In my fourth interview in the series I spoke with Sharon E. Cathcart, a former journalist and award winner author of ‘Bayou Fire’. Based in Silicon Valley, California, where Sharon tells me the majority of the land used to be orchards and now there are several streets named after the orchard-men’s daughters, Sharon wrote her first historical paranormal which takes place in both modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.
Thank you for joining me. How did your experience in the newspaper industry set you up for writing fiction?
I was a newspaper editor for a long while and I enjoyed every aspect of it. However, my favourite part was the story-telling. I enjoy editing, and I loved working on the paper. At the end of the week, I could point to something tangible I’d done. I also had some interesting experiences during that part of my career, including aerial photography from a helicopter (it did not go well … I shot twelve rolls of film, but I was so motion-sick that I didn’t even get a usable frame by accident).
What’s the key difference you find when writing as a journalist and as a creative exercise?
Journalism is driven by five Ws and an H: who, what, when, where, why, and how. It’s laid out in a specific format, with the most important facts in the first paragraph, and subsequent paragraphs with information of dwindling importance. If you have to edit for space, you start cutting from the bottom. Creative writing has a lot more opportunities for expression.
Aside from your countless journalist pieces, have you published before?
I’ve been both traditionally and self-published. Right now, I’m a hybrid of the two.
What can you tell us of your experience in both routes?
I’ve been fortunate to work with really great traditional publishers. I would say that the challenge in both cases was managing publicity for my own work. We’re socialised not to be boastful, you know? So, sometimes it feels awkward to promote myself. Honestly, I like self-publishing because I can control the cover art, interior appearance, etc., and make sure everything is to my satisfaction.
With you latest book, ‘Bayou Fire,’ why did you set part of the book in 1830’s New Orleans?
1830s New Orleans is an interesting place. Despite being a slave state, there is a thriving culture of free people of colour … and we see some of that in the book. The “main event,” so to speak, is an actual incident from 1834, in which the home of one of the most prominent women in the city caught fire and her slaves were brought out in horrible condition. There were laws requiring slaves to be treated a particular way … and she hadn’t. So, we see the Creole culture, and we also see social mores of the time.
And the story in a nutshell…
Experienced travel writer Diana Corbett visits New Orleans and finds that long-gone recurring dreams of smoke and fire have returned. When she meets a handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, the sparks fly in more ways than one … and he seems to be the key to those dreams.
Having said we humans find it difficult to boast, now’s your chance to us all about the awards and nominations. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops!
‘Bayou Fire’ received the Crowned Heart Award from InD’Tale Magazine, was the silver medalist in the AuthorsDB cover contest, received a UK Chill With a Book Readers’ Award, and was a nominee in the paranormal:short (meaning less than 80K words) category of the 2018 RONE Awards.
Here’s a particular nice review from Discovering Diamonds:
What were your biggest challenges when writing ‘Bayou Fire’?
I kept wanting to go down the research rabbit hole; as a former journalist, that’s fun for me. I had to draw a line in the sand and say ‘Finish the damn book,’ and as the same time I didn’t want the book to sound like it was written by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. I love that city, so I had to avoid making it sound like a travelogue.
Do you do any other writing, other than novels?
I blog, and I review books. It’s at http://sharonecathcart.wordpress.com. I have standing weekly features (Music Monday, Weekend Reads (on Fridays, which is where I share my book reviews) and Sample Saturday, where I do a little promotion. In between, you’ll see articles of interest, information about upcoming appearances, and whatever else strikes me.
Thank you Sharon, it’s been great to find out all about you and you work. It just leaves me to wish you good luck with your book, ‘Bayou Fire,’ which is available to buy from amazon now.
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