Author Spotlight with Cathryn Grant
Open to find out more about Cathryn Grant in this exclusive interview. Cathryn Grant, who was born in November 1963, is an American author. She grew up in both New York and Silicon Valley; she is a resident of Aptos, California. Grant studied at the San Jose State University, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in history. She spends her pastime playing golf. Cathryn is a member of Mystery Writers of America; and has been a professional writer since January 1994, when she started working as a feature writer for various regional publications. Her niches range from non-fiction to literary fiction—especially the suspense, feminist literature, motherhood, suburban, crime, supernatural, and thriller subgenres.
Cathryn Grant’s fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, The Shroud Quarterly Journal, and been anthologized in The Best of Every Day Fiction and You, Me & A Bit of We. Her short story, “I Was Young Once”, received an honourable mention in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest.
Her psychological suspense fiction reveals the motives and desires that lead to suburban crime. She’s the author of two psychological thrillers, seven suburban noir novels, the Alexandra Mallory psychological suspense series, the Haunted Ship Trilogy, the Madison Keith Ghost Story series, and a variety of short fiction. She is also the best selling author of 'The Other Couple' and 'Always Remember'.
Hi Cathryn! Thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this interview. After finding your book on Netgalley, I can honestly say I am looking forward to reading much more from you. You have an outstanding reputation, and fantastic accomplishments in life. Do you feel as though you have reached literary success?
I feel successful in that I'm able to support myself with my writing, which is an awesome feeling after working at it for so many years, but "literary success" is an elusive thing! Since I keep wanting to write books that take readers' breath away, I imagine I'll never stop chasing the goal of "literary success".
You say you love the workings behind human behaviour, is this why you choose to write thrillers, to make the reader guess what is happening and try to work it out by themselves?
Exactly, I think one reason readers love psychological thrillers is because they want to understand human behaviour. They want to understand why people do what they do. They like to figure out what characters are up to, what they're hiding, what drives them, and what they might do next.
You created the hybrid genre of Suburban Noir, for those that aren't aware of this, can you explain to the blog viewers what this means? I don't know if I created it, as much as adopted it because some of my earlier novels didn't really fit what readers normally expect in the psychological thriller genre. To me, suburban noir is about what lies beneath the often false façade of the suburbs where everyone appears happily married, with loving extended families, well-adjusted children, financially secure lives, and successful, satisfying careers. Stories that I've written under that umbrella involves crimes that rise out of the parts of their lives that people try to hide in order to fit into that mould. I think suburbia creates the illusion that everyone is living a perfect life and I like to explore stories showing that's not the case.
Two friends, one road trip, and a journey to hell...the first part of the blurb to 'Best Friends Forever', I am lucky enough to have received an ARC, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing detective, however I failed as your book is not predictable at all, which is something I really enjoy when I am reading; What was your influence for this novel, was any of the characters based on someone you know? None of the character's were based on anyone I know. I was inspired first by Raven and her grief of not being able to have a child as well as her feelings of alienation from growing up with a mother who believed with all her heart in the supernatural, and how this belief and lifestyle made Raven feel like an outsider.
I was also inspired by Lily's dual-coloured eyes and the idea that this characteristic has been viewed by some cultures as endowing the person with the ability to see heaven and earth at the same time. This wasn't a huge part of the book, but little things like that get me going and the character's and their stories emerge out of those seeds! Raven and Abbey had such a dynamic, strained friendship, which at times was quite upsetting, especially for me as a reader, as the dual narrative you used conveyed two different sides and portrayals of the circumstances that was unfolding, they all had conflicting personalities, and showed various different sides of mental health, this awareness was subtle but also fantastic and cleverly written, was your aim to highlight the struggles of mental health, paranoia and anxiety? I didn't aim to highlight mental health as an issue, but more to show the reality of how those forces play out in a specific person's life, and hopefully create empathy for what people face in their lives.
