Cathy is the author of the brilliant TRUST ME I'M A VET and THE SWEETEST THING. Her latest novel IT'S A VET'S LIFE is out now!
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I dream of having an average writing day! There is no such thing for me. I set myself a target of writing or editing 7-10 000 words every week, juggling this with teaching Animal Management at my local college, walking the dogs, mucking out the horses and playing with the cat, not forgetting my main occupation as taxi driver for my teenage offspring.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
Sometimes I liken a character’s physical appearance to that of a celebrity so that a reader can picture them quickly and easily. I tend to avoid using people I know as inspiration because I don’t want to offend or upset anyone. It can work the other way in that some of my friends have told me they are sorry to see that they don’t appear in any of my books!
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I adore Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, its story of passion, unrequited love and revenge acted out on the wild Yorkshire Moors. Although the ‘hero’, Heathcliff, is tragically flawed, I have fallen in love with him many times.
My parents chose my name from having read Wuthering Heights just before I was born.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I tend to plan first, creating lists of characters with their biographies, a series of potential scenes and dramatic moments, and a timeline. If inspiration strikes though, I will start writing at the same time as I am doing my planning. The number of drafts varies from book to book. Usually, I will do three or four drafts. My record was 15 drafts for Trust Me, I’m a Vet.
5. What was journey to being a published author?
I was a small animal vet, working in practice, until my children were born and I gave up full-time work to look after them. I joined a creative writing (and wine-drinking) group, entered all the writing competitions I could find and sent synopses and the first three chapters of various novels to publishers and agents – to no avail. My lucky break came in 2002 when I was joint winner of the Harry Bowling First Novel Award. At the ceremony, I met my agent who then went on to sell my books. It was a marathon of a journey, but it was worth it in the end!
I think the biggest myth is that when you are a novelist, the words flow freely and in the right order the first time you type them onto your laptop. I can assure you that, for me anyway, most of my effort goes into editing to make every novel as polished as it can be.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
My advice would be to sit down and get started on it. It’s too easy to procrastinate! Although writing is a solitary occupation, it’s really useful (and great fun) to meet other writers face-to-face or online to share ideas and tips. If you are planning to write romantic fiction, it’s definitely worth considering joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on another novel set in an animal sanctuary in the fictional Devon village of Talyton St George. As yet untitled, it will be published in April 2012.
VISIT CATHY'S WEBSITE