Q&A with Catherine Anderson

Posted by Goodreads on January 15, 2018
Mystic Creek, Oregon, is the type of place where bad days are turned around by hot strangers and cute dogs. In other words, if the fictional town at the heart of Catherine Anderson's beloved contemporary romance series were real, we'd be packing our bags immediately.

Spring Forward, the latest book in the Mystic Creek series, is all about Tanner and Crystal…and a mischievous Australian cattle dog named Rip. Struggling to stay afloat, Crystal reluctantly accepts Tanner's help as she takes care of her rebellious grandfather and his "escape artist" dog. She doesn't think she has time for love or happiness. The two-legged and four-legged creatures in her life disagree.

Anderson, who is also the author of the Western romances Annie's Song and Comanche Moon, answers your questions about why she loves people watching, how to find Mr. Right (pay attention to how he treats his dog!), and what the characters of Mystic Creek would think of her if she moved into town.

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Stef: The dog on the cover of Spring Forward is so adorable! Do you have dogs of your own? What inspired this sweet dog-centric romance?

Catherine Anderson: That question makes me smile, Stef! I cannot imagine life without a dog—or two or three—in it. And, dear heaven, I now have five rescue cats. I'm down to one geriatric Australian shepherd now, but my son John, who lives in a flat above mine, has a six-month-old puppy named Gus. John informed me tonight that Gus "must" be in one of my books someday.

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a canine best friend. Rip, the dog at the center of my new book, is based on a real dog. He is unforgettable, and I felt very strongly that a fictionalized account of his story needed to be told.

Jane: Your books mean so much to me. Thank you for creating such heartwarming stories with powerful representation. Which authors inspire your work?

CA: I'm so pleased that you enjoy my books. I read so many myself that I can't pinpoint any particular author's work that inspires me. What does inspire me are the people I meet, the stories I hear of strength, compassion, incredible courage, love, perseverance, and loyalty.

I am also guilty of people watching. While others admire a fine work of art, you can catch me with tears in my eyes, watching an elderly couple holding hands…and you can bet money that a story is forming in my mind. I see so much evidence of love wherever I go. I don't see the world through rose-colored glasses—you'll find some dark characters in my work. But I concentrate my writing on goodness, courage, and determination.

Taryn: What drew you to writing, and what keeps bringing you back?

CA: My mother was a writer, and when I was quite young, I played at her feet with my dolls while she tapped away on an old Underwood typewriter. She'd often read parts of her story aloud to make sure her dialogue rang true. Before long, I was making up stories for my dolls.

I began writing at a very young age. Stories were always swirling in my mind, so much so that those in my family thought I was an airhead—which I am, I suppose, because half the time my thoughts aren't centered on what is happening around me.

When my grandson Joshua was 11 years old, he realized that I didn't make beautiful scrapbooks like his other grandma, but that I actually wrote books that people read. He was suddenly full of questions and asked me almost the same thing you have. I think my response to Joshua pretty much says it all: Writing isn't what I do; it's who I am. The urge to write never leaves me.

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Kay: I was born and raised in Oregon just like you! What's your favorite part about setting romances in your home state?

CA: I love Oregon's many different terrains, particularly the rural areas with magnificent mountain views. My pioneer ancestors also helped settle the territory. I enjoy sharing its beauty and history with others.

I once attended a Jayne Krentz lecture, and she said that all novelists should write about what they know. I know Oregon. Now I live in Montana, and story ideas about this state are coming at me frequently. I love the gorgeous mountains here. The people are so friendly and interesting. I will undoubtedly want to share the things I see and learn here in future books.

Andrea: What would be your message to your readers who also dream of becoming writers?

CA: Andrea, I can answer that question with two sentences and only four words: Quit dreaming. Just write!

But being the wordy individual that I am, I must say more. In nearly every profession, those who practice have either received education in that field or have served apprenticeships. Writing is no different. You must write and create less-than-wonderful stories before you can attain a level of expertise. (As I say that, the names of several respected novelists come to my mind who may have been so talented that their first attempts were blockbusters.) I'm sure my early attempts to create stories were awful. (Maybe some of my current attempts still are.)

My mother used to say, "Practice makes perfect." I've not yet attained perfection. I don't know if it's possible for anyone, but I do believe that the very act of writing daily—and in earnest—is the ticket to success. Even if you receive some negative feedback on your writing, don't give up the dream!

Marta: What was the first book you fell in love with?

CA: I think the first book I fell madly in love with was Cinderella. I still have my large hardcover storybook, with its broken spine and tattered pages, so worn out because my nieces also loved the story and wanted it read to them.

Looking back over my life, I believe I was influenced as a writer as much by films as by books. Lady and the Tramp captivated me. As a teen, I drooled over big-screen love stories. I devoured Nancy Drew mysteries. Later I read several "nurse romances." I believe the first adult romance I ever read as a teen was Forever Amber, which was, to me, a sad story. Even then, I was rewriting it in my mind to make it happier. In my late twenties, I swooned over The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Then my love of story matured into a passion as I grew older and was exposed to books like Gone with the Wind, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and other works that broadened my view of humanity.

