Wednesday, May 11, 2016

An answer and (indulge me?) a poignant anniversary by Cathy Ace

With my first contract, and the "memento"
When you are writing, do you read other mysteries? Or are you afraid it will affect your own voice?
Okay – I’m going to give one of my “No, but yes” answers to the first part of this question. What do I mean? If I have a choice I don’t read other mysteries when I’m writing, but sometimes I have to, so I do. If I’m due to participate in or moderate a panel during writing (vs editing) times of the year I have to read the books of other panel members…and I’m pleased to say I thoroughly enjoy that indulgence! However, I usually choose not to, for no other reason than that I’m likely to be too far submerged in my own work to surface and connect with that of others.

Do I choose to not read mysteries when I’m writing because I fear it will affect my own voice? No, not really. Sometimes I happen upon a sentence or turn of phrase (or an entire premise and story) that makes me want to spit nails and cry “Damn you!” at a fellow author who has done something so well I just want to throw my hands in the air and give up writing altogether...but I can only hope that doesn’t happen too often. 

My happiest reading times are when I take breaks from writing and editing (usually 3 x two weeks during the year) and I get to read for pure enjoyment and make a bit of a dent in my TBR pile. That’s when I gobble up mysteries and am my true reading-self. Like most writers (I believe) I am first and foremost a reader. During these periods I find I’m able to truly connect with what other writers are creating, and I do my best to read like a reader not like a writer, so my enjoyment is closer to that which I have felt my whole life. 

In memory of Dad
Finally – and I hope everyone will indulge me on this matter – I would like to take the chance to celebrate a bitter-sweet anniversary here. May 11th 2011 was the day I received the contract for my first novel (THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE was then published in March 2012, for which I got myself a little snail as a memento...escargots play a role in the book!) so today marks the 5th anniversary of that amazing day! May 11th was also my late father’s birthday, and the receipt of the contract on that day was especially significant to me because it was his death in 2006 that spurred me on to write more than the textbooks I’d had published to date. Dad didn’t live to share the pride I know Mum feels when she stands in the library in Swansea and sees my books on the shelf there, but his encouragement to always seek out, and be open to, new experiences, and to push myself as hard as possible (then a bit harder) certainly molded me as a person. I’m happy to have the chance to blog on this anniversary of his life, and the start of the writing career he’d have been delighted to see me have. The flowers were cut in my garden on 10th May: the iris was Dad's favorite flower, the pink rosebud is from a bush I bought when he was visiting, as is the orange rose which grows beside the front door and has the light, sherbety scent that always makes me think of summer - and reminds me to, literally, stop and smell the roses. Thanks, Dad!

Mum and Dad visiting me in Canada 2003
Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in hardback in February, and book #1 THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was published in trade paperback on March 1st) and the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #7 THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE was published in paperback in April). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at  


RJ Harlick said...

A lovely memory, Cathy. Good post.

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Robin. From the heart :-)

Nicole said...

That IS a lovely memory, Cathy! It sounds like your dad was looking out for you. :-)

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Nicole...I believe he is :-)

Vickie Fee said...

Thanks for sharing from your heart, Cathy. Sounds like we were both blessed with dear dads. Mine, too, died in 2006, before I was published. So wish I could have shared that special joy with him!

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks for joining the conversation, Vicki. Knowing they WOULD have been pleased is all we can ask, I suppose. Ten years or ten seconds gone seems about the same. I know.

Susan C Shea said...

Wondered about that snail, Cathy! My partner also died before I got an agent and was published and I am so bummed. He would have been overjoyed. Ah well, you're right, I guess. The best we can do is take comfort knowing they'd be high-fiving us every day.

Cathy Ace said...

Yep - that's what the snail is all about. I buy myself a little memento for each book. Makes me smile :-) Yes, it's sad when those we have loved don't get to enjoy all we're doing now - but we can enjoy it on their behalf (and I always try to encourage others to follow Dr. Frankenfurter's mantra - "Don't dream it, Be it"!)

Unknown said...

Lovely post, Cathy, and beautiful flowers. And good point about taking time off, stop being a writer and read like a reader.