Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview with Harlequin Superromance author Cathryn Parry

I'm thrilled to have Harlequin Superromance author Cathryn Parry visiting the blog today! I met Cathryn during RWA Nationals last summer and we ended up chatting over breakfast each morning. She's incredibly sweet and has a down-to-earth warmth that makes you feel like you've known her forever. And she was definitely destined to write romance. After all, she wrote a love letter to a boy in 1st grade, asked for a typewriter for Christmas in 2nd grade and was inspired by Nancy Drew (we all know it was the Nancy-Ned chemistry that had you hooked ;). Read one of her Superromances and you'll see for yourself...

1. Cathryn, let me start off by saying that I love how your characters allow readers to 'experience' issues that are often glossed over our daily lives, whether through news or through the grapevine. Your handling of a common, yet frequently unrecognized, 'quiet' disability in The Long way Home (Dec 2012) was beautiful. Your heroine Natalie Kimball has a hearing impairment brought on by childhood infections. As a mom with a child who suffered chronic ear infections (and tubes), I really connected with her. Have you ever had an experience or relationship where hearing impairment impacted you emotionally or otherwise?

 Thank you for the kind words! One of my intents with this story was to feature a hearing-impaired character.  I have experience with childhood ear infections and surgeries, too—though the damage was not quite to Natalie’s extent. After one of my surgeries as a young adult, I spent a period where I was temporarily unable to hear at all, and I well remember the challenges it caused. You and your son have my sympathies! It’s not easy. 

2. Speaking of your heroine in The Long Way Home, the two of you have something in common! A love of genealogy. That hobby fit in so perfectly with her personality and law career. Of course, the last thing your hero, Bruce Cole, wants to do is dig into his past. How long has genealogy been a hobby of yours? Any tips or favorite resources for readers interested in digging into their past?

Including this hobby was not one of my intents, and Natalie surprised me when she showed up on the page one day, giving a genealogy class to local seniors at her town library. But you’re right--the hobby does make sense in terms of her career.

I “fell” into learning about genealogy by accident. When I was a teen, we had an interesting family mystery to solve—what was the story behind a U.S. Civil War medal that we found in my grandmother’s attic, along with an old newspaper printed on the back of wallpaper from the siege at Vicksburg?  My grandmother gave us the name of her grandfather, and we wrote to the U.S. National Archives requesting information about him.  They sent us his pension and war records (this was in the days before the internet). It turns out he was an interesting and colorful person, emigrating from the north of England as a young man to work in the Rhode Island cotton mills. I pieced together his life history by working backward from his death certificate, newspaper obituary, and locations on the U.S. census. Today, most of this information can be found using the internet, but years ago, it involved research trips to archives, libraries, courthouses, etc. 

One of my most interesting research trips was visiting the U.S. National Parks sites for the Civil War battlefields where my g-g-grandfather and his brother fought, particularly Fredericksburg, Virginia. By giving the park ranger the regiment name, he was able to bring me onto the hill they charged, pointing out that it was their first experience in combat, that they were ordered to charge uphill facing a row of cannons firing down on them, and that several other charges before theirs had been unsuccessful.  As we trudged up that long hill, we looked down at the gravestones scattered there—and saw several with the names of men from his regiment. The emotion of that day has always stayed with me. 

Anyway, I’m drawn to genealogy because of the human stories, the history, the insights it gives me about my family—about the psychology and the backstories. Anyone who wants to dig into their own ancestry should start with the older members of their family whenever possible—interview them and ask questions about their childhood and the relatives they remember. From there, start with one family group that interests you. My favorite internet research site is (it’s free).  The 1940 U.S. Census is a current new tool I’ve been using. I also love internet sites with old newspapers.

3. Interesting stuff! Your first book, Something to Prove (Jan 2012), took us behind the scenes into competitive sports and substance abuse. Its release date and snowy setting coincided perfectly with the winter Olympics! It's an excellent read any time of year, especially with constant scandals in the news. This story took conflict to an Olympic level and your hero, Brody Jones, proved to be an extraordinary example of how pressure and scandal affects individual athletes. Now, substance abuse aside, as a competitive figure skater in the U.S. Adult Nationals, what would you say brings on more pressure/stress...being on the ice in a competition, or writing a book on deadline?

Thank you, Rula! I wrote this story because the Olympics were coming, and I was fascinated by pro skiing. 

Writing a book on a tight deadline is definitely more stressful.  The stakes for me are higher!  I compete in adult figure skating for the joy and the challenge, though, yes—in the moments before the music starts, it can sometimes be pure terror.  But with both writing and skating, the more experience I get, the more confidence I gain, and the less stressful it becomes.

4. I've heard that when an author gets their first book published, the feel like they have 'something to prove' with their second ;). Well, you hit a home run with your second book and I can't wait to read your third, Out of His League, when it releases this summer (July 2013). Needless to say, it's a baseball story and I'm having fun with puns today :). Can you give us a teaser on Out of His League?

Yes, you are very punny! :)  Out of His League is about Dr. Elizabeth LaValley, a “Bones-type” character who does not like people—she would much rather be alone and focus very narrowly on her own interests.  When she is forced to care for her sister’s young son for a month when her sister goes to alcohol rehab, Elizabeth is completely out of her element. It gets worse for her when she is assigned as anesthesiologist on the surgery of pro baseball pitcher (and local celebrity) Jon Farell. 

