Friday, June 11, 2010

A Closer Look with Cate Masters

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, 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.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s something I’ve done since about age 10, so it’s always been second nature to me. Though I’ve had many types of jobs, writing is about the only pursuit in which I feel I’m in my element.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies on how much research is involved, though there’s always research. I’ve never actually tracked it, but on average, from first draft to finished product, probably about a year, including all the critique rounds and revisions. I tend to write a few at once, too, and always have about a dozen projects started, so there’s a bit of overlap.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Although I have a part-time job, I consider writing my “real” job, and put in more than full-time hours. Rarely with weekends or holidays off!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It’s difficult for me to tear myself away from my computer sometimes, but last summer I discovered that if I took a pen and notepad, I could use the treadmill and not have to give up any writing time. I wrote most of a novel that way, and still try to balance exercise with writing.

How do books get published?
Hm, interesting question. I think some people have misconceptions about ebooks and put them on a par with self-publishing, which is not at all the case. As with any publisher, authors need to do their research, but in general, there is a submission process and if accepted, an editing process before the book’s released.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I love Neil Gaiman’s answer to this, something like: The Idea Shop on the corner. Anything can spark a story idea really. Ironically, the more I write, the more ideas I get, so that I can’t possibly follow through on them all.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first goal was to be a journalist, so I didn’t experiment with fiction until my twenties. Short stories mostly. I never thought I had a novel in me, really, but my first actual novel came in my thirties.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Reading, photography, music or gardening. I used to have many more hobbies but writing takes precedence now.

What does your family think of your writing?
They’re very excited for me, because it’s always been my dream to hold one of my books in my hands, and now I have a few. Some of my nieces and nephews joke that I’m famous. Maybe someday! :) I’m very grateful to have such wonderful support.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much I love making history come alive. I’m a naturally curious person, so always loved research. History, though, never appealed to me in school, but something about putting fictional characters into a setting of long ago really excited me. I have two historical novels coming out this summer: Eternal Press will release Follow the Stars Home, centering on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in the 1870s, and Freya’s Bower will release Angels Sinners and Madmen, set in 1850s Key West, Florida.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
To date, 17 ebooks, a few of which were short stories, several midlength, a few novellas and novels. Choosing a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child. I love them all.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Take classes or workshops, or teach yourself the craft, but learn it so you can know which rules to break. Find a critique partner who will give honest feedback. Find other writers to talk to, because no one else understands what drives you. And never give up.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I wish I did! Because my first ebook was published a little over a year ago, I’m fairly new. From the few reviews on Fictionwise or Amazon, the feedback’s very positive, so I’m very happy.

Do you like to create books for adults?
I’ve never attempted a children’s book or YA story. I love writing, so have to say yes. If you’re referring to the “heat” level in stories, I’ve written everything from sweet to erotic. The story and characters dictate how hot the story should be, though generally my stories fall somewhere in the middle. I find the emotional perspective more compelling than the physical descriptions.

What do you think makes a good story?
A compelling plot, an interesting premise, and characters readers can relate to. An interesting setting adds to the mix.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Although I initially wrote poetry, I loved nonfiction, and wanted to be a photojournalist, combining my love of photography with storytelling. My Dad brought home the New York Times every Sunday, and I found the prose so lyrical, in the articles, sometimes even the photo captions or sidebars.

Thank you very much for having me as a guest today. It’s been a pleasure!

And thank you so much for taking time to stop in and chat with us Cate.  As always,  it's been so much fun.  Don't forget to leave a comment here today for your chance to win a copy of her fantastic book.

Angels, Sinners and Madmen, coming this summer from Freya’s Bower:
Read an excerpt at:


Dee Julian said...

Hi Cate! Here's wishing you many sales. (I love your book cover)

Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much Dee! I love it too. :)