Photo and Bio courtesy of her publisher, Canonbridge, LLC
Today on writer Wednesday we have another debut author with her first book coming out from Canonbride, Cathleen Holst. She can be found on her website, Facebook, twitter, and her blog.
BIO: Born and raised in Atlanta, Cathleen Holst is a “Georgia Peach” whose stilettos are firmly planted in the South. She has no desire to relocate anywhere good old fashioned sweet tea is not readily available. She lives just outside Atlanta with her extremely patient husband, their three children and two rambunctious dogs. Although her love of literature is not confined to one particular genre, it has always been the “feel-good” stories that have resonated with her. Calling her stories “chick-lit” does not offend her in the least. For her, these delightful easy reads are as perfect as the cherry sitting atop a banana split. Her debut novel, The Story of Everleigh Carlisle, will be released in November of 2010.
JS: Thank you for joining me today, Cathleen. It’s a pleasure to have you. When did you begin writing, and did you always envision being an author?
CH: Writing is something I’ve always loved doing. Even as a young girl I remember writing stories, but it was something I always kept very private. I remember writing a short story for my history class during my sophomore year of high school, which I based on the Salem Witch Trials. Ms. Ray, my history teacher, returned the stories and had written a note on the top of my paper that I will never forget. In red ink she wrote, “You’re a great writer.” The seed was officially planted, but I never thought seriously about writing until I read a book (that I will leave nameless) in 2009 that I really enjoyed. The story was great and highly addictive (I literally could not stop reading). The writing, however, was mediocre at best, and I thought if writing like that could get published, than certainly mine could.
(JS: Hmm, I wonder what book that is. ;) )
JS: What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
CH: The feeling of such accomplishment I have once I complete a novel has to be one of the best feelings in the world. Second to that, (and I can only imagine) when a reader tells you how much your book means to them. I know I adore my books and each one has touched me in some way or another. I can only wish that after reading my book, the readers feel the same connection to the characters that I felt.
JS: The most challenging?
CH: I would have to say the most challenging thing, for me, is finding good blocks of uninterrupted writing time. My mother-in-law has been so helpful in that respect and watches my four year-old a couple days a week for me. That is such a huge help. But on a technical note, that would have to be the outlining process. I find it almost impossible to outline before I start writing. I will get an idea and just start writing like mad, but inevitably stall around the third or fourth chapter. That’s when I start outlining or really what I like to call my “what if’s”. I’ll take my idea and twist and turn it in as many different directions as I possibly can until I get something I like.
JS: Tell me a little about your book, “Everleigh in NYC.”
CH: Oh dear. This is something I have yet to master, how to tell a little about my book without reciting my five-page synopsis…articulately. Let’s see if I can do this. It’s about a small town girl with big city dreams who mistakes one dream come true for the real thing, while letting the other walk away.
JS: Can you tell us a little more about how you conceived the story?
CH: I wish I had some type of prolific answer like how the story came to me in a vivid dream, or I was sitting on train and had this sudden burst of inspiration, but sadly I have none of that. I literally had no idea what I was going to write about when I began. All I knew was that I had this burning desire to write something…anything. I had no outline, no plot ideas, not even the name of a single character. I just started typing the first thing that popped into my head. And that’s how Everleigh was born.
JS: When you write, do you always know where you are going, or do your characters lead you in their own directions?
CH: In the beginning I usually have a general idea of how I want the story to progress, but it’s not long after that when the characters take over and I just follow their lead. If I don’t listen to them, they tend to get very angry and will stop speaking to me for a while. Just recently my MC stopped speaking to me for a couple of weeks. She didn’t care about my looming deadline; the only thing she cared about was that I was trying to make her do something she absolutely did NOT want to do. I got the hint and things are flowing smoothly again and she’s quite happy.
JS: What advice do you give to budding writers?
CH: I’ve said this before, but if writing is what you want to do never stop writing and don’t let rejections get you down. It’s all part of the business. John Grisham, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and countless others…they’ve all received rejection letters and after receiving mine I was now a member of that club. That’s some great company to be in. If you want it bad enough, it will happen. Don’t let a few “no’s” stop you from pursuing your dream. Another piece of advice I would give is to take your time when writing your first novel, and get as much HONEST feedback as you can. That means stepping outside your comfort zone and sharing your writing with others who are not close friends (unless your close friend is also a writer) or relatives. It may be painful sometimes, but believe me it will help you grow as a writer. I received a comment about my writing once that almost had me in tears, but once I calmed down I realized everything this person had pointed out was spot on. In the end it was the best comment I’d received.
JS: What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
CH: When I was a young girl I loved “Amelia Bedelia”. But as odd as it sounds, as I got older I didn’t read much. If ever. (maybe I shouldn’t say that.)
JS: What's a typical day like for you?
CH: I try to wake up as early as possible. I tend to be most creative in the early morning. That doesn’t last long, though. With three kids (two who are school age) and a husband, the house begins to stir early. Once the kids are off to school and my husband is at work, I try to squeeze in as much uninterrupted writing as I can before my youngest wakes up. Then it’s off to the races with breakfast, countless juice refills, lunch, laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping and somewhere in there I fit in my workout and a shower. It’s madness, really.
JS: How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
CH: For my chick-lit novels, anywhere from six months to a year. Historical fiction, those tend to take a bit longer due to the time needed to dedicate to research.
JS: How many have you written?
CH: I have four works in progress. Of course, at the moment I’m only concentrating on “Everleigh in NYC”. Aside from that I have “The Pink Dress Collection” which will be a three-part series (that I cannot wait to get back to) and two historical fictions.
JS: Can you tell us more about your journey?
CH: It’s been quite a ride. I’ve had several setbacks during the time I was writing this book. The biggest was the death of my father. He passed away before I could tell him I was writing. I wanted to surprise him once the book was complete. Now I’ll never have that chance. Aside from that, it’s been amazing. When I sat down in front of my computer to write something all those months ago, I never in a million years thought I would be sitting here answering questions trying to promote my debut novel. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.
JS: Prada or Gucci?
CH: Yes, please.
(JS: Ah, a girl after my on heart.)
JS: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CH: I would just like to thank you, Jessica, for taking the time out of your own busy schedule to interview a fledgling novelist like me. I also need to give a huge shout-out to my dear friend Tamara. If it wasn’t for her reminding me (almost on a daily basis when I was at the lowest point in my life) not to forget about this book, that I had truly done something special, I may not be where I am today. Yes, I have a long way to go, but I have come so very far. Tamara, I will be eternally grateful to you; for your patience, for your ear, and most of all for putting up with my flakiness. I love you, girl! You get me!
And to my readers, I just hope you love reading “Everleigh in NYC” as much as I’ve loved writing it.
JA: You’re welcome, and thank you for sharing with me today.
Don't worry, guys, when it gets closer to the release of her book, I'll rerun this interview so you can refresh your minds.
If I have anymore authors (or editors or agents) out there that would like to share with me and my readers please contact me at j.souders (at) jsouders (dot) com.