Tuesday Special Author Interview: Catherine Anderson
Author Name: Catherine Anderson
Genre: contemporary and historical romance
Latest book in shops now:
My newest release is on the shelves right now, Summer Breeze. Fabulous reviews thus far, by the way. I was holding my breath. Now I’ve let it out. Big happy sigh.
Oooh after I read Keegan’s Lady, that’s next on my list to buy!
Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Target, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)
I’m laughing. The last thing I bought at Target was a pair of snow boots for a teenage girl from our Christmas giving tree at church, and, yes, I know how much a loaf of bread costs. I went shopping for groceries just tonight. Didn’t buy bread, though.
Have you ever been approached by a film company, to option any of your books for the big screen?
I had one nibble from Hallmark, but nothing ever came of it. Big, sad sigh.
Hey, give it time, Annie’s Song may make it onto the big screen yet. *g*
What were your favourite books as a child?
Peter Pan (I pretended to be Tinkerbell most of my early childhood), Cinderella, Pinocchio, Snow White, and The Night Before Christmas, which I made my mother read to me even when it wasn’t the Christmas season.
Did you read romance books as a teenager?
No, but I did watch a few romance films, as in lots of them, and I wrote romances as a teenager as a hobby. My best friend had to listen to me read them aloud, bless her heart.
What does a typical day as a writer consist of?
All the things every other working woman does, except that I write for a living. I do laundry, make the bed, tidy up, dress, and go to my office. Right now I’m making mashed potato soup! We had a bunch of mashed potatoes in the fridge, so I got on the Net to find recipes. I found some good ones!
Mashed potato soup? Is that like an American thing?
Name your top five favourite books of all time.
Uh-oh, the question I dread and never answer. To do so would be to say one friend of mine is more precious to me than another. I know the people who wrote my favourite books of all time, and I love them.
I also know and love the people who didn’t write my favourite books of all time, but wrote other books. I wouldn’t hurt the feelings of a friend for anything, so I’m sure you understand why I keep that information to myself. Sorry.
OK, I’ll let you off with that one. *g*
Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)
Right now I am so busy trying to get my own book written that I’m not reading much of anything. No time!
Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?
I live on a ridge in a remote area, and over the years, I’ve fallen out of the habit of keeping in touch with my writer friends and rarely get to see them. When I do, it’s lovely!
Three who helped me in different ways early on in my career are Stella Cameron, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Ann Maxwell. I also greatly enjoy the company of Christina Dodd, Susan Wiggs, whom I haven’t seen in years, and countless others. During the Get Caught Reading at Sea cruise, I had a lot of fun catching up with old friends and making new ones.
I blogged a while ago about the lack of books featuring blind or deaf lead characters, and an author suggested Annie’s Song. I went to Amazon and ordered it. One word. AMAZING! I am now in the process of gobbling up your backlist. Why did you decide to write a book like Annie’s Song, in a time when romance writers in general, traditionally tend to shy away from lead characters with physical disabilities?
I wrote Annie’s Song because life touched me, and I believed and still believe that what moves me in a beautiful way will also move others. I took a big risk because I believed that. And my readers didn’t let me down.
Annie’s Song received an award from Waldenbooks, and I will treasure it always. I was inspired to write Annie’s Song by a little deaf girl. I was her teacher. Her name was Tina, and knowing her changed my life. Over the time that I spent with her, I fell so in love with her, and she gave me a new understanding of deafness and how it impacts one’s life.
I vowed to write a book someday about a deaf girl if I ever became a published author. When that day finally came, I wrote several books before keeping that vow. The rest of the story you already know.
You also wrote Phantom Waltz, which I expect was more of a challenge due to the extent of the heroine’s disabilities. I recall wondering how you were going to deal with the intimacy issues between Ryan and Beth, (which I thought you handled excellently btw), did you worry that your readers might have been put off by the love scenes between these two people, and what research did you have to do to make sure you got the whole physiological aspects right?
I had to do a lot of research—doctors and nurses—but I especially paid attention to personal journals of people with paraplegia. I never worried about readers being put off by the love scenes because the essence of the story was focused on the deep emotional attachment between the two characters, not about sexual gratification.
Bethany would have been happy with Ryan, regardless, and Ryan loved her so much that fireworks weren’t that important to him, either. The fact that they found ways to enjoy physical intimacy with each other was the topping on the cake, so to speak.
When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?
I wanted to write books before I knew how to spell my name. My mom was a writer, and I used to play with my dolls at her feet, creating my own little stories, while she clacked away on an old Underwood typewriter.
She gave me a love of the written word, and her faith in me encouraged me to become a writer. I was also fortunate enough to marry a great guy who supported my writing.
How long has it been since you first got published?
My first sale was in 1986. I believe the book, Reasonable Doubt, a Harlequin Intrigue, was published in 1988, but I’m not sure of the year.
How did you get your first book published? Did you have a mentor?
I went to a writer’s conference and attended a class taught by Stella Cameron. She encouraged me early on, and others helped me out, too. I finally got published by working hard, being willing to do revisions, and not giving up when the manuscript was floating around at Harlequin for almost two years.
Which of your books do you feel that you are best known for?
Hmm. That’s a good question, and I have no idea how to answer it. I think my readers could better tell you which of my books I’m best known for writing.
