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Soccer Moms, Indie Publishing, and a Kindle: An Interview with Author, Cathryn Grant

“…[A]ll the beautiful yards and parks make it look so peaceful and quiet.
That can make you feel safe and it’s not always safe.”
~The Demise of the Soccer Moms

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People often leave behind the city life and take up residence on a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs. They expect to find the camaraderie of neighbors, and they brag about a low crime rate. But, under every silver lining there’s a dark side. And, maybe even a killer.

In Cathryn Grant’s debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, Grant takes readers through the niceties of small town life and into the dark corners of a suburban mind or two. What we discover is a group of women desperate to fit in, if only to distance themselves from their own skeletons in the closet.

Full of tension – so much so that I wasn’t sure which Soccer mom would unravel first – Grant’s novel shows us that when one woman refuses to follow the rules, the picture perfect world of Suburbia falls apart.

I’m honored to interview Cathryn Grant here, where she talks about her novel, indie publishing, and writing. At the end of the interview, read how you can enter to win a Kindle, fully loaded with The Demise of the Soccer Moms.

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CC: The Demise of the Soccer Moms paints a vivid picture of life in suburbia, with its illusions of perfection and grandeur. How much of the story comes from real life observations? If you run into someone with the same demeanor as Amy Lewis in your novel, do you get the chills (or do you grab your notebook)?

CG: I’ve lived in suburbia all my life, so I think my sense of its positive and negative sides is part of who I am and I don’t think of myself as observing it. I am always taking notes, and not just on suburbia. People fascinate me, and one of the themes that’s always knocking around my head is what would drive a normal person to commit homicide? (or any crime). When I see the mental and emotional suffering that some people endure, I wonder how people keep going, how they still manage to cope with life. (That sounds really, dark, but I’m not saying it in a negative way, I’m saying it because some people have had to endure so much.) I guess I have sympathy for people who go off the rails.

CC: In your novel, each of your main characters has a significant insecurity that leads her to commit a crime of one sort or another, but it’s the unraveling of one of your characters, in particular, towards the end that is especially chilling. In writing suspense, do you outline much before you type out your first draft? Or, do you let the characters’ lives (and secrets) unfold as you go?

CG: I tend to let it unfold. These characters came to me after a line of dialogue floated through my mind one day: “That woman’s not wearing a bra.” I saw these women sitting outside their children’s classrooms, and I wondered what what kind of person would come unhinged over another woman’s clothing choices. I wondered what would have happened in her life to make her so concerned about this stranger who walked onto the playground. I usually have a list of possible scenes, what might happen, and I work from that, adding scenes that come to me as I write through the first draft. I usually don’t know the ending, and one of my novels still in the virtual drawer doesn’t have an ending that satisfies me. I hope it comes to me some day.

CC: You spent a great deal of time considering and researching the idea of becoming an Indie Author. Now that your first book is published and in the hands of so many readers, how do you feel? Also, I know that you have a second book in the works; can you give us a little teaser?

CG: The publishing landscape changed enough, even from the time I started considering the Indie route, so that it helped cement my decision. Right now, I mostly feel relief because I worked on this novel for a very long time. A ridiculously long time. Some of the feedback from my early readers derailed me and I started to question the stories I wanted to tell. So right now, I feel relief that I’m done with this novel. But I’m also happy that even when I was making the final edits, I still got caught up in the story, still enjoyed my characters.

The working title for the next novel is DEBT. I’m working on the 2nd draft and expect to publish it in November 2011. It’s about a young couple that both work in high paying jobs but have still managed to get deeply into debt. As they try to hide their debt from their friends, their situation gets worse, and the conflict among the three couples leads to murder. (Wow, I can tell I need to get to work on that log line!)

CC: What are you reading these days?

CG: I’m reading a novel by an Indie crime writer, Darcia Helle, called THE CUTTING EDGE, and PORTOBELLO, by one of my favorite authors: Ruth Rendell.

CC: Do you have any thoughts or advice for writers on the rise?

