Interview For Foster An Author 2018

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I recently took part in the 2018 Foster An Author event where the lovely Elaine and Tami’s JB3 Blackbirds  fostered me for a whole week and promoted my books across their social media sites. It was a fab experience and gave me the opportunity to meet lots of new authors. During the week I also took part in a quick Q & A…

Q: What is the first book that made you cry?

A: I’m an emotional wreck at the best of times so I pretty much wept my way through the entire Disney collection before I was eight. As an adult there are two books that stand out to me – The Color Purple and Fortune’s Rock. Two books that couldn’t be more different, bought together by their unequivocal ability to make me cry big, ugly tears!

Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

A: I don’t know about America but here in the UK there’s a depressing trend to throw every Z-list celebrity a publishing contract and then hire a ghostwriter to do all the hard work. There are so many amazing, talented romance writers out there but publishers are still reluctant to take a chance. I’m hoping the trend will shift to a more inclusive modus operandi in 2019.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

A: Both! When the words are flowing it’s like ten cups of strong coffee are pumping through my veins, my fingers are literally tripping over themselves to hit the right letters on the keyboard. On the flipside, when I’ve hit a plot roadblock or I can’t move past a paragraph without rewriting it a billion times it’s worse than exhausting!

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

A: Someone once told me to ‘write for the right reasons’ and it took me a long time to figure out exactly what she meant! There is no American Idol fast track route to selling a million copies of your debut (unless you’re EL James…) It takes hard work and sacrifice – cancelled social events and precious time away from your friends and family. But when strangers take the time to message you to say how much they enjoyed your writing, those moments are everything.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

A: A sizeable chunk of being a writer is self-promotion, which, if you’re anything like me, makes you want to curl up in a corner and hide. In that respect a big ego will definitely help! On the other hand I take issue with some romance authors (who shall remain nameless!) who lose the humble vibe on the way up. The drop is mighty steep on the other side so never forget who made it happen for you! Half the battle is finding out how to strike a happy medium.

Q: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

A: I’ve become bored with books and not finished them, and when I’m writing it’s hard to find the time to read as much I’d like to. I’m a proper book junkie at heart. I like to devour whole series in one sitting. There’s nothing better than staying up until 2am because you Can’t. Not. Finish. The. Book. I think that’s the secret aim of every author – to have a moment like that with their readers. It’s certainly mine! The first time someone told me my book had made them late for work I was back crying those big ugly tears again.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

A: When I first started out, yes. My kids were really young and I cringed everytime I thought of one of their friend’s mums reading my books! I got over that pretty quickly. These days I’m proud of my writing and proud to put my name to it. Hopefully my kids won’t disown me completely when they’re older…

Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

A: I write what I like reading myself (dark romance/erotic suspense) and what I know. Admittedly I don’t know a whole lot about South American cartel bosses and their dark and crazy sex exploits but I know heart and I know passion, two qualities that drive every single one of my characters. In life I like to jump in ‘head first’ with everything and I hope that translates to my characters too.

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

A: I guess you could hone and hone your craft and be technically brilliant at writing but, like I said, to write a really passionate love story you have to embody a little of that characteristic yourself. Some things can’t be learnt they’re instinctive but others may have a different view.

Q: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

A: I’m a newbie so I’m still shuffling at the back of the auditorium waiting for somebody to talk to me It’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to be a part of Foster An Author 2018. It’s a perfect chance to make some new writing buddies!

Hearts Of Darkness is available right now from Amazon. Click HERE for more details.

#FAA2018 #FosterAnAuthor2018

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50 Shades of Distraction

I LOVED Fifty Shades of Grey. Boom. There I said it. Yes, the ‘inner goddess’ thing is a bit yawn and I can sort of see why all the feminists are up in arms but it’s got that clever little spark that always reels me in. I like to call it the ‘love hook’. I’m sure there’s some fabulously technical term for it in the publishing world but that’s what works for me.

