Cathy M. Donnelly was born and lived most of her life in Scotland, which she considers to be one of the most beautiful and magical places on earth. This ancient land, with its endless stories of battles and alliances, villains and warriors, instilled in Cathy a love of reading and writing about history and the people who made it. Her interests include Norse mythology, the Knights Templar, secret societies and the supernatural. She enjoys incorporating these themes into her writing. She researches any real historical characters and events thoroughly in the hope the reader is swept into a believable world that has a touch of magic. She sets the central point of her novels around the 16th and 17th centuries and flows into the past and future using reincarnation, flashbacks and time-travel elements. She now lives by the coast in Australia and her favorite part of any day is always the time she spends with her two cats, Tigger and Pancho.
What five words describe you?
Determined, positive, animal-lover, happy, balanced
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I’m doing the final edit of my novel There is a Place set in 16th century Scotland.
It is the story of Michael Craig’s whose brother is among the 10,000 slaughtered at the Battle of Flodden Field in the year 1513. It is on this blood-soaked battlefield that Michael realizes he can communicate with the dead. He loses the woman he loves and after battling his demons for many years, becomes a monk. He gains the trust of the Knights Templar and is entwined in the lives of King James V of Scotland, his wife Marie de Guise and their child, Mary Queen of Scots.
When Michael meets Alice he recognizes a kindred spirit. He becomes her mentor and guide and they share a friendship that will bind them forever. In a time of danger, Alice is thrown through time into a world that is not her own. Michael must find a way to bring her home.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
From day one I have always envisaged the character of John in Distant Whispers, the novel I published in April, as Kevin Costner. I think Keira Knightley would be perfect as Rachel.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
It would have to be David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. I found it a complex novel but rich in characters and emotions. What an imagination David Mitchell has to weave the separate, but connected, stories into such an amazing tale that has stayed with me. I also wish I’d written my favourite quote from David's book – “My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.” I would love someone to feel about my work the way I do about Cloud Atlas.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
When I’m actually writing I don’t find it hard at all. It’s finding time away from external distractions that are difficult. My imagination is working all the time and I just want to stop what I’m doing, find a silent place, and write. One day soon I hope to create that life. It would be heaven.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?
I read some of my previous chapters which seems to get me back on the path. If I find my mind too cluttered I sit in silence and either meditate or focus on my garden or my beautiful cats. I believe time in spent contemplating nature or the things we love will send writers block into the ether.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
It would be sitting by the ruins of the 13th century monastery on the island of Inchmahome on the Lake of Menteith in Scotland. It is the setting of my upcoming novel There is a Place and I visited this magical island not only for research purposes but also to enjoy its peace and beauty. On a warm summer day, surrounded by stunning hills and listening to the array of birds among the ancient trees, I think I would get all the inspiration I need to write whatever I want. As it is I live in Australia so I’m happy writing in my office, my cats asleep on my desk.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
I rely on extensive research to get the real characters in my historical fiction as accurate as I can but I’m sure I’m influenced by traits of people I know, and others I would like to meet, for the fictional ones. I do have scenes in There is a Place in which my sister Wilma plays herself.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do read reviews. Distant Whispers hasn’t been out that long and I’m lucky the reviews I’ve received have been positive. If I was to receive a bad review I would take on board any constructive criticism but in the long run it’s my own review of my work that counts. If I don’t love my own work and think I’ve done the best job possible, there would be no point to me publishing.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
I would like to be an FBI profiler. I just love saying ‘FBI Profiler’. I’m fascinated by the work they do. I’m sure it could be a scary occupation sometimes but it would certainly give me material for characters so I would end up writing anyway.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Start writing NOW, keep at it and don’t let anything get in your way.
Where can we buy your work?
Distant Whispers, a reincarnation novel, is available from CreateSpace in paperback, and from Amazon in paperback and ebook. The paperback is also available from Petersen’s Bookstore in Hastings, Victoria.
My novel There is a Place will be published in July/early August and will also be available through CreateSpace and Amazon.
How can we keep up with you?