Catherine lives in Colorado and moved there to do the Colorado things – like ice hockey. She even helped start the first women’s ice hockey league in Illinois.

She started her writing career doing journalism, which helped her fiction writing. While she didn’t like journalism in high school, after she was a Deadhead, she got married and tried various other occupations.

Her current book – Mask of the Soul Eater – is the third book in her dark fantasy trilogy, which has been described as Dark Tower meets Game of Thrones.

One of her favorite books:

Her favorite bookstore:



[00:00:00] Cathy: Are you looking for new books to read? Do you like finding a new, special author? Are you tired of the same old books from the same old authors? Well then, welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast where you can hear from fantastic new authors. Join Stephen Schneider as he finds and talks to authors you may not know, but authors that have worked hard to write great new books.

[00:00:28] Hear about their book and why you should check it out. So sit back and listen to today’s discovered wordsmith.

[00:00:50] Stephen: All right. Well, Kathy, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today? I’m

[00:00:54] Cathy: doing great. How

[00:00:55] Stephen: about you? Good little rainy here, but other than that, pretty good. [00:01:00] So Kathy, I’m glad you got on to talk to us. Uh, and we’ve. You and I just had an event over the weekend together, so we’re pretty excited to be talking again now that we made face to face contact.

[00:01:11] So, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself outside of writing, what you like to do, and where you live, if you… Sure.

[00:01:20] Cathy: I live in Colorado, and, uh, I’m originally from Chicago. I’ve been in Colorado for 20 years, just outside of Denver, kind of where the mountains meet the plains, and I absolutely love it out here.

[00:01:31] I, um, what I like to do outside of writing is I’m a huge ice hockey fan or not just a fan. I play and, um, and I came out here to Colorado to do all the Colorado things. So I backpack and camp and you know, I’ve done some mountain biking and then let’s not forget reading.

[00:01:52] Stephen: Beautiful. So, so what got you into hockey?

[00:01:56] Cathy: Ah, long story, but my son when he was [00:02:00] young started playing hockey and I went there as the team mom, which was fun to some degree, but I thought, man, it’s just looks a lot more fun to play than it does to stand here with a box of doughnuts. Um, so, um, yeah, so I started looking into it and at that time, this was in the late 80s.

[00:02:22] Um, there really weren’t women in my area at all that were playing and I just called up a couple of rinks and said, can I show up? And they let me, you know, they let me, I just said, What the heck, I’ll ask and they let me join up on teams and to come in for like some of the scrimmaging drop in type things that the heist breaks all have and kind of went from there and eventually I picked up some other women who are interested in it.

[00:02:48] We started the 1st Women’s League, Illinois. Wow,

[00:02:52] Stephen: that’s pretty cool. So, uh, you obviously like the outdoors. You like sports. Why did you want to start writing? [00:03:00] Well, I’ve

[00:03:00] Cathy: been a storyteller really I think my whole life. I spent, I’m very introverted and as a kid, um, I spent a lot of quiet time by myself, um, making up stories.

[00:03:11] I like making up shit. Uh, and I just have always, I’ve enjoyed reading a lot. I enjoyed, um, stories of, and action and intrigue and that kind of thing that took place in history. I also enjoy like learning about a lot of different things in a lot of different time periods and ideas together to create like new stories.

[00:03:35] Stephen: Okay. Um, and I know you, you started off doing some journalism. Why’d you get into journalism and then why are you writing fiction now?

[00:03:44] Cathy: Well, fiction was always my first passion, of course. And, um, So I was always told, well, then in high school, it’s like, well, you should be on the high school newspaper, you know?

[00:03:54] And it’s like, okay, I tried that for one article and that was just so boring. It was unbelievable. [00:04:00] And, uh, these were back, this was back in the seventies, you know, there wasn’t. Everything had to be typed out. And if you made a mistake, it had to be typed and the high school newspaper was very controlled what you could write about.

