I’m thrilled to have fabulous crime thriller writer and fellow Backspace member Cat Connor on my blog for a little Q & A. Cat has been wonderful enough to offer an electronic copy of each of her books to those that comment today.
I’ll draw two names over the weekend and let everyone know who the winners are and then we’ll get you a Mobipocket copy of either killerbyte (first name drawn) or terrorbyte (second name drawn)! If you don’t have a Kindle – you can download the software onto your computer for free like I did when I bought her books!
Before I get into my questions, here’s a little information about Cat. She lives in Upper Hutt, New Zealand (slightly north of Wellington), with her husband and children.
The idea for her first Conway novel, killerbyte, came about after Cat received a string of death threats while co-running a poetry chat room, back in the days of MSN chat. The thought that people could get so nasty online fascinated her – and it still does.
I really had fun dreaming up questions for Cat and without further babbling – here they are:
[JET] Being in New Zealand, you’re more than half a day ahead of us New Englanders, which is kind of cool – you get to celebrate New Years before most of the world.
Has that had any effect on communications and US based marketing of your books?
[Cat] We actually get to celebrate New Year before anyone else. Down here in NZ we are first! This is nice, because a lot of the time this feels like the end of the earth not the beginning.
It does effect marketing etc, simply because I am in the future. Interviews, reviews etc are always a day late for me! When killerbyte was released it was Northern Hemisphere April 10th 2009 – we had the party on April 10th but no one could buy the book yet down here!! Mostly I remind people I’m dealing with that I will be asleep when they’re trying to email me and that it is a day ahead for me.
Of course there’s always one who can’t figure out the time zone thing, or can’t use a cell phone correctly. J
[JET] What kinds of guns have you had the opportunity to shoot? Favorites?
[Cat] I’m a Glock girl. Preferring a Glock 17 to any other hand gun. Hubby will tell ya that Sig out strip Glock hands down… but he’s wrong. J
[JET] Have you ever seen a dead body? How has that influenced your writing?
[Cat] Yep. Don’t know that it influenced my writing as such, just gave me a good feel for death and how quickly the human essence leaves the body. A dead body is just like a live body but no one’s home and the whole cloudy eye thing is totally creepy.
I understand the process of grief as it affects me and those around me, which makes it easier to write scenes of that nature for Ellie and other characters. Life is fleeting. (And now I hear the Rocky Horror Picture Show sound track playing in my head!)
[JET] Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?
[Cat] It wasn’t a conscious choice. It just happened that way. I briefly tried to write a romance once… ended up with five plot threads including a kidnapping, oh and no romance.
Writing thrillers mostly grew from frustration. I couldn’t find a decent book I wanted to read. (Gosh never heard a writer say that before – eyes are rolling in all directions!) One with a female protagonist who wasn’t a blubbering idiot. For a while there it seemed like women were portrayed as hard-faced bitches who no one wanted to be around or were simply too stupid to live. Where were the real women? The solution for me was obvious… write the book I wanted to read. So I did. I did it a few times before I got it right. Although my early books came up in conversation just yesterday and I promised that when I have time I will dust them off and see how they measure up now.
[JET] What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?
[Cat] The stupidity of others. That’s kinda harsh but it’s true. I’ve come across a lot of stupid in this business, when it’s mixed with greed and over-extension it impacts badly on authors. I was unlucky enough to be caught for over six months by the bankruptcy of a publisher. BUT – let me stress the silver lining here… they were obviously not the publisher I was supposed to go with. I learned a lot about what I didn’t want in a publisher and in editors! The thing is, if they hadn’t gone under I’d be screwed now. I would not be in the excellent position I’m in now with a publisher I love and an editor I adore. So it was a shitty situation that turned up a huge silver lining. (Golden even!)
[JET] What was your favorite moment in the journey?
[Cat] There have been quite a few. Having Rebel E Publishers accept killerbyte back in Jan 2009. HUGE excitement. Killerbyte’s release on April 10th 2009. Having terrorbyte accepted, and its subsequent release on Nov 10th. The incredible reviews both books have received. The year has been astounding.
The following happened within twenty-four hours on May 8th- May 9th 2010. My most current favorite moment was seeing the Mobipocket Best seller list for Suspense & Thrillers – with KILLERBYTE at #2. (and it didn’t hurt that Lee Child is now below me on the list!, lol)
But then someone I greatly admire tweeted that she’d bought killerbyte! (Lorenza Ponce is the most amazing musician and singer/song writer. I urge you to check out her album Soul Shifter!)
And then… later the same day… my wonderful publisher told me that we have paperbacks now. They’ll be available through Ingram’s in a week. Now that’s pretty freaking groovacious. THEN… I clicked my Amazon author page and discovered the paperbacks are there and in stock!!! No doubt you all heard me squealing over that!
Pick one? Can’t be done!!
[JET] Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?
[Cat] Growing up (not sure that’s actually happened yet…) Willard Price had a huge influence on me. I loved The Adventure Series and read every one of them several times over. My favorite was The South Sea Adventure. I also loved Zane Grey, S.E. Hinton, Alexander Dumas, Sir Walter Scott’s – Ivanhoe mostly because I loved the portrayal of Robin Hood within the text. Now there’s a real man.
