Cathy, welcome to Writers on Reading! Your most recent novel, The Things We Knew, released mere days ago. I’m curious…as a reader are you drawn toward certain genres? Do you find one theme more repeatedly snags your attention as a read? Is there something special you seek when selecting your next reading adventure?
I love to read books similar to the ones I write. I enjoy large family dramas, romance, and some historical fiction. The books I choose to read will usually be more along the lines of women’s fiction – I need to connect with the characters and feel as though I am on the journey along with them – so anything where a character has a struggle to go through or some major drama going on – all those kinds of stories will immediately capture my attention. I love romance, so if I can find a great romance story that takes my breath away, that works. Romantic comedy is great too, but lately I find myself reading books from Kate Morton, Sue Meissner, Kristin Hannah – I enjoy novels where there is both a historical and contemporary setting – Sue Meissner does that very well.
Having published so many books do you find time to read during the months you spend writing or with deadlines ahead is it either/or for you? If so, what did you read while working on your last book? If not, what did you read when you finished this one?
I do read a bit while I’m writing, as it’s good to have that mental break. Although I have to really turn off my internal editor and just enjoy the book, which is why I’m very picky about what I read! Sometimes it doesn’t work out well because if I read a very fabulous book, I start thinking the one I’m writing is absolute rubbish. J Sometimes I do have to read while I’m writing/editing if I’m asked to read for endorsement, but of course those books are usually great so it’s always a pleasure to do that. I did give myself 50 books to read by the end of 2016 in the GoodReads Challenge, but I’m only at 20 right now, so it’s not looking good! I think I overshot that estimation. J
Did a book recently make you laugh/cry/sigh/shiver?
I love Jojo Moyes and I know pretty much all her books will make me laugh and cry. I haven’t read one yet that hasn’t. Kate Atkinson is another ABA author who always makes me laugh, she has a great dry wit and her characters always seem to possess a delightful edge of sarcasm, which I love. J Recently, Kara Isaac’s Close To You, made me laugh, and Kristy’s RingMaster’s Wife made me cry. Also, my own book, The Memory of You, which releases in March 2017, has some sad scenes in it, and since I just finished editing that one, I will admit to still crying through those scenes. J
Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
I loved reading from the moment I learned how! I’m not sure what I read first! Being raised in the British school system, I read all of Enid Blyton’s novels. I loved Nancy Drew. My mother was a big Agatha Christie fan so I read those as well. The first really ‘big’ book I read was Gone With The Wind. I was 13, and I remember how heavy it was! I couldn’t wait to get back into it every day.
When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
I don’t think I had a specific moment when I knew I wanted to write. Creating stories was something that just seemed to come naturally and I enjoyed it. In my teens I would write books in my school binders! I wrote my first full-length novel in my early 20’s, and I think it was at that point I really thought that writing was something I’d enjoy doing for a living. Although back then I didn’t know the first thing about how to get published – I had lots to learn!
With a hot summer upon us, what is on your summer to-read list? And what is your ideal summer reading experience?
I read pretty widely in both CBA and ABA. There are amazing books coming out of CBA right now – I just finished Kristy Cambron’s latest, The Ringmaster’s Wife – she is one great historical author, I love all her books! Beth Vogt’s new release, Almost Like Being In Love is also great, and Kara Isaac’s Close to You is wonderful! I’m currently reading The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. I have a few more books on my summer reading list, new releases by Billy Coffey andJim Rubart, and a couple of older novels by Kate Atkinson, I love all her books too! I’ll usually curl up outside in the shade with my iPad, or if it’s too hot, you’ll find me inside on the couch with the a/c on!
Is there a book you are looking forward to rereading?
I love the classics. My son lives in Boston, and when my husband and I visit, we always go to Brattle Books, which is an amazing three story building filled with old books! We’ve found some great collections there – Dickens, Jane Austen. Our most recent purchase was one of the early versions of Peter Pan – Wendy and Peter – so I’m really looking forward to re-reading that one. I try to read Pride and Prejudice every year as well, just because I love it so much!
Thanks so much for visiting and letting us get to know you better as a reader, Cathy! Folks, you can continue to connect with Cathy—and find out more about her books!—at the links below.
INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s novel, Bridge of Faith, won the 2015 Grace Award. Her new novel, The Things We Knew, releases July 12th, 2016, through Harper Collins Christian Publishing.
Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
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