Welcome to the latest of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with mystery novelist and interviewee (October 2011) Catherine Astolfo. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Catherine. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Catherine: Hi, Morgen! I’m from a medium-sized city in Canada, located near Toronto, Ontario. Growing up, the city was a small town, and we had characters galore. My mother always told us lovely stories about her life on a farm. Thus I had a rich upbringing in creativity. As soon as I could put pencil to paper, I started writing stories. First, fairy tales for my classmates, then short stories for my sisters and cousins. I have the feeling that I was born a writer.
Morgen: How lovely. I read a lot when I was younger (and Stephen King in my teens) but it didn’t occur to me that it was a profession I could do until I went to evening classes January 2005). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Catherine: I write mysteries. Lately, there is a new sub-genre that’s being bandied about in North America at least: the literary mystery. Much as I dislike the term “literary”, I must say that I am happy at last to have a category for my books. One literary agent said that the plots of literary mysteries are “underneath the surface”. The characters take the front seat. The vocabulary tends to be somewhat more extensive and the focus is on the personalities involved. The reader learns something about the human condition through the stories. In addition to solving a puzzle, of course. My current novel, Sweet Karoline, can also be classed as a psychological thriller: the unreliable narrator; the underlying feeling that we’re not being told everything. I have considered other genres, especially the general literary one. In fact, I have an outline for a future book that follows a couple of generations of women.
Morgen: I’ve always thought of literary as being a genre that are more poetic than other genres (and where non-genre books fit)… no doubt I’ll have readers tell me otherwise! What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Catherine: I have had four mystery novels and several short stories published so far. On July 14, 2013, the fifth book, Sweet Karoline, debuted. My publisher is an independent Canadian company from Edmonton, Alberta. My short stories have appeared in such publications as NorthWord Literary Magazine. In fact, “What Kelly Did” won the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story in Canada. I don’t use a pseudonym, although I have considered using my maiden name for a future book that’s not in the mystery genre.
Morgen: Some authors do to avoid their avid fans expecting one book but reading another (although looking at the jacket blurb would help) but I’ve always written a bit of everything so I don’t have to another name (it is hard enough to get one noticed!). Have you self-published? If so, what led to you going your own way?