the educator/mentor – and how did I get involved in AYAP and 1st5pages? 

Definitely the writer. After I sold my debut, The Exceptionals, I joined a wonderful blog called The Enchanted Inkpot. The inkies, as we called ourselves, were a group of authors who primarily wrote middle grade and YA fantasy. (Sadly, the group disbanded some time ago). There I met my friend, the talented Martina Boone, who started both Adventures In YA Publishing and The 1st 5 Pages Workshop. She asked me to join 1st 5 as a mentor, and I loved it! Within a few months I became the coordinator as well. It is such a wonderful opportunity for writers to have their pages critiqued by other writers and a literary agent – and it’s free! (You can read more about it, here!

As readers (and writers), we tend to gravitate toward certain themes and types of stories. When I first heard about your latest novel Uncharted, my book ‘catnip’ radar was immediately triggered. This book’s got everything I want and need in a story! Secret societies, mythology, mysterious parents, and a determined protagonist who won’t back down. I just love books like that as well as books that blend genres and take on lore and myth in an unusual way. What are the themes and stories do you gravitate toward as a reader and a writer? 

I’m the same as you Katya – and as you know I adored What The Woods Keep! I love stories that mix genres, especially myth and legend with science, that ask questions, that have morally ambiguous characters. I love the what if part of writing and reading – that leap of faith - what if this was really true? I also enjoy when the main character is an outsider, having to unspool secrets.

I’ve read it on your website that Uncharted was inspired by your mother’s Irish heritage. What kind of research have you done for this book and how did your family lore influence the story? 

My mother was born and raised in Galway, Ireland. She loved to spend her time on Galway Bay, where she was fed a steady diet of myth and legend. One day, my mom and I were walking on a beach, and 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. 

I spent many, many, hours researching Hy-Brasil, which included reading books, articles, and a trip to Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library. I was surprised to learn that Hy-Brasil appeared on maps from 1325 through the mid-1800s (you can check out information on the exhibit, Hy-Brasil: Mapping a Mythical Island here) 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, and it was an earthly paradise. I also researched Irish folklore, including Tír na nÓg (“Land of the Young”, a supernatural realm of youth, health, and joy), which I reference in Uncharted, when Griffin tells Annabeth the legend of the great warrior Oisín. 

Wow. That's some truly fascinating stuff! And it's just so special that your book was inspired by your mom's first-hand experience! I can't wait to hear what’s next for you! What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m working on another genre-blending contemporary fantasy that has some historical elements and lore, like Uncharted. Hopefully I’ll hand it into my agent by the end of the month! 

Best advice writing/publishing advice you’ve ever received? 

If you love to write, write – don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. And revise, revise, revise – the magic often happens in the revisions!

Bonus questions!

Your dream holiday? 

Ireland of course! 

In your writing process/routine, are you… a planner, pantser, or…?

I’m a pantser who is learning to be more of a plotter. I’ve realized I can have an outline and still stray from it, still let the characters show me the way – and save a LOT of time!

Do you listen to music when you write? (If yes, what's been on your play-list lately?)

Nope – I need it to be completely quiet so that I can hear my characters talk or argue in my head.

Cats or dogs?

Both (but dogs if I could only pick one!)

Coffee or tea?

Both again! But tea if I could only pick one – strong black Irish tea.

More about Erin!

Erin Cashman is an award-winning writer of Young Adult fantasy. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and their very energetic dog. She is a mentor and coordinator at the 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop. She also loves to bake and is known for making her family and friends ugly but yummy birthday cakes.

Her new novel, Uncharted, was published this fall. You can add it your shelf on Goodreads and order it from:


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