Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Q&A with author Cathy McDavid

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A – First, let me say thank you for inviting me to your blog and allowing me to get to know you and, hopefully, meet new readers ☺ If I could also take this opportunity, I’d like to offer a free book (print or e-book) to three individuals who comment here and/or “like” my author Facebook page at: facebook.com/Cathy-McDavid-Books-824547790930440/ Go on, enter, it’ll be fun.

Whew! With business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff (though, winning a free book can be fun!)

I’ve been published since --- ouch, I can’t believe it’s been this long --- 1999. You’d be hard pressed to find some of my early work as those books were released by very small, practically microscopic publishers and with very little fanfare. I often describe my writing career as a series baby steps. After those first few disasters, er, I mean, efforts, I sold to larger and larger publishers finally landing my first contract with my dream publisher, Harlequin, in 2005. I’ve written exclusively for Harlequin since then and have loved every minute of it.

Finally, in October of 2014, I quit the day job in order to write full-time. I’m a bit of a left brain, right brain person and always enjoyed my job as CFO for a mid-size construction company. But, with the kids grown and out of the house, and starting a new life with my wonderful sweetheart, it seemed a good time to make a change. I haven’t regretted a single second.

Q ~ What’s your favourite pass-time?
A -- I’m very involved in my local writers group. Does that qualify as a pastime? It must, because I really enjoy getting together with fellow writers. My sweetheart and I travel when we can, taking several trips, long and short, every year. In fact, we just returned from Seattle where we visited my daughter, saw the sights and ate a lot of GREAT food. I guess I’m a real cliché because, like lots of people, I enjoy the outdoors. We hike when we can, and I just recently went fishing with my son. I’m also a big animal lover, which you’ll soon figure out if you like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter ☺

Q ~ If you could go anywhere, real or imagined, where would it be and why?
A – Next big trip on my list: a cruise to a tropical location. After that, New Zealand.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?
A- I think that depends entirely on whether that person is an avid reader or not. If someone reads, if they love books, they not only enjoy meeting an author, they have a great respect and appreciation for what the author does. If the person isn’t an avid reader, then being a New York Times bestselling author will make very little impression on them. Which is fine because, you know what? We authors are just regular folks.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
A – My reading tastes are quite eclectic, and only about half of the books I pick up are romances. At the moment, I’m going through a woman’s fiction phase. The more emotional, the better. I still like romantic suspense and the occasional historical romance.

As for what genres I like to write, that’s also all over the place. My first long ago effort was romantic suspense. I’ve also been published in paranormal and historical (American west – which I dearly love and wish there was a bigger market for it). These days, I write exclusively Harlequin Western Romance (formerly Harlequin American Romance). My stories are best described as contemporary westerns, usually involving rodeos or ranches.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?
A --- Sandra Brown. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jodi Picoult are a few of my favorites. The list is much too long to include here ☺

I would say that Sandra Brown was my biggest influence. She was an author I couldn’t get enough of back when I started writing, and I wanted to be just like her. Especially the tall, slender and beautiful part.

Q ~ Are there any new (or new to you) Authors who have grasped your interest recently and why?
Interesting question. I just read a book by a new-to-me author I found really interesting. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. It’s a period piece set in the 1920s. I’d call it a cozy thriller, though even that’s not an accurate description. Ms. Rindell has a very compelling and unique voice, but it’s her characters that made the book such a good read.

Q ~ Who is your favorite literary villain and why? Your favourite hero(ine)?
Oh, wow. Hmm. I hate to be cliché (again) but I guess my favorite villain is Hannibal Lector. I read Silence of the Lambs many years ago when it first came out in paperback, and to this day it remains one of the most riveting books on my keeper shelf. Hannibal is that perfect combination of creepy, scary, and fascinating.

Favorite hero would probably be Jacob Jankowski from Water for Elephants. I just loved that book.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
Wow, I guess there’s not much about me that isn’t cliché ☺ Like a lot of authors, I started writing in high school and won my very first writing contest during my junior year – I wrote and illustrated an early reader book. I had a few minor publishing successes in college and wrote my first romance novel (not published!) on my portable typewriter when I should have been studying. I eventually gave it all up for the business world. Taking up writing again almost twenty years ago was something of a lark, and I’m pretty sure no one thought I’d stick with it even after completing that first (or, technically, second) book. I’m currently penning my thirty-eighth published novel and have twice made the NYT Bestseller and USA Today lists. It’s just crazy!

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?

I sell on synopses, usually sending three or four of them to my editor. So, the short answer is yes, I lay out a fairly solid outline before I start even the first chapter. I like to plot, it’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process, but I’m not obsessive. I do like to allow for inspiration to strike at any time. I have an idea folder and literally clip or cut or print out things I run across that I find interesting and with story potential. I’ve been known to pull out something I’ve had in the file for years. It’s all a matter of timing.

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
Definitely small town. That’s a standard component in the Harlequin Western Romance line. Plus, I like the small town setting. It works well with the type of family orientated stories I write.

Q ~ Why did you choose to write romance as your primary genre?
I love to read it. That simple. Okay, well, I also find the complexities of romantic relationships to be compelling as a reader and challenging to write as an author. If you meet me, you might find I love hearing about your romantic relationships, past and present, good and bad. Not as fodder for my books, but because the more I learn about the dynamics of various relationships the better I can write them.

