In this interview I have the pleasure of talking to Cathy Pelham, one of the contributers to the anthology “Beyond the Gate”, and furthermore she helped E.W. Pierce with the big task it was to keep the anthology moving forward during various production stages. Cathy is fairly new in the writing world, but she has great plans for the future. We talk about writing on iPad, her story in the anthology, how it changed and a lot of other things.
Thank you for participating, Cathy. Please give us a short introduction to yourself.
Hi Anita. Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak with you.
I have been in love with storytellers my entire life, and the chance to create stories is a dream. I find such joy writing. What a great job.
Have you written anything for publication before?
I have written a chapter in a book on the wildlife of Mackinac Island, long out of print. I was so inexperienced at the process of publishing that I added my own artwork, which the hired designer ended up using. Other than that, “Decision Day” is my first piece written for publication.
You added your own artwork to that book. What kind of artwork do you create?
The artwork I created for the wildlife book was a map of Mackinac Island showing rare plants, where they were found, and by whom. I also provided all of the wildflower photography. The only other artwork I’ve created for sale is a kind of industrial collage done with masses of very tiny bits of paper. I actually bought a piece back, as I knew so little I used construction paper, which faded to grey after the first summer.
What or who are your biggest creative influences?
My family is very creative, mostly in music, dance, song. And my mother taught me to read at three, so reading has been a life-long passion. I love mysteries with great protagonists like the Marcus Didio Falco series by Lindsay Davis set in ancient Rome, the Amanda Peabody Egyptian archeology series written by Elizabeth Peters, the Inspector Montalbano Sicilian mysteries by Andrea Camilleri, Golden Age scientific mysteries, and many others.
Great films have also been an inspiration. Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” brought a large number of indistinguishable characters into such sharp focus that they are some of the most individualized people I never met. “The Incredibles” by Brad Bird of Pixar has the best family dynamic I have ever seen. My influences are all over the map but share the common elements of great storytelling and vivid characters.
What is your writing environment like and is there anything you’d change about it?
I have been working from my iPad, which gives me a lot of flexibility, but not much in the way of file management. Evernote has been a real boon in this environment. I am working hard to convert a storage room into an office, with a writing desk and a laptop. But I will likely continue to do the actual writing and planning on my iPad, which means parking lots, the deck or gazebo, the couch, the bed, a comfy chair, wherever I am inspired.
I’m really curious now. You write on your iPad. So you don’t use Scrivener or Word – ever?
I just installed Scrivener, but am still writing in Pages or Evernote. I love Evernote because I can make a checklist of my intent for a scene, what needs to happen, how it should look or feel. Then as I write below, I check off items. When everything is checked, I have a first draft of that scene.
When you’re not writing or reading, what do you do?
I just retired from an IT project management position in government that consumed my time (and my soul). Now when not reading or writing I am trying to wrest control of the chaos in my home after years of neglect. Never thought I would love to clean.
What made you decide to participate in Fiction Unboxed and write in this shared world?
Dori Etter, leader of a MasterMind group in which I participated, forwarded a note the day before the Fiction Unboxed KickStarter campaign ended. I had the time and the interest, so I joined. I contributed to the Engine World anthology because of the enthusiasm of Jamie Maltman and Eric Pierce.
Tell us about your story in the “Beyond the Gate” anthology?
“Decision Day” is a coming-of-age story about two brothers, Gareth and Owen, coming to terms with the consequences of making different decisions on whether to commit to a sacred vocation. These are the brothers of the protagonist in the original short story I drafted. When that story grew beyond the word limits for the anthology, I knew I needed to start over. The boys just appeared and demanded I tell their story. I had a great time researching and writing this story.
What do you plan to write next?
I plan to finish the first book in my Engine World series during NaNoWriMo 2014. This will be based on my original short for the anthology, and should be ready for release by early spring 2015.
I’m starting a scientific detective series called “The Lemon Walkers” based on Golden Age investigators like Dr. Thornberry or Craig Kennedy. Think “The Thin Man” mixed with “The Knick“. I want to start releasing those by summer 2015. I also have a thriller called “Nuclear Sunrise” that I would like to complete in 2015. Probably ambitious, but as a new author, I have so many ideas.
Can you tell us a bit more about the original story you created for the anthology, that will now be your NaNoWriMo project?
The original story I wrote for the anthology was about a young girl who tries to help a man with no memories of his past after being found on the outskirts of the Fog. The short story is Act I of the novel, and mostly takes place traveling with Cyrmu Romani (Welsh Gypsies). After using Scrivener to plan the full novel, I woke at 2am on NaNoWriMo day 1 with a new direction that will integrate the story better with the Engine World. Now I am re-planning and posting abysmal word counts.
Will you be writing full novels, or will it be novellas or short stories for Lemon Walkers and Nuclear Sunrise?
“Nuclear Sunrise” is definitely a novel and will likely be stand-alone. I envision “The Lemon Walkers” as a series of novels, but that could change as I get further into planning.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, Cathy. I appreciate it.
If you want to read the anthology when it comes out, you can sign up to be notified when it comes out on the Beyond the Gate website. We have also added the book here on the site now, you can check it out here. We will update with more info, when we have it, but we couldn’t wait for it to actually come out, before adding it. It’s so exciting to have the third book in the world coming out, and even more so, with so many different voices and stories in it.