Cathy McDavid

Read more about Cathy McDavid.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: April 01, 2007

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Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

By day, I'm the manager of a commercial construction company my husband and I own (I'm proud to say we're a certified woman-owned organization). We have seventeen-year-old twins - a boy and a girl - who are juniors in high school. Before work and after work and most weekends, I write romance novels and have been doing it for.oh, my gosh, has it really been twelve years now? Guess someone needs to break it to my husband that this writing biz is not just a passing fancy.

Besides writing romances, one of the more interesting things about me and my life is the number of animals we have. We live on four-and-a-half acres near Cave Creek, Arizona. At last count - and this does change daily - we had three horses, nine mules, one donkey, thirty-five chickens, one duck, three dogs, and a cat. We had a lot more animals years ago when the kids were younger and in 4-H, but had to cut down. To go with all those horses and mules, we have about twenty wagons, buggies, carts, carriages, and stagecoaches. In fact, we have a replica Wells Fargo stagecoach (just like the ones you see in the commercials) and an antique hearse that my husbands had driven in real funerals.

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

Wow, this was a really interesting question. Of course, I think there's a little bit of me in most of my characters, even the villains (grin). I guess if I had to pick, my current favorite is Gillian Sayers from Night Hunter. She's an average person forced into very extraordinary circumstances. In order to survive, in order to save the world, she has to draw on an inner pool of strength she didn't realize she possessed.

But then, I'd probably be happy being any of my heroines. They're all thin, and well, I haven't been thin in a lot of years.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I have very eclectic tastes and read a lot of different kinds of fiction (I say fiction because I almost never read non-fiction). Probably about half of what I read is romance, preferring romantic suspense or contemporary with a touch of humor, though I read about six historicals each year, too. I also like edge-of-your seat thrillers and the occasional horror story. I'm currently reading James Patterson's Beach Road (which he wrote with Peter De Jonge).

Who or what influences you when you write?

Like a lot of writers, I think it's the people I meet, the places I go, the things I do that influence me. I'm currently working on my third Harlequin American and the setting is based very much on a resort my husband and I stayed at last year. I loved the place and kept thinking I should use it in a story. Now I finally have the chance. What made this resort really interesting and worthy of using in a book was the unique ownership structure and the couple who managed it. Ready made conflict if ever I saw any. I also draw a lot of inspiration from my family, especially my extended family, which is large. Studying the interaction of people facing conflict - and believe me, there's conflict in my extended family - gives me a lot of material to work with in my books.

What do you do on a typical writing day?

While I have a day job, I'm lucky in that my husband and I own the company. This means my hours can be a little flexible. I get up early, around 5:30 a.m., and after I get the kids off to school, I write for about an hour before I go into the office. At night, I edit for about an hour. Until last year, I did just the opposite, wrote at night and edited in the morning. But I found out when I was under a very tight deadline with Night Hunter that I'm fresher in the morning. By changing my habit, I was able to increase my writing productivity. I'm not a fast writer, but I'm very consistent and rarely miss a day.

When you have writer's block how do you break free?

I hate to jinx myself by saying this but I've never had serious writer's block, not anything that's lasted more than a day. There are times when I'm not sure what should happen next. Like many writers I know, I find mundane, routine activities that don't require a lot of brain power free up my mind so I can think about my story. Ironing, washing the dishes, driving, folding laundry, stuff like that. Oh, yes, and showering. I get some great ideas in the shower.

I prefer to plot, though with the last three books I haven't been afforded the luxury of in-depth plotting because of tight contractual deadlines. When I have the time to plot my books, I have less moments of indecision, and the whole writing process goes more smoothly. I find the best cure to writer's block is to sit down and write. I'm always amazed that something just "comes to me" and that half the time, it isn't bad.

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

I have two books coming out this summer and both are near and dear to my heart for different reasons. In June, my first Harlequin American book, His Only Wife will hit the shelves. Selling to Harlequin was an eight-year dream that finally came true. I can't tell you how many times I came to within a hair's breath of selling to them, only to be rejected. Then, last August, it finally happened. I couldn't happier or more proud of His Only Wife. Since then, I've sold two more books to Harlequin, A Family in Every Way, the sequel to His Only Wife, and Bear Creek Ranch (tentative title).

In July, Night Hunter from Dorchester will be released. This book is a real departure for me and about as different from my Harlequin books as it can get. Night Hunter is my first paranormal and not like anything I've ever written. I really tapped into my dark side for this book, which is about a winged creature of darkness who battles a human warrior called the Huntsman for world domination. I tell people writing about an evil creature who preys on innocent humans wasn't as hard as they might think. I have two teenagers and work all day with my husband. If that isn't the stuff of nightmares, I don't know what is.

Please tell us what you have planned next?

As I mentioned, I'm currently writing Bear Creek Ranch for Harlequin American. Both that book and A Family in Every Way will be release in 2008. I'm not entirely sure what I'll start after I finish this book. My critique partners want me to write the sequel to Night Hunter. I'd like to do that, but I also want to get another Harlequin proposal to my editor.

In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.

