Monday, August 23, 2010

I’ve got Cate Masters here with me on the “Show” today. Cate, how are you? Thanks for coming by!

I’m great, CJ! Hope you are too. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.

Interviews about novels are pretty much standard, so I want to shake things up a bit. Instead of getting right into the writing, I want to talk about you first.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Married for 33 years to my best friend, I’m one lucky woman. I love great stories, music and all forms of art. A lifelong writer, I’m continually evolving, always reaching for the next level. After years of rejections, with a short story published here and there, I have made up for it these past few years with a string of acceptances. I’m now the author of twenty-seven published works of fiction, ranging from fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative, from flash to novel length. I’m finally coming into my own, I think. :)

Any fun quirks or habits you’d like to share?
I’m pretty boring, really. Although I did inherit a rather dark sense of humor, genetically speaking. I love all comedy, but can’t tell a joke to save my life. I could never be a standup comedienne, I guess!

Other than writing, do you have any aspirations or things you’d like to do in your life time?
After trying pretty much every occupation from cashier to research assistant to statewide press association membership director to deputy press secretary, I can honestly answer with an unequivocal no. Writing’s all I ever wanted to do, the rest just pays the bills. :)

When was your first writing attempt? What was it like?
Laughable, I’m sure! My friends and I exchanged poems in grade school. I continued in my teens, working out all my angst through poetry. I’m sure it set the tone for my later fiction writing, though, as my critique partners and reviewers praise my descriptions.

If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you be; and why?
Maybe Scarlett O’Hara. She gets to have Rhett, at least for a little while (and I always liked to think she won him back after his famous diss). Beyond that, she’s feisty, inventive, beautiful and brainy.

Can you tell us your favorite childhood book?
In early childhood, I loved The Velveteen Rabbit. Probably the first fantasy I ever read! That likely started me on the path leading to Tolkien, Bradbury, Lovecraft, etc.

What one piece of advice has been the most helpful to you in your writing career?
There have been lots, and I constantly look to other authors for helpful advice and quotes. Probably the best advice, though, was simply to keep writing. In doing so, you can’t help but improve.

Ok, on to your novel. What can you tell us about Surfacing?
I’m very excited Surfacing is finally available! I entered it in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and it actually made it through the first round, lol.
I wrote it through the POV of the hero, AJ Dillon, who’s a down and out indie rocker. He travels to his grandfather’s home in Weeki Wachee, Florida, his last refuge after his band falls apart and everyone else throws him out. His grandfather, who’s a bit obsessed with mermaids, gets AJ a job captaining the Wilderness Cruise at the Weeki Wachee Springs amusement park, where women perform underwater as mermaids. AJ doesn’t believe in the real thing until he meets Cassiopeia. She changes his life in many ways, and when she’s in danger, AJ learns things about himself he never knew.
The minute I saw the cover, it was like magic. I love love love it!

What inspired this novel?
Another author on an email loop said she hadn’t seen a mermaid story in awhile. Out of curiosity, I began researching mermaids, and grew fascinated with their legends and lore. When I stumbled across a video of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids, it seemed the perfect place for a real mermaid to surface. Mermaids love handsome guys with great voices, so AJ Dillon was born.

In a few sentences, tell us why readers are going to love your novel. What sets it apart?
Hopefully readers will fall in love with the characters like I did. The setting’s unique, although it doesn’t venture below sea level, lol.

Tell us your favorite quote from Surfacing.
Oo, just one? Lol
Okay, here’s one from a scene where AJ begins to realize Cassiopeia understands him more than anyone, after he’s complained to her about his family:
She tells him:
“You can’t use your job—or your mom’s low expectations—as an excuse not to do what you want to do.”
When he doesn’t respond, she persists:
“Your music. Isn’t that what you really want to do?”
Because they’d just met, her insistence irritates him. Then he realizes: Yet she knew the most important thing.
I love those moments when you can almost hear the characters click – even if they can’t hear it themselves! Or maybe especially when they don’t realize it, but the reader does.

Describe your favorite character from this novel. Does this character reflect you as a person in any way?
All the characters are somewhat flawed, which I love. I identify with AJ because he’s a struggling artist, frustrated because he can’t get where he wants to go fast enough.

Where can we find your novel for sale? Please give us a link to your book and your author page!
Surfacing is available in ebook and print from Whiskey Creek Press
My main pages are my web site: and my blog:, where you can find links to Facebook, Twitter, and other pages.

One last question, before we let you go, ______. Will you honor us with a short excerpt from Surfacing?
I’d love to! Thanks for asking.

“Look out!” a woman screamed as the gator closed in.
Something slammed into his stomach and whooshed him beneath the water. A second slam, more like a thud, and he thought it was all over. For both of them. The thing gripped him without hurting him somehow, but moved so fast, AJ thought his body might break from the pressure of the speed. It felt like hurtling through the canal on an underwater express train, rolling as they went.
As his lungs felt near to bursting, they slowed and surfaced. Whatever held him released him by propelling him face-down onto a grassy bank.
Gasping for air, he scrambled up the side to escape it, but his arms and legs flailed, more spectacle than anything.
“What were you doing?” a girl’s rich, full voice asked.
He glanced over his shoulder, still grasping at the bank for leverage. He fell to the grass, stunned.
Instead of the ugly head of an alligator leering at him in a crocodile smile, the girl, even more gorgeous up close, leaned her hands on the bank and lifted herself up. Her wet hair clung to her chest and waist.
Too many questions flew through his head at once. “What?” he managed.
“You could have been killed. Why did you do that?” Her green eyes sparkled like emeralds flecked with onyx. Her long dark hair framed her porcelain face and rosebud lips.
His chest heaved. “You’re kidding, right? I saved you.”
She burst into laughter. Like bells tinkling, like music.
Fascination turned to irritation. He risked his life for her. “What? That alligator would’ve killed you.”
This made her laugh all the harder, her laughter like a melody he couldn’t quite place, though familiar.
The alligator drifted toward them on its side, like a log. Unmoving. Unconscious.
She giggled. “It won’t hurt you now.”
AJ glanced downriver to where the boat should have been. “What happened? Where’s the boat?” He held a hand to his head. He wished she’d stop laughing. The sound got inside his brain, jumbled his already knotted thoughts. And every time she looked at him, her eyes hypnotized him—their whites so clear and bright, the green shone like gemstones. Like no other eyes he’d ever seen.
Glancing upstream, she smiled. “Right where you left it.”
“No. I left it right there.” He still couldn’t catch his breath. Or his mind.
She twisted up and sat on the bank. “No, you left it around the bend. Remember?” As she turned her head, her hair shifted, revealing the curve of a breast.
AJ blinked, thinking his eyesight might have been affected by the impact. But he could see as clear as ever. The old biddy was right. “You’re not wearing clamshells.”
Her glittering eyes snapped to his. “What?”
His mind raced. If this girl was what he thought she was, he wanted to get closer. He slumped on the bank, letting his feet slide closer to her. “What are you doing out here? You’re not with the show.”
She tossed her head, and her hair swirled across her like a glossy curtain, tantalizing him. She edged toward the water. “No.”
The end of her tail rose, then swished beneath the canal. For a moment, he’d caught sight of it, the colors exactly as Grandpa had described: iridescent, ever-changing, like rich silk. He shifted closer for a better view. The transformation from skin to tail was seamless. Undetectable.
It was no costume.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Cate loves to hear from readers. Email her at: cate.masters AT