We love brand new authors here at The Book Pushers! Fresh new voices in our favorite genres gives us another person to cyber-stalk and glom onto! We figured since there are always new authors getting published through both the big New York publishers, as well as the smaller digital first publishers, we should take the time and hunt them down and introduce them to you!
Today we’ve got Cathy Perkins to talk about what it’s like being a brand new author!
I’m delighted to be here. It’s so much fun to connect with readers. I was a reader before I was a writer, so I understand wanting to share a love of books and stories.
Explain to us your journey to publication:
While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until fairly recently. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a long-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles away. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon the day dream had dialogue and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under my bed, but I was hooked on writing and creating worlds and characters.
After writing The Professor, I joined a critique group. These writers encouraged me to join RWA and enter a few contests, including the Golden Heart. The Professor won those contests and was a Golden Heart finalist, but I kept hearing ‘romantic suspense is dead’ so I really didn’t try to sell the book.
Instead, I put the story away and kept writing. About this time last year, I pulled the story out and thought, I love these characters and I want to share them with a wider audience. Carina Press made an offer and I’m thrilled to say the novel released yesterday, on January 23.
What’s your first published book about (start of a series, a stand alone, we want details!):
Set in South Carolina, stopping the serial killer who’s terrorizing college campuses drives the plot of The Professor. The tension and stakes build as the characters’ wants and needs set them on a collision course: Charismatic State Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy wants more from life than work and a pretty face. Fiercely independent graduate student Meg Connelly always wanted a loving family and professional success, but has to learn to trust in order to get either. The Professor knows the only way to get what he wants is to take it—and taking Meg’s life will destroy Mick with the same stroke of his knife.
I wrote The Professor as a standalone, but I’ve already had several people ask me if there’ll be more from either Mick and Meg or the extended O’Shaughnessy clan. I can see possible story lines, but I’m working on another project right now.
Do you have anything in the works? (contracted or not?)
I just finished a financial mystery that I love—lots of twists and turns. When initially I didn’t plan a Happily-Ever-After for the hero and heroine, my critique partners nearly killed me over that ending. So, yes, I did rewrite it. J It’s under consideration right now, so we’ll see what happens there.
Currently, I’m working on two very different manuscripts. One is dark and introspective, revolving around the theme of betrayal. The other is a light, amateur sleuth mystery about a CPA—houses, handbags or companies, she knows how to make a deal— who’s dodging a vengeful detective, while staying one step ahead of a murderer. A fun relief after the intensity of the darker ones.
What are your overall dreams, goals and expectations for your future as an author?
I absolutely love writing mysteries and suspense, so I’ll stay with that genre. Having said that, I might publish the light amateur sleuth series under the pen name Cathy Ann Stewart Hamilton, because when a woman’s initials are CASH, how can she not get involved in finance? I’m finding my darker stories are becoming more introspective and wandering over into mainstream territory. At this stage, I feel blessed to have so many opportunities. Ultimately I want to write a story that readers enjoy.
What’s your writing process like? Has it changed from when you first started writing?
Once I decided to write for publication, I realized I had lots to learn about the craft of writing. While I’ve read craft books, I attend an annual, week-long, Masterclass. The in-depth sessions and nightly critique groups fit my hands-on learning style. I think the first year I went, my head exploded from everything I learned!
My overall process hasn’t changed, but I’m far more conscious of structure, drawing on a four act/eight sequence framework, and on what several instructors call “persistence of view” rather than just point of view. Of course, when I “run the movie in my head,” I’m aware of the visual storytelling and look for thematic elements and ways to incorporate the setting into the story—things I didn’t know existed when I started writing. While elements can always be added or deepened during editing passes, I’ll always be a plotter—I need to understand where my stories are headed.
When did you start writing? What was your very first story about?
The first story—that extended daydream—was an erotomania obsessed woman determined to eliminate my heroine. I made every mistake with that story, except I discovered I love creating characters. My critique partners actually like the premise and want me to dig this one out of the dust bunnies. Don’t see that happening.
Who were some of your inspirations for becoming an author?
For my inspiration, I’m going to reach way back to when I was little. I read everything from Nancy Drew to My Friend Flicka to Madeline L’Engle. Even then I loved getting caught up in a story. Fast forward a lot of years and I love reading mysteries – Ridley Pearson, Barbara Parker, Tess Gerritsen, Allison Brennan… the list can go on forever. When I started writing, I wanted to create that same experience for the reader.
Give us the story about when you got “The Call”
I missed The Call! I was working out of town with my day job, came home and found Angela James’ voice mail, saying she’d read The Professor and wanted to talk to me about it. I met my critique partner for lunch – I’m not sure that café will welcome us back – and we decided she wouldn’t call to turn me down. Later that afternoon, I got an email extending the offer and setting up a time to talk.
Who is the author you would most like to meet living or deceased and why?
There’s a long list of literary authors I’d love to invite over for a drink on the porch but I’m going say it’s a toss-up between Ridley Pearson and Allison Brennan. Both have built successful careers based on character-driven stories with page turning plots. I’d love to pick their brains on everything from plotting to suspense layers to confronting all the doubts writers face on a daily basis.
Thanks so much Cathy for being here today! Cathy has also generously offered a giveaway – a copy of The Professor, coming soon from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Carina Press and other e-book sellers. This giveaway ends January 31st and is open internationally.