Welcome to Sharon E. Cathcart
Where are you from and where do you live now? — I am originally from Portland, Oregon. I now live in the Silicon Valley, California.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. — I primarily write historical fiction, and I focus on atypical characters. For example, I’ve included characters with physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health issues, and more over the course of my writing career. None of these things are new ideas, and putting them into historical context is one of my goals as an author.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? — As an author of historical fiction, it’s *crucial* to do research. If you get it wrong, people will know. Those who enjoy reading historical fiction are quite often subject matter experts in their own right, and they notice the details. Luckily for me, I *love* this part of the process. The biggest challenge is limiting the amount of time I spend researching; otherwise, I’ll never get anything written.
I just returned from the second of two research trips I made to New Orleans this year. My current work-in-progress, “Bayou Fire,” is a historical paranormal (it has elements of reincarnation), and part of it takes place in the 1830s. I needed to have the boots-on-the-ground experience of seeing historic homes and plantations in order to get the details about size and scope right.
I firmly believe that primary source research is the way to go if you have the means. Luckily, this doesn’t always mean traveling; I know that some people are unable to do so. Many archives are now available on-line so that one can see the documents without leaving the house. I didn’t make it to Paris until after “In The Eye of The Beholder” was published; the research was all accomplished using archives.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? — All of the above, varying from title to title. I take it on a case-by-case basis.
Do you read work by self-published authors? — Absolutely. I have discovered some truly amazing talents out there. Not having your work appreciated by the Big Five is no reflection on quality of writing.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? — I refrain from commenting on reviews, be they good or bad. A review is an expression of one person’s opinion. Not all works are for all readers (no matter how much we might like it to be the case). The greatest classics have their share of 1-star reviews.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? — No. I wait until I can form my own opinion. Once I’ve written my own review, I will look at others.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? — I am an avid reader, and I do review what I read. I don’t think it makes sense to be an author without also being a reader, and there’s no reason not to express one’s opinion.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? — First and foremost, get it on the page — even if it’s crap. Editing comes later — and yes, you do have to edit. Get someone else to do it for you. If you think you can’t afford it, barter. Finally, don’t be afraid to put something away that didn’t work out. I have a folder on my computer marked “temporarily abandoned.” So far, all but one story in there has been repurposed. You never know when that opportunity will arise.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? — Build relationships with your readers rather than treating them as walking wallets. Don’t constantly pitch your work. Also, don’t limit your discoverability by putting your work only on one sales channel. People want a chance to find you. Do the opposite of those things and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? — I just finished “The Plantation Mistress,” by Catherine Clinton. It’s a scholarly study of the role of white women in the antebellum South, which has been largely disregarded. It was a fascinating book … and part of the research for “Bayou Fire.”
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? — I don’t have just one favorite author these days. I particularly enjoy the works of C.W. Gortner, Maureen Jennings, and Barbara Hambly. I do have two indie authors of whom I am particularly fond: Jaimey Grant, and T.E. MacArthur.
Do you have a favourite movie? — “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney
Do you have any pets? — I’m active in animal rescue, so we have quite a few. We have four cats inside, and four feral cats outside that we look after. The eldest is 13 (one of the indoor cats) and the youngest lot are five months old (three feral kittens). All of them have been spayed/neutered (even the feral were trapped and neutered); we’re big believers in that. So many delightful animals wind up in shelters looking for forever homes.
Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? — I worked for the Department of Defense for the first 16 years of my career (in fact, that’s when I wrote my first book, which was a military history non-fiction). My last job was *horrible,* with a very abusive “bully boss.” I’ve used elements of her personality in my “villains.”
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? — My left elbow is double-jointed,
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Both my website and my blog have sales links.