Tell me about your book. Why did you choose this title?
Catchpenny is the name of the entire serial novel and Wicked Lover is part one. The word “catchpenny” means something to sell readily at a low price, regardless of value or use. It sounds like something my grandma would say, kind of like “pantywaist” or “poontang.” Weird and almost funny, but with really crappy undertones. That line of thinking is perfect for my new book, which centers around a forward-thinking girl in a backward-thinking small town. She’s uninhibited, smart, quirky…and thereby not too well accepted in her high school. Basically, Meg Shannon is the town slut, but there is nothing basic about any person’s real story. Originally, the whole series was to be titled Wicked Lover, until I realized that title only names one aspect of Meg. By the end of it, she’s no wicked lover and she’s finally realized that she is nothing to be given away at low cost.
- How did you start developing the story, how did you get inspired for it?
Like many new authors, I wanted to put every thought into my first book—kinda like a Facebook spew where you post everything you shouldn’t and your friends have to plan an intervention. That’s what editors are for, right? I had to cut so many characters, tangents, and poetic interludes to streamline my first novel, The Tramp. But I had fallen in love with fictitious Shirley County where it takes place, and I wanted to explore. I knew I couldn’t put the whole town and all its inhabitants into one book (and editing is such a damn long process), so I decided to write an offshoot serial novel. That’s Catchpenny.
It’s a lovely read. Where The Tramp is an epic adventure of many characters spanning centuries, Catchpenny is a love story between two people here and now. I love the idea of a serial book, because you can sample without much cost or time involved. It’s a great way to connect with readers and for them to check out my writing, without too much commitment either way.
- What are the major themes of your work?
This is a story of a young woman coming to understand her worth as a human being. Regardless of her looks (better than she realizes), her brainpower (considerable), her talents (notorious), or her friends (very few), she must accept that who she really is has nothing to do with any of that.
- When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
That’s a funny question to answer, because I named these characters long before I planned to write the book. The people I thought they were in The Tramp (stereotypical pawns to fill out the background of a story they had little part in) where nothing like who they became in Catchpenny. Tristan is the love interest, maybe even the hero of Catchpenny. But in The Tramp, he was a spoiled rotten star quarterback, with his beautiful photo on the school billboard. I tried to think of an annoying, jerkwad name for him (sorry for all those nice Tristan’s out there!), and that was what I thought fit the bill. Now I love Tristan and I couldn’t name him anything else. Interestingly, the name Tristan means “a knight.” And he is definitely that for .
After starting Catchpenny, I knew Meg was a nickname for something else. I decided on Mekaela, usually spelled Mikaela. It means “gift from God,” which is perfect for the Catchpenny story.
What’s your favorite part of “Wicked Lover”?
“Careful, you’re really close to the edge.”
I shot him a look full of arrogance. Valley boys visited the mountains, but they never played there. “Please.”
A narrow column of rock jutted up from the valley, separated from the main cliff by about two feet. We had always called it the exclamation point (or just “the point” for short) when I was a kid, because that’s exactly what it looked like. It was the first and smallest of the buttes, as the valley below met the canyons, and the mountains on either side squeezed the land into a bottleneck, with violent rapids rushing below. The point was wide enough for a couple people to sit on, maybe four people to stand on carefully. I hopped out onto the column of stone, my bare toes gripping the stone when I landed, steady and sure. I’d done it a million times. I focused on the moon; it looked as big as a planet about to crash right into the earth. A yellow sphere of Swiss cheese, in planetary proportions.
“The wolves will be out in force tonight,” I said, then threw my head back in a long howl. A prompt response echoed in the distance, the owner of which was more likely a hound dog hunting with his master than a roaming wolf. I laughed and looked back to see my date turning green behind me. “Don’t worry, I’ve got good balance—my mom says I’ve always been a mountain goat.”
He shook his head, sizing me up from the rear. “More like a mountain lion. Please come back, though.”
He held out his hand, obviously closer to the rim than he was comfortable with, but I ignored it. I turned back to the moon. “It’s not full yet.”
“Looks pretty full to me.”
“No, it’s still waxing. It’ll be full tomorrow.”