I wasn’t fond of girly stories, there wasn’t enough action and they all needed saving… so not my thing! Unless of course a weta is involved, then I absolutely see the need for a big strong male to save the day. You will not get me near a weta.
[JET] When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?
[Cat] I can’t recall when I made a conscious decision to toss myself into the deep end. However, I do recall wanting to give up several hundred times. Those days when you get nothing but rejections are a killer in the beginning. Until of course you realize they’re not personal.
[JET] Any advice for the novices out there?
[Cat] Join Backspace. No seriously, do it. It’s the best place in the world to get the help, support, pants kickings you need throughout a writing career.
Actually I feel kinda bad lately, I’ve been so busy selling books I haven’t spent as much time at Backspace as I used to, pre-publication. But the joy of Backspace is it’s always there waiting and pleased to see you when you get back from adventures.
As for other advice, grow a thick skin. The no’s don’t stop coming once you’re published they’re just worded better.
It isn’t personal. Remember that. If someone doesn’t like your work and you honestly know its good, move on. You can’t please everyone all the time. BUT, you can please yourself, and if you’re not doing that, then you should take a long hard look at what’s going on.
Be open to advice and suggestions. It’s your choice whether to follow it or not. Do not allow yourself to be bullied by well meaning friends, it’s your story!
Above all else…have fun! Writing is fun. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t do it. Because if it wasn’t fun it’d be damn hard to get through the rejection years and stick it out until the good stuff started happening. There has to be balance!
[JET] We all know you are a major Bon Jovi fan, or at least those that follow you on any of the networking sites or have read your books – so my music related question is – Have you ever met Bon Jovi?
[Cat] I have been to a concert, yes just the one. Living in New Zealand makes it kinda hard to attend concerts! It astounds me when I come across people who go to five-ten concerts each tour. (There are people that do more than that –they follow the band across Europe and the States!) Obsession springs to mind.
I would like to meet Bon Jovi, I think they’d be truly interesting people to talk to. I would love to talk writing with them .The song writing thing fascinates me. Novels and short stories are one thing but how the hell do you tell a story in a song and make it work, seriously how? Interesting stuff.( And for the sake of the new novel, really interesting. You’ll have to wait and see why.)
For me it’s the music that’s important, not so much the live act. I use music to drown the world out so I can write. Certain songs will stick with me and they become the switch that engages my brain for work. When writing Terrorbyte it was all Bon Jovi, but maybe not what most people listen too. I chose tracks mainly from 100,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong. Because that’s what worked for me during the process. You can clearly see what I was listening to while writing both books by checking out the chapter titles. (There are playlists on my website)
Of course the great thing about having so much music tied up with the books is that release party music was dead easy, simply a matter of compiling a playlist from all the CD’s piled up next to my desk!
[JET] All right – now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?
[Cat] Paper – renewable resource.
[JET] Steak or Tofu?
[Cat] Steak – Tofu is poison. (Soy allergy and plus Soy is poison, lol)
[JET] Beach or Mountains?
[Cat] Both – I like craggy cliffs overlooking the sea and mountains. From my windows I can see mountains. It’s awesome. My favorite place is Mahau Sound, beach surrounded by Mountains and high hills!!
[JET] Country or Rock-n-Roll?
[Cat] Both – I love country music but I also love rock and heavy metal and blues and…well you get the idea!
[JET] Classics or Modern?
[JET] Vamps or Wolves?
[Cat] Absolutely hate vampires. Can’t stand vampire books, movies, or anything mildly leaning toward vampires. Wolves I adore. Even the were variety.
[JET] Zombies or Demons?
[Cat] Hard choice… I’m partial to zombies cos I know how to kill them (thank you Sir Peter Jackson). Demons are interesting, hard to kill, and downright evil. (although if it meant having Dean from Supernatural pop over…)
[JET] Horror or Comedy?
[Cat] Both. Sometimes horror is comedy, albeit unintentional. (Preferring suspense/thriller over either but there is usually comedy somewhere.)
[JET] Salty or Sweet?
[Cat] Both. I do use a lot of salt… I know, naughty, but in my defense we have no iodine occurring naturally in our soil so iodized salt is necessary. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it) Actually thinking about it… I like bitter chocolate, so sweet not so much.
[JET] Coffee or Tea?
[Cat] Both. I drink coffee all day and tea at night. Some will have you believe I prefer tequila over both, but in fact it’s Browns Brothers Dolcetto & Syrah that I find irresistible these days. But only after dark, and only on special occasions… ya know, to celebrate. The rabbit’s birthday, the cat’s birthday, anyone’s birthday, hitting number two on the Mobipocket suspense thriller best seller list!!
[JET] Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you’re working on now? What’s next?
[Cat] I’m working on a re-vamping of book three, exacabyte. This is the bit I really enjoy, the re-vamping, editing, tweaking of stories and adding/ripping out of scenes. For me it’s more fun than the initial writing. Everything’s already there now, it’s just a matter of bringing some elements closer to the surface and maybe burying some others and throwing a good measure of blood at some walls.
Thanks for having me over Jane! I rather enjoyed your questions.
[JET] Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Cat and her work at the following places:
Next week I’ll be talking about my publishing journey and highlighting some June releases – have a great week!