Gail's Book Nook

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Catherine Castle Talks about Her New Book, The Nun and the Narc. Gives Away a Free Download and Shares a Yummy Family Recipe

Welcome, Catherine. I'm so happy to have you here today.

First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 43 years. I’m an avid gardener, who is constantly fighting weeds—the bane of my garden. I love going to movies, reading, quilting, and collecting cookbooks, especially the community ones you find in antique stores. There are always great tried and true recipes in those books.

It's great to have a variety of interests? Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read?
One of the first books I remember reading was a Little Golden Book about Cinderella—the Walt Disney version with the mice and birds who sewed the dress for her. As a teenager I devoured books. Pearl S. Buck was one of my favorite authors as was Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series. I also loved science fiction books, mysteries and romance stories.

Reading's a wonderful pastime, and it's great to start early. Let's talk about your writing. Why do you write?
I write because the ideas are in my head and I have to get them out. I also love the creative aspect of the task.

Tell us about your latest book.
The Nun and the Narc is an inspirational suspense romance about a novice who gets caught up in a drug deal when she tries to stop it. Sister Margaret Mary is a bit stubborn, and perhaps not the best nun material, according to Mother Superior, but she’s determined to follow her commitment to take her final vows. Then while on a house building mission to Mexico, she gets captured by drug lords and imprisoned with undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Sparks fly between the two and destinies are changed.

Amazon readers have described the book  “…as an inspirational tale with a definite twist.”  “Something a little different in the romance genre.”  “Romance, intrigue, danger, and inspiration all rolled into a neat package...”  And The Night Owl review said, “Catherine Castle takes readers on an adventuresome journey with this inspirational mystery… If you are looking for a fun mystery then this is a good choice whether you are looking to unwind at the end of the day or relax on your day off.”

What inspired you to write this particular book?
The Nun and the Narc was written originally as a contest entry, and it didn’t start out as book about a nun. The heroine was a missionary. Somewhere along the way the story stopped working and, at the suggestion of my critique partner, I changed the heroine to a novice. I’d always loved stories about nuns, and even though I knew it would be a harder sell in the inspirational market, I went ahead with the story because it took off after I changed the character to a nun.

It's great when the characters take over. What themes do you write about?
When I begin a book, I don’t have a theme in mind. The story is what’s important to me. As a romance writer I always write about finding true love, but I don’t say, “My theme is going to be about a guy and girl falling in love as they are dealing with death, or self esteem, or injustice, and I’ll have these motifs in the book.”  I like to let the theme develop naturally from the story and then look back and discover where my characters, and their struggles, have taken me theme-wise.  For me, it’s much easier to write the story than to force the story into a preconceived theme.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I have no set schedule, except what deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, dictate. I do tend to set aside blocks of time, or whole days for writing, because I hate being interrupted when I’m deep into a character’s head. I have a very cluttered office that I normally write in, but, when my husband traveled for work and I went with him, I often wrote in hotel rooms. That was really great. No interruptions, no dinner to fix, no dust bunnies screaming to be vacuumed, just an uncomfortable chair, a desk, and my computer.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m a bit of both, depending on what I’m writing. I’ve written a whole book out of sequence, which I would never do again. I’ve plotted in detail, started out with just an idea, and even dreamt a book. I find plotting makes the book go faster because I don’t have to sit in front of the screen and think too much.

What are you working on right now?
I’m trying to decide which of my partial books I should work on to submit to the editor. I have several different directions I could go now as I have a historical inspirational, and a couple of contemporary sweet romances waiting in the wings for my attention.

 If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
I haven’t thought about this much, but I had a friend who said although they love Sister Margaret, they’d like to know more about Mother Superior. She does hint to Sister Margaret that she knows more about being in love than Margret might imagine. I think Mother Superior’s shocking admission might be about a romantic relationship she had before joining the convent. Why would she reveal this? To make her more real to Margaret and readers. We sometimes expect more out of the high profile clergy and those who have publically dedicated their lives to Christ, expecting them to be perfect. Nuns, priests, ministers and missionaries are people after all, with faults, foibles, and temptations like the rest of us.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing and learn everything you can about your craft, and start your social media way before you ever send your manuscript out. Getting a handle on that while you are going through the editing and publishing process can be crazy.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I can’t imagine not writing, but, I suppose it would be doing more gardening, quilting, and traveling. Oh, and house cleaning. LOL

