Witches and werewolves and ghouls – oh my! What accounts for the longstanding obsession that mortals have with all those mysterious denizens of the supernatural? Psychology studies suggest that our vicarious flirtations with immortal beings through stage, page and cinema are a cathartic way of dealing with that which we fear most: death. Throw a little sizzle into the mix – as Catherine Green has done in her new release Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel) – and you have the makings of a paranormal romance that will transport readers to the delicious depths of dark fantasy.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: So what inspired you to put your bewitching heroine, Jessica Stone, in the company of unworldly companions such as vampires and werewolves?
A: Jessica has her own secrets, and she was destined to join the hidden world in which she truly belongs. I knew she was never going to be a ‘normal’ human, but I also did not expect the story to turn out as it did! I think my inspiration came from a childhood of feeling like I never quite belonged. I would look up at the sky and wonder what was out there, and I knew there were whole new worlds and mystical places just waiting to be discovered.
Q: Where and when does this paranormal romance unfold? What elements governed these choices for you?
A: The setting is a quaint seaside town in Cornwall, near the Devon border. I have family friends who ran a hotel in the real town of Looe for several years, and it was this place that inspired my location. I would wander through the town and envision Jessica and Elizabeth’s bookshop in place of the real ones I saw, and the coastline is just breathtaking. I mixed my fictional town of Redcliffe with Looe and Polperro, two very traditional English fishing towns that are steeped in history and legend. I had to bring in some magic and mystery, and I always loved the stories of smugglers and pirates in Cornwall, so these helped inspire my setting. The Redcliffe story is contemporary, and luxuriates in wild British heritage.
Q: If Hollywood came calling to make a movie of Love Redeems, who would your dream cast be and why?
A: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I have actually spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I am still none the wiser! Ideally I would like to find identical twin brothers from Ireland to play Jack and Danny Mason. They have to be identical because it is crucial to the story. If anyone can suggest appropriate actors, please let me know! Otherwise, I see the Mason brothers as a mixture between the Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender and Aidan Turner, who played the vampire Mitchell in BBC’s popular television series Being Human. Jessica Stone is another confusing character to place. I want her to be played by an English actress, preferably from the North West for authenticity. I think it’s time I watched the popular soap operas so I can find my actors! Now I think about it, I quite like the actress Rosie Marcel, who plays the consultant Jac Naylor in the BBC medical drama Holby City. She would make a convincing Jessica Stone I think. Staying with actors from Holby City, I quite fancy James Anderson to play the vampire Marcus Scott. He plays the trainee surgeon Oliver Valentine, but I could see him switching into playboy vampire mode if he was interested! Similarly I could see Marcus being played by Joseph Morgan, who is currently popular as the evil vampire Klaus in The Vampire Diaries… I think Jemima Rooper could be Jessica’s best friend Elizabeth Gormond. She played Thelma Bates alongside Michael Fassbender in the television series Hex. For the remaining cast, I really don’t know.
Q: Personally speaking, what do you suppose accounts for this longstanding fascination we have for things that go bump – or snarl – in the night?
A: I think ultimately we know there are things out there that cannot be explained. Our society has been obsessed with science and mechanics for such a long time that we have managed to make it socially taboo to believe in things we cannot see, touch or explain. However, there has always been an undercurrent of belief fuelled by legends, mythology and folklore, largely passed down through religious channels over the years. Humans are arrogant creatures, but we also fear the thought that we may not be alone in our ego driven lives! Therefore we turn legend into horror, and scare our children into behaving in the way that we find acceptable and manageable, to keep things even and controlled.
Q: What scares you? And how do you use that fear to send a chill down your readers’ spines?
A: Hmm, lots of things! I’m a bit of a wimp, and I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone, like so many people in this world. For now I am exploring the human fears of manipulation and control. I suppose it is largely connected to my passion for female independence and equal rights. I constantly battle with myself over whether I am being weak and dependent on the men in my life, and I want to be a strong and positive role model for my daughter and my younger sister. These fears are played out through my heroine Jessica Stone and her best friend Elizabeth Gormond, who are both so very different in their personalities, but so similar in their ideals and morals.
Q: Do you primarily write in one genre or are you an adventurous dabbler?
A: I seem to gravitate towards paranormal romance. I would like to dabble in horror and historical fiction, but I am a sucker for a love story, and they just seem to seep into my tales! I do intend to write at least one historical novel, although it will be paranormal. It will take some research to make sure it is accurate, so I have put it on the backburner until I have more time to devote to it. My stories will always include some aspect of the paranormal, whether it be vampires, shape shifters, witches, ghosts or other mythical and magical creatures.
Q: Were you a voracious reader when you were growing up and, if so, did dark fantasy find a home on your bookshelves?
A: Oh yes! Our town library was only very small, but I must have read pretty much every children’s book in the place, and then as I got older I was able to buy my own books when I found them in the right places. As a child my favourite authors were Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, not exactly dark fantasy writers, but a good starting point for inspiration. My first foray into dark fantasy was really with the author L.J. Smith when I was a teenager. I read her Nightworld Young Adult vampire series, and that is really where the Redcliffe novels had their origins. I then discovered Anne Rice and Laurell K Hamilton, and now I find new and exciting authors every day. It is wonderful!
Q: If you could sit down for lunch with any famous author whose forte revolved around vampires, werewolves, witches or monsters, who would it be and what would you most like to ask him or her?