[00:04:11] So it didn’t really fit very well. And I wanted to write fantasy stories, basically historical and fantasy stories. And I just didn’t think the suburbs of Chicago was the most interesting place to really be inspired for that. So, um, I was a bit of a rebel. I dropped out of high school. I was a chronic runaway and I ran away finally for good.

[00:04:33] And we did. Went and, uh, followed the Grateful Dead around along with other iconic, uh, 70s bands like Jethro Tull and, you know, Emerson Blake and Palmer and Led Zeppelin, uh, that kind of thing and supported myself. I got married and had a son and went through some nefarious type occupations before I realized that maybe going to college might not be such a bad idea.

[00:04:59] So, [00:05:00] um, I became an ER nurse. So I went back to school, got my degree, high school degree, got… Through college, I became an ER nurse. When I was nursing in ER in the hospital, there’s always things that need to be written. Always. There’s policy and procedure and there’s discharge instructions for patients.

[00:05:18] There’s always a need for a lot of things to be written. There’s marketing materials they need written. And they’re always looking for my volunteers to do it for free on your day off, and of course nobody wants to do that. But they all said, Kathy’s a writer, let her do it. So I did, and also a lot of things too, we did a lot of case studies, uh, in medicine and stuff.

[00:05:37] And we learned by doing case studies, which is a story. So when you have a case study, you have, you know, some kind of problem that a patient presents with. There’s a choice you have to make in the treatment. And then there’s the consequence from that treatment. Um, so in a case study, we’ll sit down and evaluate that.

[00:05:59] Like, [00:06:00] okay, this patient came in with, you know, a massive heart attack and we chose to treat it this way and it turned out well, or it didn’t turn out well. What could we have done better? That kind of thing. Writing up some case studies was actually a very good practice in storytelling in a sense. Uh, working in ER for quite a while, a position opened up in a medical, uh, nursing journal for an editor and all my friends were like, Oh, you have to apply for it.

[00:06:24] I’m like, really? I barely even finished high school. I don’t have a degree in journalism. I don’t, you know, Oh, no, apply for it, apply for it. Well, miraculously enough, I actually got the job and the editor, uh, the chief editor hired me based on a couple of fictional short stories I submitted. Nice. I didn’t have any journalism, um, article clip in those days, you would submit your article clip needs to show what you had done as part of like, I didn’t really have anything like that.

[00:06:53] So I, I told them all the writing I did like in the hospital setting and I submitted a couple of short stories and she [00:07:00] really, she gave me quite a chance. Um, she hired me based on that over people who actually had degrees in journalism. Nice. Wow. That’s pretty cool. Yeah, it was very cool. Also because I was, I had clinical experience and they were really looking for someone with clinical experience to, um, As well as writing skills.

[00:07:20] So that’s why I got into that. So

[00:07:22] Stephen: first of all, you’re not the only author I’ve talked to that basically ran away and followed a band, uh, throughout some

[00:07:30] Cathy: countries. Yes. Um,

[00:07:35] Stephen: but I think we’ve, we, we belong to the same mastermind group and there’s a lot of discussion with the authors about music. We created a channel in our Slack group just for talking about music.

[00:07:45] It seems like, or lots of authors. Also are very heavy in the music, whether it’s playing or just the variety we listen to, there’s got to be a connection with that creativity and that part of

[00:07:57] Cathy: us, I think so. And I think [00:08:00] music and I was trained, um, in classical piano. And I also. Learned saxophone and flute and clarinet as I never got very good.

[00:08:10] I was a kid, you know, young kid. I found that music was a lot more fun if somebody else did the work and I could just enjoy it. But, you know, I could just enjoy their creativity and let it inspire me and then torture myself going and doing writing instead. Got it.

[00:08:27] Stephen: Okay, so let’s talk about your books right behind you of your shoulder.

[00:08:32] Uh, you’ve got your book series and the third one is mask of the soul eaters, which doesn’t sound like we were laughing, like a lighthearted, romantic romp. Tell us a little bit about those books, especially the new one.

[00:08:45] Cathy: And it’s a, it’s a continuous series. I had, uh, I could call it a trilogy, but I am continuing to move on past the trilogy with it.