To Nourish Our Bodies Catherine Shares a Wonderful Family Recipe

Grandma Maude’s Sugar Cookies:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups self-rising flour or more to make a soft dough (if using regular flour add 3 tsp baking soda and t tsp baking powder)
Mix ingredients and let stand overnight. Roll quite thin and cut.
Bake 5 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes about 9 ½ dozen cookies.
This recipe has been in our family for four generations now. It’s a must serve at Christmas. When I married my husband he wanted me to bake these cookies, but his grandma didn’t use a recipe. So, she agreed to figure out the ingredients and amounts. When she died six months after I married her grandson, her sons found a handwritten recipe on her desk that I still have today. Because they knew she was writing the recipe down for me, I inherited her baking sheets, a can of Fluffo shortening, the battered Era Potato Chip can she used to store the cookies, and the official job of cookie maker. Forty-three years later, I still bake these cookies every Christmas, and I still use the items I inherited from Grandma Maude (except the Fluffo) when baking her Sugar Cookies.

Yum, and what a sweet story.

To Nourish the Soul Catherine Shares a Favorite Bible Verse

But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isa. 40:31

About The Nun and the Narc:
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

An Excerpt from The Nun and the Narc:

Jed’s head whipped around just as the car plowed through a market stand of live chickens. Poultry, wooden cages, and feathers scattered over the car. An angry hen dropped through the car’s open sunroof, squawking and flapping in front of Jed, beating his head with its wings.

Margaret reached over, grabbed the bird, and threw it back out the sunroof opening. But it was too late. The car glanced off an adobe wall into a second market stand and careened toward another building. Jed jammed on the brakes. The car spun three hundred and sixty degrees before screeching to a stop.

The impact threw Margaret sideways against the passenger window. She hit her head on the glass, the blow blinding her for a second. Jed’s body slammed into the steering wheel setting off the horn. The wail echoed in Margaret’s head as she struggled to remain conscious. Warmth trickled down the side of her head. Margaret managed to focus her eyes as the noise stopped. Two Jeds leaned toward her, in slow motion. She blinked to clear her vision.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I think so.” Something warm and sticky seeped down her face. She reached up and wiped her temple. “I’m bleeding,” she said as she stared at her fingers. The words sounded slurred. At the sight of the blood on her fingers, her stomach rolled. She swallowed to keep the bile down.
“Listen. It won’t take them long to get here. Let me do the talking.”

“You won’t have to worry about that. I feel really odd.” Margaret lowered her head between her knees. “I think I’m going to faint.”

“It might be a whole lot easier if you do.”

Bio for Catherine Castle:
Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Connect with Catherine:
Amazon author page
Buy links:


Catherine Castle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today. I'm looking forward to this.

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for sharing. It's my pleasure.

Jennifer McGowan said...

Catherine, I love your comment about writing in hotel rooms. There's something so freeing about being in a space you're not responsible for--and having nothing to do but right. I think that's why I enjoy writing in coffee shops on occasion? (or, you know, wine bars) :).

Wonderful interview!


Catherine Castle said...

You're absolutely right about that. When you take away the norms of life it's so much easier to concentrate. Thanks for stopping by.

pawf1067 said...

Congrats on the book and thank you for the sugar cookie recipe. Love those.

Patricia W. Fischer

Catherine Castle said...

Thanks, Patricia. Enjoy the cookies.

Violetta Rand said...

Hello Catherine. Seems you can write just about anywhere. I enjoyed your book very much.

Catherine Castle said...

Violetta, I'm glad you enjoyed The Nun and the Narc. As for writing anywhere, the hardest place I've found to write is in the car on a long trip. I can never read my scribbly, jerky script when I get home. I've tried to do work on a computer while traveling in the car (hubby driving of course)but the glare is too much. Thanks for stopping by.

Miss Mae said...

Wow, what an excerpt and premise for a plot! Love the cover too. :)

Aw, the poor chicken dropping through the sun roof, though. That was a nice bit to add to the drama. :)

It's really nice to meet you, Catherine!

Catherine Castle said...

Thanks, Mae. I had a lot of fun writing that chase scene. Glad you like the excerpt.

Carrie said...

This sounds like iys going to be a really good book.