Jon is intrigued by the only woman in Boston who seems not to know or care who he is, and since he is a born nurturer, great with kids, he inserts himself into Elizabeth’s life while he recuperates. She is not easy on him—she hates that she is attracted to him--she is convinced it can only be explained scientifically—it’s those pheromones, it is not him personally.  He, however, is determined to show her otherwise. 

Here is the back-cover blurb:

Catch her if he can...

Dr. Elizabeth LaValley's life works just fine, thank you very much. She's a successful anesthesiologist, and she's put the chaos of her youth and family behind her. When hottie pitcher Jon Farell shows up in her hospital, she's the only one who doesn't fawn over him. Sure she feels the heat between them, but being alone is safe and predictable. She didn't get where she is by taking risks.

Jon can't get the beautiful doctor out of his head. His talents on the field have always been enough for any woman. But if he's going to win Elizabeth's heart, he'll have to offer her much more than a wicked curveball....

It’s available for pre-release now at Amazon.  
(Sorry, that is much longer than a teaser, but I suppose there is a reason I write 85,000 word stories—I can’t “do” short!)

5. Well, it sounds great! We'd also love to hear about The Call that scored your first book contract with Harlequin!

I persevered many years; wrote and revised many completed stories before the The Call finally came. For that particular book, I had already gone through two revision letters in the months prior. I was just back from a writer’s conference where a Harlequin editor had told me to prepare myself that this particular book might not sell. So I was at home, resigning myself to that again, and plugging away with a different manuscript. When the phone rang and “Harlequin” popped up in the Caller ID, I was genuinely shocked.

Two things that I did right that day, that I believe helped in the following months were this:

1)  I had typed Harlequin’s contact information into my cell phone, so that when The Call did come I was forewarned and had a few moments to prepare and collect myself. 

2)  I had prepared a long list of questions to ask, in the event that The Call did come. That list helped keep me focused, which was important, because I needed to complete the Art Fact Sheet the next day. The editor and I were on the phone a long time, and by the time we hung up, I felt prepared for the process, and for what I needed to do next.

6. In regard to writing, going through the publishing process and marketing, what's the one thing you wish you'd known before The Call?

That taking a long time to sell can be a blessing. At the time, it felt hard to watch my friends break into publication before me, especially if they started writing after I did. In reality, I learned a lot by watching them experience the ups and the downs of being a published author. It also gave me more time to learn about story structure, character development, plotting, pacing, etc. Then, when I did sell, my friends were there for me when I had questions.

7. Those are really good points. And now for a bit of you have any quirky writing habits or a favorite deadline crunch time snack?

Well, I like to write at night when everybody is sleeping. Sometimes all night. Maybe this goes back to my summer-after-high-school days, when I had a job working the third shift as a Howard Johnson’s waitress.  (Remember Howard Johnson’s?)

8. I do remember HJ :). If you had to pick a spot to brainstorm book 4, would it be a) while taking a turn around the ice skating rink, b) taking a stroll along a beach, c) climbing to the top of a lighthouse and gazing over the ocean, or d) at your desk with plenty of paper, colored pens, laptop and any other office supplies you need handy?

That is a fun question!  A) would be impossible for me, because when I’m skating, if I’m not focusing 100%, then I’m falling down. :)   B) would be ideal—the most fun, though  C) would be great, too.  Unfortunately, D) is also necessary.  Everything has to go on paper eventually.

So true :) It has been wonderful having you here today, Cathryn! Best wishes with your future releases.

GIVEAWAY: Cathryn is giving away one copy of The Long Way Home to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment below and you'll be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced here this Thursday, March 28th.

BLURB: The Long Way Home 

Life on the road suits Bruce Cole just fine. And after what he went through back in the day, he's in no hurry to face his hometown again. Until his little sister asks him to return for her wedding. One brief visit can't hurt, right? Especially when he meets a beautiful stranger at the reception.

Except Natalie Kimball isn't a stranger. In fact, she knows more about Bruce than anyone else in Wallis Point—including the secret he's been running from all these years. The woman Natalie has become is fascinating…and so different from the girl he remembers. If anyone can change his mind about what home really means, it could be her.


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  1. Great interview, and I'm a huge fan. Thanks for sharing such fun insights, Cathryn!

    Jesse (who totally remembers HoJos)

  2. Thank you, Jesse! And I could totally use some HoJo's chocolate chip ice cream right now. (The best part about waitressing in an ice cream parlour). :-)

  3. Great interview! Nice to meet you Cathryn. Good luck with your book.

    Hi, Rula :)

  4. Hi Carol! It's nice to meet you, too! Thanks for visiting my interview with Rula.

  5. Cathryn - So great to have you here today! And working in an ice cream parlor...heaven!

    Jesse - Cathryn's awesome, isn't she? Thanks for stopping by!

    Carol - Hi back at you :) Thanks for popping in!

  6. I SO enjoyed this interview! Would love to read this book. The heroine sounds intriguing.

  7. Nice to meet you, Jennifer! Thanks for reading.

    ~~Waving to Rula!