There was some hard themes involved in this book, such as abandonment, infertility, divorce, stalking and loss, do you find writing about such heavy themes gains awareness for such realistic, incredible scenarios?
It's sometimes difficult to know how readers react. I do know I wrote about addiction in a previous thriller and I heard from a reader that it was the first time she'd felt "seen" and understood. Messages like that are incredibly inspiring. So if not awareness, hopefully readers who have experienced those things feel understood.
You have famously written on many review sites, 'a fantastic gripping series of books' known as the Alexandra Mallory series. What inspired you to write these? How long did it take you to think of all the ideas to incorporate within this series? The original inspiration for that series was a little frivolous, but then it took a life of it's own. I noticed the trend of books with "girl" in the title and thought, where are the books about women? Shortly after, the title, The Woman In The Mirror, came to me. Originally, I thought it would be a standalone novel. About a third of the way into the book, the main character just took off chatting in my head, and I realised she was a sociopath and a killer. She kills men, and a few women - those she believes are irredeemable misogynists. She's primarily a vigilante killer, although some of her victims have affected her personally.
Some of my ideas have come from the news, some from off-hand comments, some from situations I observed when I worked in high tech. It didn't take me long to think of the ideas because many of them were brewing in my subconscious for years.
Out of all the books, novellas, short-stories and many more that you have written, which one do you think you would love to see on screen the most and who would you want to play your characters? I would love to see the Alexandra Mallory books made into a TV series. And I would love, love LOVE to see Jodie Comer (Villanelle in Killing Eve) play Alexandra. It would be a dream come true!
What do you like to do to relax?
I like to read, watch crime shows and crime documentaries, walk on the beach and play golf. I'm terrible at gold, but I love it because when I'm wrestling with that defiant little ball I don't think about anything else and that's very exciting.
Who is your favourite author right now?
For years, my favourite authors (I can't just pick one) have been Joyce Carol Oates and Ruth Rendell. I've somewhat recently discovered Erin Kelly and am currently loving all of her books. I also just discovered Lisa Jewell. I've only read one of her books, but have more on my digital TBR shelf.
Can you tell us something that we may not know about you?
I am ridiculously squeamish. It seems strange for someone who writes crime fiction. I close my eyes when there are any injuries or violence on TV. Even the threat of violence has me covering my eyes. If something is done to a person's eyeball, I am off the couch and out of the room with hands over my ears because even the soundtrack upsets me.
If you could give any upcoming writers any advice for starting out, what would you say? I've always wanted to write a book, but I feel as though all my ideas I cannot get onto paper, without getting confused and not thinking it's good enough, have you ever felt like this whilst writing any of your work?
I feel like that every single day. It's called the critical voice and it's what makes a writer spend three hours in her writing room and emerge with one page of writing and twenty-five completed games of Scrabble on her tablet! ;) In the beginning, it's not always "good" but that's why there's revising and re-writing and editing. Just like playing the guitar or tennis, it takes practice.
For someone starting out, I'm a believer in writing without censoring yourself. We all have a story structure embedded is us because we've heard them in all our lives so we know more than we think about how a story "works". We tell each other stories every day. After that, there are lots of websites and books that can help you learn how to develop characters and structure an entire novel. I started with short stories, which are easier to get a feel for and not as daunting as a novel.
There are lots of great books. A few that I've loved are: If you want to write by Brenda Ueland. Fearless writing by William Kenower, and Writing down the bones by Natalie Goldberg. For actually writing novel- The 90-day novel and Save the Cat writes a novel.
Thank you so much for taking part in this interview, I really enjoyed your book and I am currently on the search to delve into more of it all. What can you tell us about your upcoming future, what are your plans?
In the near future, I'm working on my next psychological thriller, The Favourite child, which should be out in August/September time frame. I'm also working on the 13th book in the Alexandra Mallory series- The Woman In The Shadows. It should be out in November of this year.
I'm glad you liked Best Friends Forever. Thank you so much for interviewing me and for such fascinating questions. You really made me think!
Thank you Cathryn, and take care!