A: It would have to be Laurell K Hamilton. I would have so many questions for her! I know her journey to becoming published was a fairly long one, and I have seen how her novels have developed through reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. I would probably ask if she became bolder in her story content as she received greater interest from her fan base. The books have definitely become more fantastical and very taboo as they have developed, and I can’t help but feel like she was tentatively trying it out with her first few books. Now, she simply writes what she wants, and she knows her audience will adore it.
Q: When did you first decide that being a writer was what you wanted to do?
A: I decided officially back in 2009. At the time I had finally told my younger sister about the story in my head, and she insisted that I write it down and show her. Once I started, things progressed naturally. I was bombarded with ideas for new stories, I found places to submit to competitions, and I got myself published. That was when I knew I could turn a fleeting childhood fantasy into a real adult career.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?
A: I could have done this sooner! I mean, I am only now 31, so I’m not exactly old. But, I could have written my stories way back in the beginning, when I was still a teenager, and who knows what might have happened? That said, I understand that many of my life experiences up to this point have contributed to the Redcliffe novels, and so they may not have been as good if I had written them back then.
Q: Did you have mentors who assisted in that journey?
A: Probably my younger sister. She was the one who gave me a proverbial kick up the backside and gave me the confidence to follow my dream. Other than that, I have found lots of support and assistance from fellow authors and writing professionals in the online social networks I am a member of.
Q: The publishing industry continues to reinvent itself. The combined effects of downsizing at traditional publishers and the desire by authors to have more control over their intellectual property and pricing structure has led to an escalation in self-publishing endeavors. What are your thoughts on this issue, particularly the debate as to whether a self-published title is as “real” as one produced through traditional channels?
A: I don’t like it when people react snobbishly to those who self-publish. When you make the decision to publish your novel or short story, it becomes a huge learning process when you discover just how complex the industry truly is. While I admire people who are published traditionally because they somehow managed to get themselves seen by the ‘right people,’ I am all for encouraging people to self-publish. I would simply advise that they remember to get professional help in producing their manuscripts to the highest possible standard, do not skimp on the artwork for the front cover, and make sure everything is completed to the highest standard of presentation that they can provide.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges for authors attempting to break in?
A: Being seen and heard. The platform is so huge, and is still growing at such an alarming rate, that if you want to be known as a serious professional writer, you have a lot of work to do when it comes to promotion and marketing. I am still learning and developing my own fan base, and I have a long way to go. Getting published isn’t the problem. Getting people to see and read your books is. We have to become small businesses as well as being authors.
Q: Any advice you’d like to share with them?
A: Never give up. If you truly want to finish writing your book, get it published and share it with the world, then you will. If you submit it to agents and publishers and they keep rejecting you, then ask why. Find out what needs to be improved, if anything, and simply alter your search criteria. Always remember that you can make it happen, no matter how long that takes.
Q: How do the changes in today’s publishing industry impact – if at all – your own perceptions regarding the role of literary agents?
A: I think many people don’t see a need for literary agents any more. Personally I would still like to find an agent, because I appreciate that they will have the industry experience, and the contacts to help launch my novels on the right platform. Agents can’t always land you the dream contract with a big publisher, but I’m sure they can offer a lot of help and influence in places that will grow your audience and your brand name.
Q: As a reader, what’s your preference – hardback, paperback or ebooks?
A: Ooh, that’s a tough one! I am currently reading one of each, and I love them all for different reasons. My hardback just smells and feels so good. I love the texture, the weight of it in my hands, the smell of the pages, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. It is definitely a sensory attraction. The paperbacks are easier to handle, easier to transport, and they still carry the smell and texture of good old-fashioned books. I love battered old paperbacks from second-hand bookshops, because they tell their own stories even alongside the novels they contain. But, my ereader is very easy to transport, I can read it one-handed while I am eating or nursing my child, and it is convenient. It will never replace proper books though.
Q: Libraries and bookstores across the country are cutting back their hours and closing their doors. What do you feel the future holds insofar as the vitality and longevity of these two entities?
A: I am saddened to see the decline of our high street bookshops. There are so few of them in my local area that I make special daytrips just to visit the one or two second-hand bookshops I know of that are within travelling distance. Unfortunately it seems they simply cannot cope with the Internet sales revolution, alongside so many other shops. I don’t think they will ever die out completely, because lots of people like myself will continue to visit them and keep them afloat. I do think that perhaps they might begin to diversify in order to stay open and trading. In my opinion, their future is uncertain but by no means is it coming to an end.
Q: How do you balance the demands of your writing schedule with the demands of family/domestic life?
A: It has been a struggle. I have a 2 year old daughter who has just started at pre-school, and so I am settling into a routine where I can work properly for three days a week, and the rest I do in the evenings or when she takes a nap. That said, I am pregnant with my second child, so it will all change again later this year! My husband works long hours, so for the most part I entertain our daughter and make use of friends and family for babysitting. We make it work, somehow.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: I am soon to release my third Redcliffe novel, Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel). I am in the middle of a final edit of the manuscript, and then it will go to print. I anticipate its release early in March, and am very excited! That will conclude the initial trilogy of the Redcliffe novels, but I will soon begin writing book 4 in the series. I am also writing a separate novel about a vampire hunter who discovers she is a fallen angel, and I have another vampire novel waiting to be edited and prepared for publishing. Alongside this I am setting up a freelance business offering professional writing services for copy editing, proofreading, critique and ghost writing. My intention is to use that to subsidize my author career, and also to work on that female independence I mentioned earlier.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Yes please! I am very active on social networks, and you can find me in the following places: Author website: http://www.catherine-green.co.uk
Author blog: http://www.catherinegreenauthor.blogspot.com
Thank you very much for having me!