Interview with Catherine Lanigan
About the Author
Catherine Lanigan is the bestselling author of over thirty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as over half a dozen anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living your Dream”, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, “Chocolate for a Woman’s Heart”, Chocolate for a Woman’s Spirit”. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into over a dozen languages including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Ms. Lanigan’s novels are also available on audio-cassette, CD and on electronic format. A prolific writer, she is always writing wonderful stories. She has several titles only available in ebook format on Amazon.com Several of her titles have been chosen for The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Her novel, The Christmas Star, won the Gold Medal Award Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine for December, 2002, and has also won Book of the Year Romance Gold Award from ForeWord Magazine as well as Book of the Year Romance from Reader’s Preference. In March, 2006 Divine Nudges: Tales of Angelic Intervention and the second in Lanigan’s Angel Watch series of books, was published by HCI, the Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher.
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
As a child I was pretty creative with storytelling to my younger brothers and sister. We didn’t have a television, only a radio because my father thought television was an “idiot box”. My mother was ill quite a bit and to keep our hyper-active brood quiet I told stories about fairies and elves, snow queens and evil wizards. Whose plots probably weren’t all that far from reality, now that I look back on it. By the time I was six, I knew I wanted to be a writer. A journalist, actually. I didn’t write so much as read everything in sight. Reading opened worlds beyond this planet. I loved adventure books the most. My first romance was “A Gay Charmer” which was written before WWI and was my grandmothers. I was hooked. Once I discovered Jane Austin, I was toast. Once I got into college, I was told by my creative writing professor (this is a really long story, but I won’t bore you with all the details), that I had “no writing talent whatsoever.” He told me, “Frankly, Miss Lanigan, your writing stinks.” He advised me to switch majors because I’d never earn a dime as a writer. I’d written my first short story for him. He’d tossed my “manuscript” on the desk and it skidded across to me. I took that manuscript to the roof top of my dorm that night with a metal waste basket, matches and a broken heart and burned the pages. I promised God I would never write again. If I couldn’t see it, feel it, taste it, spit it out, I would never believe in dreams again.
For 14 years I didn’t write a thing. All my friends were getting poems published, not that I was any good at poetry, but this was the age of Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Anyone could get published in a college newspaper. Then in 1979 I was at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas with my family. (Another long story.) I met a journalist who listened to my story about the professor. He said, “I’m ashamed of you. You haven’t even tried. I know guys who have manuscripts piled to the ceiling with rejection slips all over them and they’re still writing.” Well, that did it. My mother could always get me to do anything she wanted me to do by saying, “I’m ashamed of you.” I went home and started writing, in long hand, in my son’s first grade notebook. I didn’t own a typewriter so my girlfriends in my cul-de-sac typed my pages at the end of every day for me. I sent the pages to the journalist. A month went by. He called one day and told me he’d gotten the manuscript, which wasn’t finished, read it and thought it was “damn good.” He sent it to his agent. “She’s going to call you in half an hour.”
The agent did call me, and after an embarrassingly uniformed and naïve conversation on my end, she asked me to sign with her company. I had to finish the book in three weeks. A month later, she had two publishing houses bidding on the book. I haven’t stopped typing manuscripts and screenplays since.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
I’m closing in on 50 at this writing. I have several books that I may publish myself this year. In addition to romance, romantic suspense and romantic action/adventure, I have three books in my ANGEL WATCH non-fiction series. Angel Watch, Divine Nudges, Angel Tales have all been published. A fourth, Angel Guides, is finished. I also have written several other non-fiction books. I’ve written several historical multi-generational sagas.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m fabulously and deliriously immersed in my Harlequin Heartwarming series, Shores of Indian Lake. I have the next top seven in my head and even the grand finale book which will be MRS. BEABOTS’S SECRETS. That book will be bittersweet to write because it will be at the end of the series. From the beginning I always envisioned 26 books in the series.