OK guys, anybody else think they know the answer to this?
If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?
I wouldn’t want to speak to a famous figure. I would want to talk with a woman from an ordinary walk of life about her daily routine, the fashions of the day, her favourite recipes, her social activities, and her feelings about love and marriage.
What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?
Writing has been very good to me, and I don’t really have any goals except to do my best to write meaningful, enjoyable books that my readers will love.
How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?
The romance industry has become far more sophisticated, I think, and I love the fact that romances can now touch on real-life issues and needn’t be all fluff. Romance writers today are, in my opinion, putting out some of the best fiction in the marketplace, well plotted and beautifully crafted. We’ve come a long way, baby.
I totally agree with you on that Catherine.
In this day and age, do you think it’s possible for new romance writers to make it without having some kind of presence on the internet?
Absolutely. To make it in today’s marketplace requires the same thing as always, a great book. Everything else will follow.
In your experience, what would you say was the most effective method of marketing a romance novel?
Marketing strategies help the sales of a wonderful book, but I can’t honestly say which strategies work the best. It’s a changing marketplace, and what works one time may not work at all the next time.
I think the most important thing a writer can do for herself is to write the very best book that she can. I firmly believe that strong writing, well-crafted stories, and a distinctive voice will win out in the end.
Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?
When asked this question, I always start to say this or that book is my favourite, but then I remember another book and then another that are also precious to me. In truth, no one book is dearer to me than another. I put my heart into each and every book that I write, and each is special to me in some way.
Well my fave is Annie’s Song *g*.
I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration? (grin).
I learned the hard way (from wanting to chew my arm off in frustration) not to read recent titles. Writing is an ever-changing process, and I could keep editing a book, revising the scenes, and messing with it forever. A couple of years ago, I did read my out-of-print single title books, and enough time had passed that I could enjoy them without feeling a compulsion to change them.
Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?
No. I have been deeply affected by reviews, both negatively and positively, but I try never to let one person’s opinion encourage or discourage me to change my style. I think that would be a grave mistake.
Instead I try to remain true to the things in my writing that brought me to the dance, and when I dance the last dance, I hope to still be employing those strengths. If a writer alters her voice to please a few, she runs the risk of altering the very things that make her work distinctive.
Earlier this year, RWA attempted to try to define romance, and it caused a bit of a furore round the romance blogosphere, due to the limitations of the definitions. What were your thoughts on this at the time, and do you think it’s possible/necessary to define romance in a way that doesn’t exclude other sub-genres?
I wasn’t aware of the debate and can’t really comment on it.
A lot of well known authors who first wrote within the romance genre, seem to have moved away from traditional romance, and are now writing paranormals, suspense etc. (e.g. Linda Howard, Catherine Coulter), why do you think this is?
I can’t speak for other writers. I can say, though, that I’ve enjoyed the results. The two authors mentioned above have written some great books. Perhaps it’s a case of evolving style and voice, or maybe their interests and passions have changed. Who can say?
When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?
My last overseas trip was to Australia. It’s been a while since I’ve taken an international flight. Next we hope to visit New Zealand.
What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?
I try to create real people, struggling with real issues.
If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)
If only one person could read my book, I’d choose myself.
Good answer, I’ve never had that one before!
If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?
Kathleen Woodiwiss is considered to be the mother of modern-day romance.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the advantages and disadvantages of shelving African American romance books separately from general romance books, what are your thoughts on this? Should AA books be shelved separately, or should they be kept together?
That’s really a marketing question, and I’m not qualified to answer it. Where do AA novels sell best, and where do they get the best exposure? It seems to me that more readers would find the AA titles and read them if they were shelved with other romances. When I go to a bookstore to find a book, I head directly for the romance section. If, say, a romantic suspense novel were in another section, I might never see it.
What was the last movie you saw?
Name your top five favourite romantic films.
Somewhere in Time, Gone with the Wind.
Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?
The only book I’ve ever felt that way about was an early title that got absolutely butchered by an editor during revisions. Then the editor quit, another took her spot, and I was asked to revise the revisions, putting much of the book back to the way it had been in the first place.
By the time I finished the final revisions, the story felt like a patchwork quilt to me with ravelled edges. I have never read it, and when I see it, I shudder and keep walking. It is not my work, but the work of two editors.
Lol, sorry but I just had an image of you walking quickly past this particular book, wearing a long raincoat with big old sunglasses on!
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Being able to do what I love to do and being allowed to follow my dream.
What do you least enjoy about being a writer?
I least enjoy unkind reviewers who seem to derive pleasure from trashing a book. I have been fairly fortunate in that regard, but harsh reviews upset me, even if they aren’t reviews of my work.
My heart goes out to the writer who got bashed. I believe all reviewers should remember that theirs is only one opinion and that someone else may completely disagree. I also believe that a master reviewer is someone who can comment honestly on a work of fiction without slashing it to pieces.
As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?
Keep writing and don’t get discouraged! Secondly, don’t fall into the trap of revising one story, over and over and over.
Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?
My newest release, Summer Breeze, is on the shelves right now. It’s about a young woman who hasn’t stepped foot outside her home in over five years and the man who suddenly appears on her doorstep and turns her world topsy-turvy.
Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!
Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed. I’m honoured.
Well, that’s all for now folks, next week, I’ll have Sharon Sala in the hot seat!