Authors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…
Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.
Our first author, Catherine Astolfo (Emily Taylor Mystery Series), is well-known in Canadian Crime writing circles. A former president of Crime Writers of Canada, retired teacher and family woman, Astolfo is no stranger to the high-energy mayhem of a writing life.
Joan O’Callaghan interviews author Catherine Astolfo:
JO: What have you written?
CA: I write anything! I have five books published, a few short stories and poems published, and I have written a television script and am working on a movie script based on one of my novels. I have this compulsion to write, even if no one reads it but my husband.
JO: When did you start writing?
CA: As soon as I could string words together and make a sentence, I started writing. I remember making up fairy tales for the kids in my class when I was seven. Even one of my former classmates from Grade Three reminded me of this! At twelve, I received my first typewriter from my grandfather, and off I went! I began to submit short stories in my twenties.
JO: Why write mysteries?
CA: I love the mystery genre because it’s so comprehensive. An author can write about injustice, tragedy, comedy, a myriad of personalities, any kind of plot or setting—it’s truly endless. There isn’t really a “formula” these days, either. So many sub-genres have popped up that it’s practically impossible to classify them all. Authors break all sort of rules when they write mystery or crime and are still very successful. There are tons of crossovers, too—we can include romance, fantasy, science fiction—and still have a solid mystery or crime at the core.
JO: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?
CA: I believe it’s a combination of our innate curiosity—that is, the desire to solve a puzzle—and the interest in evil versus good. Most mystery/crime stories result in justice being served, whereas in real life, that doesn’t always happen.
JO: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?
CA: I have a beautiful roll-top desk that was given to me when I retired from education. That’s my favorite place to write, but I will write in the car, on a beach, with a fox in a box… As for a ritual, it’s about circling the seat, getting off the Internet, and putting those fingers to work.
JO: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?
CA: I stink at this. When I had a day job, I wrote very sporadically. Now that I’m retired, I still write in spurts, even after eleven years. I keep trying to make myself a schedule, but up to this point, it hasn’t worked. But it will! I will make that schedule. As soon as I’m finished doing all the other stuff.
JO: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?
CA: I have received a Brampton Arts Award (novel), a Bony Pete (short story), and an Arthur Ellis Award (short story).
JO: What are you working on now?
CA: I’ve got three projects on the go, which I do NOT recommend for anyone. I think I’ve developed old age attention deficit. An adult novel tentatively titled Up Chit Creek is a black comedy-mystery; a young adult mystery set in the Florida everglades; and a movie script based on my fourth Emily Taylor mystery, Seventh Fire.
JO: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
CA: I know that I would write, no matter whether anyone read it or not, but being a published author is a different story, as they say. The best advice I received on being the latter is to be persistent and, in that persistence, to have faith in yourself and your talent. It’s a hard thing, sometimes, to be proud and assertive, but that’s what it takes. So I fake it a lot of the time and push myself to “sell” my writing to others.
JO: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames?
CA: Mostly, I am absolutely in love with these women. They are strong, smart, talented, fun, and hard working. Being part of this group gives me confidence, networking, opportunities, and support.
JO: Is there anything you’d like to add?
CA: Writers, especially if you have a desire to share and be published, really need a group of like-minded people who can give you advice, assistance and camaraderie. Go find your group!
Catherine’s latest novel, Sweet Karoline, (Imajin Books, July 14, 2013) is available at quality book retailers, including at Amazon.
Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.