**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview with Author, CATHERINE CHANT
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a fulltime writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share.
Hi Karen! Thank you for having me on your blog today. Here’s a little bit about me: I live in New England, along with my adorable husband and son. We share our home with a menagerie of rescue cats that like to make appearances on my Facebook page from time to time for their 2 minutes of fame.
I’m now a full-time writer, but previously I worked as a computer consultant at Boston College doing everything from computer support to writing documentation to managing web servers. I’m still a techno-geek at heart, but left all that behind to become a stay-at-home mom when my son was born and have never regretted it.
In my spare time outside of writing I’m a big crafter. I especially love knitting, crochet, and jewelry-making, and have pages at Craftsy.com and Etsy.com where I share patterns and finished handmade items.
1. How did you get started writing?
I think like a lot of writers it started in middle school, strongly influenced by Nancy Drew and The Dana Girls. When my friends and I ran out of books in those series, I started writing my own to keep us entertained. After that I graduated to gothic romances and V.C. Andrews type suspense. I wrote sweeping epics that tried to capture all those elements of darkness, secrets and tragedy. One such “epic” that I’d squeezed into probably less than 10 pages and submitted to my high school English teacher for a term project received the comment, “This should probably be a novel.” And the seed was planted. (Thank you, Ms. Burton!)
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
I’m a big fan of suspense. I’ve loved ghost stories and mysteries since I was very young. Over the years I’ve experimented with lots of different genres (contemporary romance, historical, paranormal etc), and came back to the old adage, “Write the type of book you want to read.” I took a hard look at what I enjoy reading and realized YA suspense and adult romantic suspense was my calling. I like creepy, I like dark, I love buried secrets and family mysteries. Those are the types of stories, ultimately, I’d like to write.
That said, my current book and first release is a bit lighter than that. It has some darkness (the hero has died tragically in a plane crash after all!), but it’s not a ghost story per se, and definitely not creepy 🙂 It’s definitely strong on romance. Book 2 in the series will have that same tone so that they go together, but my next standalone project is a YA murder mystery with darker themes.
3. What is your favorite part of writing?
It’s probably because of my technology background, or maybe just because I have a very analytical mind (my degree is in Mathematics), but I love plotting. I love creating a “map” of a story, placing characters in unusual situations and then watching the cause-effect as different scenes play out. I love analyzing characters’ motivations and the choices they make to drive the plot forward.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Filling in the details on that plotting map. LOL! Actually, that’s not entirely true. I do enjoy the writing as much as the planning, especially when you’ve been writing for several minutes and it’s like you’re “in the zone.” The worse part, truthfully, is when I first sit down at the computer and see the blank page. I logically know that once I get going it will be fine, but for some reason just before I start it’s like I freeze and have no clue what I’m going to write. Fortunately, I get over that feeling quickly.
5. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I get ideas from everywhere. Newspaper headlines, stories people tell me at the school bus stop… Sometimes even from dreams I have. I might wake up and remember just a tiny piece, but if it’s enough to get me to ask “What if…?” I’m on my way.
6. What is your typical day like?
I treat my writing like a day job (which it is, though some of my relatives don’t always see it that way) and I go to work every day Monday through Friday.
After I get my son off to school I go to my “office” (the spare bedroom) and start working at my computer. I usually deal with email first, which is probably a bad habit to have. I think many writers probably get more done if they write first and do email second, but I can’t stand to think of things waiting for me while I’m trying to write, so I need to clean the slate first (empty the inbox, if you will), then I can concentrate better.
I aim to always start writing no later than 10am and write (or do something related to the book) all the way through to 2pm. Then I have lunch, take care of household chores, get my son from the school bus and wind down the day doing family things. I may check email (and online stuff like FB or Twitter) in the late afternoon/evening (via my phone), but I try very hard not to lock myself back in the office at the computer once it’s dinner time. I think it’s important to have that family time together.
I leave weekends free for doing family things as well, or projects related to my crafting interests.
7. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
Maybe a little bit of each. 🙂
Characters aren’t too tricky once you get to know them. Getting to know them, though, can be a long process. I tend to find myself learning more about the characters as I write the story because I don’t do overly extensive character worksheets before I start. I tend to simply focus on their goal, conflict and motivation (GMC), maybe a little backstory, but the rest comes out as the story unfolds. That may mean that I need to go back and revise things once I know more about the character, but I don’t mind that. (I actually like revising—I find it much easier than writing the first draft).
Conflict can be challenging because our human nature tendency is to reduce conflict in our lives, so we tend to shy away from it. When writing conflict, you sometimes need to put in extra effort to make sure the conflict doesn’t wrap up too early. It’s hard to put characters you like into tense situations, but you need to do it and keep doing it until the end of the book.
Emotions, out of all three topics here, are probably the toughest for me to write. It’s a fine line between conveying emotion and being melodramatic. And as I’ve already mentioned, my writing history counts gothic romances and V.C. Andrews as major influences—stories chock-full of melodrama. So that’s something I need to rein in at times. Of all the attributes of a story, emotion is probably the one element I’m most conscious of each time I sit down to write.
8. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
My new release is WISHING YOU WERE HERE. It’s a young adult time travel romance that takes place in 1957 and it’s Book 1 in the Soul Mates series.
Seventeen year old Callie Reinard discovers a way to go back in time and save music sensation Joey Tempo from a plane crash that cut his career short at age twenty. She thinks she’s “made things right” by changing the past, but quickly learns her meddling has made everything worse—for herself, for Joey and for everyone around him.
The Kindle version came out in early December, and the print version was just released the beginning of this month, also at Amazon.com.
Links to Catherine’s website, blog, books, etc.
You can find me (and links to my books) on the web at: http://www.catherinechant.com
My blog: http://catherinechant.wordpress.com
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Catherine and her young adult time travel romance, WISHING YOU WERE HERE, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench!
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Catherine will give away an autographed Print (U.S. ONLY) or Kindle copy of WISHING YOU WERE HERE to one lucky reader!! Comment on either her Monday Interview and/or Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs for a chance to win. Winner will be randomly selected and announced Monday, January 28, 2013. Thanks, Catherine, for sharing your stories with us!