[00:08:52] So, um, I would call it, um, dark fantasy steeped in legendary history and forgotten folklore. So, [00:09:00] um, I guess in a nutshell, it’s, um, it’s a story, it’s the epic saga of a savage warriors quest to conquer the wolf demon that possesses him, reclaim his humanity. Enforces destiny in a brutal or torn tie. So yes, that’s my elevator pitch.

[00:09:18] And I’ve, you know, affected that for a long time. Good.

[00:09:23] Stephen: So give us a little more, uh, like what the books, uh, writing the books was like and why you chose that topic or that style.

[00:09:35] Cathy: Well, I kind of came into this topic and this idea of, um, A relic plays a key point in the book and when I was a kid, my parents took me to Germany.

[00:09:47] In fact, most of my extended family lives there. They used to, as a little kid, make me like, go see all these cathedrals and palaces and museums and all this kind of stuff. And when you’re a kid, that’s, I [00:10:00] love it now, but as a kid, some of that was pretty boring. One day they took me to Charlemagne’s Cathedral in Aachen and there was his skull put in.

[00:10:11] A golden reliquary and his, some of his bones and stuff were put on display in these reliquaries and they were considered relics and had magical powers. And I also saw it a lot of the cathedrals over there. They had, like, the whole skeletal remains of a saint displayed and, and that kind of thing. And I was just like.

[00:10:31] Why doesn’t my church have cool bones like this?

[00:10:34] Stephen: Right, every church should have cool bones.

[00:10:37] Cathy: Every church should have like a skeleton sitting up there on the altar. I might actually pay more attention. Right.

[00:10:42] Stephen: I don’t know. Our church probably would have had a small squirrel they got out back or something.

[00:10:48] Cathy: Yeah. And I, I just thought it was like utterly fascinating that here I was brought up a strict Catholic in the United States. And it had, like, then all of a sudden I’m [00:11:00] learning that, oh, throughout history, the Catholics sort of believed in magic, actually, in my mind, you know, and, um, I just found there a very interesting sort of dichotomy between what’s a miracle versus what’s magic.

[00:11:13] Another place I went to after all the fancy palaces is they finally took me to a true medieval. Castle that was still in medieval shape. It was a fortress for defense and it had a dungeon and it, you know, had all this kind of great battlements and, and cool stuff. And I’m just like, wow, this cool. I want to put this all together and stories, you

[00:11:35] Stephen: know, the, the inspiration.

[00:11:38] Like I said, you and I met over the weekend. We were in Salem and we’re going and we’re hopefully both working on our witch stories based on that. So you really drew a lot from the inspiration of just where you were at, but it doesn’t sound like the books are really like religious. It doesn’t really sound like they’re what you might call alternative history.[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] Fiction is it more like epic fantasy kind of token or do you put more like real world history things into them? Well, they take

[00:12:08] Cathy: place in what today is northern Germany and it is a lot. I’ve restored research historically for years and years. I’ve gone to many of the places where things to keep place. Uh, in the books and I initially started out thinking I write historical fiction until I spent quite a bit of time with historians and doing the research and the time period I write about is during Charlemagne’s era and in the 8th century, which there’s not a whole lot of documentation for that period.

[00:12:42] So, they didn’t

[00:12:42] Stephen: write a lot of

[00:12:42] Cathy: that down. Yeah, or what they have written is lost or a lot of what is written. It’s just written, um, through the perspective basically of propaganda from the court scholars, you know, you’re writing to please the king and you, you know, so basically the, you know, history is written by the [00:13:00] victors kind of thing.

[00:13:01] The, the lures there is, uh, in Charlemagne’s war, and I write about the Saxons who he conquered. Uh, viciously over a 30 year period have nobody to speak for them, you know, um, so all we know is from the perspective of his, his scholars and some writers, um, not long after Charlemagne, um, to who had a definite spin on who people he conquered.

