We've had a bit of a run of international authors in the 9mm series, so I thought that today I would share another New Zealand writer with you. So, for the the 33rd instalment in the 9mm series, Crime Watch is talking to Upper Hutt-based author Cat Connor, the creator of the FBI Special Agent Ellie Conway series of crime thrillers and short stories.
Cat has had short stories published in several international magazines. Her first two novels, KILLERBYTE and TERRORBYTE were originally published as e-books, and both have received good reviews and featured in the Top Ten bestsellers on the Mobipocket website, with KILLERBYTE making it to the #2 position. Both books are now also available in paperback form from Amazon.com. So for you international readers of Crime Watch, Cat Connor is one of the Kiwi authors whose books you can actually get hold of, reasonably easily.
You can read the first chapter of KILLERBYTE, which was a finalist in the 2010 EPIC Awards (electronic publishing awards), here.
But for now, Cat Connor stares down the barrel of 9mm.
Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Without hesitation I can say it is… Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich’s Plum series. I’ve been reading the series for 13 years, ever since best friend Chrissy and I read the first and second books on a beach in Fiji. We were hooked instantly. Stephanie isn’t so much a detective as a pretty crappy bounty hunter with a detective boy friend but it’s hard not to like her. I’ve just read the sixteenth in that series. Now that Jeffrey Deaver is writing the Kathryn Dance series I’ve got another favorite.
What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
That’s actually not an easy question. Books have always played a large part in my life, from before I could read. I enjoyed the Trixie Beldon books when I was a kid, but I think Willard Price’s Adventure series would be the books I remember the most vividly and read over and over again. Along with the James Bond series by Ian Fleming. Guess I’ve always preferred boys books more than ones aimed at girls. Let’s go with Willard Price’s Adventure series. I was a big fan of Commando comics too.
Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Before KILLERBYTE – I’d written four novels, at least two of which will one day see daylight, I hope. One of them is a NZ thriller which, when I have time, I will polish and show to my hard working publisher. I’ve also had about 14 short stories published in the USA and UK, in various magazines and ezines. After KILLERBYTE – TERRORBYTE was released, and the 3rd in the Special Agent Ellie Conway series is due out late this year, EXACERBYTE. Currently writing the 4th Conway book, both five and six are waiting polishing and revising.
Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Outside of writing? There is an outside? Say it isn’t so! Being a prolific writer means it takes up a lot of my time, if I’m not writing and promoting I’m thinking about both. It’s pretty rare for me to switch off. I do enjoy spending time with my family (how dreadfully corny) and I read a lot. Also enjoy movies and I never miss NCIS on telly. Those times when I need a break – I tend to sew or dye stuff. I love to dye things, anything. But that’s more of a summer thing. (Last time I ended up with bright pink tie-dyed jeans, they really make a statement, not sure what that statement is exactly– but they really make one!)
What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Having never seen a tourist brochure for Upper Hutt, because I live here, I’m at a loss really. Everything I can think of would be in such a brochure. Upper Hutt is more a small town than a city, even though it’s officially a city. As much as I hate to say it, it’s not exactly a tourist destination. We do have a lot of lovely parks and some of The Lord of the Rings was filmed in Harcourt Park and some of Without A Paddle a 2004 comedy (with a hint of Burt Reynolds) was filmed in Trentham Memorial Park. I fondly recall a graveyard that sprang up there during the making of the movie. A visitor should spend time in our parks or maybe doing some of the fabulous walking tracks around the hills. (Locals should too.)
If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Sandra Bullock. When everyone stops laughing I shall explain. I just think that if any actress could cope with my life which is often crowded with a million kids and the typically interesting people I attract, it's her. The real trick is to do it while confining deaths to the plot of novels… I think she has the versatility required.
That’s a really hard question. But I have to say - TERRORBYTE, because it’s the second book and it feels a little like the red-headed step child. The world hasn’t discovered it yet and that’s just a little sad. I feel it’s a slightly different book to KILLEBYTE even though it is the second in a series and has the same protagonist – or maybe I just see if differently – it’s darker but not so dark that it makes you cringe and want to hide. It’s a fabulous book and as much as I hate to play favorites… it is mine, so far.
What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
How did I celebrate? When my first short story was accepted I spent a week grinning like an idiot, I don’t actually remember celebrating as such, but I am sure I would have. I do however remember vividly the day KILLERBYTE was accepted by Rebel E Publishers. I sent a blanket text to everyone, and called my neighbor – which was more of a scream followed by a woot than a call! A few friends gathered with bottles of wine, and we sat on the deck drinking red wine and watching the stars. It felt very much like the beginning of an amazing journey with limitless possibilities. I still feel that, probably more so now I have two more novels homed with Rebel. Each acceptance and subsequent contract is cause for much celebration. (Any excuse for a party!) The day the boxes arrived from my publisher containing my copies of both books, there was much celebrating and delight. I think over the last 18 months my Admin’s and I have kept at least one vineyard ticking over nicely.
What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Being terribly new to the whole game, I’ve not yet been to a book signing, author event or literary festival. I am however going to the CHCH Writer’s Festival in September – so my answer might well change! I have signed books, and sent signed bookplates overseas to people who have asked for them. I’ve given a talk at a book club. Which was terrifying, it was back when KILLERBYTE first came out, it was an eBook and trying to explain eBooks to older kiwi women who barely used email – let’s say it was interesting, in a frustrating kind of way… and I knew not one of them would read it, because none could grasp the notion of reading from a PC, laptop, iPod or iPhone. No excuse now we have paperbacks!
Thank you Cat Connor. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk with Crime Watch.
So what do you think of this 9mm interview? Have you read any of Cat Connor's books? Do you like the sound of the Ellie Conway series? I'd love to read your comments. Please share your thoughts.