Saturday, December 17
Welcome Cathie Dunn
Today, the Wranglers welcome Cathie Dunn. Cathie lives in a drafty cottage in Scotland with her husband and two naughty cats (one of which is constantly attacking her Christmas tree). She enjoys traveling, discovering new settings for her novels, reading and walking. She loves European Christmas markets, and is at her happiest strolling between the stalls with a mug of mulled wine on a snowy day. Her current work in progress is a Scottish romantic historical, set on the isle of Mull during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Find out more about Cathie on her website www.cathiedunn.com!
Hi, Cathie. Welcome to Word Wranglers and thank you for coming right in the middle of the holidays! Hopefully, you’re a bit more organized about them than I am! Let’s get started.
Where would you like to be in ten years—both writing- and life-wise?
First of all, thank you for having me here, Liz. I’ve enjoyed working my way through your questions.
I’d love to work from home full time, both as a writer and as editor at Crooked Cat publishing, a small ebook publisher I recently set up with my husband. I’m keen to spend more time writing and researching (traveling!).
A log cabin in the Scottish Highlands would provide the perfect home. I’d add a few more animals to the household, such as a couple of rescue dogs and a family of Kunekune pigs. Not sure what our current residents, kitties Bob and Tiger, would say to that, though, but I’d love it.
Do you have a favorite author who has been an unwitting mentor to you? (Louisa May Alcott was mine—I wish I could thank her.)
I gained early inspiration from devouring M.M. Kaye and Victoria Holt novels in my teens. Like you, I wish I could thank them. The stories both authors wove were full of intrigue and mystery, often showing darker sides than other writers of historical romantic fiction. I fell in love with their dark, brooding male characters. Complex and not always the friendliest, I’ve based my male leads - Rory in Highland Arms, Geoffrey in Dark Deceit - on those fine examples but it’s hard to meet the high standards set by those two formidable ladies.
Any tips on writing, things you wish you’d known and didn’t?
One thing I learnt is to read widely in your preferred genre. You can’t underestimate the influence of such novels in helping you find the right direction. Also, as my Creative Writing tutor once said, rules are there to be broken. Yes, stick to them to hone your writing, but then look at it all again with a critical eye. If something doesn’t fit it doesn’t belong.
Oh, and you need to develop a tough shell. Not everyone’s going to like your work. Accept critique, have a rant (offline!), and then move on.
What’s your favorite part of writing? And your un-favorite? (Synopses don’t count—everybody hates them.)
LOL I’m with you there! Well, my favorite part is the actual writing. I only plan a rough outline of a story and then let it flow as I go along. I get ideas for external conflict as I take my characters along a certain path, checking out historical events in those places at the time. Research is another thing I love about writing. I enjoy checking history books and biographies, spending hours once I get started.
As for dislikes, waiting for responses to submissions and later the delays in getting to point of publication. So nail bitingly frustrating, but part and parcel of the process.
Do you have a schedule or is that the same joke it is at my house?
Until recently I worked full time, so my writing/research schedule had to fit around the day job, mostly evenings and Sundays. Saturdays were kept for dreaded housework or extended pub lunches (guess which won?!). At the moment I’m at home editing and writing. I must say I’m enjoying the freedom to dive into edits, research or writing as I please. Could get used to it...
I’m a genre-jumper, both in reading and writing. Does your muse like to skip around or does she stay in one spot and behave herself?
Oh, my muse hops from genre to genre all the time! She doesn’t know the meaning of good behavior. I have written historical romance (Highland Arms) and historical fiction (Dark Deceit), both quite different in terms of style, characters and conflict. I’d also love to get into thriller writing and try my hand at fantasy. Guess I’ll be busy for a while yet.
My favorite question, the one I ask everybody—what woman, past or present, would you like to have dinner with and what would you like to talk about? Also, just for the heck of it, where would you go and what would you eat? (I know that’s four questions, but, hey, while I have you here…)
LOL ask away!
My female inspiration is Eleanor of Aquitaine. I know I’m one of many admirers as she’s become quite popular lately. We would chat about her crusades adventure (did she have that fling?) and her sons, of course. So many fascinating guys in one family, I’d just have to know everything about them. I might even squeeze in a question about Henry, her hubby, and hope she wouldn’t bite my head off.
I’d meet her at Falaise Castle, enjoying sweeping views over rolling Normandy countryside. We’d take a dinner of game with a bottle or three of Gascon wine. Perfect!
Tell us about your books, past, present, and future?
I consider myself fortunate in that I found a home for my first novel within a year of completing it. Highland Arms, a historical romantic adventure, is published through The Wild Rose Press. It tells the story of a Highland rogue, Rory, who plans another Jacobite uprising to put the Stuarts back on the throne. His intentions are jeopardized by the arrival of a Lowland lady, Catriona, whose insatiable curiosity leads her - and Rory - into trouble.
My historical novel, Dark Deceit, is due out in spring 2012. Set in the 1140s, it’s the first in The Anarchy Trilogy. It will be released through Crooked Cat publishing. Keep an eye on www.crookedcatpublishing.com for updates!
Blurb for Highland Arms:
Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.
Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.
And here’s an excerpt!
Intrigued, any thought of detection forgotten, Catriona let her gaze drift over him, taking in his worn kilt and plaid. The light-brown linen shirt gaped open at the neck, revealing a soft sprinkling of hair on bronzed skin; his sleeves rolled up over strong, muscled arms. His bearings put him above the other men in status but his body proved him to be a man of the out-of-doors. To her surprise, his chin was not covered with an unkempt beard—like his companions’ shaggy faces—but only bore a hint of stubble. Here was a man who shaved regularly.
Catriona’s mind whirled as she let her gaze wander further across his ruggedly handsome features. His open face with strong cheekbones and wide-set eyes spoke of power, a forceful character. Dark blond hair, glowing in the light of the tallow candles, was tied back at the nape of his neck. Most certainly he was not a drover. But why was he sharing their whisky? He piqued her curiosity and, in the absence of any other form of entertainment in this bare inn, she found herself fascinated.
When he glanced up from his cup, their eyes met. They held for a moment that stretched like eternity. His, a vibrant green that sparkled across the smoky room, mocked her apparent interest. Caught in the act, she blushed and quickly busied herself adjusting the folds of her dress before extending her hands to the fire, thereby turning her back to the room. How obvious her scrutiny had been! Her cheeks flamed, and not just from the heat of the fire.
Highland Arms is available from The Wild Rose Press (http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4560), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Highland-Arms-ebook/dp/B005E03J72/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311501456&sr=8-1) and B&N (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/highland-arms-cathie-dunn/1104400961).