[00:13:27] Were didn’t necessarily paint them in the best light. Whereas, uh, he himself, there’s a lot of things you could argue that wouldn’t paint him in

[00:13:38] Stephen: the best light either. No, I was just curious if it was more, uh, epic fantasy, uh, made up or based more on real life. Uh, with historically figures and places in it,

[00:13:50] Cathy: mostly based on real life.

[00:13:52] And then the, um, the mythologies that they believe this, the pagan Saxons at that time believed in a mythology. [00:14:00] Their religious beliefs were very, very similar to that of the Vikings. They were related to the Vikings and their mythology and their culture was very closely related. Um, so what I did is take a lot of those elements of, of that, um, mythology and turn it into whatever they kind of believed in is real in those days.

[00:14:20] I kind of make real so, and then there’s a few things I just throw in there. Is it’s cool.

[00:14:28] Stephen: That’s a, that’s the best thing. Create your world and make it cool. Uh, hopefully. Yeah. You indie published this, correct? I did, yes. Okay, and all three of them are out now?

[00:14:40] Cathy: All three of them are out, yep.

[00:14:42] Stephen: What’s the demographic, what type of people are reading this, and who’s giving you feedback on it?

[00:14:51] Cathy: Um, I do have, um, Some pretty diehard fans beyond friends and family, um, and, uh, well, I’ve [00:15:00] been told that, um, the series is kind of Dark Tower meets Game of Thrones, uh, also quite influenced by the Last Kingdom series, um, which is historical, but it’s, it’s, there’s a lot of things from that Last Kingdom series, which is both the TV series as well as A book, a book series and the Viking series too, for that matter.

[00:15:22] Um, that’s kind of who my readership is. If, um, they were kind of into the Viking series, if they liked our tower game of thrones, that’s kind of my market. It tends to be more male than female because it can be pretty gritty and pretty dark. Um, but I do have female readers too.

[00:15:40] Stephen: Nice. And I think that’s cool too, because, you know, we’ve heard the statistics that.

[00:15:45] Anywhere between 60 to 80 percent of the reading population is female. So to write something that gets the guys, though, being a guy, I read just about anything. So what have, uh, what have people been saying? What’s the [00:16:00] feedback you’ve gotten?

[00:16:01] Cathy: I have, um, really good feedback from my readers. I don’t, I can’t say I have like some huge readership, but it does seem to be building with every book.

[00:16:11] Um, so I would definitely say to build your readership, you gotta, you know, you get a handful of people or a couple of people who like your first book. But something else out that they really like. So they tell a few friends and they tell a few for, you know, they tell a few friends that system slowly, slowly, slowly does seem to be the way to go.

[00:16:34] I also have gone through the process of getting, um, I’ve got some trade reviews, industry reviews, and really proud of my, um, industry reviews. I’ve gotten star reviews from blue ink. Um, Perkis gave me very good reviews. In fact, I’m most proud of the one from Blue Ink where they say the book, um, or the series examines not only the relationship between religious belief and war, but also the consequences of [00:17:00] intolerance, ignorance, and fear.

[00:17:02] And I was, I was really proud of that particular line because I think my books are a fun romp. You know, there’s lots of. You know, good, good old fashioned, like, military war stuff and battle scenes and, you know, like, you might expect in, in fantasy. But, um, I also have a deeper layer that I kind of infuse into the books that if, if you want, you can kind of read it for that stuff too.

[00:17:28] So.

[00:17:29] Stephen: If you had a choice, uh, your book or your whole series, would you rather turn them into movies or TV series show?

[00:17:39] Cathy: Um, I think a TV series would work better because, um, I’m probably going to complete a six book, if not a nine book series in this, in this world, so to speak. Um, We’ll see. We’ll, we’ll take it one book at a time.

[00:17:56] For sure, I’d like to get to six, and um, that doesn’t lend [00:18:00] itself too well to just a movie. You know, a one or two hour

[00:18:03] Stephen: movie or something. Yeah, those never come out well. Yeah. Yourself, personally. Uh, who are some of your favorite authors and favorite books?

[00:18:12] Cathy: Um, well, there’s some of the very obvious things like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, both which I thought the series and books were done very well.

