Monday, September 29, 2014

The body parts lady… author Cathy Ace

Welcome Cathy to Jamie Tremain’s blog.

We met Cathy Ace at the Bloody Words conference this past June. A transplant from Wales to Vancouver, British Columbia, Cathy is, after a successful career in marketing, doing what she loves best. Writing traditional mysteries. The fourth book in the Cait Morgan Mysteries is about to be launched.

‘The Corpse with the Platinum Hair’ brings us to our first question.


As exciting as it must have been to have your first book published, when did you feel you ‘had made it’ as an author?


To be perfectly honest, Pam, I don’t think I have, yet, though maybe it’s a feeling I’ll get one day. I still think it’s very early days in my writing career. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to have a publisher so supportive of Cait’s adventures, and, indeed, there are two more books in the series in the works for 2015, but “made it”? Not yet. I am still learning, and am enjoying every moment.


You are plowing through all the body parts in the titles of your books.  Do you intend to keep going with that theme?

Absolutely! It’s great fun, and I hope folks think it works. Of course, while some titles are more literally true (eg: Platinum Hair) many are metaphorical, and I think that’s just fine. On the horizon are corpses with Sapphire Eyes, and a Diamond Hand!

Reading your books I have vicariously travelled to the south of France, B.C.’s wine country, Mexico and now Las Vegas in the Corpse with the Platinum Hair. Now that’s the kind of research I would like. Did you travel to all these spots for atmosphere?

I know I’m a lucky girl, and, yes, I know all the places I write about very well. I used to spend three or four months each year in the south of France; I live only three hours away from BC’s fabulous wine country; I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and Vegas? I LOVE Vegas. Just over two hours away, by plane of course, it’s close enough for weekend jaunts. In 2015 Cait travels to Wales, where I was born and raised (I didn’t migrate to Canada until I was 40) and she also gets to cruise the Hawaiian Islands on a luxury liner – something I’ve been fortunate enough to do myself, indeed, my husband and I were married in Honolulu. After that? Well, I know where she’s off to in 2016 . . . but I think my publisher would like me to keep that to myself for now. Suffice to say I know the countries well, and the locales too . . . though I am planning return trips there to “double check” my facts!

You were telling us about a new series you are starting. I love the premise.  Women of the W.I.S.E.  Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. Can you tell us more about it? We could travel to Scotland for some research if you like!

I really enjoy writing the Cait Morgan Mysteries, and I’m delighted that a lot of people like to read about a travelling, foodie, not-so-amateur sleuth and her retired cop “significant other”. But a change is as good as a rest, or so they say, and I’ve always enjoyed Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books. I put those two things together with my own British background, and came up with The Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency. They are a group of women from different backgrounds, who have formed a private enquiries agency, based in London. 

Carol Hill is in her thirties, Welsh, married and finally, very happily, pregnant. She’s a computer whizz, and is the office based person in the group. The Honourable Christine Wilson-Smythe is the daughter of an Irish Viscount, in her late twenties, very beautiful, very bright, and very single. Intrepid, and as fearless as only those under thirty can be, she sees life as an adventure. Mavis MacDonald is in her early sixties, just retired from her final posting as a matron in the British Army, a widow with two grown sons, grandchildren, and an aged mother who lives at a care home in Dumfries, Scotland, which is where Mavis grew up before she began to travel the world as a nurse. Mavis knows how to treat people from all walks of life as real human beings, and she has a good business head on her shoulders. Then there’s Annie Parker—her parents moved to the East End of London from St Lucia before she was born, so Annie’s blood might be an Afro-Caribe mix, but she’s as Cockney as they come, and loves living in The Big Smoke. A sharp tongue hides a vulnerable soul, and she’s decided, now she’s in her early fifties, that she’ll never get married, but relies for company upon her mum, Eustelle. Annie’s nuts about anything gumshoe, but these aren’t hardboiled PIs, they are women who enquire, and each possesses a unique skill set which allows them to work well as a team. In this first book of the series they are called to a stately home in Wales to investigate the Case of the Dotty Dowager. 


If I were to travel to Wales (which I’d love to one day!) give me one or two ‘must see’ destinations not in the guide books.