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Meg: If you lived in Mystic Creek, Oregon, what sort of character would you be?

CA: I'd be the older, friendly lady everyone would gossip about because I'd rarely be seen in town. I'd live in a simple little house that I remodeled at some expense, and sometimes I wouldn't emerge for days at a time except to be outdoors with my dogs. People would wonder what on earth were in all the packages delivered to my porch. (I shop online a lot, and my publisher sends me several boxes of books occasionally.)

I'd order my groceries at Flagg's Market and have them delivered. I'd be a regular at church and make friends there, but I'd often decline invitations to their homes because of deadlines that they wouldn't realize I faced. (I don't tell everyone I meet that I'm a writer. That is something they learn only if they come to know me well or hear about it from someone else.)

Sometimes people would see me walking the dog wearing my pajamas under my coat with my hair flying wildly in all directions. I would occasionally make emergency orders for toilet paper because I forget about the necessities when I'm writing. Oh, and I'd never order eggs because I'd have a flock of hens, some of which would escape frequently—whereupon I'd be seen doing strange things, such as crawling upright on my knees near bushes, clucking and flapping my bent arms like wings. (This actually works to catch chickens sometimes.)

The townspeople might also wonder about the hours I kept, with lights often on inside my house until the wee hours of morning. Other days, when they saw nobody stirring inside the house, they'd wonder if I was dead. In short, I wouldn't be a very interesting character. Though it might be fun to feature a fictionalized version of myself in one of my stories.

Beth: What's your favorite romantic quote from a book?

CA: I don't have a favorite quote. It isn't the words spoken between two characters that tug on my heartstrings but the depth of emotion portrayed in a scene. I'm peculiar, I suppose. But in real life, it isn't what people say that touches me as much as what they do and how they do it—or, often more importantly, what leads them to do it.

When a book offers me that depth of feeling, I can remember the names of the characters months later. They became real to me. I understand them. I can relate to why they do what they do. I feel their pain and their joy. That is what I remember forever about a book that captivates me.

Kathleen: What do you do when you finish a book?

CA: I'd love to fib and tell you that I spend days watching my favorite films or reading wonderful books or taking vacations to exotic places. But usually I'm so behind schedule on other things that I rarely indulge myself that way. I am constantly reading, but in stops and starts, never snuggled luxuriously in an easy chair for hours like I wish I could do.

My husband used to say I always got sick when I finished a book. Deadlines are sometimes stressful, and I work long hours. At the time, I believe my body forced me to rest by making me get sick. Or I merely compromised my immune system by not getting enough rest.

Now that I am in the process of moving for the third time in a little over a year, I don't have time to get sick. Instead, I have been in overdrive. I wish I could paint a pretty image in your mind of my life as a writer, but the truth is—at least for me—writing is my job. I love it, but it is still a job. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and difficulties for all of us, I think, no matter what we do for a living.

Catherine: Looking for love—and at least I'm finding it in your books!! Any advice for hopeless romantics looking for their modern-day prince?

CA: Catherine, I truly wish I did. I will say, however, that there are some wonderful men out there who are feeling just as hopeless as you are. Seek new ways to circulate in your community to meet new people. Learn to play cribbage or cards and join clubs that meet for games. Compete in dart tournaments. Join a bowling team. Volunteer to do things where you may meet men.

When you meet a likely prospect, don't allow your heart to "pitter-patter" too quickly. Give it time. Get to know the man well. Be observant. How does he treat his parents? What does he say about them? If he has children, how does he interact with them? Is he an attentive father? Is he kind? Does he show them affection?

The way he treats his dog, if he has one, can be very telling as well. If it's cold, does he leave the car running so the heater will stay on to keep his dog warm? Does he carry water to give his pet a drink during a long outing?

Last but not least, be patient and hopeful. Your Mr. Wonderful may live at the end of your block, and you simply haven't met him yet.

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Staci (new)

Staci Troilo Fabulous interview. I especially love the description of who Catherine would be in her book. (Picturing the chicken mimicry now and laughing aloud.)

message 2: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Dotson Always love to get to know authors and how they view their world. And who doesn't love animals? Awesome interview.

message 3: by Martha (new)

Martha Silver poole One of my favorite authors and after reading this article even more so now; I save to buy her books and save them to read again later

message 4: by Cricket (new)

Cricket I have read Catherine Anderson for more years than I wish to reveal. I have never been disappointed and doubt that I ever will. One special thing about CA is the timely and trending presentation of current events. This interview is the same as I have come to know her by her writing. She is down to earth, very friendly with a faith that has not been shattered in spite of losing the love of her life, her high-school sweetheart. I just cannot say enough positive about this wonderful author and lady. I just hope she keeps the books coming.

message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Welker I have read a lot of CA wonderful books,she is so inspiring keep up the good work!!!!

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