Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cathy Clamp Spotlight

Cathy Clamp is one half of a USA Today Bestseller writing team. Together with C.T. Adams, she has written five books for Tor/Forge's Paranormal Romance line, earning an extensive amount of awards. Laurell K. Hamilton herself said she's looking forward to more from them. Sheesh! So, read on to find out more about Cathy...

KW: Your series with Tor/Forge revolves around the Sazi. Tell me a little about the shifters you've created.

CC: The Sazi world is our real world, rather than an alternate reality where shapeshifters are common. There are stories from around the globe of people who can take the form of animals, but there's no substantiation. Why? If such a creature existed, how could it be in today's world of cell phone cameras and blogs, that nobody has a picture? How would reasonable, intelligent people NOT notice someone (neighbor, co-worker, etc.) who is always missing on the full moon? We used those questions to create our characters.

Shifting is a magical event, so naturally there would have to be illusion magic to go along with it. Think that's a stray dog trotting down the street? Think again. It's actually a werewolf. How about nights when all the dogs in the neighborhood go berserk and start barking at once? Could there be a were-cougar slipping through the alley on his way home to tuck in his kids? Naturally, they would have to stay hidden from the humans--hiding in plain sight.

We like to think of ourselves as a tolerant nation. But really think about it: If there were shapeshifters who could blind you to their presence, who were stronger and faster, could smell emotions and lived for centuries, how do you think Homeland Security would respond? The "relocation" camps of Native Americans and Japanese-Americans during WWII would only be a start. So, they're cautious. They have lawyers to get lawbreakers out of jail, and a police force to handle tougher cases. They are senators and doctors and business owners, to make sure the secret stays secret and their people stay healthy and happy. Each shifter in our world is their own person and they're indelibly tied to their animal. The werewolves are family oriented. They like big families. The great cat shifters are more solitary and are loners in their "real" lives. The raptors have well developed chests and slender legs and have quick, almost jerky movements and sharp voices. How many people can you think of around you that fit those characteristics? Lots. That's the point. :)

KW: What is the future for that series? Do you have a set number of books planned?

CC: Not really. We do have a couple of overarching plotlines going on that are about mid-plot right now. We're already planning for more books into 2009, and books for 2007 and part of 2008 are already at the publisher in some stage of completion.

KW: Would you like to be a shifter? Why or why not?

CC: I don't really know. I think there would be some really cool things about it--enhanced eyesight and scenting, and long life would be nice. But it would a harsh world, and ruled by the moon. I don't really think much about the moon cycles right now. It would take time to wrap my life around what's happening in the sky. I could probably DO it, but I don't know if I'd like it or not.

KW: Tell me how you go about writing with a partner.

CC: Cie and I have different strengths. She's exceptionally gifted at characterization--making real people just happens for her. I have to work at it. She's also great at getting plot ideas. We could write forever on just what's tucked away in her filing cabinet, not even counting what she'll think of tomorrow. I, on the other hand, am better at action scenes and romantic scenes. I think really logically (all that legal background, I guess. LOL!) so I can spot plot holes or logic gaps. Between the two of us, we usually can handle most anything.

KW: Who in your life has supported you the most in your quest to be published?

CC: Oh, most definitely my husband. I didn't discover an affinity for writing until fairly late in life. It was shortly after the death of my mother that I started on my first novel. He's really helped me in a bunch of ways, by cleaning house while I write, cooking dinner when I get wrapped up on the computer and completely forget to eat, and other stuff like that. And when I decided (a HARD decision, I assure you) to turn the writing thing into a full-time job, he agreed to pay the bills on his salary until I could start to make a living at it. So far, it's only a well-paying hobby, but we're still plugging away at it.

KW: Do you believe in the paranormal? Have you ever had any first-hand experience?

CC: Absolutely, I do. I don't have any first-hand experience, but know plenty of people that have--from ghosts to abnormal coincidences. Things like that.

KW: If you could win an Olympic medal, what sport would it be in?

CC: Probably weight lifting. I always enjoyed that and, in fact, was a competition power lifter in my early 20s. I wasn't too bad at it, either. I (briefly) held the state record in the bench press in Colorado for my weight class. Lost it in the same meet, but hey--them's the breaks!

KW: If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would you choose and what would you eat?

CC: I'd say Mary Shelley. From what I've read, she was a truly fascinating person, interested in science and math, sociology and the environment. And all with a horror twist! What could be better?

KW: How important do you think it is that a writer read? Should a writer read outside of her genre? Do you get enough time to read?

CC: Oh, absolutely writers should read, and read outside their chosen genre. I was just commenting about this the other day on a writing forum. A number of people had a negative impression of the romance genre. They truly believed it was merely a "craft," rather than a "skill." They based this on the mistaken belief that so long as you stay within the "formula" the publishers set out, ANYONE could publish a romance. EEK!! After I pulled my jaw off the floor, I started to explain how very difficult it was to write a double-arc book. People complained about the HEA requirement--calling it an "out-dated convention." It took awhile, but I finally convinced them that ALL genres have conventions. Mysteries require the mystery to be solved, horror novels require there be fear, science fiction requires the use OF science, etc., etc. Afterward, I realized that we all have preferences in reading and because of those, we sometimes become prejudiced to anything that isn't our chosen genre. If we pick up just ONE book in some other genre and don't like it, it colors our entire perception of the genre (and hence, the writers within that genre.) Mixed genres are becoming more normal. Paranormal romance only occurred because fantasy and horror readers wanted HEAs IN ADDITION to the fantastical elements. Same with thrillers, and mysteries, etc. Blending genres keeps writing fresh. But if you don't read other genres, how can you blend? Yes, definitely, READ!

KW: What's your favorite possession?

CC: Probably a collection of McCoy pottery from the 30s. I've been collecting it since I was about ten (my mother was BIG into the antique game, and I spent many a formative weekend in my youth at auctions and flea markets. Heh.) I'm only missing one or two pieces in this particular collection. I sold a bunch of them--for a lot more than I paid--in my 20s, but held onto one set of vases and have moved it from house to house. So, I'd have to say they're favorites. I'd miss them if they disappeared.

Thanks for having me on! Happy reading!

Cathy and C.T.'s new Sazi book, Howling Moon, comes out in January. I encourage you to go to her blog or website to check out all those amazing awards, read some excerpts, and find out more about these stellar (or should I say lunar?) authors!

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