Monday, May 3, 2010

Author Interview ~ Cate Masters

Howdy, everyone out there in the ether of the blogosphere. Hope everyone is having a fantabulous Monday. Yes, fantabulous is a word, and even if it isn’t… it should be :::nod::: . :-D Sorry, a bit wacky this morning. Anyway, today we have with us on the Menagerie couch author Cate Masters. Let’s all make sure she feels nice and welcome.

Welcome to The Menagerie, Cate. It’s so great to have you. I hope you’ve made yourself comfy and that the Cabana Boys have made you feel welcome. Megan and I are glad that we get this opportunity to get to know you better.

:::Megan waves:::

So, let’s get started, Cate: Where are you from?

I’m a Jersey girl, originally. I grew up in a little town called Lambertville, across the Delaware River from New Hope, Pa. Both are very artsy towns, like twin towns really. Growing up, I hated it, always whined there was nothing to do. Not until I moved to central Pennsylvania did I realize how incredibly lucky I was to grow up surrounded in such a rich cultural environment. All my friends loved music, poetry and books, so I took it for granted that everyone’s life was that way. So I used Lambertville/New Hope as the setting in two of my releases – Seventh Heaven and an upcoming release, The Bridge Between. You can see how gorgeous the area is in the trailer for Seventh Heaven, featuring photos from my hometown:

We love artsy people—gotta support the arts.

Yep, absolutely! And those pics in the trailer are great, Cate! So, tell us your latest news?

I am incredibly psyched about this year’s releases! The Wild Rose Press just released Design for Life, a short contemporary. Whiskey Creek Press just contracted Surfacing, a contemporary fantasy novel about a mermaid and a rocker, and The Bridge Between, a contemporary women’s fiction novel. Eternal Press will release Fever Dreams, another contemporary novel, and Winning, a short with elements of magical realism. I recently signed a new contract with Eternal Press for a historical titled Follow the Stars Home, about Native Americans forced to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. I’m still waiting for a release date from Freya’s Bower for Angels, Sinners and Madmen, the historical set in Key West, Florida. And because I felt I should give something back to celebrate my good fortune this past year or so, I contributed a short story, Love and War, to an XOXO Publishing anthology which will benefit charity, and a poem to an anthology Little Episodes will release, which aims to destigmatize addiction, depression and mental illness through the arts. Readers can keep up with news on my blog: and web site:

Wow, that is awesome! I think Megan and I are hoping your magic will rub off on us…

Whew, you’re definitely one busy lady. Since you are so prolific, when and why did you begin writing?

I was a very shy, quiet kid. Because my family lived out in the country, I was also a bit lonely. Maybe that’s what led me to writing. I certainly spent a lot of time in my own head (and still do!) and had a very overactive imagination (and still do!). Writing took a long breather while I raised my kids, but when I went back to it, it felt great. And I was more determined than ever – I took any classes or workshops I could squeeze into my schedule, bought many books on craft, joined writers’ groups and critique groups. Lots of rejection helped me grow a thick skin over the years. In 2009, my hard work finally began to pay off in a string of acceptances!

Ah, yes, the sting of rejection. We all know that one very well.

Huh, you’re not kidding there, Megan! And, Cate, I see nothing wrong with living a lot in your own head or with an overactive imagination… wait, okay I CAN see a problem with the overactive imagination thing. But, that’s mostly when I’m forced to go into a dark, creepy basement of a government building when it’s pretty much abandoned… Then, it’s not a good thing at all. Just saying. Soooo, what are your current projects?

I just submitted a contemporary romance novel to The Wild Rose Press, and another historical set in my local area in 1879 to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Driving past the gravestones of the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pa., would always evoke such sadness for the Native American children torn away from their homes and lifestyles. My characters are completely fictional, but I wove their stories into actual events of the school’s fitful start. My fingers are crossed for good news on those!

My muse is hyperactive and has attention deficit disorder. She’s always throwing new ideas at me and doesn’t wait for me to fully concentrate (i.e., finish) one before sending more. We play tug of war a lot. :) But I love her like crazy! So at any one time, I’m working on about a dozen stories, and incredibly grateful for it.

We said it before, and will say it again, you are one super busy lady! Good for you.

No kidding! And let me say, I think your muse and my muse might be related! LOL, but mine backs off on the story after I at least write down all the initial ideas and preliminary research. Too bad they don’t have ADHD meds for our muses… Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. I am in it for the long haul. I intend to keep improving my craft and writing as long as I can, and aim to make every story better than the last.

That’s definitely the attitude to have. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My latest release is Design for Life, a story I wrote for my youngest, Becca. She’s a very talented artist and so creative – she’s designed everything from gowns, to desks and beds (which my husband, a talented woodworker, has made for her). Here is the story blurb: Becca Lyndon puts her dreams on hold by leaving art school to care for her ailing mom. Working full time at The Flower Basket leaves precious little time, but she squeezes in night classes at the local college. When Mike Hunter fills in as a substitute teacher, she worries about a repeat of the critical reviews he gave her work when he substituted at her high school three years earlier. His reason comes as a complete surprise, but can she trust him? Or will he disappear like her father? When that possibility looms all too real, she’s determined never to let the design for her life unravel again. Following her bliss requires work, but pays off in more ways than she ever imagined. She also learns that one door might close, but another can open—and lead to unexpected opportunities.

