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September's FEATURED AUTHOR: Hello, Cathy Holton!

September 7, 2011
Oh, gee, is it really September already? How did summer fly by so quickly? I still have tons of reading to do!

But it is, and with it we have a new Featured Author. Come and meet Cathy Holton!

drey: Welcome to drey’s library, Cathy! I’m happy to have you here, and I hope you enjoy your visit. :-)

How about an introduction? What should we know about Cathy Holton?

Cathy: Growing up, I wanted to be a boy. I came from a generation where girls were supposed to be bad at sports, wear dresses and petticoats, be of average intelligence in school, and always, always let the boys win. I could do none of those things. I didn’t fit the ideal of Southern femininity at all. So I figured, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It wasn’t until I read Gone With the Wind and met Scarlett O’Hara that I realized there were other Southern women out there just like me.

It was a revelation.

drey: I wanted to be a boy, too. I was too gangly for a girl, and as far from graceful as you could get... We would've been great pals! *grin*

When did you first realize that you were meant to be a writer?

Cathy: As a child I was a born story-teller. Or born liar, depending on your point of view. I learned that no matter how big the whopper, if I told it as if I believed it, my listening audience believed it, too. It was a natural move from being a child who told fantastic but believable whoppers, to fiction writing.

drey: Why Southern fiction (as opposed to any other genre)? If not this, which other genre would you want to write in, and why?

Cathy: I’m really not a fan of “genres.” I think publishing nowadays is too quick to pigeon-hole writers in one particular genre, and I think it’s dangerous to the creative spark to insist on this. Having said that, most of my novels take place in the South because that’s where I’ve spent most of my life. I’ve lived out West and up North, but my family history is tied to the South.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and I suppose that’s the direction I’m moving in as a writer.

drey: What’s your writing space? How do you get “in the zone” to write?

Cathy: I have a corner of my bedroom in front of a fireplace and a wall of built-in bookshelves where I like to write. There’s a big comfortable chair and long windows that overlook a massive, one-hundred-fifty-year-old oak tree in my back yard.

The “zone” involves massive amounts of caffeine, procrastination, and a wrenching determination to leave the real world behind in favor of my imaginary world.

drey: What are the top 10 recently-played songs on your iPod/music player?

Cathy: Statesboro Blues, One Way Out, Passionate Kisses, Born to Be Wild, Pride and Joy, Better Man, Found Out About You, Follow You Down, White Wedding, And We Danced

drey: What’s your favorite movie this year?

Cathy: Jane Eyre

drey: I haven't seen it yet, I spend too much of my time reading...

Smackdown: Your favorite characters face off in the ring. Who are they, who wins, and why?

Cathy: Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett wins of course, because she’s closer to being a modern woman, which means anything goes.

drey: Tell us a bit about Summer in the South...

Cathy: Twenty-five years ago I went with a friend to visit her Great-Aunt Fanny in Franklin, Tennessee. Fanny lived in an imposing house filled with treasures; a large sterling silver collection, oil portraits of dead ancestors, a framed letter from Thomas Jefferson to Fanny’s great-great-great-grandfather. I was immediately entranced by Randal’s illustrious family history and their quietly understated, old-money wealth.

Fanny was a lovely woman, intelligent and funny and filled with a buoyant spirit. There were photographs of her and her deceased husband everywhere; standing in front of a sea plane, crouching beside a water buffalo, having cocktails in a Paris cafĂ©. On the second day of our visit, we went with Fanny to the cemetery to visit the dead. Watching as she knelt to put flowers on a grave set apart from the others, I asked Randal, “Who’s buried there?”

“Her husband.”

“The one in all the photographs?”

“No, that’s the second husband. The one over there is her first husband, Charlie.”

“What happened to him?”

“He died. We don’t speak of him.”

I couldn’t get anything else out of her. And I couldn’t stop thinking about Fanny and Charlie either. Twenty-five years later I wrote Summer in the South, the story of a Chicago writer who finds love, redemption, and a sixty year old murder mystery in a small Southern town.

drey: What are you working on next?

Cathy: The story of a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks, Stella Nightingale, who takes a job working as a caregiver for wealthy Edith Montclair Whittington. Edith, a ninety-four-year-old grande dame with a dry sense of humor and a wicked tongue, has already run off a long line of caregivers. She’s a woman whose whole existence has been one of privilege and ease, and Stella, a former runaway from a broken home who’s only recently begun to put her life back together, couldn’t be more different.

But history and destiny can bind in inexplicable ways, as each woman will soon discover. As a blossoming friendship develops between the unlikely pair, Edith begins to reveal a long-ago tale of love, menace, and secrecy that ended tragically for her mysterious sister, Laura. And Stella begins to slowly unburden herself of her own tragic story; an abusive childhood, a string of unfortunate love affairs, a life lived on the fringes of respectability.

As their friendship deepens, each woman’s story becomes a catalyst for change as these two flawed, yet remarkable women struggle to come to terms with their past, their present, and their hopes for the future.

The novel is tentatively entitled, The Sisters Montclair. I describe it as Girl Interrupted Meets Driving Miss Daisy.

drey: It sounds fabulous! 

Last (but not least!), the quickie-5: 
1. Vampires: True Blood or Twilight? Definitely True Blood.
2. Dessert: Chocolate-y or cheesy? (Cheesecake is cheesy, chocolate cheesecake is both!) Oh my. I’m going to go with both.
3. Scent: Fruity or Flowery? Fruity
4. Music: Swing or Jazz? Swing
5. Big-box stores: Walmart or Target? Target

Thank you so much for visiting us this month, Cathy!

Everyone, find Cathy online at her website,

Cathy has one copy of Summer in the South for y'all, if you live in the US. To enter, fill out the form below before September 28th. Good luck!


bermudaonion said...

This was a fun interview! I remember those days well. I can remember my Sunday School teacher giving all the girls small dolls and the boys Matchbox Cars on Christmas. I wanted one of those cars some kind of bad and couldn't talk any of the boys into trading with me. Imagine that.

holdenj said...

Welcome Cathy! I read Summer in the South earlier this summer and really liked it. I enjoyed the story about Great Aunt Fanny. And the tentatively titled The Sisters Montclair sounds great!

Denise Z said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us today and for the wonderful giveaway opportunity. I would love to read Summer in the South, it sounds wonderful.

drey said...

Ha ha Kathy, I wonder why the boys wouldn't trade... :P My son stays away from dolls like they had the plague. But he has a huge collection of stuffed animals (and would probably be embarrassed that I am telling you that)!

Julia - Yet another book you've read already! You're making me look bad!

Denise - Thanks for stopping in! Good luck in the giveaway!

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