Catt Ford lives behind the orange curtain in Southern California with a partner and two familiars in the form of cats whose fur is as black as their evil little hearts.
She is a graphic artist by day and a storyteller by inclination. Catt enjoys the research required for writing a believable story. She is a rabid card-carrying fan of bull riding and also enjoys swing dancing. She gets drunk on words and sometimes over imbibes, but loves to write about love and happy endings.
What inspired you to start writing?
I had been telling myself stories since I was a kid but never thought of being a writer. Then I found fanfic online, where anyone can post a story and get feedback. I was amazed to see so many people who wanted to read the same sort of stories I did. Then I started writing so I could read the stories I wanted to read that no one else was writing. Of course, I didn’t realize then how much work it is!
How long have you been writing?
About ten years now.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Just keep doing it. Something made you want to write, something is trying to be expressed, so you should keep at it until you feel satisfied. Once you’ve written a story, share it with a friend. Feedback is essential. Whether or not you think you said it clearly, if other people don’t get what you’re trying to say, you pretty much have to figure out another way to get the idea across. Don’t compare yourself to others. We are all us and have to use our own brains.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Of course, I do! After a little fit of frustration, I work out what the problem is. Usually, it turns out to be a technical problem, either with how to explain something, or how to transition from one scene to another without boring people to death. Because I work in a creative field with deadlines, I’m used to pushing myself through blocks.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Sean Kennedy. Partly because he is a friend of mine, but also because he does great snark and he possesses the knack of writing sarcastic, surly characters and making you care about them. That is talent.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
If I were an editor, I’d probably say grammar, complete sentences and proper punctuation, (heh) but I’m not. I prefer writing description so readers can visualize characters and settings for themselves, not necessarily as I picture it. I’m fine with readers picturing whatever they would enjoy. The best compliment anyone could pay me is: I had to keep reading to find out what happens next.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Usually, characters come to me and demand that I write their story. But they can be cagy. They won’t always share the whole story and I have to work to get them to come across. However, once I get into their heads and motivations, the entire story is like watching a movie unfold. When I get lost in their world, it’s hard to leave. I always suffer post-partum depression when I finish a story.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
In most instances, the characters come first, although they can be rather reticent at times. Occasionally I’ll have a flicker of a plot idea—and then a character arrives in my head and says ’Yeah! That’s what happened to me!’ and proceeds to sit down and tell me about it.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Even though the main character Trey is standing in his own way in the quest for love, he’s still a funny guy. His friends, Dolly and Alex, while urging him to grow a set, are funny and snarky themselves. Also, we get a glimpse of Dolly’s struggles as a female bull rider trying to make it in the men’s league. Trey manages to help to her, which shows another strong relationship—the love of a strong friendship.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
Currently, I am writing about a man who prefers to live as a woman, but this story takes place in present-day Paris. The working title is Masquerade. Can a girl find love in Paris in the springtime? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
What are you reading now?
I have stacks of books waiting to be read, by Sean Kennedy, Sue Brown and B.G. Thomas, but no time to read at present.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Prepare to crack up. L.M. Montgomery and Rex Stout were my faves in my formative years.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Sometimes it’s a painful process where I can only come up with stupid titles. At other times, I start out with one. Being a graphic artist, I also tend to shy away from long ones because short titles can be set larger on a cover (although there was that time I named a story Bully for You: Sister Marti’s Cowboy Adventure, but that was a fluke). It often helps to brainstorm story titles with my beta reader—the first person who sees my scribbles and who is an incredible wailing wall when the characters refuse to behave. She is my title-whisperer.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I received my first check for $10. Which I have still not cashed. Sentiment is an expensive mistress.
Describe your writing space.
My office is a mix of tech and fantasyland. I sit in a cockpit with a lot of computer equipment surrounding me. Right now tiny, child-sized princess gowns are hanging from every available hook while I design packaging for them. It’s sparkly in here!
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Finding time to do it!
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I usually work full time during the day, so evenings and weekends are my time to write. Occasionally I will spend a rare free day writing. I also keep a blank book by the bed and when brilliant ideas strike in the middle of the night, I jot them down. Sadly, I can’t always read my handwriting in the morning and have to guess!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I search out photos and images to inspire me. Then, if I get stuck at some point in the writing, it helps to look through them. I might visualize a room based on a piece of furniture, or an item of clothing and imagine how my character might feel in that room or wearing that article of clothing.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Watch bull riding. Seriously, I’m a card-carrying herdie. I used to swing dance until I was injured and couldn’t do it any longer. While recuperating, I happened upon bull riding on TV and was just gobsmacked. How in the hell do they DO that? A 150 lb. man vs an 1800 lb. bull? Eventually I realized bull riding is just like dancing: a silent, unspoken language where one leads and one follows, where movement, balance and timing are the method of communication. When I helped teach a class in dancing, I shared my theory of positioning yourself for success. When you get out of position, if you can get back to where you’re supposed to be, the next move will have a better chance of success. Same deal in bull riding.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
I seem to write better out of order. I may get discouraged, but I won’t give up.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Sadly, only about 18 and some are only novellas. I would have to say my favorite is The Last Concubine. It’s a historical story set in China in the 1600s about a boy who prefers to dress like a girl. He is being used as a political pawn, and is given to a Governor General for his harem, where the boy dreads the inevitable discovery of his gender. I really got into the cast of characters and the entire world I created. Most of the action takes place in the harem, which is a constricted world within another constricted world. The relationship between the two protagonists builds in an even more restricted world based on the boy’s secret—and the General’s reaction to it. I found it challenging to find a way to write with respect and tenderness about a character who preferred to live his life as a different gender without changing his gender. I also really love the cover, which I designed.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I have not heard much from readers. But my beta readers like what I write.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actress. Not a star. I liked the idea of being someone else for a while, and now I get to do that through my writing.
How do you do research for your books?
The age of Google is a wondrous thing. If I haven’t been to a place where a story takes place, I can see it in photos on Google maps, and even spin around in a circle to view the entire area. I recently went up the Seine in a river boat without leaving my desk! Research is thrilling. I was so chuffed when I found out Hertz instituted the first national credit card in the U.S. and why. I love historical research and sites like Shorpy. I try to verify information by finding it in more than one place, and make sure the places aren’t siting each other as resources. Sometimes getting lost in research delays the start of a project, that’s how intriguing it can be. I love to learn new things.
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to talk about myself and blow my own horn. The questions were interesting and made me think about why I love writing. I hope my readers will continue to enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
Bulldozed (due out February 3rd)
Bull rider Trey Stuart voluntarily ties himself onto the back of a 1,500-pound animal for fun and money. But however tough he is in the ring, Trey is too scared to take a chance on love, especially when the man he wants is star rider Smoke Carter. Trey and Smoke have been hooking up for years but Trey denies there’s anything serious going on between them.
Joining them at the gay rodeo are their friends Dolly and Alex. Wanting the same happiness they share for their friends, the two women try to convince Trey that Smoke is just as interested in him, but despite competing in the adrenaline-charged world of rodeo, Trey refuses to open his heart to Smoke. While Trey works to help Dolly succeed in covering her first bull, another man tries to come between him and Smoke, proving that love might be an even more dangerous sport than bull riding. When Smoke challenges Trey to cowboy up, he has to decide if the ride is worth the risk.