Article first published as Interview: Michael Phillip Cash, Author of ‘Witches Protection Program’ on Blogcritics.
Michael was born and raised on Long Island. He had a fascination with horror writing while growing up, which explains his dedication to this genre as an author. Earning a degree in English and an MBA, he worked various jobs before settling into being a full-time author. He currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.
Susan: Hi Michael, thank you for joining us today! To get started, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your career as an established published author?
Michael: Hi Susan! Thank you for having me! It’s always a pleasure to chat. Well, my name is Michael Phillip Cash. I weigh 196lbs, I’m 5’11, I don’t eat bread and I like long walks on the beach. The last part is not true. I am an award winning screenwriter and author, with 13 best-selling books on Amazon. Life is good.
Susan: Let’s talk about “Witches Protection Program.” What is it about?
Michael: Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization, the Witches Protection Program.
His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company’s diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds.
Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself.
Susan: Was Agent Rockville’s reassignment as Witch Protector in the Witches Protection Program a demotion of sorts? How does one come about such an intriguing assignment?
Michael: I wouldn’t call it a demotion, but something along the lines of tough, fatherly love. We can all relate to trying to live up to our father’s standards, I know I certainly can. As a father myself, it is my duty and responsibility to my kids, (Alexander and Cayla) to ensure they are the best they can be. If it means putting them in a place that will enhance themselves, then I’m all for it. That is essentially what Harris did with his son Wes. He knows Wes is good, but his first assignment with Miss Fox was an epic fail. In order to be a good ‘witch protector’ he has to learn from the best, and the best in the game is Alastair Verne. Alastair is a father figure to Wes because Harris is too busy running the big office on a day-to-day basis.
Susan: As always, such a unique, catchy title! How did you come up with it?
Michael: Thank you for the kudos on the title! It may be a bit embarrassing but I was looking at my wife’s trashy gossip magazines – something I never do…I swear. No really, I swear. I turned the page and one caption said ‘Wetless Protection Program’ and I thought it said ‘Witches Protection Program’. I thought to myself, what a great story idea. Months later, Witches is a best-seller on Amazon, and the screenplay is being circulated in the entertainment industry by some big name producers for a possible film deal.
Susan: How did you come up with the idea of a protection program for witches?
Michael: At first I wanted to marry the idea of GoodFellas, but with witches. I tried beating it out, but it just did not work. I took myself out of it for a day and looked at it with fresh eyes and saw the perspective I needed to be in. A good guy is assigned to protect a whistle blower. Once I started creating my own world of witches, it just snowballed after that. It was a BLAST to write!
Susan: I understand “Witches Protection Program” is also a screenplay. Did you write a screenplay version for all of your books? Tell us about writing the screen-play vs. the novel on this title.
Michael: I write a screenplay first with all my books. Screenplay writing has and always will be my first love. I pitched the idea to a major production company at Sony Pictures. They loved the idea and asked me for a first draft. I wrote the first draft in three weeks and submitted it. Then the whole Sony hacking incident occurred and the company could not approach Sony any further. So I took the script and converted it into a novel, which I do with all my books. Writing a screenplay first allows me to fine tune the story and structure. With screenplays I have to hit certain story points by certain pages to keep it moving along. Words also have to mean something in screenplays, you can’t drag on and on about the weather or scenery. Minimalism is the key. In writing novels on the other hand, you can delve deep into the characters psyche, and their surroundings. They are too different mediums, and I love writing both.
Susan: As one of your fans I know how I get hooked to the pages when I am reading one of your books. Is there a secret formula you use to keep your readers engaged?
Michael: The secret formula for me is writing the screenplay first. I follow a very specific formula from the bible to screenplay writing – ‘Save the Cat’ by Blake Snyder. I hit my beats on a certain page which allows me to propel the story into the next chapter. With the screenplay complete I have a spine for my work. When writing the book, I literally go through the script page by page and add on the meat. It’s a process that has worked very well for me.
Susan: What was your biggest challenge in writing “Witches Protection Program?”
Michael: This wasn’t really hard, but I wanted to really compel the reader to believe that there is a real government agency that protects witches. I wanted the reader believe that there really are two warring factions throughout history. I didn’t want it to feel forced or fake. The story wrote itself and the outcome was exactly how I wanted it to be perceived.
Susan: Do you have one piece of advice you received that marks the turning point in your writing career?
Michael: Write what your heart tells you. Don’t worry about Hollywood, or submitting a manuscript to a big publishing house. Write what you want to write about and everything will fall into place. If you believe in yourself, in your product, and in your brand, you will get everything you want. It just may take some time.
Susan: What advice can you offer aspiring fantasy authors?
Michael: Research your subject to death. Research your subject so when someone asks you about it, you are face machine. If you want to write about wizards (which I’m currently doing), I’ll be honest, I really don’t know much about them. It was the same with witches; I wasn’t too familiar with their world. Google and read everything you can about your story. Google has become my best friend. I’ve left my wife for Google. She was completely understanding. She left me for Dark Chocolate, which is understandable too.
Susan: Do you have any upcoming projects? What can you tell us about it/them?
Michael: I actually have a meeting today with a production company who is interested in optioning my work. A dream come true? Stay tuned and I’ll report back. As mentioned above, I’m writing a killer story about warlocks and wizards. Think Terminator 2 with warlocks. I just finished a creepy little novella called The History Major that should be out for the holidays, maybe early 2016. I was asked to write the Yoda spinoff for an upcoming Star Wars movie. That last line is a lie, but I can dream big, can’t I?
Susan: Could you tell us of your blog or website where our readers can learn more about “Witches Protection Program” and other works?
Michael: I’m all over the internet, thanks to my crack team of agents – Team Cash. Brittany Bass is my publicist and fan club pres. My mom is my momager (mom+manager=momager), who never stops bragging about me. It can get quite annoying, but I deal. Ann Gerber is my social networking guru and personality coach, because I have no personality. Second part is not true. And my brother Eric is my critic and cover designer. I would be nothing without these people in my life, just another castle builder in the sky. They have been my foundation.
Connect with me on:
Susan: Michael, it has been a pleasure chatting with you, and I look forward to seeing more work from you soon. Thank you again for stopping by.
Michael: Susan, who is better than you? Two of you! Thank you for everything!!