Thursday, January 20, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Cathe Swanson!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Cathe Swanson

Linda: Welcome! I love a good mystery and can’t wait to hear about your book Murder at the Empire which is part of CelebrateLit’s Ever After Mystery series, a set of stories that are loosely based on fairy tales. What was your inspiration for the plot? 
Cathe: My book is based on the fairy tale, The Nightingale, but I have to admit… when Sandy from Celebrate Lit asked me if I would like to participate in the project, I chose a fairy tale to suit my plot idea. I wanted to write a story about a girl who plays the Mighty Wurlitzer organ to accompany silent movies in a magnificent movie palace. 
LM: How do you develop your characters? Are they based on people you know...or yourself? How do you decide on their names? 

Cathe: Some of these characters were inspired by real people I discovered while researching the 1920’s. There were many fascinating people in that era! Gayle’s mother was a suffragette and member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She’s a social reformer in every way, happily married to a Presbyterian minister who adores her. 
I wanted to make Gayle a nice, ordinary girl. She lacks the ambition of her mother, but she’s not ready to become a wife and mother like her older sister, either. Lots of things interest her, but she’s not ready to settle down. She likes playing the organ and being a part of the theater, but what Gayle really wants is a motor car of her own. 

And I wanted a flapper! Gayle’s childhood friend, Lilian, is a reflection of some of the young people of
Photo: Pixabay
that era. She has a tragic past, of course, and she’s saved from her wicked ways at the end of the book. 

Gayle is a nod to the Nightingale, of course. Other names were chosen to reflect their ethnic origin and social standing. I usually refer to the Social Security names index to make sure that the names I choose are fitting for the time period. 

LM: What did you edit out of this book? 

Cathe: Lots of information about life in the 1920’s! The research for this time period was fascinating. I wanted to include everything! It was a time of social, technological, and political change. Opportunities for women and people of color expanded. Affordable motorcars transformed the middle-class culture. I wanted to include everything! 

LM: What was the hardest scene in the book to write? 

Cathe: The denouement, for sure. I’ve been reading mysteries my whole life, so I knew what I wanted, but it was important to have every detail right. 
LM: What was your favorite childhood book and why? 

Cathe:. I read everything as a child, and I had different favorites at different ages. I have especially fond memories of the Anne of Green Gables series and various books by Louisa May Alcott. 

LM: What one piece of advice would you give to fledgling writers? 

Photo: Pixabay

Cathe: Just do it. Write it all out without stopping to edit. It’s too easy to stop and start, always fixing things instead of letting the story flow uninterrupted. You need to WRITE! Polishing it up comes later. As a famous author once said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” 

LM: What writing projects are on your plate right now? 

Cathe: I am working on Book 3 in my Serenity Hill series and on a book for another Celebrate Lit collection. I’ve also just started a fun series I’m co-writing with my good friend Chautona Havig. 

Linda: Where can folks connect with you? 


About Murder at the Empire

Gayle Wells is a killer organist, but does a killer have her in his sights? 

They call him the Emperor. John Starek fills his theater with fine artwork and treasures. He’s particularly pleased to have one of the country’s first female organists – and he thinks Gayle Wells is the bee’s knees. 

Despite pressure from her social crusader mother, Gayle isn’t interested in changing the world. She just wants a car of her own – and a career playing the organ at the Empire movie palace would be especially ducky. 

Then the Empire’s treasures start disappearing and employees start dying. Are a few pieces of art really enough motive for the string of murders? Will Gayle be next? 

Murder at the Empire brings The Nightingale into an elegant movie palace in the roaring 20’s – but the real excitement is all off-screen.

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