I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interview With Catherine West

Today I have the awesome privilege of interviewing my even-more-awesome long-time critique partner, Catherine West.

Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in March 2011 through OakTara Publishers.

Cathy (the blonde in the picture, in case you were wondering...) and I met through the ACFW forums, tried to practice pitching together by instant message (her sarcastic comments during my first attempt were what endeared her to me), and were conference newbies together in 2006. She's represented by the esteemed Rachelle Gardner. Yesterday's Tomorrow is set during the Vietnam War and is gathering quite the collection of 5-star reviews. Yay! But instead of gushing more about my dear friend and writing buddy, I'll just go ahead and let her "speak."

JW: Cathy, you know you are officially a guest of the Ponderers' site, so this question is a must: When you need to ponder, what do you do?

CW: When the words won’t come, I leave the computer and head outside either to play with the dog, do some gardening or go for a walk. I also find watching movies very helpful, provided they’re good! Oh, and reading. A good book definitely gets those creative juices going again.

JW: What would be your dream writing retreat? (Besides any My Book Therapy one, I mean. :-) )

CW: Wow, that’s fun to imagine! Of course I have to say I’d love to go on a writing retreat with my favorite critique partner – her name rhymes with Dennis – you may have heard of her. I’d just love to hang out with other authors, spend time brainstorming and talking about writing. I wouldn’t care where, as long as it wasn’t too cold.

JW: Or maybe we could just all come to you. I'm sure Susie and Rachel would be game. I know I would! Next question: What was your favorite scene to write in Yesterday's Tomorrow?

CW: Ha. Love this question. Hmm. I have so many. :-) I guess if I had to narrow it down, without giving too much away, I’ll say the scene where Luke finally realizes how he feels about Kristin. It’s that moment when all bravado, tough guy exterior and get out of my face gruffness is stripped away and he’s just Luke. Real, honest and totally exposed. You can tell he’s a bit terrified. And she loves it. I also loved writing (and re-writing and re-writing…) the ending.

JW: Ah yes. Good stuff. Although I do like Luke's gruffness. :-) Yesterday’s Tomorrow is filled with vivid descriptions and details of living in Vietnam during that time period. What did you do to research this book?

CW: I did lots of things. First, I compiled a list of books related to the Vietnam War and also journalists who covered the war. I found several that were extremely helpful and I read them over and over again. I was fortunate to be put in touch with a Vietnam veteran who was willing to share things with me, and he was instrumental in helping me get a real sense of place, setting and authenticity for my story. I also spent hours and hours browsing military veteran websites, studying photographs and reading first-hand documentation. To say I lived, slept and breathed Vietnam is a bit of an understatement. When I started dreaming about jumping out of helicopters and dodging sniper fire, I took a break. :-)

JW: Probably a good idea...athough I hope you took notes! Do you think you'd write another book in that same setting--a sequel, maybe? Or during another historical time period?

CW: I’m not really partial to historicals. When the book was first completed, it wasn’t even pitched as an historical, so I found it interesting to see it in that category now that it’s published. I definitely have interest in doing a sequel, but we shall see. :-)

JW: But think of all the cool themed launch parties you could throw! (Note to readers: she had a 60s party for Yesterday's Tomorrow. Great pics, including her husband with bling and a 'fro. Fun stuff. You can find the evidence on facebook.) On a more serious note, what do you want your readers to learn or be reminded of when they finish your book?

CW: I think the biggest takeaway from Yesterday’s Tomorrow is forgiveness, hope and restoration. We may never understand why things happen the way they do, and perhaps we’re not supposed to, but I believe we’re called to forgive, and that often starts with ourselves. Hope is something we all need to survive, and I think it can be found in even the bleakest of situations. And of course, when we forgive, both others and ourselves, we allow God to restore us to wholeness through His unfailing love, grace and mercy.

JW: I love it. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

Everyone, don't miss this unique book! Learn more about it here. Watch the book trailer here. Learn more about Cathy here. Oh, and she's running a contest. Don't miss it!


  1. OK, this post clinches it. I just downloaded Yesterday's Tomorrow on my Kindle. Just this minute. I love reading a book that has been well-researched and it sounds like Cathy (I may call you Cathy, right?) did the job right. I mean, dreaming of jumping out of helicopters and dodging snipers?!
    Thanks, Jenness (rhymes with Dennis), for such a fun, informative interview!

  2. Cathy, I've wanted to read this book since I first heard about it. Now that my Kindle has been ordered and is on its way, I'll be added it to my Amazon cart!

    Great interview! Love the friendship between the two of you!! Heading to Facebook to see the groovy book launch photos.

  3. Hey, Beth, yay!! Hope you love it! Yes, Cathy is cool. Although after watching The Royal Wedding I did consider chucking it and going by Catherine. Much more regal. :)
    Lisa, I can't wait for you to read it!! Thanks and please let me know your thoughts, everyone! I love hearing from my readers and multitude of fans...okay, well, not quite a multitude, but you know...

  4. Oh, and Jenness, thanks for making the distinction between me and Noah. I'm sure people were probably confusing us all this time... :)))) And sarcasm, really?

  5. Great interview, Jenness (rhymes with Dennis). Going on over to Amazon after I comment. It's so funny that the Vietnam War era is considered historical--I lived it. lol Anyway, this sounds like an intriguing story.

    On another note, congratulations Jenness on Bliss being nominated for an Indy! Love that book.

  6. What a fun interview! Catherine/Cathy, thanks for sharing a bit of yourself here. Your book sounds like an insightful read! I'm going to have to get a hold of it. :) I look forward to reading and learning more about you. :)

  7. Great interview! I've heard so many good things about this book!

  8. Agghh, sorry to comment so late. Loved the interview...thanks for sharing, Cathy, and for introducing her to us, Jenness! :) Can't wait to read Yesterday's Tomorrow (yay for instant gratification via Kindle)...and...um, am I really horrid person for my sudden bout of jealousy at the thought of living in Bermuda??!! :)

    Thanks again, Cathy and Jenness!

  9. Thanks everyone for commenting!! If you want to catch up with me on Facebook, check out Catherine West - Author, as well as the fan page for Yesterday's Tomorrow - Book. I look forward to hearing from people and what they have to say about the story! Thanks again, MBT Ponderers!!