Today I’m pleased to welcome Catherine Wittmack to Off the Page talking about her new book, Eliza’s Shadow.
Catherine Wittmack lives in Charlotte, N.C. with her husband, Charlie, and their two sons, James and Jack. She holds a B.A. in English from Villanova University and a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. Her debut novel, Eliza’s Shadow, was published on Amazon in May 2012.
1. Tell a little about yourself, what you do when you’re not writing, what are your aspirations for the future?
My name is Catherine Wittmack and I am the author of the book Eliza’s Shadow, a YA paranormal/fantasy novel about Southern magic. I’m a mother of two little boys and live in North Carolina. I’m a total Southernphile and I love researching obscure historical events and characters, strange aspects of the natural world, folklore, and mythology. I drink a lot of coffee and if I don’t get outside for a walk at least once a day, I feel crazy.
Most of my time is dedicated to taking care of my kids so, I write in the margins of family life. When I’m not taking care of my family or writing I read!
My plan for the future is to continue to write both YA and adult fiction.
2. When and why did you start writing?
When I was 30 years old and a new mother, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I underwent surgery to remove my thyroid but was spared chemotherapy. Being diagnosed with cancer changed my perspective on life. At the time, my son was just under a year and I was struggling with the decision to go back to work full-time.
I have always loved reading and writing and dreamed of being a writer since I was a child. So, after I recovered from surgery, I made the choice to stay home with my son and began to write seriously and consistently.
3. If you could only read one book over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Oh wow, that would be hard for me because I like a lot of different flavors of books and I usually do not read books over and over again. BUT if I really did get stranded on an island and could only have one book, I’d pick something like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It is nice and long so there is plenty to read and it embodies more than one genre, romance, historical fiction, and adventure.
4. Give us some back story about ELIZA’S SHADOW, where and when did you write it?
Eliza’s Shadow is my first novel. After my cancer experience when I decided to write seriously, I wanted to take on the challenge of a novel. When I began Eliza’s Shadow I was living in Iowa, with a baby. It was a frigid, snowy winter so it wasn’t hard to stay indoors and glue myself to a computer to write. I finished Eliza’s Shadow two years later on New Years Eve in Charlotte, North Carolina. Most of the book was written at night, sometimes in the middle of the night, after my son had gone to bed.
5. What inspired your story?
I have always loved books about magic and strong female characters. I think the character of Eliza had been growing in my subconscious for a long time, it just took a little focus to pay attention to her. This book, Eliza’s Shadow, was inspired by my love of magic, folklore, and Southern culture and history.
6. What was your favorite part of ELIZA’S SHADOW to write?
Oh there are so many! But the part that allowed for the most imagination, I think, was developing the Nereid realm. It was fun to imagine their world, what they look like, and how they behave. I loved creating that world.
7. Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I am hard at work on the next book in the Eliza Gowan Series. I’m also in the process of developing my website and am planning to release some short stories as Flash Fiction on there. I haven’t written a lot of short stories but I want to get better at it!
8. Are you a Pantser or Plotter? Why?
Ha! Well, when I was writing Eliza’s Shadow, I was much more of a pantser. But since I’ve been working on the sequel I have been trying very hard to be more of a plotter. However, I allow my inner-pantser to run wild anytime creativity moves me. A lot of great stuff comes out of pantser moments but I think it is a good practice to at least start with an outline.
9. Do you have any tricks to your trade, bottomless coffee, a magic pen, a special muse?
Coffee and quiet. I have tried to write with music on or while my kids are running around and it doesn’t work! In order to be productive, I need peace, quiet, and caffeine.
10. If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be and why?
This sounds so whimsical but I’d like to be Serafina Pekkala from Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass series. She is a fabulous witch character and gets to fly around on a broom really fast.
Eliza Gowan’s past has come back to hunt her. Since her mother’s mysterious disappearance, Eliza has enjoyed a quiet life under the care of her aunt in the sleepy town of Port Rune. But the moment magnetic Ren Alden appears in her high school classroom, Eliza is thrust into the exciting world of magic and the path of danger. Menaced by an otherworldly enemy, Eliza embarks on a quest to solve the mysteries of her past and end the hunt for good.