Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit under her real name, Catherine Hershberger, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.
Catherine’s debut book The Nun and the Narc is available as an e-book from Amazon.
Janet: Welcome, Catherine, and thanks for taking time to join us. I like that expression, UFOs (unfinished objects). That could apply to my knitting, as well as your sewing!
Catherine: Thanks for hosting me today, Janet. I’m looking forward to my visit with you and your readers.
Janet: You write in so many different areas, including co-writing with your husband… before we talk about your new novel, The Nun and the Narc, I’m curious how you juggle such similar yet different creative outlets. Do you have a favourite?
Catherine: I once read that Stephen King writes on one book in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. I haven’t been able to do that, although I can write a blog and work on a book in the same day. Mostly, however, I do one thing at a time. I think it keeps my voice consistent. When I was doing freelance on a regular basis I set aside a day for that job and another day for fiction writing. Several of the plays my husband and I wrote were done in the evenings on business trips that I tagged along on, or we set aside one whole weekend to write a play. The verse muse for poetry hits whenever she chooses and I just have to stop and write what she tells me. As for a favorite, I think it has always been fiction, although I do love writing plays with hubby.
Janet: What’s the most exciting thing for you right now?
Catherine: The whole process of being a new author is very exciting, but I must confess I get very excited every time I check Novelrank and discover I’ve sold another book.
Janet: I can imagine! What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Catherine: I think I would have to say that dealing with all the social media stuff and self marketing an author has to do is my biggest challenge. I had pretty much mastered the blogging end of that before the book came out, but I was, and still am, woefully behind on Twitter and Facebook. Actually getting into the chair and writing is hard when you marketing is overwhelming you.
Janet: Tell us a bit about The Nun and the Narc.
Catherine: The Nun and the Narc is about a novice who gets kidnapped, along with an undercover DEA agent, when she tries to break up a drug deal between a young Mexican boy she has befriended while building houses in his village in Mexico. Scheduled to take her final vows when she returns home, her time in captivity with Jed Bond, the DEA agent, turns her life, and his, upside down.
Janet: It’s an unlikely match-up of characters, and I can see lots of potential for conflict—especially once romance enters the picture. Where did the story idea come from?
Catherine: Originally, I started the story as a contest entry, with a different heroine. She was a missionary. But the story wasn’t working for me until one of my critique partners suggested I make the heroine a novice. After consideration, since I knew a nun story would be a hard sell, I changed the heroine to a novice and the story took off.
Janet: With all that you’ve written so far, do you have a favourite character or story?
Catherine: I am rather fond of The Nun and the Narc and Sister Margaret Mary. After all, who doesn’t love their first book? And the sister is full of spunk. However, I think my unpublished devotional—Lessons from Nature-A Gardener’s Devotional— might be my favorite work. That book has been described as having a lyrical quality to it, and the stories contained in the devotional book are very personal to me.
Janet: Okay, I’m going to ask a question I personally hate answering. Feel free to pass. What’s this novel’s theme?
Catherine: I don’t know about theme. Theme is hard for me to figure out, especially since I don’t go into a book thinking, “The theme is going to be…” But I hope after reading The Nun and the Narc readers will realize there are many ways to serve God, and you don’t have to be the foreign missionary who dedicates his or her entire life in order for your service to be important. Whatever good works we bring to the Lord’s service are important for furthering His kingdom.
Janet: In researching for The Nun and the Narc, what’s the weirdest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?
Catherine: I discovered there are Mexican drug dealers whose religious faith (which seems a bit oxymoronical to me considering their line of work) involves the adoration of Jesus Malverde, a 19th-century bandit regarded by many as the special patron saint of drug dealers. Who knew drug dealers had a patron saint?
Janet: Who knew, indeed! Your freelance articles have deadlines. Do you find that easier or harder than writing fiction and poetry?
Catherine: Books have deadlines, too, just longer. I had to face short, regular deadlines at lot when writing for the newspapers. I find non-fiction much easier to write than fiction, except for the interviewing process. Making sure you ask the right questions can make or break your article. For me, non-fiction is a bit like retelling a slew of information, which I got pretty good at. Fiction is much harder to me, since there are sagging middles, plot twists and all the good stuff we have to figure out on our own.
Janet: How do you keep your muse cooperative?
Catherine: The best thing I found to keep the muse cooperative is to think about your writing all the time. That trick came in handy once when I had the wrong deadline date in my calendar and the editor called and asked where my piece was. She knew I never missed a deadline and always had things in early. The 1000 word piece, which was due that afternoon, was written quicker than anything I had ever done. Had I not been thinking about that article for a while, it would have never made such a short deadline.
