It’s always fun to find out where inspiration comes from, isn’t it? My guest today shares some examples of where hers originated. Please help me welcome Cathy Perkins!
An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories. When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
Betty: When did you become a writer?
Cathy: I’ve always been a reader and I think the two go together. I remember writing a sequel to My Friend Flicka and a sci-fi action adventure when I was about eight. Lots of life happens later, I started writing novels about ten years ago and love it.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Cathy: The first two novels I wrote are safely tucked away in boxes under my bed. At the time, I’m sure I secretly thought they were terrific, but, yeah, not so much. I learned a lot writing them though and continue to learn as much as I can about the craft of writing. With the third novel, I was ready to show it to people, who then encouraged me to enter RWA contests. The novel, The Professor, won and was published in 2012.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Cathy: This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a long-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles from my home. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon, the daydream developed dialogue, characters and a setting, and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked on writing, creating worlds and characters.
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Cathy: My first few novels were dark suspense. The research for the last one of those stories gave me nightmares, so switched to lighter amateur sleuth stories. I’m having a lot of fun with Holly Price’s adventures (in eastern Washington state) and have just started a new series set in Washington’s Cascade Mountains.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Cathy: Can I say everything?
With the initial idea comes the digging for “why?” Why the villain did the crime and why the heroine got involved. I find the motivation factors so intensely into the narrative drive of the story and the development of the characters. That’s the next step, of course—brainstorming, building out the characters, including how they talk and view the world. Then again, playing with the chemistry between Holly and JC in So About the Money was a lot of fun!
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Cathy: As I mentioned above, I’ve always been a reader. I think you can pick up nuances of good writing without realizing it. Once I screwed up my courage and showed friends my first story, they encouraged me to continue writing. I heard about a week-long writing retreat sponsored by the RWA Lowcountry chapter. I learned so much at their Masterclass, I joined the South Carolina Writers Workshop when I returned home, hoping to learn more. On my, those guys were so patient with me and offered terrific feedback. Other writers encouraged me, so I kept writing and learning and more of my books were published.
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Cathy: So many authors have inspired and assisted me. I’ve found the writing community is terrific. For a specific example, I was chatting with Joelle Charbonneau one night, kicking around ideas for a new series. “Write something you know about, like where you live,” she advised. I laughed and noted “An exciting day on the Christmas tree farm (where I live) means I hang out and watch the deer and the geese on the beaver pond.”
There was a long silence, then she said, “How many people can include all that in one sentence?”
That series releases next spring with the lead title, The Body in the Beaver Pond.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Cathy: Inspiration can hit in the strangest places. My husband and I were hiking along the Snake River, in a game management area called Big Flats (which happens to feature in So About The Money). We had to push through some tangled foliage at the shoreline. Being a mystery writer whose mind really can go strange places, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn’t this be a great place to find a body?”
Fortunately, he laughed.
That germ of an idea kept growing. Why would the heroine be out at Big Flats to stumble over the body? How did the body end up beside the river in the first place?
Buy links: Amazon
I loved reading My Friend Flicka as a youth. Actually, any and all horse stories! Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, and Misty of Chincoteague were all favorites. But it never occurred to me to write a sequel to any of them. Cathy’s original ideas translated into very original stories, too. I hope you’ll give her books a read!
Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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