Thank you Natalie and Elaine for having me as your guest today. It's a pleasure to be on the RNA blog again.
In 2013, when Shadow Across the Liffey became a contender for the Joan Hessayan award, I had no inkling of what was to come. You know that old saying; you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at the same time. That's the best way to describe what happened next. Two more books followed in quick concession. Her Father's Daughter in June 2013, and Shadow Across the Liffey came out in paperback. Galway Girl was released in May of this year, followed by paperback of Her Father's Daughter. Where the Shamrocks Grow, my recent novel, was released as an eBook this month. All published with Tirgearr Publishing who have mentioned doing paperbacks of Galway Girl, and Where the Shamrocks Grow, next year. If that wasn't enough excitement, Magna have taken all four books for library large print and audio. Audio is scheduled for 2015. This is a dream come true for me, and to say I feel fortunate, is putting it mildly. These four books went through the new writers' scheme where the feedback was invaluable.
In a past life I edited an anthology of works funded by Arts Council England. I also appeared on the TV show Food Glorious Food in 2012. Nowadays, I write novels set in 19th century Ireland, depicting the lifestyle and hardships of families in those days, together with the emotions of her characters when they become wound up in intricate criminal plots.
We asked Cathy a few questions:
You began your writing career with short stories and articles. What made you decide to move to novel writing?
While writing articles for Woman's Way, Woman's Own and Yours etc., I embarked on writing my life story. Just for my family. It turned out to be 90,000 words. It was then that I realised I wanted to write novels and joined the RNA NWS in 2002. I still write the odd article and short story, but mainly stick to writing novels.
How much did your upbringing in Ireland help in the setting of your novels?
It helped enormously. Having lived my childhood and teenage years in Dublin, Ireland during the 1950s/60s, it gave me plenty of ideas. I write my stories around things and events of the rimes I remember, without having to do too much research.
Your latest novel, ‘Where the Shamrock Grows’, has recently been released. Is there another in the planning stage?
Oh, yes. I'm writing another romantic suspense set in the 60s Dublin. I'm half way through writing it, and have given myself a deadline to finish it by February 2015.
How good are you at planning your work? Do you prefer to ‘wing it’?
I'm not that clever. I would never get away with "winging it!' I'm a planner. The story is usually in my head long before I start to write it. I need to know where I'm going and work out a chapter chart and then I follow it like a map. It works for me.
Following that, how do you fit your writing round your family life?
That can be hard at times, especially with grandchildren. I have quite a few, so birthdays and Christmas can be expensive. My eldest granddaughter lives in Perth, Australia, and my son and his family live in New Zealand. Even so, I still have enough grandchildren here to keep me busy. My husband is amazing and gives me space to write. As a writer who loves writing stories, I will always find time to do what I love. Life is too short not to.
Finally, what aspect of your writing do you most enjoy?
All of it, but I have to admit there is a certain amount of satisfaction in editing the finished manuscript. I enjoy researching especially when it takes me over the sea to Ireland. One of my favourite places in the world.
‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ is set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, Jo Kingsley is transported from her turbulent childhood to the sophisticated life at the beautiful Chateau Colbert. She meets Jean-Pierre, grandson of her employer Madame Colbert, and discovers the desire of men.
Destiny takes Jo to America where she experiences more than dreams of becoming a music teacher.
Amazon UK: Where the shamrocks grow
Amazon UK: Cathy’s Books on Amazon:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cathymansell3Linkedin: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/cathy-mansell/46/b50/550/
Thank you for joining us today, Cathy
This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at email@example.com