Rian: I found “Couch World” to be a very fun and hard-to-put-down book. Where did you get the idea to write a story about a DJ in the San Francisco club scene?
Cathy: I used to club a lot, when I was in my twenties, and I’ve always been fascinated by DJ’s. I also love the San Francisco area. I lived there for four years when I went to Berkeley for college, then another five years just recently. It’s completely unique.
Rian: I also loved “LA Woman” and feel you did an excellent job of capturing the Los Angeles way of life. Did you have to do a lot of research for that book, or are you really familiar with Los Angeles?
Cathy: I lived in LA for three years, between my two stints in the SF area. And a lot of that “research” was personal! I think LA is one of the craziest, most fascinating cities in the country. There is literally always something to do. Now that I’ve moved to San Diego, I’m up in the Los Angeles area at least once a month or so. It’s fun, but it’s sort of draining… I’m looking forward to slowing down a little more, chilling out, and writing full time. So far, it’s been everything I dreamed it would be.
Rian: Do you have any other books in the works? If so, what are they about?
Cathy: I’ll have another Red Dress Ink book out in March 2006, tentatively titled “Turning Japanese.” It’s about a woman who moves to Japan, to become a manga artist. (Manga are those Japanese comic books you see all over the place these days, the ones that you read backward.) She’s half Japanese, half Italian, and she finds herself in culture shock as she tries to break into that business and experiences Tokyo. It’s a little like “Lost in Translation” but with more of a Chick Lit feel!
Rian: Of all the characters in your books, which are you most like, and why?
Cathy: There’s an aspect of me in every single character I write… Or that any author writes, I guess. But I will say that I feel the closest to PJ, from “Couch World,” probably because of the first person voice. And she’s pretty flawed, but hopefully, you like her anyway.
Rian: What is it like writing for and being published by Red Dress Ink?
Cathy: One word: fantastic. They’re incredibly supportive, and really promote their authors. They also take chances – my work is a little unusual as far as setting and tone, especially with “Couch World,” and they have been very open to it. I love working with them.
Rian: What is your opinion on the chick lit genre in general? What about the people that are constantly putting it down?
Cathy: I enjoy Chick Lit, and I think that it’s changing and evolving. I’ve got a whole workshop that talks about traditional chick lit versus the “next generation” chick lit novels… Traditional being more of the dating-job woes-fashion frenzy-life implosion novels, and now you’ve got the tone being mixed into stuff like Chick Lit Mystery or Paranormal. As far as people putting it down, I’m coming from a romance novel background. Talk about getting no respect! I figure, the people who read Chick Lit (or romance, for that matter) aren’t listening to the “haters” who are badmouthing the genre. I know who I’m writing for, and as long as I’m keeping that in mind, it’ll work out.
Rian: What are your favorite kinds of books to read?
Cathy: I read all over the board… Romance novels, non-fiction, literary fiction, children’s books. I just read a feminist retelling of the Peter Pan legend, called “The Lost Girls” by Laurie Fox, which was mind-bending and interesting. And of course, I read Chick Lit. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Marianne Mancusi’s “A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court,” which is hysterical!
Rian: How did you go about getting your first book published? Was it as difficult as people say it is?
Cathy: My first book published was a romance novel, and I was incredibly lucky. I’d been writing seriously for about four years, and I’d been a member of the Romance Writers of America. I knew who to target, how to write a query letter, and I had already written a completed novel that had been rejected. I learned the ropes, so I was ready when the lucky break struck.
Rian: What do you find to be the hardest thing about writing?
Cathy: Keeping my butt in the seat long enough to finish the story! I find myself easily distracted. I love developing the plot, but writing the draft is less fun. And revisions suck, by and large, but I look at them as a necessary evil.
Rian: In closing, if someone asked you for advice on how to get their chick lit or romance novel published, what would you tell them?
Cathy: Find a good critique group, meet every single week if you can manage it. There’s a quote that says “Isolation is a dream killer.” Find people who will motivate you and emotionally support you. And keep writing, no matter what. Even if it doesn’t get published, it will move you closer than if you don’t write a word.