It might be almost New Year’s Eve but I’m here in Hawaii, deep in writing, as I’m so late on this book that its making my head swim. Thankfully I have good friends who have come to the rescue, and women’s fiction author, Cathy Lamb, is joining us here for an early New Year’s treat. Cathy is absolutely wonderful and since she just wrapped up writing her latest novel before Christmas, she’s all ours at the moment and I think you’ll love this interview!
Welcome Cathy Lamb!
Cathy, what do you love most about writing Women’s Fiction?
I love to write stories about women and the challenges they have with their families, work, friendships, men, their pasts, and in their own heads. I love living in my imagination, creating storylines and characters, deciding which issues I’ll address in my book, and writing scenes that make me laugh and cry. I love the journaling that I do as I work.
I think what is the most fun for me, though, is to be up really late at night writing a scene and yet watching it, as if have a movie running in my head.
I let the characters take over my brain. I write down what they say and do, and worry about adding setting, motifs, symbols, weather, repetitions, and sensory stuff later. The characters go off on their own tangents and I follow them around, like an invisible spy. They become people I hadn’t exactly planned for them to be, with problems and issues, quirks and flaws, lovable and funny qualities that I hadn’t sketched out. I leave room for sub plots, too. Some characters I understand right away, but now and then I’ll have a character that I don’t really “get” until the sixth edit.
If you want to tell stories, just write. That’s what I do. I let it flow, no negative voices in my head allowed. They are banned. The editing process is my friend, no matter how crazy it makes me, and how much muttering and talking back to the characters that I do while I’m in the thick of it.
Writing gives me an excuse to daydream all the time.
Some writers like to let plot ideas percolate and grow for a while before they start writing the story. Would you say this applies to you as well?
Yes I do let ideas percolate. However. My deadlines come up pretty quick, so I can’t sit around in the Bahamas, drinking pretty drinks with umbrellas while the ideas run around in my head for weeks on end. Oh, wait. I have never been to the Bahamas and I don’t drink.
I’ll think about my books when I’m on a drive in the country, drinking coffee, running, walking, eating chocolate, all the time. The story is constantly there. I relax and let it come to me.
Do you incorporate any of your own life experiences into your stories? Do you get asked this question very often?
Yes, some of my own life experiences are in my books, and yes, I am asked that question a lot. Just as important, a lot of the emotions I’ve experienced – joy, grief, loss, loneliness, anger, gratefulness, devastation, etc – I put in my books. I may not have gone through exactly what my characters have gone through, but I get much of the emotional aspect of it.
No one likes going through horrible times, but there’s no question they give you a depth that wasn’t there before. I take the horrible times in my life, throw them up in the air, watch them spin around, and then give aspects of them to my characters.
Do you have a writing schedule or any writing rituals to help you achieve your daily writing quota?
My best writing time is from ten at night until two in the morning. Lately it’s been stretching closer to three, even five thirty in the morning, because I had a deadline. I’m at peace knowing that all of my kids are safe and sound and I work best within the quiet and darkness. There’s nothing to distract me so I simply think better in the wee hours of the morning.
As far as writing goals…When I’m writing my first draft of a novel, I write 2,000 words a day, 10,000 words a week or I don’t let myself go to bed on Saturday night. I’ve had some incredibly late nights. When I’m in the editing process, I give myself a certain amount of pages I have to edit before I go to bed each night. Honestly, sometimes I have cried trying to get to that elusive goal, but I get there.
I edit each book eight times before I send it to my editor, and as the book gets in better and better shape, I’m able to set a new goal and edit more pages each round.
I would rather play. So, if my books are going to get done, I have to set out really hard and fast goals for myself, and get them done, or I’ll just go skipping off into the wild blue yonder and have a grand ole’ time.
What are you working on right now?
This past week I just finished my next novel, If You Could See What I See. It’s about three sisters, a lingerie business, a mother who’s a sex therapist, and a grandmother who says she came from Ireland after slipping off the curve of a rainbow with a dancing leprechaun and flew to America on the back of an owl. That she has whip marks on her back dims the story quite a bit, but she refuses to tell the truth about her past. It’s also about leaving a legacy, a fashion show, a documentary film maker, a tree house, a dog named Pop Pop, falling in love, and finding two fathers.
Name five items sitting on your desk right now.
Name three books you hope to read soon.
Next on my line up: Slaughterhouse Five, The Light Between Oceans, Molokai, Where’d ya go, Bernadette?, Behind The Beautiful Forevers, The Kitchen House, Someone Knows My Name.
Okay, that was more than three. I get a little too excited about books.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without if you were stuck on a deserted island?
If I were stuck on a desert island I don’t think I could live without Keanu Reeves. Don’t tell my long suffering husband I said that.
Cathy, thank you so very much for answering all my questions and spending time with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and they’ll also love having a chance to win some of your amazing books.
Readers, I’m giving away 3 terrific Cathy Lamb prize boxes, filled with her novels, chocolates, Starbuck drink cards, and tons of JP reader goodies. The contest will run until midnight Jan 2nd, and the winners will be announced on the morning of January 3rd. To enter, please comment in the comment section below. Have you read Cathy Lamb before? Did you read anything over the holidays? Can you recommend anything fun to read? Please remember to check back on the 3rd to see if you won. I announce the winners names in the comment section, too. So go to the bottom of this blog’s comments, and look for the announcement from me. Easy!
Happy New Year, everyone, and for those of you wanting to learn more about Cathy Lamb and get a complete listing of her books, visit her website.