4. What does your writing process look like?
Even my agent comments that by the time I finish my chapter by chapter outline and the first three chapters of a proposal, I might as well write the book. The stories come to me at seemingly odd ball times, but in actuality, most right-brain creative thought occurs when one is doing mindless work such as driving, washing dishes, mowing the lawn. Or in the middle of the night, when we aren’t worrying about the kids, the dog, the grocery list and bills. I write out log-lines of stories. Then expand, expand and let the characters tell me their story. By the time I hand in my proposal, I’m half-way through the book.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a beautiful English writing desk I bought 37 years ago and I’ve written nearly every book on this desk. It’s situated in my living room with my back to a golf course view. The golf course was built just after WWI, so the pine trees and Walnut trees soar to heaven. It’s so gorgeous and inspiring. I have found I need a lot of nature to keep the “spirit” moving through me.
6. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose the names for the characters? Do you have any resources you would suggest?
Perhaps because I’m wired very differently from others, I let the characters tell me their names. Sometimes, I have to cook up a batch of soup to get my mind into their head to get that last name from them, but it always comes to me. Three years ago I woke up in the middle of the night and a man’s voice said, “Her name is Jazz.” I went to my computer which I never do in the middle of the night, I’m too old for that kind of thing anymore, but that night I was wide awake. I wrote six pages of the plot and backstory for my character for a three book series. In the story, the kids at summer camp called the heroine, “Jazz”, but her name was Jesse. Naming animals is tough for me.
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
I read every Heartwarming book that comes out and am never disappointed. We have the most incredibly talented group of authors and editors who make our books a cut above the rest. I enjoy Anne Rivers Siddons, Stephanie Laurens, Susan Wiggs, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber, Heather Graham and of course, Jane Austin.
8. Where is your favorite place to read?
In the winter by the fire. In the spring and summer, in the yard.
9. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made to a movie, who would you choose and for what character?
Boy! What a question. Of course, I would choose Michael Douglas, who chose me to write Romancing the Stone. I have always envisioned him as Jefferson Duke in my super-sage WINGS OF DESTINY (which is available as an ebook on Amazon and BN. Com.) I would choose George Clooney for just about anything. I met him and he’s one of the nicest guys ever. I dearly loved Patrick Swayze but he’s on the Other Side now.
Ryan Reynolds is a favorite as well as Tom Hardy, but mention Simon Baker, and you have to scrape me off the ceiling. He was the inspiration for Austin McCreary in KATIA’S PROMISE.
10. What period of history interests you the most?
The turn of the previous century. It must have been so exciting. Automobiles were coming into use. Man was inventing airplanes. The romance of horse s and carriages was still there. Gas lighting was giving way to electricity. Cities were being lit. I love writing about that era the most.
11. What inspired the idea for Fear of Falling?
When I first put together the bones of the series for Shores of Indian Lake, Olivia Melton’s character rolled around in my head daily. I wanted her to be a photographer though terrified of trying her talent. (Much like I was.) My sister, Nancy, had always wanted to go to classes and learn photography, but she died before she’d had the chance or believed in herself enough to do it. Because addictions of all kinds touch nearly every family in America, I wanted to incorporate gambling. There are so many casinos around us all today that weren’t available to us thirty years ago. The lure of “easy money” of a “quick win” instead of hard work to pay the bills is prevalent in too many lives. Gambling destroys whole families. I wanted Olivia to have lived with that pain and shame from a father who gambled away even her college savings at the horse track. Then she falls for the one man in the world she knows she should never be with. Rafe Barzonni is determined to fulfill his father’s dream of running their Thoroughbred in a race. He wants to stand in the winner’s circle and give his father, who has recently died, that one last thrill.
12. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
There was a day when I had a lot of athletic hobbies as well as crewel work, sewing and playing bridge. These days I’m happy for an extra hour of sleep. I garden a lot and give quite a few dinner parties and holiday parties. Cooking for my friends is high on my list. It also helps me to write. When I’m stuck for an idea I head for the kitchen. I still ride my bike if the day is pretty, but with a full time job, writing and promoting two or more books a year and taking care of life….my days are full.
Check out my reveiew for
FEAR OF FALLING
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