Jun 19, 2013

An Interview with Catherine E. McLean ~ #mfrworg

Also available at other online e-book retailers
PRICE: $4.99
GENRE: Paranormal Fantasy Romance
PUBLISHER: Soul Mate Publishing
RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2012

While investigating a series of murders, warlock Tienan De'Argossi encounters Janay--a lovely, dirk-wielding, down-on-her-luck ex-peacekeeper who talks to archangels.  When she rescues his brother from demons, Tienan figures he owes her.  So, other than she's plainspoken and gutsy, what's the harm in having her as a house guest?

Which comes first, the story, the characters, or the setting?

Actually a story is always sparked by an idea or question which intrigues me to the point of asking more questions. For instance, the idea that sparked KARMA AND MAYHEM, my paranormal-fantasy-romance was: What would happen if someone had two souls? Followed by many more questions, such as: How could two souls reside in one body? Who could handle having two souls within them? Who would the second soul belong to? Why hadn't the second soul moved on to heaven or hell?
Of course, the answers led me to the idea of reincarnation and good-versus-evil. And then came the initial "story dump," which was Janay walking the night, and that made it possible to extrapolate the rest of the story. For the record, I'm not a pantser or a plotter, but a foundation writer when it comes to generating a story.

Please tell us about yourself, family, hobbies, education, etc.

I'm a wife, mother, veteran of fifteen years as a 4-H leader, a horseperson, and a storyteller. Besides sewing being my favorite pastime, it's one that continues to garner me many blue ribbons at the local fairs.
My second hobby, which has also garnered me many ribbons, including a grand championship, is photography. My favorite subjects are flowers (still life) and nature. Last year, I upgraded my SLR (single lens reflex) for a Canon eighteen megapixel digital. Although I post photos on my Pinterest boards, I mainly use the photos for greeting cards.
As to being a horseperson, my husband and I have bred, raised, and trained Morgan Sport Horses. We and our daughter have earned championships in-hand, under saddle, over fences, in harness, and in dressage. I'm also a Reserve National Champion Competitive Trail Rider.
As to my educational background, it's nothing remarkable. Public school, then Kent State University for Business Administration—and years at the keyboard working my way up from a Kelly Girl to an executive secretary. I turned to journalism (University of Slippery Rock) and then short story and novel writing (University of Oklahoma). I've also taken numerous writing courses from various community colleges.

 What does your husband and daughter think of your writing?

My husband will first kibitz that my writing "keeps me out of trouble" and then tack on "its what I do and I should do what I do to be true to myself." But, God bless him, he's also a mechanical engineer who catches my "logic flaws" when I'm writing my women's starscape fiction.
As to my daughter? She is my greatest fan who can't wait for me to finish a novel so she can read it.

Do you ever ask your husband or daughter for advice?

Sometimes. My husband is especially good at listening and telling me why my proposed ideas for something scientific or mechanical won't or might not work. Since my daughter is a pastry chef, she's my go-to person when it comes to foods, meals, wines, liquors, spices, etc. in my stories. She helped me develop the Choke-berry Shalamiz used in KARMA AND MAYHEM as the "blood of ages" that the hero (Tienan) "baptized" Janay (the heroine) with in the book. Another signed and numbered copy of that recipe is part of my Spring-Summer Giveaway that's in progress at my website.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing or are there constant interruptions?

When the decision was made that I was going to pursue writing novels, I had a conversation with my husband and daughter. We agreed that I was not to be disturbed unless: 1) someone was profusely bleeding, 2) the horses had escaped their pasture, 3) it was a matter of life or death, or 4) a snake or other undesirable critter had snuck into the house (I'm not fond of snakes, and I have dropped pot lids over two so far. It's a century-old farmhouse nestled alongside woodlands and such things happen).

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

I doubt my personality is part of my characters because I know they must be individuals unto themselves. However, I do draw heavily on the personal, emotional aspects of the ups and downs, and triumphs and tragedies, of life in order to put the feeling and emotions on the page. For Janay's injury in KARMA AND MAYHEM, I pulled from the aching pain of my own experience when my horse refused a jump and my hip rammed into the jump standard's base.  That netted me a badly bruised hip, which became arthritic (and the ache can't be walked out).

Are you a member of any author or critique groups?

I'm a member of RWA and the FF&P and WPRW chapters, Broad Universe, and Pennwriters (my statewide organization). In Area 1 of Pennwriters (the northwest corner of the state), there are six different groups that meet, so I'm no more than an hour's drive from any of them. And yes, I have to drive that far because I live in the boonies. I appreciate the eclectic mix of writers in Pennwriters that keeps me on my craft toes and the individuals that give me feedback.

What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

My current work in progress, STARSHINE, a lighthearted, futuristic romance adventure has not only been the most fun to write but the easiest. It seemed to write itself.

As to the hardest? That's KARMA AND MAYHEM because it had an entourage of supporting cast and complicating characters that included Tienan's partner, brother, and grandmother. Plus Janay, a host of veeds (energy symbiotes), a vampire, two archangels, a reincarnated Samaria's soul, and three dastardly witches. As I wrote, I kept a set of 3x5" cards of who was who and which veed belonged to whom. KARMA AND MAYHEM is an intricate tale with subplots. To remove any one of the characters and their plot threads would have unraveled the entire story.

Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?

Yes, humor is important because people are people, and it's human nature to want to lighten up situations. I had an editor purchase a short story of mine and comment that sci-fi (space opera) needed more levity. Unfortunately, to deliberately try to write that doesn't work for me. In other words, if it happens in my stories, the humor is lighthearted, whimsical, witty even, but it is always a natural outcome of who the character is. And, yes, I love it when I'm drafting and a character hits me with a hilarious one-liner that makes me laugh out loud.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?

That they enjoyed the story enough to tell someone else that my story was "a good read."

What are a few of my favorite things:
Dessert - peach pie, double crust, made from fresh peaches (or frozen) but not peach pie filling out of the can
City - St. Louis
Season - Spring (life renewing itself with flowers of all colors to be photographed!)
Type of hero - Beta (though I've been told my heroes are alphas, I don't see them as that macho-assertive)
Type of heroine - she's down to earth, forthright and tends to be a "master sergeant" who gets things done
Favorite beverage - iced tea (even in winter I'll drink it)

Where can your readers find you?

Karma and Mayhem Blog:  http://karmaandmayhem.blogspot.com/

What’ your favorite place to hang out online?

Catherine writes "Women's Starscape Fiction" because she likes a story where characters are real people facing real dilemmas, and where their journey (their adventure-quest, with or without a romance)is among the stars and solar systems, and where there's always a satisfying ending.
Although Catherine has sold short stories in science fiction, paranormal, and contemporary to hard-copy and online anthologies and magazines since 1993, her first novel Karma and Mayhem, (a paranormal-fantasy-romance) was published in 2012.


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