Thursday, June 20, 2013
Favorite Author and My Guest Today: Catherine Anderson New York Times Bestselling Author!
Her characters are complex, often conflicted individuals who triumph over substantial odds."
She has been nominated nine times for Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, her book Cherish was a Romantic Times award winner, and she has also received one of their Career Achievement Awards.
Catherine, who is part Shoshone, and her husband live on 160 acres in Oregon. They love the wildlife on their pristine mountain ridge and enjoy the solitude of their wilderness lifestyle, which is, she says, a writer's dream.
Take it away, Catherine!
I thought I would talk some about my research behind my Western Historical romances set in 19th century Oregon. Before I started Cheyenne Amber, which was published in 1994, I spent several weeks researching the lives, beliefs, and customs of the Cheyenne Indian tribe. Native American culture has always fascinated me, probably because of my Shoshone ancestors. The Cheyenne people strongly appealed to me because of their beliefs, their respect for the land and the animals, and their sense of unity as a people.
The character Deke Sheridan grew out of my research. I didn't exactly create him...he created himself and introduced himself to me. Okay, I had my hero...now I needed to find my heroine. This tough, cynical man would have to be emotionally ambushed in order for anyone to get past the wall he's built between himself and other people. Who could best do that? Someone who's about as different from him as it was possible to get.
Laura, abused and desperate, couldn't be less interested in beginning a relationship when she bursts into the saloon and points a gun at Deke. Her approach isn't one that exactly inspires confidence, but something about her makes him agree to help her...broken gun or no. I wanted a story that combined tenderness and humor, showcasing the best of both characters, yet combined with a suspenseful plot that would keep readers flipping the pages -- and me glued to the keyboard, wanting to find out what happens next! Cheyenne Amber made a huge hit with my readers, and it’s such a joy to a writer when readers love a book as much as the author does.
Spousal abuse was a topic that was never discussed in the 19th Century. When I was researching Coming Up Roses, set in Oregon in 1890, I was horrified to read that in many towns and states women were regarded as possessions little different from horses and cattle, and that abuse was actually legal in many cases. What, I wondered, could a woman do who was trapped in such a situation? What if her husband abused not only her, but their child? If the law wouldn't help her, what could she do to protect both her child and herself?
My heroine, Kate Blakely took action and, as a result, lives on the razor edge of fear, worried about her interfering and suspicious brother-in-law and wondering if the guilty secret buried in the rose garden will ever be uncovered. The law won't care about the circumstances that trapped her and their child, and if she is arrested, what will happen to little Miranda? When her neighbor, Zachariah McGovern, shows up, he's anything but welcome. Even his act in rescuing Miranda from an old well, and nearly dying from rattlesnake bites, doesn't completely break down the barriers of fear that surround Kate.
Kate eventually does marry Zach, but she remains wary, although Miranda bonds with him rapidly and "magic wished" him to be her new dad. The little girl's trust, and Zach's gentleness with her, strengthen the bond between the adults. Above all, I wanted a story that demonstrates the power of love and trust, one that could offer hope to women everywhere.
I am frequently asked is which book was the most challenging to write. That’s an easy one. Annie’s Song. The heroine is deaf. I wondered what would that be like? How would she perceive her world, herself, the hero? What things would be hardest for her to comprehend, and how would she react because of this? How could she possibly know many of the basic things we have come to take for granted? In particular, how in the world could she communicate with, let alone relate to, the hero, Alex?
Again, I did a lot of research, but that can’t substitute for actual experience. Believe it or not, I stuck earplugs into my ears, good ones that would block out anything short of a nuclear blast, and wore them for an entire day, during which I did not utter one syllable while trying to make myself understood. I believe that experience was instrumental in my being able to create a believable hero who couldn’t hear. Even during that brief period, I found myself relying heavily on sight, touch, and what I can only describe as intuition.
For my Comanche series that Regan has featured on her blog, I spent months in meticulous research. I was at the beginning of my career, and far from well known at the time. I knew I wanted a Native American hero, but I didn’t know which tribe I wanted him to identify with. That was my first decision. I chose the Comanche people for many reasons. Their legends appealed strongly to me, and The Prophecy, on which the story is based, grew out of my extensive reading. I needed a hero who was a superb horseman, had every reason to loathe the swarms of whites who were invading the Comanche lands and slaughtering the buffalo, and who would be fiercely devoted to his people and their customs.
Hunter of the Wolf was born. As I came to know him, he felt so intensely real to me that I wouldn’t have been surprised if the man had shown up in my kitchen while I was cooking dinner and handed me the salt. (I feel sure, however, that this would have been a considerable shock to my husband.) More research, including the meaning of names, brought Loretta to life. The story flowed and took on a life of its own. I felt that it was being revealed to me as I wrote it. Halfway through, I knew I wanted this to be a series. Amy and Swift? Perfect. So, then came Comanche Heart.
My finished product was not greeted with open arms by the publishing world. A mute heroine? A strong-willed Native American hero? The book had possibilities, but would I consider changing it a little? No, I would not. Something told me this was the way the book had to be. It found a publisher, and the rest is – pun intended – publishing history.
I am unendingly grateful to everyone who has bought my books, supported my career, and taken the time to write, e-mail, or post, letting me know that you enjoy my work. I love hearing from readers and fans and I always send replies. E-mail me at CatherineDirect@ykwc.net. Each communication is precious. This is one writer who will never take her fans for granted.
Regan, thank you so much both for your wonderful blog, and for inviting me to be a guest.
As a token of appreciation, I will be offering two autographed copies of Cheyenne Amber to two winners among those commenting!