Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter – an Empire Smith Corona. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.
The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels and novellas, including The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, Damned by the Ancients – The Devil’s Serenade, Dark Avenging Angel, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and Linden Manor. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Haunted Are These Houses and Midnight in the Graveyard.
She lives in Southport with her longsuffering husband and black cat (who remembers that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt and sees no reason why that practice should not continue).
When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys rambling around stately homes, circles of standing stones and travelling to favourite haunts such as Vienna and Orkney.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
CC: I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t have some aspirations to be a writer but I guess I started to become really serious about it when I was aged around fourteen.
2. How long does it take to write your book(s)?
CC: It depends on how much research I need to do beforehand. Quite a lot of my novels and novellas are set in the past and I hate to get the details wrong, so I read up and make notes, visit locations, use the internet and double check my sources. Typically though, a novella can take three-six months and a novel six- nine months but they can take longer. I edit, edit, edit and then my trusted beta reader, Julia, gets to work and I edit and edit again, based on her feedback.. Every writer needs their Julia.
3. What is your work schedule like when writing a book?
CC: I need to concentrate fully to lose myself in the atmosphere, so I set aside blocks of hours when I do nothing else but immerse myself in the plot, the characters and the settings. I avoid distractions at that time – as much as day to day life allows, anyway – and try and get the business of writing (interviews, promo etc) done before I set off on my daily story journey.
4. Where do you get your ideas or information for your book?
CC: Ideas can come from anywhere; a chance conversation, something on TV, a dream (or a nightmare). Information comes mainly from books, internet, and personal visits to locations that have sparked something off. For The Garden of Bewitchment, this naturally meant staying in Haworth where I was able to revisit some childhood haunts and steep myself in Brontë lore.
5. When did you write your first book?
CC: My first full book was completed in (I think) 1982. I still have it. In a drawer somewhere!
6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
CC: I read a lot, watch a lot of films (mainly horror although I will happily watch a good comedy, crime or black and white movie in a variety of genres). My husband and I love to visit interesting places, historic buildings, art galleries and, now we have moved to Southport, I am looking forward to walks along the promenade watching the waves roll in.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
CC: They are very kind. One or two of them think I must be mad but they are far too polite to say so.
8. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books?
CC: That I could actually finish writing one that someone wanted to read. That’s a good feeling.
9. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
CC: Now, do we mean how many have I written or how many have been published? In common with most writers, I have a drawer-ful of stories that never made the cut, and that is in addition to those I chucked out altogether. The number of novels and novellas I have had published so far (as at February 20th 2020) is 16.
10. Any tips/suggestions on getting started?
CC: Start with an idea, develop it, see where it goes. Get something down on paper as soon as you can and don’t worry too much about structure at this stage. Read widely – not merely your preferred genre, but well written work whatever its theme. Take advice from writers who are respected in their field. Allow yourself to become a sponge – absorb good practice. Once you have something resembling a first draft, now’s the time to start the real writing. Whoever said ‘books aren’t written – they’re re-written’, knew what they were talking about.
Join a writing group – either one that meets in your area, or online – and ask for constructive feedback. Don’t be too precious about your work. You know the phrase, ‘kill your darlings’? Be prepared to chop out paragraphs, pages even. Whole characters if necessary. If something doesn’t work, out it comes. Snip! Snip!
Before you submit anywhere, make sure it’s the best work of which you are capable. Ensure grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. Somebody said to me once, ‘But surely that’s the editor’s job’? No, it’s yours. The editor’s job comes later – once your work has been accepted. Right now, you need to prove you care enough about your work to submit a clean, proof-checked copy.
Learn from feedback – even if it comes in the form of a rejection. If a publisher or agent has taken the trouble to make bespoke constructive comments about your work, it usually means they have spotted some talent there that simply needs working on and developing.
Never, ever give up.
11. What do you think makes a good story?
CC: For me, it’s a great opening hook and creating the right atmosphere so I can feel I am there, with the (well-drawn, credible) characters, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel, smelling the same smells, tasting the same tastes, hearing what they hear, so engaging the five senses is important. Tension, suspense, scares – and an unexpected ending.
12. As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up?
CC: What else? A writer – oh and, yes, an actor.
The Garden of Bewitchment
(published February 20th 2020 by Flame Tree Press)
About the Book
Don’t play the game.
In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.