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It’s more than the initial ‘grab’ that us writers are told to inflate our first chapter with. It’s that WHAM BAM moment, usually about a third in, when you know you’re in big trouble. The book becomes an obsession. Your baby’s screaming for a feed but you Can’t. Quite. Put. It. Down. It’s the realization that you’re going to be in mourning for these characters long after the book (fingers crossed a trilogy) has ended…

It’s there in the little things. Not the big set pieces. It’s an emerging connection between the two lead characters that goes way beyond the sizzling sex and ridiculous sub-plots. With Dirty Dancing it’s the scene in the lake when the music goes all mushy but you know that Baby’s in far deeper stuff than the water. With Fifty Shades it’s the texts and emails. It’s the development of a relationship. It’s the flirting… god the flirting. It’s sooo good. Bravo, E.L. James. You deserve the squillions and Jamie Dornan just for that.

Still I wonder if E.L. could have created the same intense magic if she’d had a toddler flinging breadsticks at her. Or if she’d felt Mother’s Guilt wagging her bony little finger in her face for playing the same Paw Patrol episode four times in a row in a bid to keep her kids amused whilst she finished.

I was in Sainsbury’s last week sans kids (it’s amazing how pleasurable food shopping becomes when you don’t have rowdy children in tow trying to capsize the trolley), and I indulged myself with a quick flick though a well-known writer’s magazine. Inside was an article about how some pro organised his day. I skim-read the blurb in bewilderment. It went something like this: Awake at 7am. Coffee at 8am. An hour of social media, and then three solid hours of writing before lunch, and so on and so forth…

Huh??

You mean no tetchy, drawn-out breakfasts featuring ‘the wrong cereal’, despite the little buggers specifically requesting it? No tears because i’ve used the Frozen lunchbox instead of the Cinderella one, followed by the endless school drop-offs which have to be timed Just So otherwise the youngest will sit down in the middle of the road and refuse to budge. Then it’s home for the washing-up, answering work emails, yadda yadda yadda until FINALLY I can kick-start the writing. ‘Bastard,’ I muttered resentfully (no offence intended.) I felt like puking with envy all over the petit filous.

But such is the lot of writers who are juggling mummyhood, or indeed daddyhood, whilst pursuing their dreams. ‘Prioritise!’ I hear you howl. ‘Feck off…’ I growl. Because despite my love of writing my kids will always come first. But by the time evening rolls around I’m often too shattered and traumatised by the ‘bedtime routine’ to fire up the creativity. I hold my hands up to you, Stephanie Meyer, you of Twilight Fame, who supposedly wrote your books when your children were asleep. I leave it to the weekend when my husband can deal with the nighttime howlers and early starts, and I can really get stuck in. What a legend he is. He deserves his very own blog for outstanding contributions to the cause.

And then there’s the ultimate distraction… Writing a blog when I should be finishing my latest book.

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My Imagination Vacation

And what a marvellous thing it is too. Except when you’ve sprinted out of the house, mid-scene, to collect your kids and now one of your lovely mummy friends is trying to engage you in light chitchat in the school playground. You stare at her blankly as you try to process simple terms such as ‘play dates’ and ‘cake sales’. They may as well be quoting the periodic table or speaking Urdu, neither of which make any sense to me. You see I embarked on an Imagination Vacation sometime around 2pm and now my headspace is all about whether my lead character will choose her lover’s private jet or yacht to whisk her away.

It’s tricky stuff being a writer but even worse trying to engage with one. When a burst of creativity hits it tends to fragment the simplest of conversations. Routine is ripped apart by its fuzzy-edged shrapnel. I overheard my kids chatting the other day, bemoaning the fact that the youngest was forced to ask me five times for a glass of water. ‘But mummy’s working…’ explained the eldest knowledgeably, as if such a thing held mystical princess powers and shot fireworks out of my eyeballs. At this rate they’ll be in therapy long before I see one of my books on the shelves of Sainsbury’s.

It’s not just us writers that spend our lives in a semi-permanent haze of otherworldliness either. It makes the day bearable so we’re all as guilty as charged.

