The delightful Kate Wyland invited me to visit her blog. Kate’s stories include horses, so it wasn’t a surprise when this was her first question:
So Cathy, if you were an animal, what kind would you be?
Oh, I’d definitely want to be one of our dogs. We aren’t sure if our dogs are part of the family or if we’re part of their pack, but the result is the same—one big happy unit. The Lab and the Puppy hang out in my office during the day, snoozing on giant beds, gnawing on marrow-packed bones, and placing their heads on my thigh to claim pats and back scratches. (If ignored because I’m paying too much attention to that small box, aka the computer, they’ll lift my hand off the keyboard with their nose.) On weekends, we’re all in the mountains at our place on the river, which our kids and their friends—along with all the family animals—have dubbed Best Dog Park Ever.
Can I join your pack. Sounds wonderful.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Ice cream is my weakness, with Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie way up there in the deliciousness register. I will venture out of the strictly chocolate category for Cherry Garcia.
I knew we were kindred spirits. Cherry Garcia is my downfall too.
What’s your favorite room in your house?
My favorite room is actually the main room of our small weekend place in the mountains. The cabin has wonderful views of the river and surrounding mountains. It’s cozy with a fireplace for the winter and windows all around to let in delightful breezes and the sound of the river and songbirds the rest of the year. Heavenly! It’s compact, but filled with carefully chosen furnishings. We really hate leaving on Monday mornings.
Sounds delightful. Can I visit?
How do you develop your stories?
Most of my stories start with a “what if?” Without giving away the plot and all the twists, my most recent release, CYPHER, starts with, What if a hitman killed the wrong person?
The “whys” line up from there—why was the killer sent to murder the heroine? Why wasn’t she home? Why was her friend there and mistaken for her? The characters grow and become three-dimensional as I think through the implications and how that character will react to events unfolding around him or her. In CYPHER, both Cara and David have to fight for what they really want, and each has to trust the other, something that doesn’t come easily for them.
Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details that my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.
Can’t wait to read it.
What’s your next project?
I’m working on a lighter story right now, set in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state instead of South Carolina (where my other stories are set). The starting point for my WIP occurred while cutting up with a friend. We riffed off the opening—there’s a body in the beaver pond. Oh, dam(n).
Oh my, watch out for those beaver ponds!
What types of books do you like to read?
I’m a voracious reader. Mysteries, thrillers and suspense are my ‘go-to’ stories, but I also enjoy literary, fantasy… I’ve been on a women’s fiction binge lately. So many of those stories delve deeply into relationships.
My stories are predominately mystery/suspense, but I tend to make them more character-driven than strictly action-oriented. I enjoy the way the characters’ internal conflicts play into the external plot, raising the tension and the stakes when it’s personal.
Originally published here.