Interview with the Mysteristas

We are delighted to welcome Cathy Perkins, author of The Professor and Honor Code.honorcode

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
This question made me laugh. Do you remember the pageant Q&A with Miss Rhode Island in Miss Congeniality? …a day in April…a light jacket…She was so good in that role.

I do love a sunny day at our place in the mountains—getting outside with friends, family and the dogs. Then the evenings are cool enough for a fire, good food, and laughter. Good times.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Not really.  I like so many different things; it’s no fun to stick to just one!

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Hmm, every book I’ve ever read (and that’s in the thousands) probably isn’t a good answer. Three people who’ve had a direct impact on my writing career are:

Renee Rearden–fantastic urban fantasy author and the world’s best critique partner

Steve Vassey–South Carolina Writer’s Workshop local chapter head and the guy who encouraged me when I first inched out and showed someone my first story.

Jenny Crusie–Fabulous author and teacher at my first Lowcountry Masterclass. I think my head nearly exploded that week!

Do you listen to music when you write?  
I’m happiest when listening to music. I love it all–classical to pop; country to jazz.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Oh definitely dark chocolate; maybe with some sea salt or chili pepper for texture and a kick!

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
My muse delivered Honor Code nearly intact (ask any author–believe me, it’s a gift when that happens!). Apparently the story rolled around in my subconscious for a while, pulling characters and themes together. The story is a mystery–what happened to George Beason–but it delves into family relationships and how individual actions affect not just the person who does them, but those around them as well. Ultimately our personal choices–our code of honor–determines who and what we are.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? 
My tag line sums up my recurring themes–Mystery with a Financial Twist; Trust Issues; Family Bonds.

The financial part wasn’t in The Professor (although the family aspect was there!)Honor Code has all of these elements, as do the two stories that will release later this year: For Love or Money (May) and Cypher (fall 2013).

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today? 
Like so many young men and women, Detective Larry Robbins used the military as a way out of his small hometown. He ended up an MP and to his surprise, he was good at it. The college opportunity the military provides helped him get a degree in criminal justice. Years of police work has left him jaded–maybe even cynical–but he’s never lost his capacity for compassion. Police see people at their worst, but Robbins also saw people like Miz Rose who have good hearts and act from love. Robbins strives to maintain a balance in his life, but like most of us, some days he’s more successful than others.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Part of me wants to give you six wonderful women (wonderful newer authors) I’ve met over the past few years at conferences and retreats, but I’m going to take a different direction.

John Sandford and Lee Child to guarantee a fast paced adventure

Jonathon King for introspection

Margaret Maron to add the family connection

Toni McGee Causey for a touch of crazy to keep things fun

And John le Carre as the political mastermind who pulls the strings behind the scenes

What’s next for you?
After several dark stories, I moved to the lighter end of the mystery spectrum withFor Love or Money, releasing in May with Entangled Publishing. Written from Holly Price’s perspective, the mystery romps through eastern Washington State with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. The relationship, with some wicked fun chemistry between our CPA amateur sleuth and a Franklin County detective, is a bigger part of the story. For Love or Money was huge fun to write and the advance reviews say readers like it! Stay tuned for more.

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Posted with Mysteriastis 3/28/13

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Book Reviews & More by Kathy

I had a delightful visit with Kathy Branfield over at her blog, Book Reviews & More by Kathy.

Stopping by to chat with us today is author Cathy Perkins.  Her debut novel with Carina Press, The Professor, hits virtual bookshelves Monday January 23.

Kathy:  Ms. Perkins, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today.

Good morning, Kathy. Thanks for inviting me to stop by. Love your name, by the way.

I am infinitely curious about what motivates an author to begin their writing career.  What prompted you to try your hand at writing?  How long did it take for you to become a published author?

Ms. Perkins: While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until fairly recently. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a lengthy consulting job in a city about 90 miles away. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon the day dream had dialogue and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked. I’ve written several novels for my own enjoyment but The Professor is the first book I sought to publish.