There’s a brilliant scene in one of my favourite movies, ‘The Commitments’, when the lead character, Jimmy Rabbitte, is lying in a bubble bath, clutching the shower head like a microphone and conducting an imaginary interview with the late, great Terry Wogan. Hands up who’s ever had that moment? For me it was Parkinson though, circa 1996, with Tom Hanks on my left, chortling wickedly along to my witty asides.

But what about that other essential writer’s gizmo? The ‘Back to the Future’ plutonium-like fuel of this imagination stuff, better known as Inspiration. It’s true that much of what I write about has been influenced from my experiences in the film industry. Of course names and dates have been changed to protect the not so innocent… But it’s not easy sometimes to make that connection, from the no- milk-in-the-fridge-reality to when the words are flowing so fast that your fingers are tripping over themselves to hit the right notes on the keyboard.

For this I have no better inspiration than my children. How my eldest interacts with her toys is so genuine and all embracing. I’m mesmerised. When Rainbow Dash doesn’t win first prize in the beauty competition, that has taken over her bedroom, the landing and the upstairs bathroom, real tears are shed. Then again, she doesn’t have the lure of social media when the alliteration of Barbie’s victory speech proves somewhat problematic.

And finally a special thank you to everyone who buys one of my books. You give me the inspiration and the imagination to carry on a little bit longer with this writer’s dream of mine.

xx

My Name’s Catherine & I’m A Bookaholic

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I saw a funny cartoon online yesterday. It depicted a bleary-eyed woman emerging from her crumpled bed sheets captioned, ‘The morning after the book before’. I actually laughed out loud, not least because I AM that woman who gets so addicted to a book that I can’t put it down. Because of this I have to ration my prose. And god help the family if I pick up a trilogy.

To me, that’s the pinnacle of success for writers. To think that someone, somewhere, might be a little bit infatuated with their characters. Yes, I know it’s a bit ‘look at me, how clever am I’ et al but what if, by some miracle, you’ve actually managed to emulate the EL James’ of this world and entertained Mrs Anonymous so much that she’s still up at 3am and hasn’t put the dogs out yet?

It’s the sort of dream that spurs me on when I’m suffocating with self-doubt and my latest plotline has gone the same way as the last two series of Downton Abbey i.e. down the shitter.

My sister-in-law has a table in her kitchen called ‘The Shackleton’, named after the famous divorce lawyer who took on Heather Mills. It’s because of the massive row-to-end-all-rows she had with my brother when out buying the thing. She loved it. He didn’t. She won of course but it’s forever marred as the perilous reminder of how unreasonable my brother can be. Like when I lose myself in a book and end up driving my poor, abandoned family to the brink…

So in the spirit of all potential deal-breakers here is my ‘Shackleton List’. Three books that have had me up at all hours like the literary equivalent of a child’s vomiting bug:

RIVALS. Jilly Cooper. 

So all-consuming and brilliant and SO influential that I’m positive this book is responsible for me embarking on a TV career in the first place. Never met a ‘Rupert’ but it’s surprising how many ‘Tony’s’ I encountered in the corridors of the BBC.


THE SMOKEJUMPER. Nicholas Evans.

I loved his earlier novel, The Horse Whisperer, but this is something else. It’s a great, sweeping epic of a story. I fell in love with the characters so much that when the husband stormed off to sleep downstairs and came back four hours later I’d barely noticed.


FORTUNES ROCK. Anita Shreve

This author’s prose is so unique. Writing a romance from a third person’s omniscience? It shouldn’t work, especially not for a romance, but by some magic-voodoo-devilry it succeeds with aplomb. I cried so much at the ending that my husband woke up and wondered who had died. Only a little part of myself, I whimpered forlornly, like so many of you out there who experience that same gut-churning despair when the end of a great book is upon us.

Go on… try them if you dare.  Just don’t come knocking for Shackleton’s number when your other half accuses you of neglect 🙂 🙂

xx