CG: Two things inspired me. Years ago I read a quote from James Michener that said you would be a competent writer after you’d written a million words. Then recently I heard a quote from the book, OUTLIERS, that said people who put 10,000 hours into developing their craft or sport became successful. I actually tracked the 1,000,000 words in a spreadsheet. I’m still working on the 10,000 hours. (If you want to link to this … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_%28book%29 )

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Enter the Suburban Noir contest for the chance to win a copy of “The Demise Of The Soccer Moms”. The grand prize is a Wi-Fi Kindle. Here’s how you do it:

Between February 4 and midnight PST, February 11, comment here or on any other OR ALL of the participating blogs (listed below) to get one entry per comment. Limit of one comment per blog for a possible total of 7 entries.

  1. Cathryn Grant’s very own blog
  2. Linda Cassidy Lewis at Out of My Mind
  3. Natasha at Nancy Drew Too
  4. Shelli Howells at A*Musings
  5. Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen at DJ’s Krimiblog
  6. And, on Feb. 10th, Amy Rose Davis at  A Modicum of Talent

Between February 4 and midnight PST, February 11, tweet any one OR ALL of the participating blogs. Limit of one tweet per blog for a possible total of 7 entries. Tweets must include @CathrynGrant for tracking purposes.

Participants can have a total of 14 entries between commenting on blogs and tweeting.

Winners will be announced on Cathryn’s blog on February 11th.

Ten people will win their choice of an eBook or paperback copy of Cathryn Grant’s Suburban Noir Thriller, “The Demise Of The Soccer Moms”. One additional person will win a Wi-Fi Graphite Kindle (valued at $139) pre-loaded with a copy of “The Demise Of The Soccer Moms”. Please note the paperback copy will not be available until March. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator.

Now go – read, comment, and tweet. And, while you’re waiting for the winner to be announced, read more of Cathryn’s words on her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

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Writing is Looking Back and Moving Forward

Goodbye summer.

This week, I return to my day job after a summer-long hiatus. I don’t like change, so even a slight shake-up of routine sent me straight to my journal the other day.

As I scribbled down all my anxieties, I realized that the entry I wrote was all too similar to the one I wrote in May – when my day job ended and my summer promised two kids at home – all day – and absolutely no routine. The list from May to August differed in a few details, but the big question remained the same: When will I find time to write?

One thing’s for sure, I’m a consistent worrier.

It’s the endless plight of any writer with a day job or a mother writer with kids. What I’ve found though – in looking back on the last few months – is that as much as I worry about not having time to write, I still end up with a stack of essays and stories in the end. Too bad those essays or stories have little to do with the “big one.” I’ve tucked my novel draft and notes under my arm and carried them from room to room with me all summer. They even traveled with me on vacations. But, I’ve pushed through only a few more pages of that draft.

Still, I’ve been writing, even when time was tight. And, that’s better than not writing at all.

In considering my slow-moving novel, I thought of Jan O’Hara’s recent post on Writer Unboxed where she mentioned wise words from Donald Maass, heard at the RWA Nationals:

If possible, resist the push to rapid production. A good story well told means an audience willing to wait. Reward their loyalty with quality.

Maass’s words do little to ease my worries that I will oversleep tomorrow and show up late (or worse – unshowered) for first day back at work. But, his advice reminds me that writing is simply moving forward — inch by inch, page by page.

Looking back from May to August, I see small steps in progress and moments of synchronicity, when little burning bushes signaled that I can be (and am) a writer. In spite of tight schedules, posts were written, stories were submitted, and connections with other writers were made.

I can view my day job as a  burden that takes me away from writing (though that paycheck and health insurance lightens the load). Or, I can see it as an opportunity: new routines force me to schedule more succinct writing times.

I did it once; I can do it again.

What inspiration have you found in looking back on your writing?
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And, to the Winners….

Last Friday, I posted an interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, Beth Hoffman. As promised, I have chosen two people from the list of comments who will receive a copy of her amazing novel.

To Lydia: an autographed copy of the book from Beth Hoffman to you.

To Joy of Dawn: a set of audio CD’s, so you can press play, relax, and fall into CeeCee’s story.

You both should receive an email from me by the end of the day.

And, to Beth Hoffman, many thanks for your willingness to share about your work and experience and for your generosity in giving away a book and CD’s.

Happy Monday, everyone!