This is now available from The Wild Rose Press, as part of its Flower Basket series: and its trailer is here:

Sounds interesting and going on the TBR list.

Yeah, what Megan said, lol!

:::grins::: Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Do you have any advice for other writers?

So many new authors don’t allow themselves to be called writers if they’re not published. If you write, you’re a writer. Never let anyone say otherwise. Keep reading and writing, and learning all you can.

What great advice.

And something I think a lot of us have a hard time with, but I’ve heard enough published AND unpublished authors say the same thing… so I tend to believe it, lol. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I used to have so many hobbies! Now I concentrate mostly on writing, but can indulge my love of photography because it’s handy for making book trailers, which I find fun. For awhile, I was into beading and jewelry making, so was able to apply that craft to making jeweled book thongs. No more painting, piano or embroidery, though.

Love the cross of art and promotion.

And sometimes, that’s just how it works. You find that the writing is what you love the most, but I am a very strong believer that everyone needs another artistic outlet besides their writing… otherwise you become stifled. Your photography fills that void. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How much I love research. Now I’m a research junkie! I admit it. I get carried away with research—or vice versa. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Case in point: a few years ago, my family vacationed at Key West, Florida. The island’s surrounded by a clear aqua-green sea and is so steeped in history, its streets almost seem like characters. While visiting a maritime museum, a story flashed in my head, and I spent the next two days in the Key West library copying old articles and letters while my family went parasailing and snorkeling. Do I regret it? Not in the least. I knew I wouldn’t be getting back there any time soon, so finding that information felt like unearthing sunken treasure! I was fascinated by the history of the wreckers, men who salvaged wrecked ships long before any diving equipment had been invented. All the careful research paid off. Soon Freya’s Bower will publish Angels, Sinners and Madmen, my historical romance novel.

No matter what genre I’m writing in, I always research some aspect of the story. Authenticating details help bring the setting into the reader’s imagination. A few stories are set in cities I know well, but others are in places that fit the story, or I wish I could go! Such as Hawaii, or in my latest contemporary, Malibu. Adding authenticating details for locations I’ve never visited is easy. If the Internet doesn’t provide all the information I need, I send for a Visitor’s Guide to the city to learn its restaurants, museums, clubs and other hot spots. For Wilderness Girl, I had to brush up on my camping info, and learn a bit about recycled art. One of the worst pieces of advice to writers is: write what you know. How would anyone ever stretch the limits of their imagination following that adage? There would be no speculative fiction, no fantasy, no scifi. The writer would get bored silly in a hurry. And when the writer’s bored, so will the reader be.

I never thought about it, but you have a point—writing about what you know only is rather narrow, but a great starting point.

Absolutely, and I can sooooooo relate to being a research junkie… only it’s bled over into most of my life. So, by nature of the beast I’m no just a knowledge junkie. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Hm, I’ve never actually tallied these up. So let’s see… I have three published novellas: Picture This, One Soul for Sale and Wilderness Girl. Four novels are contracted/published: Angels Sinners and Madmen, Surfacing, The Bridge Between and Fever Dreams. Four novels circulating with pubs/contests: Follow the Stars Home, Complicity, Rock Bottom and Orion Rising. Two older novels will never see the light of day (and rightly so!). More in the works. It’s an ever-changing list! Cruel to ask which is my favorite! Impossible. I’m not a big believer in favorites anyway. I fall in love with the characters as I write them.

Great answer and so true.

And again I say, WOW! Do you have any suggestions to help me, or any other writer, become a better writer? If so, what are they?

At a booksigning, I once asked Ian McEwan, the award-winning author, what the secret was to great writing. He responded: Keep writing. At the time, I thought he was merely blowing me off so I’d keep the line moving! But now I see how right he was. The more you write, the better you write. Beyond that, I’d suggest becoming involved with a critique group. Writing’s such a high that it can erase your perspective. You love your story so much, you can’t see its faults. Critique partners will ground you, gently but firmly, so you can revise and improve the story. Workshops and writing classes helped me a great deal too. Writing’s an intricate skill, and it’s important to always work on your craft.

That is awesome advice, and something I’ve already seen in action. And now it’s time for our “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

Such a tough question! I’m an animal lover. We’ve had everything from fish, parakeets, hamsters and guinea pigs, cats and dogs, to a horse. We’ve loved them all equally, because each have such distinct personalities. If hard pressed to pick one, I’d say a dog. The latest addition to our family is a rescue dog named Lily, who was abandoned down south. I saw her photo online and simply fell in love with her. We traveled to the next state to pick her up, and she has been a joy ever since.

Awww, how sweet! What do you want to know about the future?

Knowing would take all the fun out of living it! In general, I would like to know that my kids will find their path in life, and that my hubby and I could finally go on that honeymoon we never had…

Sounds like something that would bring you comfort, but not make it hard to continue living your life to the best of your ability. :-D What is your heritage?