“Want to bet?” He stuck his hand out further, daring me to accept a shake on it.
“Okay. I know I’m right.”
The instant my hand made contact with his, his grip turned to iron and he yanked me towards himself, off the point and across the chasm. I crashed into his chest and he moved backwards with me—solid, not stumbling. His arms wrapped around my shoulders like steel girders, his body immovable and his face unflinching.
“You’re dangerous,” he mumbled, eyes blazing.
I tried to say, “You should talk,” but I’d somehow lost my voice.
“Away from the sheer drop.”
“Okay.” I nodded, glad to finally produce a sound with my startled vocal chords. I let him thread his fingers through mine, and he led me back to the car.
In the safety of the limo, he lounged back onto the seat, his eyes smoldering as he watched me. I settled myself opposite, arranging the beads of my cocktail dress and fluffing my curls, not really sure what had just occurred between us. Maybe he was angry with me; he sure looked it. I said, as innocently as I could manage, “Are you afraid of heights?”
“Afraid of having to dive off a cliff to catch you, maybe.”
I snorted. “Right.”
“Reckless,” he sighed, shaking his head.
“Sorry? You’re not like any girl I’ve ever met, Meg. It’s a lot to take in, but there’s no reason to be sorry.”
I fumbled with my beads a little more, unsure of how to proceed. I felt the car start to roll and I looked up in reaction, to see a door in the ceiling just over Tristan’s head. I had an idea. “Hey, we can get a perfect view of the moon from in here. That’s a sunroof, right?”
He looked above his head and his expression cooled. “Actually, I’ve been wanting to try that ever since I first got in.”
“You mean…ejector seat?” I met his spreading grin and he nodded, then reached over to push a button by his armrest. The window in the ceiling slid open and Tristan grabbed my hand, pulling me over to crouch with him on the seat below the skylight.
“Ejector seat!” we yelled together, springing up through the open roof, him laughing and me cheering like a five-year-old. The sky spread over us like velvet lavender, a blanket of winking stars around the glowing lunar orb. It felt so close I wanted to reach up and touch it—moments like that are the closest I ever get to church.
- Why don’t you illustrate your book?
The whole reason I got into writing and publishing was because I wanted to illustrate books! I thought illustration would help bring out the beauty in the written word and maybe push literature into the hands of a larger audience (or vice versa). But then I tried to illustrate a novel that I loved dearly. It was written by a good friend, who had always loved my artwork and leaned toward graphic, illustrative work himself. Initially, I was excited about the project. Yet, as I developed the imagery, I became increasingly disappointed with the way I was representing my own interpretation of the literary work. I knew I couldn’t come close to what was in the author’s head, and forget about the countless others that might read it. They would form their own images in their minds, just as I had—images that were precious and intimate. That was when I realized that the beauty of imagination is what binds a story to one’s soul. There is something special that happens when we read, apart from any other kind of visual entertainment. Who am I to interfere with that personal, unique experience?
- Why should people buy your book?
Because they’ll love it. Promise. This book is meant to entertain, to celebrate love and life, being young and growing up. What’s not to like? Well…unless you are particularly religious or prudish. Please, if you are, don’t read any of my books.
- What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Hhhhmmmm… 🙂 I like doing interviews but I wouldn’t offer any additional questions. Writing is a way for me to hide behind the page and feel normal doing so. I’ve always been a very shy person, with a good bit of social anxiety running through me at any kind of human interactivity in the real world. I’ll hide behind my books as much as I can get away with it!
- What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
My next undertaking is the completion of the second book in the Bound Chronicles (The Tramp was the first book in this series). It’s called The Glamour and I really have a lot to live up to. I’ve set up a good game and now I need to keep the action running, reveal another mystery, and stay true to the epic story arc. It will be difficult; there is no denying that. The entire story has already been written in my head, but I need to translate thoughts and dreams to paper in a way that people will love (much of it is already scribbled in composition books). I’ve learned a lot in writing the first one, and that only reminds me how much work it will be to complete the second. I’m up for it, though—I’ll deliver if it kills me!
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
It was a great privilege for me to get to interview Sarah Wathen, who has inspired me in many different ways. Thank you Sarah!!! Good Luck with everything!