Monday, July 24, 2006

Make-Believe Mondays With Cathy Clamp

Today on Make-believe Mondays I'm pleased to introduce Cathy Clamp, one of my friends from RWAonline. Cathy writes paranormal romance for TOR.

Cathy, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Cathy: Well, writing is a little different with co-authors. Cie and I work on two different books at the same time. Presently, she just finished the sequel to our USA Today bestseller, Touch of Evil. It’s called Touch of Madness and is the second in what we think will be a trilogy. Of course, it might be a four-part too. Hard to say…LOL! The heroine from the first book, Kate Reilly, returns and if you thought her life was tough in the FIRST book, whoa baby! Hold onto your seats!

My book is called Moon’s Fury and is the next book in our Sazi shapeshifter world. It’s set right here in Texas and will feature mostly new characters with a few favorites from other books. I’m still writing it, so it’s sort of fluid right now. Heh.

Debra: Fluid is good. It's a wonderful thing when the story is flowing.

Mark Twain said, “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” How do you fill your creative well to keep your imagination in focus?

Cathy: Wow! This is pretty deep. I guess, for me, I spend time getting to know the characters. That requires long spells of what my DH refers to as ”staring at the walls." I can just look into space for hours (sometimes forgetting to BLINK! No kidding!) thinking about the plot and how the characters I’ve created will respond to the events.

Debra: Yes, I understand completely. Sometimes we need to pause and listen for the story. It may look like we're doing nothing but there's a lot going on inside.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Cathy: Not so much for me, but for Cie--definitely! I’m more of the ”puppetmaster” type. My characters will do what I tell them and I’ll change their background to fit the events. But Cie can’t do that (one of the reasons we don’t write on the same book at the same time! )

Debra: I would think it would be difficult to work on the same book at the same time. It sounds as if your differences balance together well in a yin/yang kind of way.

Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Cathy: It depends. I really enjoy working in the real world, because there’s so many cool things here. But in order to avoid legal issues, sometimes it’s best to create your own space for your people to play. In the book Cie just finished, it’s in an alternate reality, but the elements of the city (Denver) is identical to the one that’s really there. For my book, I’ve created a small town in a fictional county, so I could have my characters play in politics without stepping on toes (the county I created is carved out of several surrounding counties in an uninhabited section of the state.)

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Cathy: Hmm… Not really. I do come up with SOLUTIONS to plot problems in that ”twilight time” between sleep and awake. But I really can’t say I dream about them.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Cathy: Oh, absolutely! I read voraciously as a child. But only ONE book? I loved all the children’s mysteries--from Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden. I read old fairy tales and really loved Mother Westwind’s Children (I still have a copy on my shelf.) Lots and lots of other classics too. I started reading at 4, and have never stopped!

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Cathy: Probably what I write right now. We really don’t fit anywhere as it is! LOL! I mean, c’mon! A Mafia hitman who’s also a werewolf, written in first person male…as a ROMANCE?!

Debra: Yes, when I read the first page of Hunters Moon I had to stop for a minute and sit back. I thought about how unusual the point of view was and it lent an excitement to the read - a sense of wonder about what you would do with it. Then the story pulled me in.

Bravo to TOR for publishing outside the box. I wish there was more of that in the industry.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Cathy: The biggest thing that Cie and I do is ask ”What if?" What if werewolves were real--in today’s world? What would have to change if people found out? How would they stay invisible if nobody knew? Would they catch diseases? How is it transmitted. Etc., etc. Every ”what if?" is then followed by a ”why?" and ”how do we fix it?" The fun part of imagining impossible things is coming up with the reason it’s so simple--so commonplace that readers can relate to it. If you make things TOO impossible, people can’t identify or get lost in the story. Above all, reality must follow RULES. If you make the rules, you’ll have to answer for breaking them. But that’s the fun part…

Debra: Oh to be a fly on the wall when you are having those discussions. It sounds like so much fun!

Cathy, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Cathy: Thank you, Debra! It’s been a lot of fun!

Visit Cathy at and if you'd like to read the interview with Cie, Cathy's writing partner, you'll find it here in the archives on Jan. 30th.

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