Friday, November 29, 2013
SCHMOOZING WITH CATHY ACE
1. Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?
This has to be a combination of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, with a bit of Sue Grafton thrown in for good measure.
2. What are you working on now?
I’m currently plotting and researching Cait Morgan Mystery #5, which I am due to send to my publisher mid-February 2014, for publication (I hope) in the spring of 2015. Her third mystery, The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb will be published in the spring of 2014, and her fourth, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, in the fall of 2014.
3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?
Oh heck – I have to be careful here! Cait Morgan is very much like me in some ways, but very different in others. She was born a few years later than I was, but I’ve given her my general upbringing and career – up to a point. She’s also similar to me in terms of likes and dislikes when it comes to food and drink, so we share a body type and similar issues with weight and will-power! But I’ve given Cait talents and traits I do not possess, which help her to solve the complex puzzles she encounters. I’m delighted to say that I tend not to trip over corpses when I travel, but I think it’s essential that Cait continues to do so. One thing I decided to make a big difference for Cait is that she lost her parents in a motor vehicle accident – she keeps their ashes in matching urns on her mantelpiece. Because my Mum is the first person to read anything I write, I wanted her to be very clear that anything I write about Cait’s feelings toward her parents is not what I feel about mine!
4. Are you character driven or plot driven?
The plot is paramount, but my characters have to act within the parameters of what they would, or wouldn’t “really” do, in the circumstances I set up for them. As such, while the plot might kick-start the problems, the way that characters react to the situations in which they find themselves can sometimes compound the initial problems, on the way to discovering the final solution, of course.
5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Plotter! I’m a very detailed plotter, note-maker and planner. I enjoy plots where there are twists and turns, and that sort of thing really doesn’t work well if you don’t plan ahead. I also make copious notes about the entire life stories of all my characters – the main ones who live from book to book, of course, but also those who appear in only one book. For me, these are living, breathing people, so knowing where they went to school, what sort of a home they live in, how they live their lives, is vital for me, before I start to put them onto the page. These back-stories don’t often end up on the page, in their entirety, but it helps me, as a writer, to really know them. I often find myself telling myself “so-and-so wouldn’t say or do that” so I feel this insight helps me keep characters true to themselves.
6. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
A feeling that they’ve enjoyed spending time with Cait Morgan. That maybe they’ve learned a little something about a certain bit of history, or art, or geography, and had fun doing it. That they found the characters they met, and the places they visited, to be interesting. That the total, ultimate solution to the puzzle/s are satisfying. Overall, I hope they have fun…and I hope they see my books as an absorbing, gratifying entertainment.
7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years?
The real answer is that I hope I sell enough books that I still AM a writer in ten years’ time, and that, if I keep writing for that period, I keep getting better and better. There’s always room for improvement and as I write I learn…I hope to have the chance to keep learning. If people are still enjoying spending time with Cait Morgan in ten years’ time, I would hope that by then my husband would have retired and we’d be able to spend more time together. If that means we can travel as a couple while I research books, and meet readers, that would be the perfect life!
8. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I always eat and drink everything Cait Morgan does just so I can be sure I describe it properly. It’s fun, and sometimes a challenge!
9. What do you like to read for pleasure?
I still return to my Agatha Christie collection, like an old pair of slippers, when I want some comfort reading. PD James is the perfect companion on holiday, because of the pace of her work, as is anything by Colin Dexter. Louise Penny, Linwood Barclay, Erika Chase, Alan Bradley and Peter Robinson are five fabulous Canadian authors, writing today, whose work, between them, meets any mood that I’m in. Ian Rankin, Tamar Myers, Sue Grafton, Katherine Hall Page, Rhys Bowen, Andrew Pyper, Lynda La Plante – all are on my bookshelves, along with works by the late Reginald Hill, Tony Hillerman, Robert B Parker and Elmore Leonard. Tolkien, Goethe, Mann, Zola, Austen, Camus, Sartre, Pinter, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer – these are some of the authors whose works are on my shelves, and who I think of as old friends I am happy to visit when I can.
10. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet
THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE (published March 2013):
Eccentric Welsh Canadian foodie criminologist Cait Morgan tackles a complex, closed circle mystery at a gourmet event in BC’s wine country.