Catharine Glen is an independent fantasy author residing in New England. As a child, she loved creating stories about distant lands filled with adventure and mystery. She was probably one of the only students who actually liked writing academic reports, and as an adult discovered she had a knack for technical writing. Returning to her first passion—fiction—is like reliving a part of her childhood.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I loved books from a very early age. My mother used to read to me a lot (at my “demand” apparently!), and that interest just continued on throughout childhood into adulthood. I loved reading, loved exploring the stacks at the library and the local bookstore, loved the smell of books…OK, I still love all those things. And with that love of reading came the desire to tell my own stories, to one day have my own work “in print” for others to read.
The idea for my first novel, THE ROSE CROWN, came about back in 2011. I wrote a few scenes and eventually a very rough draft before I put it aside for a few years. Life was becoming busier and I had less and less time for writing. Though I had some other stories in various stages of completion, I came back to THE ROSE CROWN in 2015 with intent to publish. It was the story that interested me the most, and I couldn’t wait to tell it!
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Fantasy is anything you want it to be. If you can dream it, you can make it. Travel to different worlds, experience magic, encounter strange and wonderful creatures, experience the highs and lows of humanity. The only rule is that you make the rules! That’s what I love about this genre.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
Well, I am partial to the main characters, Marian and Henryk. I enjoyed writing them and their interactions with each other. But my favorite aspect is the rose crown, which is a character of sorts itself…
4.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
Marian would scope the place out to assess any threats. Then she would join her comrades at a table for a round of ale. Just one though. She has to stay alert, and help her fellow soldiers home should they become a bit incapacitated. It might be her night off, but Marian is never really off-duty.
5.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
Marian is an elite soldier and the only woman in the king’s army. Despite being skilled and proud of it, she is not perfect. She learns that even though she can hold her own against her fellow soldiers in a sparring match, there are stronger, darker foes that will demand even more of herself to overcome.
6.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
It depends on what I am writing. With a rough draft there is a sense of release, an unburdening of ideas that have been swimming around in my head. I may not always delve deep into the emotional aspect of the story at this point. However, when I am working on the following drafts, honing scenes, really examining what’s going on, that is when I feel what the characters are feeling. Above all, there’s a sense of anxiety and determination to make progress, to finish the story.
7.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
I don’t adhere to strict word count goals each session, but rather I set task-related goals. I might have a list of smallish items to address, or it might be broader such as write or finish a certain scene. Completing that day’s tasks is how I measure my productivity. I do, however, track things like daily words written and time spent writing/editing. This way I have a history of my output, which I can use to find ways to improve or to see improvement over time.
8.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
It was tough. I have a family and anyone with kids at home knows it is super hard to find time for just the day-to-day things, let alone writing. But with the support of my husband and family I was able to get some uninterrupted time each week to focus on my book (about 4-8 hours per week).
I think it just needs to be a priority in your life, and you need to make time somewhere. Get up an extra hour earlier or stay up a little later. Have a designated place to write that is void of distractions. Put it on the calendar. Don’t put pressure on yourself to write every day if that’s simply not possible. Find pockets of time throughout your week that can be spent writing.
9.If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
Remove the stigma that still remains with self-published work. I know there is a reason for it to exist, but I’ve discovered so many talented authors and read lots of awesome stories that I would have missed out on had I bought into that exclusionary attitude. I do understand it more from readers, but it’s sad when I see other writers “look down on” self-publishing, rather than celebrating our shared love of storytelling.
10.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Keep writing and improving your craft. And don’t give up!
11.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
First and foremost is my MacBook. I’ve had mine since 2009 and it’s still going strong. I do most of my planning and writing on it, though I also have an iMac now in my office which I am starting to use more. I also like to have a notebook and pens handy for notes. Regarding applications, I do 95% of my writing in Scrivener, which includes the formatting work for ebook and paperback. I also employ Word for editing (track changes is key), and Google Docs and Excel for planning.
When I sit down to write, I like to have either a cup of hazelnut coffee or Lady Grey tea at hand as well as some good writing music playing.
12.Describe your workplace.
I’ve been a bit of a nomad until recently. Most of my writing is done on my MacBook in various places around the house or in the quiet room of my local library. I now have an iMac in my office that I use solely for writing. There’s a window beside my desk, which lends some nice natural light as well as a view of the woods.
13.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
If money was no issue, I’d live in Tokyo, specifically the area of Asakusa. It has that old neighborhood feel but plenty new and modern aspects as well. On the flipside, and a bit more realistic, I’d love to live up in the mountains of Vermont. It’s a beautiful state and one of my favorite places to visit.