[00:18:22] Um, some things that maybe aren’t so obvious is I’m a big Steven Cressfield fan. Um, I think Gates of Fire is one of my favorite books. I think he’s just phenomenal. Bernard Cordwell, he’s the one that writes the Last Kingdom series, if you like historical fiction, um, about Dark Ages England, kind of that era of the Vikings and stuff, his stuff is really good.

[00:18:44] Um, love like, um, like interview with the vampire is another, that was a huge influence on me, like many years ago already. And, um, I also love outlander, which is a good one, which [00:19:00] is romance, you know, which kind of is. Interesting. Um, so I have kind of a wide taste and I love, um, I love, uh, Sir Walter Scott wrote.

[00:19:11] Wow. Okay. I mean, I love those stories. Same with Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, Kidnapped. Some of those stories can be a little more difficult reading, but the story. In them are, are just great stories,

[00:19:25] Stephen: you know, great, I remember reading those when I was a kid and really loving them, though. I think if I went back and tried now, it’d probably be a little harder read for me, a totally different time when they were written.

[00:19:40] Cathy: Yeah. Yep. But they’re great stories, just great adventures, you know, to take you away to another time and place, right?

[00:19:49] Stephen: Okay, so where you live out there, do you have a favorite bookstore that you like to go to?

[00:19:55] Cathy: Yeah, we have a bookstore out here. It’s called Tattered Cover. It’s an indie bookstore. They have, [00:20:00] um, they do have three locations, but they’re just locations within the Denver area.

[00:20:05] Um, it’s an indie store for sure. And they, they do carry a lot of local authors. Um, it’s, it’s a huge, it’s unfortunately has gotten cut back on smaller because all bookstores are cutting back on inventory, but. It is like a very large store, um, and it’s been around a long time and was kind of one of the early, I’m guessing one of the early concepts of having a broken down old building.

[00:20:33] That’s like haunted, full of old books, full of used books and new books, the coffee shop with like. Old couches, you can sit around and all kinds of nooks and crannies where you can go in and read and work. And, um, so it’s, it’s that kind of an atmosphere and they, they support the local authors and they let you do events in there.

[00:20:55] And, you know.

[00:20:56] Stephen: Nice so last question before a. [00:21:00] And for our reader part of the interview and talk, give somebody the reason why they should buy your books.

[00:21:08] Cathy: I would say if you’re a reader who likes like the darker side of fantasy, if you like things that are fairly, uh, my, my books are not for everybody by any means.

[00:21:18] They’re, they’re pretty dark. Um, they can be fairly explicit and graphic. I work very hard to make sure none of it’s gratuitous. Um, that there’s a very good point if I’m going to be kind of graphic, but it’s, it’s not for everybody. I’ve, I’ve had, um, friends and family members say, I’m sorry, I just can’t read your books.

[00:21:37] And I’m like, I totally get it, you know, um, so yeah, somebody who kind of likes that darker side of fantasy, um, and is looking to, you know, maybe get a sense of how it feels, not just what are the facts of history, but what does it really just feel like to have lived. Yeah. In long ago and far away and in these places that may [00:22:00] or may not have exists in the midst of time kind of thing.

[00:22:04] Stephen: So similar to Outlander, but a different tone to the book.

[00:22:11] Cathy: Yeah, similar to Outlander, not quite, not quite so intense on the romance aspect. There is. Romance in it and relationships in there, um, of, uh, romantic type relationships between, um, various people of various genders too, but it’s not the primary focus.

[00:22:29] Stephen: Okay, well, that gives everybody a great idea. Well, uh, Kathy, it’s been great talking to you about your book. Uh, appreciate it. And everybody stay tuned because we’re going to have a 2nd part to the episode where we’re going to talk about how. Your journalism has helped you overcome writer’s block. So thanks for talking to us about the book.

[00:22:48] Thanks for having

[00:22:49] Cathy: me on. It’s been fun.

[00:22:54] Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author [00:23:00] discuss the road they’ve traveled and maybe, sometime in the near future, it might be you.