Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting to know Cate Masters

Do you work on multiple projects at the same time?
About a dozen are always in the works, though I work more actively on some than others. No writer’s block here. (Hope I didn’t just jinx myself!)
What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?
I’m always reaching for the next level. Unfortunately, those levels are shifting like underground platelets in a major earthquake right now. I’m hoping the current publishing upheaval will level off the playing field between epublishing and print, but time will tell. In any case, I’ll be on the field running the bases!

When you're not writing, what do you like to do to just kick back and have fun?

I love just spending time with my family and my dog Lily. We have a great deck out back, and my hubby and I often sit underneath the stars at night. We’re finally going to celebrate our marriage by taking a cruise this November (keep your fingers crossed the hurricanes are long gone by then!) so I’m really looking forward to that, though it means no NaNoWriMo for me this year. I’m sure I’ll have a notebook or two along though!

Do you ever experience writer's block? If you do, how do you cope with it?

Going back to the first question, my theory is that I keep writer’s block at bay by working on multiple stories. I do sometimes run up against a wall, but that’s the story’s way of smacking me upside my head and telling me I’m missing some key element. By focusing elsewhere, that element will usually come clear. Usually in some completely inconvenient place like the shower, or while driving.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

My parents encouraged reading by subscribing me to a children’s book club. We lived in the country, and my mom didn’t drive (don’t ask me how she managed, I couldn’t do it!), so getting that package in the mail was a real treat. Like Readers’ Digest condensed books for kids, they contained everything from feature articles about life in other countries to current kids’ books to Aesop’s fables. I didn’t learn until after my mom died that she had won a writing award long
before I was born, so that was a poignant moment for me. My dad enjoyed writing, too, but only for himself.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

A writer on one of the loops said she hadn’t seen a mermaid story in awhile, so I began researching the mers. I fell in love with them! Because mermaids love handsome guys who sing, I thought a modern mermaid would love the lead singer of a rock band. I wrote it from the perspective of the hero, AJ, who’s struggling with his music and life in general. Cassiopeia, the mermaid, gives him a much needed kick in the butt.
Surfacing is available in ebook and paperback from Whiskey Creek Press:

Below is an excerpt, and you can read the first chapter at:

He had a feeling of floating as he studied her. God, she was incredible.
She braced her hands beneath her. “So do you know any Pearl Jam?”
Think, AJ. Pearl Jam. “Yeah.” He tuned his strings. Not looking at her helped him focus. Once he got a song in his head, his fingers took off from there. And he sang, eyes closed. The only way he’d be able to remember the lyrics. Or to keep singing. Words formed on his lips, something about a light and holding his baby in his arms. He made it through the song, only having to fake one line. The strings resonated with the last chord. He opened his eyes, afraid the rock she occu-pied would be empty. His nerves untangled as he saw her, more vibrant and alive than anyone he’d ever known.
Leaning toward him, she listened in rapt attention. His music had kept her here. “That sounded nice. Play something else.”
His nervousness bubbled up in a laugh. “Okay, U2? Anything in particular?”
“‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’.” Enthusiasm made her voice throaty.
Really? “That’s a classic. I’ll have to improvise the drum intro.” He thought for a second, then hit the heel of his hand against the wood of his guitar as his hand banged the strings, creating an echoed beat. An excellent sound. He’d have to remember it. His torso rocked with the music as he sang.
Just once did he open his eyes, to check she still sat there. Her eyes shone in the darkness, an appreciative audience. If only she were as captivated as him. He’d play till his fingers bled if that’s what it took for her to stay.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
Some stories are like gifts that come to mind almost fully formed, and I just need to write as quickly as possible to get it all down, then flesh it all out. Surfacing was like that. I’m very grateful for those gifts! Usually the stories arrive less clearly formed, but I have a general idea of where I want to go. Characters sometimes surprise me by hijacking the story in a different
direction, and that’s always fun too. I’ll construct an outline as I go along, to see where I’ve been and whether it makes sense. :)

Did your book require a lot of research?
Absolutely, for the fantasy aspect as well as the setting. Trolling the Internet, I gathered about 30 pages of information about mermaids into a file to keep for reference. It fascinated me to learn that countries around the world had legends about the mers. My web search also turned
up Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the world-famous mermaid shows, and I knew immediately I had to set my story there. Videos on YouTube showed the performing mermaids at work, and the amusement park’s web site provided the layout, etc.

If you could have any vice without repercussions, what would it be?
It’s not exactly a vice, but I’d love to not have to sleep. Yes, it’s important to recharge the brain, but there are other ways to do that. I could use that time much more effectively!

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

It might seem the easy way out to say this, but I love all my characters as I write them. They become like friends and family. If I had to pick only one, I’d say the hero in my upcoming contemporary, Rock Bottom (June 2011, Lyrical Press) is very special to me. Like the hero of Surfacing, he’s a rock singer who’s irresistible, too, but Jet Trently is named for Jerry Trently, a dear friend who died of a brain tumor a few years ago. I loved the idea of giving him a happy ending. I’m pretty proud of the way the book turned out, and I think he’d be happy with it too.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
I have the opposite problem with my muse. She throws more story ideas at me than I can possibly ever use. I’d actually like her to take a vacation so I could finish a few before she tosses more my way!

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Yep, I’m halfway through a contemporary novella and a contemporary fantasy, and the first novel in a fantasy series is going through final critiques now. I’m very excited about this series. A few other contemporaries, fantasies and a historical are in the queue too.

Have you ever experience weird cravings while you write? If so, what kind?
Hmm, maybe to be able to finally type “the end”! No, I honestly can’t say I do. While writing, I’m pretty much in my head, and reality’s a bothersome thing. :) As much as I love music, I don’t bother putting any on because I’d only block it out. The one thing I keep going back for is a cup of hot, black tea, no matter what the season.

Where do you see the paranormal/urban fantasy genre headed? Can you see it slowing down in the near future, or do you think that the immediate future is pretty bright for it?
No, I don’t believe it will slow down, but I do think it will keep evolving. I’m really excited to see so many mash-ups of genres. I love to read stories that don’t fit the standard guidelines. I love to experiment in my writing, and love to read stories by other writers who do the same.

If you had to write yourself as a heroine/hero, what kind of heroine/hero would you be? What would you be named?
In contrast to my fairly humdrum existence, my alter ego would be an adventurer or explorer, in the quest for new discoveries, truth and justice. In other words, a heroine with heart, brains and soul, but a kickass heroine if the situation called for it!

Where can readers find you on the web?
My web site contains lots of goodies, so I urge you to check it out:  My blog’s really active too: In addition to the latest news, and fun new series like Story Elements, giving each story’s background, and Casting Call, where I show who I imagined in each role of my stories, I also feature other authors and provide writing tips. Readers can find this info in archived blogs by entering those key words into the search box. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and a few sites like Goodreads, though I admit I haven’t quite figured those out yet.

Thanks so much for having me at the Reading Nook, Dawn! It’s been a pleasure.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/paranormal, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination.  Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


Maria Zannini said...

I loved this interview--especially the part about sleeping.

Sleeping is highly overrated. Such a shame we can't live without it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I wish I didn't need to sleep so much. Two hours would be wonderful.

I really liked your book video.

in Germany

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Maria! I often awake with stories swirling through my brain, keeping me awake anyway!

Glad you liked the video Valerie!

Thanks for stopping by.

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