Kathy:  The Professor is a romantic suspense novel.  How did you choose the romantic suspense genre?  Do you have plans to write books in any other genres?

Ms. Perkins: I read a number of genres but I love mysteries and suspense. I wanted to write a story I love so The Professor was born. The romantic suspense spectrum covers everything from steamy to ones like The Professor where the relationship is a major subplot rather than the focus of the story. I may move around – how light or dark the story is – but I don’t see a paranormal in my future.

Kathy:  Is The Professor strictly standalone novel or is there future potential for a series?

Ms. Perkins:  I wrote The Professor as a standalone, but I’ve already had several people ask me if there’ll be more from either Mick and Meg or the extended O’Shaughnessy clan.  I can see possible story lines, but I’m working on another project right now.

Kathy:  What is the typical day for author Cathy Perkins?  Do you write every day?  Are your plots strictly imagination or are you sometimes influenced by real life events?

Ms. Perkins: My typical day starts about 5AM – yes, it’s a horrible hour, but my wonderful husband gets up early and makes coffee. I write and check social media (and try to balance it so it’s more writing than Twitter and Facebook) until 8, when my day job starts. In the evenings, I may write, edit or simply enjoy reading someone else’s book.

My stories grow out of day dreams, the snippet of an idea, a what-if. For example, my husband and I were hiking in a game refuge near our house. While pushing through dense undergrowth beside the Snake River, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn’t this be a great place to find a body?” My current WIP grew from that What-if.

Kathy:  As a reader, what types of books do you read?  Do your choices as a reader influence the books you write?

Ms. Perkins: I’ll read pretty much anything. As far as influences on my writing, I’m not sure anything directly impacts it, but I do think reading good stories lets you unconsciously absorb an understanding of structure, pace and character development. Studying craft separately solidifies that framework.

My reading probably reflects my mood—sometimes I want a light, beach read escape and sometimes I want a deeper connection. Since I’m writing suspense, I read across the spectrum of mystery and thrillers. Right now, I’m reading at the introspective end – Jonathon King, John Hart and pushing even further into women’s fiction, Mary Alice Monroe and Anne Rivers Siddons. And of course, I always have dozens of books on my e-reader.

Kathy:  Can you tell us a little about The Professor?

Ms. Perkins: A reviewer said, “This is a dark edgy murder-mystery/romance that will keep you spellbound page after page.” There are few statements that please an author more than hearing their story engaged the reader.

Set in South Carolina, stopping the serial killer who is terrorizing college campuses drives the plot of The Professor. The tension and stakes build as the characters’ wants and needs set them on a collision course: Charismatic State Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy wants more from life than work and a pretty face. Fiercely independent graduate student Meg Connelly always wanted a loving family and professional success, but has to learn to trust in order to get either. The Professor knows the only way to get what he wants is to take it—and taking Meg’s life will destroy Mick with the same stroke of his knife.

Kathy:  What projects are you currently working on?  What can readers look forward to from you in the upcoming year?

Ms. Perkins: I’m working on two very different manuscripts right now. One is dark and introspective, revolving around the theme of betrayal. The other is a light, amateur sleuth mystery about a CPA—houses, handbags or companies, she knows how to make a deal— who’s dodging a vengeful detective while staying one step ahead of a murderer.

Kathy:  I have thoroughly enjoyed our visit today.  Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?

Ms. Perkins: I’d like to share two things. First, for me, the book is always for the reader. Not every reader is going to like every book – and that’s okay. The other thing is, it’s never too late to follow a dream. There’s no guarantee you’ll reach your personal goal, but getting out and doing it is what’s fun. 

Kathy: Ms. Perkins, congratulations on your upcoming release and thank you again for stopping by to chat with us.  Feel free to drop by anytime you happen to be in the neighborhood.  

Thanks for inviting me, Kathy and giving me an opportunity to share The Professor. Please feel free to drop by my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Originally posted here on 1/20/12

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