I would love to say that I'd be a full-time writer but I'm just not sure about that. I'm lucky in that I have a great day job, great because I earn decent money and have good benefits (writers don't usually get things like paid health insurance and a 401K plan). Working less hours is possible, though, and cutting my work week to 20 hours is my goal.

This past year, I wrote one single-title and two series books.. It's been a hard schedule to keep and admittedly hard on my family. I would like to increase that to four books a year and can only do that if I reduce my hours at the office. As far as my writing career goes, I want to be able to walk into Barnes and Noble or the grocery store and see my book tucked into that "#1 Bestseller" slot in the rack. That's my dream.

Who is your perfect hero? And why?

I like heroes that are a combination Alpha/Beta. Hardcore Alphas are too over the top for me, and hardcore Betas don't quite turn my crank. I think I did a pretty good job creating the perfect Alpha/Beta in both Night Hunter and His Only Wife - at least, they're my perfect fantasy guy.

What do you do for inspiration?

Sleep. Really. All kidding aside, I'm freshest in the morning. I wake up ready to write and with all kinds of ideas springing to mind. After work, I'm so brain dead, I couldn't think up a good clich‚ to save my life. A change of scenery is also good for generating ideas. And I love going to new places - like the resort I mentioned earlier. Workshops and conferences pump up some writers and inspire them to write. I'm always too tired after conferences to write. I guess that's where the sleeping come is. Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?

Futuristic. I've got one story floating around in the back of my head but haven't done much more than write the opening scene. When I started writing, my very first attempt was a futurist romance. I gave up after a few chapters because the story sounded too much like a Star Trek rip-off. If I wind up writing the sequel to Night Hunter (and I'm seriously thinking of doing that), I'll be setting the book in the near future. That will be interesting and a real challenge, I think. What type of book have you always wanted to write?

A good mystery. I enjoy being taken on twists and turns when I read a mystery and love trying to figure out 'who-done-it'. The books I like the best are those where I can't figure it out. While I wrote a short story mystery many years ago, a full-length book daunts me. I wish I were clever enough to create and then perfectly plant all those clues and red herrings. What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?

His Only Wife required a lot of research as the hero is a Wilderness Firefighter, and I knew almost nothing about that when I started the book. I did a lot of reading, watched videos, visited the local firefighting museum, and interviewed firefighters. Researching isn't my favorite part of writing. Well, except for the interviewing the firefighters part. That wasn't a hardship by any means. If I could write an entire book without researching, I'd be happy, except I keep coming up with these ideas that require it. Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

I believe in muse on demand. I've heard other authors talk about waiting for the muse to strike. When you're on deadline, you don't have time to sit around and wait. You have to get XX number of pages written that day or you will fall behind and maybe not meet your contract obligations. I think establishing habits and sticking to them really helps keep that muse handy and within arm's reach. Writing the same time every day, in the same place, using the same method (computer, AlphaSmart, hand writing, so forth) put you in a certain mind set.

Whether or not what I write when I'm under the gun is better or worse than what I write when I have all the time in the world, I'm not sure. I try hard to make every book the best it can be, no matter how much or how little time I have.

When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Funny you ask this question because I remember it clear as a bell. Back in 1996, I was about three-fourths through my first manuscript. One day, I was, shopping at Sam's Club and checking out the book aisle when I noticed a hardback romance book published by Warner (the author's name escapes me). Across the front was a banner advertising a contest. I bought the book just for the contest info (great gimmick, Warner) and when I was done with the manuscript, entered it. Needless to say, I didn't win. But it did encourage me to start submitting and seriously pursue publication. What would you like to tell your readers?

Visit my website, there's free stuff to be had! What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?

The best advice I received was from an author who wrote for the editor I was targeting at Harlequin back when I was trying to get published with them. She read my lengthy revision request letter and helped me to understand exactly what the editor meant and how to change my manuscript. The changes resulted in a request for the full. Eventually, I sold that manuscript, which became His Only Wife. It really helps if a writer can get some insight from someone who works with the editor they're targeting. The worst advice I received was to submit to a small press that shall remain nameless and is no longer in business.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Both. I start writing and then I outline. I usually write my synopsis along with the first three chapters. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?

I've belonged to two critique groups. The first one was online and lasted eighteen months. It wasn't for me. I later joined my current group. We've been together 3-1/2 years and meet every week or two in person over breakfast. I love them and can't imagine writing a book without them. I don't always agree with what they say but sometimes their advice is amazingly spot on. I've learned over time to take what resonates with me and leave the rest. They only hindrance to meeting with them is the time it takes away from my writing. I have to give up my morning writing time to meet, but it's usually worth it.

What was your first published work and when was it published?

The very first thing I ever had published was a short story back in 1998 in a little magazine called Romantic Hearts. I eventually had about 20 short stories published in different magazines, some of which even paid me money! I still have copies of that magazine. What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?

I do have a website, and most of that other stuff, too. (website) (email) www.myspace/cathymcdavid (MySpace) (blog) (Harlequin American authors blog) (Dorchester message boards) My `MySpace' is still under construction, but feel free to visit and become one of my friends. I'll send a notice out in a few weeks when the final MySpace is `live'.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

The best way is to visit my website. And did I mention there's free stuff to be had there?

Thank you for this opportunity!