Recently, Palm Beach Happening has partnered with Waldorf Publishing to share insight about some of the greatest fiction and nonfiction writers of the 21st century. Today, we bring you Cathy Hird.
Cathy has two books coming out this summer, one the second in a YA contemporary fantasy trilogy and the second a collection of spirituality columns first published with an online news magazine.
The first book of the trilogy (Fractured: When Shadows Arise) is set in the rural area where she lives, and many of her columns begin with what is happening in the natural world and in the community around. Her writing is rooted in the world, addressing similar themes in very different writing contexts and styles.
How did you get your start in the literary world? My “day job” as a minister involves writing, but sermon writing is specific and defined. I always thought I’d do more acadmic writing, but when it didn’t happen, I thought about fiction. I found it a lot harder than I thought. My key learning came through a correspondance program offered by a college in Toronto where an experienced author reads chunks of your work and comments over the course of 8 months. The first piece I sent was torn to shreds, but I learned a ton. That novel is still sitting in a drawer, but my skills developed enough that the next was accepted for publication.
Can you tell us a little more about what you do? My work draws on mythology for world building. First I worked with Greek myths and then Celtic mythology. My novel characters tend to be teens, so I get classed as a YA writer though the books are read by at least as many adults. I choose one of the characters for the main perspective, though we get glimpses from others to broaden the scope of what the reader sees. Dialogue is a technique that I use a lot to set the scene and move the action along.
What is your favorite part about being an author? Editing. Writing the first draft is like pulling teeth, but that feeling when a scene sounds just right is to satisfying. I also love the travel, the in-my-head travel that is. Sitting on my couch with the computer on my lap I get to move in wonderful spaces and visit some incredible people.
How do you get your inspiration? I choose a place and a character first. Then I ponder what trouble that character might get into in that place. After that comes research. In the novel Fractured: When Shadows Arise the trouble is caused by an alchemist who is not attending to the consequences of his experiments so I read up on alchemy in order to get his work right. There were some great tidbits that came along to add texture to the story. For example, in the work to create the elixer of life the liquid went through four colour changes. The colours coincide with the colours of the Ojibway medicine wheel though the order is different. In the novel, this leads to an interesting interaction between the alchemist and an Ojibway teen, and then to a crucial shift in the alchemists work.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which one would you like to see come alive on the silver screen? A girl who lives on Mount Pelion in Greece in 1000BCE and interacts with centaurs and amazons, but her story is unfinished and sitting in a drawer. I’d have to finish the book first. I do love the elf in the novel that comes out this summer (Riven: When Storms Collide) as he’s trying to cope with the modern world, machines and the strange patterns of speech in the humans he is assigned to help.
What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your career?In a way the funniest thing was to realize that I don’t use humour enough in my fiction. In my non-fiction, I use humour a lot, but I have to go back and build it in during the editing process. The funny stuff happens on the farm, like when I had to rescue three six month old lambs who got lost in the swamp. This did inspire a scene in the novel that is just about complete.
Can you tell us a bit about your book? The project I am completing is contemporary fantasy trilogy. The first book is set in the rural community where I live. It draws on Celtic mythology and alchemy. At the end of the book, the main character discovers that her mother isn’t dead but is an elf living in the part of Faerie connected to Scotland. When she travels to try and find her, she lands in the middle of a conflict between Celtic gods and a goddess and has to draw together the Triad who still carry the responsibilities of King Arthur to protect the land. It’s her responsibility because the conflict was sparked by her father’s theft of the cup of the goddess Ceridwen. The fight between the divine ones destroys a place that the goddess of winter cherishes, so the next task is to placate her by finding the Grail and returning it to her.
What is your next big project?I was part of a mash-up panel at a speculative fiction convention where we had to create a story-line from two things that don’t go together. One was magic and a world where only the robots survived. I proposed that humans had not taught the robots to work magic so the machinery that needed magic was not working right. My next novel won’t go that far into the future, just 50 years or so when AI’s and self-driving cars are the norm, but they can’t do magic. So there are real issues in the city where magic is based worked through grafititi images and words…..I am at the world building stage in this project without yet knowing exactly what the basic question and conflict is.
Anything else you’d like to add? As well as these novels, I write a weekly spirituality column for an online news magazine. A collection of these columns also comes out this summer. Many of these reflections are grounded in the land where I live. Place and roots are important to all my writing, so even when I wrote about Greece I had to go and see the land.
Several of the books published through Waldorf Press can be found at your local library. The Palm Beach County Library System has dozens of electronic books, printed books – both novels & non-fiction, audiobooks, and DVDs or Blu-ray discs to help you understand how powerful reading can be! Travel to your closest branch or find them on the web!