Janet: What got you started writing?
Catherine: I’ve always written. I was the student who loved the essay assignments, especially the ones that needed research. The more research the better! I wrote poetry, short stories, and my first romance as a teenager. I still have the romance and the poems.
Janet: Tell us what a typical day looks like.
Catherine: I don’t have a typical day. Deadlines drive my time in the office chair. When I’m on a tight deadline, everything else stops. Just ask the dust bunnies rolling around the house. I hate being interrupted when I’m deep into a character’s head.
Janet: Are you a writer who likes to immerse herself in details of the setting while incubating the story idea?
Catherine: I think I tend to run with the idea and do my research as questions arise. By looking at details of setting, or whatever research I might have to do, at the time the issue comes up I think it stays fresher in my mind while actually writing. I have discovered that I need to print out research details (photos, historical notes, whatever) and keep them in a notebook to refer back to. I probably work this way because my first draft is often sparse, more like a play or movie script with mostly dialogue, then I go back and deepen the senses and setting.
Janet: What do you like best about the writing life?
Catherine: The actual act of creating a world, populating it with people and putting the words down on paper.
Janet: What do you like least?
Catherine: Oh, that’s easy—marketing.
Janet: What do your family think of your writing?
Catherine: For them it’s a natural part of who I am. I started freelancing regularly when my daughter was in middle school. She was the one who actually introduced me to one of my dearest friends, who was a writing teacher, by bragging that her mother was a writer. Dear hubby writes, too, so he’s all in when it comes to my career.
Janet: Is there another Nun and the Narc book in the works?
Catherine: I’ve had some readers ask if there is going to be more to Margaret and Jed’s story. I’ve been playing around with another story idea about Margaret Mary and Jed. It’s not ready for discussion yet, though.
Janet: What has reader response been like for this book?
Catherine: Readers have loved The Nun and the Narc. Most of my reviews, from readers and review sites, have been in the 4-5 range. I did have a non-Christian leave a review on the book that says :
I loved this book. To be honest, I didn’t expect to, especially because in the forward, the author mentions trying to get it published as “Christian romance.” I’m not Christian and don’t enjoy books that preach to me. However, the premise was too intriguing not to give it a try… So, does the book preach? Surprisingly – shockingly, actually – it really doesn’t. It shares Margaret’s deep faith and her hilarious need to pray and confess even when bullets are flying, but it never seems too preachy or sanctimonious, even when Jed starts turning more and more toward Margaret’s God.
This was what I set out to do—write a book that even a non-Christian would want to read. Her review was very gratifying.
Janet: That’s an amazing review, Catherine! I enjoyed the novel, too. You kept me turning pages. Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
Catherine: Isa. 40:31 is my favorite verse. “But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This verse is such a comfort knowing the Lord lifts us up. I love the imagery of soaring with His hands holding me.
Janet: I love that one too. What are some books you’ve read recently that have stood out to you?
Catherine: I read a huge amount of romance, and I’ll read most any sub-genre of romance. I like mystery, fantasy, sci fi, and paranormal books. The Lord of the Rings series is one of my favorites along with C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I devoured those books as a youth. Interestingly, I also like non-fiction and have even been known to read dictionaries, especially the ones with odd words in them.
Janet: I’ve dallied in the occasional dictionary myself… What are you listening to?
Catherine: There’s nothing in the CD player now, but when I listen to music I like John Denver, Dolly Parton, Elvis, and gospel hymns.
Janet: What do you like to do to get away from it all?
Catherine: Garden, if I’m staying at home. My garden is my refuge. We like to go to Disney World for getaways.
Janet: Coffee, or tea? Morning or evening person? Plays or movies?
Catherine: Tea and coffee. Definitely an evening person, and for plays and movies, both. We have season tickets for our local college theatre group and go to the movies regularly.
Janet: Since The Nun and the Narc has elements of suspense, I’ll ask this: What’s the most scary thing you’ve ever done?
Catherine: I’m not much of a daredevil. I rode the Kings Island racer rollercoaster backwards once. It wasn’t as scary as I anticipated.
Janet: Maybe that will work its way into a novel someday. Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Catherine. God bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.
After being on the lam with novice Sister Margaret Mary, undercover narcotics agent Jed Bond will never look at nuns the same way. May God help him.
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.
The Nun and the Narc, a 2007 ACFW Genesis finalist and 2003 Dixie Contest second place winner, was released April 24 by Soul Mate Publishing and is currently available at Amazon. Plans to release it on Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble later on in the year, and it will be coming out as a print book later in 2013. To read an excerpt go to Amazon.com.