Q ~ Why do you think romance readers love reading about cowboys so much?
Cowboy heroes have been around a long, long time. Just look at this country’s earliest films. Even back to the silent era cowboy heroes and western settings were some of the most popular. From a guy’s standpoint the cowboy is someone he might wish to be like: strong, handsome, confident, skilled, and commanding respect. From a woman’s standpoint: the cowboy is someone who will protect her and care for her and make sure she’s safe. He may ride off into the sunset, but he’ll always come back for her. Tough and rugged on the outside, tender and compassionate on the inside.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
My next release, coming out in June, is titled HAVING THE RANCHER’S BABY, and is book seven in my Mustang Valley series. I will have four more books coming out in this same series, for a total of eleven. You can see I like revisiting Mustang Valley a lot!

This latest installment in the series has a common storyline for romance books: three estranged brothers and a cousin are united after the death of the brothers’ father to run the failing cattle ranch he left behind. I like stories (and series) with strong family conflict. Harlequin encourages its authors to use familiar and popular tropes in their books. In this case, the heroine is accidentally pregnant, and she and the hero must decide what to do. Of course, the timing isn’t good.

The concept for Mustang Valley, and all the books in the series, started with me taking a hike one day with my dog, gazing at the distant McDowell Mountains and wondering if any wild horses still lived in those mountains. When, after researching the area online, I discovered a few small herds of wild horses still lived there, the first three books came to me in a rush.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
In most every book I write, including HAVING THE RANCHER’S BABY, my favorite part is usually the climax. Because I write romance books featuring family dramas, the climax tends to be emotional rather than action-filled. My goal is always to write a scene that leaves me with a lump in my throat. If I can make myself want to happy cry, hopefully the reader will, too.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
We talked earlier how appealing the cowboy hero is. So, I’m always trying to find a “cowboy sounding” first name for my guys: Josh, Luke, Nick, Cody, Conner. For the heroine, I like picking names that fit her personality as I see her. If she’s sweet and gentle, she might be Anna or Lilly or Rose. If she’s a tough cowgirl, she might be Sierra or Sage or Miranda. If she’s bubbly and outgoing, she might be Liberty or Cassidy or Maddie.

Q ~ If you were stranded on a desert island with one of your characters (from any novel you’ve written) who would you choose and why?
Hands down, it would be Scott McSween from THE GATE TO EDEN. This book is one of my all time favorites, a western historical set in the Arizona territory. He’s exactly the kind of cowboy I described earlier.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
Sorry to repeat myself ☺ I just started book nine in the Mustang Valley series, the first of three in this installment. The story is one I’ve had banging around in my idea file for years. Three sisters’ lives are thrown into turmoil with the unexpected appearance of a younger half-sister they didn’t know about arrives in town, demanding a share of their recent lottery windfall. As usual, there will be good looking cowboys, lots of horses, rodeo events and cattle ranching.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t quit. It’s really easy to get discouraged. Even seasoned authors do now and again. Also, take the path to publishing that fits you. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Lastly, never stop learning.

Thanks again for having me. I really do appreciate the opportunity. I’m usually pretty open, especially about the business side of writing. If anyone has a question, ask away. And don’t forget to comment or like my author page for a chance to win a free book.

About Cathy McDavid:

Cathy has been writing contemporary westerns/ranch stories for Harlequin American since 2006 and loving it. Every day she gets to write about hunky cowboy heroes and spunky heroines who travel the rocky road to happily-ever-after. She writes full-time from the Arizona home she shares with her sweetheart Mike and what she affectionately refers to as "the animal kingdom", a trio of pets ruled by her 20-year-old cat. Her grown twins out and on their own, making their way in the world and, hopefully, finding their own happily-ever-after..

Visit her website website: cathymcdavid.com, or find her on twitter: @cathymcdavid

Title:  Having the Rancher's Baby
Series:  Mustang Valley #7
Author:  Cathy McDavid
Publication Date:   June 7/16 by Harlequin Western Romance
Length:  224pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
My Rating: ★★★★
Book Links: my reviewGoodreadsAmazon(US)Amazon(CA) - B&N - Kobo - Indigo - Google Play


His family's Arizona cattle ranch is just the place for Cole Dempsey to hang his hat before he heads back to the rodeo circuit. That is, until Violet Hathaway makes Cole think twice about his future when the livestock manager delivers her game-changing news: she's pregnant!

One passionate mistake could cost Vi her job at Dos Estrellas. And whatever growing feelings Cole and Violet have for each other, she knows the professional cowboy hadn't planned on settling down in Mustang Valley. When he hits the road again, he'll take her dream of them making a life together. Or is a rancher's legacy about to come full circle?


  1. I love books about ranchers/cowboys/ and westerns in general! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great interview! Thank you to BOTH of you!

  3. Wow Cathy you were so brave to quit your job as CFO and write full time but it paid off! I love your books and am so glad you're writing.

  4. Very nice to be able to sell a book with a synopsis. Evidence that you've worked long and hard to establish yourself as dependable to produce a promised book. Congratulations!

  5. Love cowboys and small-town romance! Lovely interview. I always enjoy discovering new authors. Thanks for the chance!