About Catherine Astolfo:
Catherine has always been a writer. She can recall writing stories for her classmates in Grade Three. Much later, her short stories and poems were published in a number of small Canadian presses. The day after retiring from education, she started finishing her books.
The Emily Taylor Mysteries (The Bridgeman, Victim, Legacy, Seventh Fire) centre around an elementary school principal who becomes a reluctant sleuth through various circumstances. She has a dark past, the details of which are not revealed until Book Four. The series is published by Imajin Books. Catherine’s latest novel from Imajin Books is Sweet Karoline a psychological suspense in the vein of “Gone Girl”.
Reviewer Don Graves said this about the series and Catherine’s writing: “When I reviewed your novel, Victim, I told my readers that I had discovered an exciting writer with a poignant capacity to tell a story full of energy and passion. Description, dialogue, plotting, all developed with the skill of a seasoned mystery writer. Victim made my top 10 books for 2007. I recently read Legacy. It solidified my feeling that you are a writer in for the long haul.”
Catherine continues to write short stories as well. In 2012, she won the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Short Story in Canada, for “What Kelly Did”. She’s also a Brampton Arts Award winner.
Catherine is a Past President of Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) and is a member of Sisters in Crime (Toronto). She’s a recipient of the Derrick Murdoch Award for service to CWC. Her books are optioned for film by Sisbro & Co.
What inspires you to write?
I think I was born this way! As soon as I could put pencil to paper, I started writing – such as fairy tales for my classmates in Grade Three. I am intrigued by human behavior, by the presence of evil, by the squirrel poised on his haunches in the yard. I see puzzles in everything, which draws me to write mystery, though I am largely a writer whose focus is on character before plot. I read voraciously, observe, and write as often and as much as I can.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am definitely an outliner. So far, I’m not a fan of software. For some reason I like the visceral act of writing the outline on paper. Therefore I use index cards, large pieces of paper to trail after the characters, or post-its. My outlines are living documents though – they evolve as I write. Sometimes the characters take me into different directions that my plot plan never anticipated.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh yah. My neighbors do wonder about me. Crazy lady sits and talks to her laptop and it’s not on Skype or whatever. Or walks around the house asking, Why one earth did you do that? When I discover that I am thinking about and talking to my characters constantly, I know I’m on the right track. They’re “alive” and the story is proceeding as it should!
What advice would you give other writers?
Persevere! If you are a writer, you will write no matter what. Take courses, find a support group, and edit, edit, edit. Being a published author is a bonus. These days, if you can’t find someone who wants to publish your book, you can successfully do it yourself. Ensure that you have a great, polished product to sell, however. And keep writing.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I want to share my work, basically. I love having other people read my stories, whether their reactions are negative or positive. I have done both self and traditional publishing. Luckily for me, with the latter, I found a small but mighty Canadian publisher, www.imajinbooks.com, and I have loved working for and with them. Nowadays I advise authors to keep sending their work to agents and publishers, but don’t let their rejections stop you. Investing in your own product is nothing to be ashamed of – look at people like Steve Jobs, who put tons of his own money into his company at first. Go for it, on all fronts, if you have something you think readers would love.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Personally, I think this is the best time for authors. We can publish in so many different ways. We’re in the middle of an exciting shift and can ride the wave to success if we’re both lucky and talented. I believe books in print and e-books will eventually come into a balance, like television and radio, where both have a resurgence of popularity and are pretty much equal.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: mystery, psychological suspense, literary (general) fiction, amateur sleuth
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print