My sister can tell you better than I could! She’s the genealogist in our family and researched for years. It’s really interesting to read the things she finds – my grandmother’s grandfather was a fur trapper named Peter LeVert from Canada. One of my Dad’s ancestors fought in the Civil War. My mom’s maiden name was Narducci, so we have a strong Italian history, but I know little about that (except that no, we’re not part of the mob Narduccis!)

I have an aunt who does all our genealogy. It’s so interesting to see those names and ancestry and heritage. And LOL about your “mob” name. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

Oh geez, lots of them. At Christmastime, I get sucked in every year by the FaLaLaLa Lifetime holiday movies! (one of my guilty pleasures) And It’s a Wonderful Life makes me cry, P.S. I Love You… I could go on. I’m a sap. But I love stories that touch my heart.

Okay, don’t hit me or throw anything at me… but PS I Love You didn’t make me cry. :::ducking::: What is one thing scientists should invent?

Love this question! Although I was never great at science, I love reading about it, and grew up reading sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury. But to answer, someday I’m hoping a genius will invent a USB port to allow a writer to download directly from our brains. This would satisfy my overactive muse! Revision would still be by hand, though. There’s no getting around the hard work!

ROTFL! Just the other day my hubby told me that if a device was ever invented that was implanted into my brain and accessed with a USB port I’d most likely be the first in line to get one (I am a techno-junkie). Do you like thunderstorms?

Love them. The energy and sheer power of lightning bolts, the way the sky roils with clouds – how could you not believe something’s up there creating all that? I jotted down a premise for a story about Thor, the lightning god. Someday I’ll get to it!

I used to have a friend whose father stood on the porch and dared thunderstorms closer… I always felt that was like tempting fate, but you couldn’t talk him out of it… I personally love them as well. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

Easy peasy. For my family to stay healthy and fulfilled, follow their own bliss and live long, happy lives. And if fortune wants to smile on my writing, all the better. :)

Both are fantastic wishes. Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Cate! It’s been so much fun getting to know you (and yes, that song is now stuck in my head… and I probably just got it stuck in yours :::grin:::). Please, hang out and pester the Cabana Boys, they love to feel useful. Don’t be a stranger!

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Design For Life by Cate Masters

Becca Lyndon puts her dreams on hold by leaving art school to care for her ailing mom. Working full time at The Flower Basket leaves precious little time, but she squeezes in night classes at the local college. When Mike Hunter fills in as a substitute teacher, she worries about a repeat of the critical reviews he gave her work when he substituted at her high school three years earlier. His reason comes as a complete surprise, but can she trust him? Or will he disappear like her father? When that possibility looms all too real, she’s determined never to let the design for her life unravel again. Following her bliss requires work, but pays off in more ways than she ever imagined. She also learns that one door might close, but another can open—and lead to unexpected opportunities.


P.L. Parker said...

Morning Ladies - good grief, Cate, you are busting out everywhere. Very very exciting. Good luck with all those sales. I'm so impressed.

Lorrie said...

I'm also impressed, Cate.
Hey, I've been to New Hope and Lambertsville, Washington's Crossing. I have relatives in that area. Beautiful places.
Congrats on all the releases.
You're doing great.

Cate Masters said...

Hi Lorrie! Very cool that you have relatives there. I love going back to visit.
Thanks for stopping by!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Cate, I didn't realize you have so many books out. You are one prolific author. I love stories set in small towns where everyone knows everything about their neighbors.

Cate Masters said...

It's been a crazy busy year, Mona, but I'm loving it! Thanks for stopping by.

Cate Masters said...

Somehow I missed you earlier, Patsy! Thanks so much for stopping by.

Alice Audrey said...

I love those artsy type places. Great idea setting it there.

Cate Masters said...

Hey Alice! It's just home to me. :)

Dee Julian said...

Hi Menagerie Authors! Very insightful interview. Cate, I never realized how much alike we are. With one exception. Pure talent oozes from your fingers, and I have to coax mine to come out of the shadows. Ah, well. Congrats on your new releases and upcoming ones. I wish you much success now and in the future!

Cate Masters said...

Hi Dee! No, that's an illusion. The hand is quicker than the eye... :) Sometimes my brain is quicker than my hands, which is a problem, ha.

Maeve said...

What a great interview, Cate. Thank you for sharing some time with us and giving us all a peek inside your head. *grin*

Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much for peeking Maeve! :)

Kealie Shay said...

LOL, looks like you've all kept our Cabana Boys busy. Thanks so much for stopping by to hang out with us and Cate. We love visitors.

Dee ~ Thanks! We do try with our interviews. Mostly, we just have fun and hope our guests do as well. :-D

Cate, so glad we could have you here with us today. It's been a blast.

Cate Masters said...

Hey Kealie! Thanks so much for having me. It's been great having cabana boys to fetch our drinks.

Kealie Shay said...

Oh, no thanks necessary, it has been a blast having you here. Feel free to stop in anytime.

Good, I'm glad the Boys have been taking care of y'all... otherwise we might have to have a "talk" with them. These talks only work for a little bit... they seem to like them too much. :-D