Image of a heart with rainbows

Author Interview: Cade Haddock Strong Chats about On the Fence

Author Chat IHS Logo
Get ready to learn more about the book On the Fence in this discussion with sapphic author Cade Haddock Strong.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Cade Haddock Strong about On the Fence, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Cozy Mystery category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write On the Fence?

This book delves into the fascinating world of a bunch of female art thieves, a concept that captivates my imagination and makes the writing process incredibly enjoyable. On the Fence marks my second exploration into the lives of this unique group of thieves. However, I don’t see these books as a conventional series. Each one stands on its own and can be read independently, without any specific order. The thrill of crafting the initial book, envisioning the intricacies of the theft, and plotting the thieves every move, was so gratifying that I couldn’t resist revisiting the characters to uncover what mischief they’re up to now.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

On the Fence introduces a fresh face to the crew of thieves—Wallace. She’s my absolute favorite character in the book. Wallace embodies kindness and thoughtfulness. Up to this point, she’s strictly adhered to every rule, but now she has a burning desire to break free and engage in something utterly wild. Little does she know, the woman she’s falling for, Ellen, is an art thief. When she uncovers Ellen’s unconventional profession, Wallace becomes determined to be part of the action.

What part of On the Fence was the most fun to write?

The most enjoyable part of the process was crafting the heist at the heart of the narrative. In this instance, the group of women sets their sights on an Andy Warhol painting. However, it’s not the art itself that intrigues them; rather, it’s the sizable diamond embedded in the frame. The presence of this diamond is a closely guarded secret, privy to only a chosen few, and notably unbeknownst to the auction house preparing to sell the painting.

Once the concept of the theft took root, the challenge was to devise a plan for execution, ensuring the women could pull it off, ideally without getting caught. Whether I was out walking the dog or going for a run, my mind would wander into a realm of possibilities, brainstorming ideas for the perfect heist.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The title is a play on words. Usually, in the world of thieves, they steal a piece and then rely on a fence to sell it. This book flips that dynamic. As we discover early on, it’s the fence who proposes the theft. And when things start to go awry, everyone places blame ‘on the fence’.

What is your writing process like?

I aim to be a plotter, but I must confess, I’m more of a panster. Given that many of my books have suspense or mystery component to them, this tendency often comes back to haunt me, leading to additional work as I constantly rearrange pieces to fit the puzzle.

My favorite phase in the writing process is reaching the end of my initial draft. That’s when I circle back to the beginning and begin a read-through, tweaking and refining as I progress.

Overall, the aspect of writing that I cherish the most is the inception stage, where I get to dream up the ideas and conjure the characters. Once they take shape in my mind, there’s an irresistible urge to transfer them from my thoughts onto the page.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

My typical writing spot is my small home office. However, the physical location matters less to me than the writing conditions. I thrive in a quiet environment! Unlike many authors, I never have music playing in the background while I write. Although I’ve experimented with writing in coffee shops and libraries, the slightest sounds tend to distract (or irritate) me.

That said, there have been occasions when I found myself in a rush to complete a manuscript, and surprisingly, I’ve managed to crank it out in a place like a bustling airport terminal. I suppose, while I prefer quiet, I don’t absolutely need it to get into the writing zone.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

The best writing advice I ever received emphasized the importance of forging deep connections with fellow authors. I am thrilled I took this advice! Building these relationships has been a game-changer for me and my writing. Beyond evolving into fantastic friendships, they’ve become an invaluable support system and an outstanding network of beta readers.

And a remarkable thing was born from these friendships. Me, and handful of other sapphic authors, including Tagan Shepard, Louise McBain, and Serena Bishop, came together to establish the Sapphic Lit Pop-Up Bookstore. The venture has been a tremendous success. We’ve organized more than a dozen events already and our author ranks have experienced exponential growth. Looking ahead to 2024, we have an exciting lineup of nine events on the calendar. We sell books and connect with readers and have a blast along the way.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

I constantly grapple with imposter syndrome and getting into my head too much. This can zap my creativity and diminish my drive to write. In an effort to combat this, I’ve deliberately stepped back from social media. I’ve come to realize it can easily devour my time and occasionally leave me in a bit of a funk.

Recognizing the importance of social media for an author—for building connections and reaching an audience—I’ve refrained from completely abandoning it.

Instead, I’ve adopted a more mindful approach. Rather than mindlessly scrolling whenever the procrastination bug hits, I now set specific times for engagement. It’s a conscious and intentional strategy that helps me strike a balance between staying connected and steering clear of the endless scroll.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

There’s a special place in my heart for stories with strong, tomboy female characters at their center. Looking back, particularly to the time before I realized I was queer, I’ve always had an affinity for these characters.

I suspect it’s because I can relate to them and because, often, I’m drawn to these characters.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

My reading sanctuary is a small room tucked away in a corner of the bedroom. Initially designed as a meditation space when the house was built, it’s undergone a delightful transition into a snug sitting area. As soon as you step into the little nook, a sense of tranquility embraces you.

What captivates me most about the space is the that, during the day, it’s bathed in abundant sunlight. It also has really cool wallpaper and a super comfy chair that’s made for losing yourself in a book. And the room has one special characteristic, it’s hidden behind a secret door that’s cleverly disguised as a bookshelf!

Meet Cade Haddock Strong

Cade spent many years working in the airline industry, and she and her wife have traveled all over the world. When not writing, she loves to be outside, especially skiing, hiking, biking, and playing golf. She grew up in Upstate New York but has lived all over the US and abroad, from the mountains of Vermont and Colorado to the bustling cities of DC, Chicago, and Amsterdam. She has written five books published by Bella Books and is a founding member of the Sapphic Lit Pop-Up Bookstore.

Visit Cade’s Website

share on:

Author Interview