Cathy Perkins writes both suspenses and amateur sleuth stories. You can find her suspense books on all major outlets and her amateur sleuth stories are part of the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon.
What inspired you to start writing?
While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until later in life. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a consulting job in a city about ninety miles away. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon the daydream had dialogue and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under my bed, but I was hooked on writing and creating worlds and characters.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Read, read, read! Take stories you especially loved and reread them for the structure, the way the author developed character, whatever drew you so strongly to that story. Then keep writing, learning and growing.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Most of my stories start with a “what if?” For example, without giving away the plot and all the twists, The Body in the Beaver Pond began with, what if there really was a body in the beaver pond?
The “whys” lined up from there—Why was he dead? Why was Keri suspected of killing him? Why was she invested in the investigation? The characters grew and became three-dimensional as I thought through the implications and how that character might react to events unfolding around him or her.
Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits deeper into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.
What time of the day do you usually write?
I’m a night owl, so once I decide to quit my day job, I suspect you’ll see lights on at my house in the wee hours of the morning.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration can come from anywhere! Daydreams, a random conversation at a party – earlier books have a variety of inspiration sources. My latest book began this way. One night I was cutting up with Joelle Charbonneau, idly brainstorming about what to write next. She offered up the mantra, write what you know. I laughed and said, “I live on a Christmas tree farm and watch the critters on the beaver pond for entertainment. Where’s the book in that?”
There was a long pause, then Joelle said, “How many people can use all those words in the same sentence?”
I laughed it off and finished the Holly Price book I was writing, but the idea sent down roots and grew in the back of my mind. Before long, I had Holly’s recently divorced half-sister on…wait for it… a Christmas tree farm with a beaver pond. I’ll never tell which events in the book actually happened and which came out of my imagination.
Do you have a library membership?
Yes! I love my local library. While I buy a lot of books – friends and favorite authors especially – I’ve “discovered” so many new-to-me authors through the library. Using the Libby and Overdrive apps to borrow ebooks and audio-books has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, but I can’t wait to browse the aisles again.
Do you base your characters real people?
While certain characters in earlier books have been mashups of people I know, there are friends who played a big part in several characters in The Body in the Beaver Pond. I suspect a few of my neighbors may recognize bits of themselves in this book.
Like Cathy, I have had a life-long love affair with reading. As a youngster, I would wait anxiously every Saturday morning for the book-mobile to arrive at the corner in front of my house. My breaks in school were spent in the library, searching for the next mystery to read. And even now, I love to spend time at the local library sitting in a corner, reading. I just wanted to remind you that all of my books can be ordered by your local library, all you have to do is ask.