Being a Swansea girl I will suggest you start there—the Gower Peninsula is in all the guide books, and rightly so, because it’s stunning. You’ll even find entries about an area called The Mumbles. But the hidden gem? Joe’s Ice cream parlour in The Mumbles—I have eaten ice cream on several continents, and Joe’s is THE best! A chocolate sundae at Joe’s is on my MUST DO list whenever I visit my mum and sister, who still live in Swansea! Also, (and again with a food theme—surprise, surprise) in a part of the Gower called Rhossili, there’s a little place I love to visit. When I was little it was called “Thomas’s”, so that’s how we refer to it within the family, but it’s been renamed The Bay Bistro, and it has a great, small, locally sourced menu, and a stunning view of the beach. When you’re full of lovely local food, you can walk out to the Worm’s Head (Google it!). Of course, back in Swansea you should visit The Brangwyn Hall, to see the world-famous panels painted by Frank Brangwyn, and drop into the Dylan Thomas centre, celebrating Swansea’s most famous literary figure. (Psst! A couple of these are mentioned in Cait Morgan’s fifth book, The Corpse with the Sapphire Eyes, which is set in a castle on the Gower Peninsula!)

You recently became Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada.   Multitasking must come easily for you. Deadlines for a new series, social networking, travelling to conferences and family time. When do you write?

Cathy: You know, this is one of those question where the answer keeps changing. When I wrote my first two books I was working as a University lecturer, but then I “retired” (for the second time in my life—I’m making a habit of it!) and thought I’d have more time to write. And, indeed, for a while I did. But now? Now I usually write first thing in the morning for a few hours, then get other stuff done, then, when everyone’s gone to bed around 9.30pm I start again, writing through until about 2am. It’s quiet, and my mind seems to work well at that time. But I’m not someone who writes every day. Well, I do, but not my novels. Those I write in short, sharp bursts for four weeks, with all the plotting, planning, time-lining, and character development done ahead of time, then I sit down and can hardly stop!


If Cait Morgan were to be brought to life through film or television – have you an actor in mind to play the part?


If Catherine Zeta Jones would be prepared to gain 80lbs, allow herself to be aged a few years, and get her hair grayed, she’d be perfect (except for the blue eyes!) It’s the accent, you see . . . there aren’t a lot of Swansea-born actresses with that transatlantic twang that creeps in after a few years, and she’d have that off pat. Funnily enough, when I recorded the first two Cait Morgan books for Audible, the recording engineer said I sounded a bit like her! Yes, we grew up together (I’m a fair few years her senior) and I knew her when she was a child and as a teen, so I suppose that explains the similarities.


There is a profusion of writing advice on the Internet. Were you influenced by anyone in particular when you started writing your books? And I don’t mean Agatha Christie!


Confession—I have never read a book about writing, or attended a course about writing, in my life. It’s a bit embarrassing, really. I just write the way I do, and hope folks enjoy listening to the voices in my head! My overall goal is to tell good stories, without the words getting in the way. My ultimate hope is that readers feel as though they have experienced my books, rather than that they have read them.


I think we all agree that writing conferences are a wonderful way to give and receive support for ones endeavours. We have made many friends along the way from attending Bloody Words and Scene of the Crime. These conferences are unfortunately no more. Will we have to travel to Portland Oregon for ‘West Coast Crime’ or can you as VP at Crime Writers envision a large conference in Canada we can attend?  Not that I am averse to Portland. I’ll see you there when our book is published


This past twelve months has given me the chance to attend my first ever conferences. I began with Bouchercon in Albany, NY in September 2013, then Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA, in March 2014, Malice Domestic in May, the Canadian Libraries Association conference in Victoria, BC, also in May, Bloody Words in Toronto in June, the Special Libraries Association conference in Vancouver in June, the American Libraries Association conference in Las Vegas in June, and I enjoyed them ALL. This year I can’t make Bouchercon, which is annoying because it’s in Long beach CA this year, so a much easier journey, but I hope to go in 2015. I know what you mean—it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow authors, but it’s even more fun to meet readers, and that’s why I’ll be attending Left Coast Crime in Portland in March 2015 and Malic Domestic in Bethesda, MD in May—when I get to celebrate my birthday with a group of like-minded lovers of traditional mysteries!

I have no secret information about any future Canadian crime conferences—sorry!


You have had success with short stories and anthologies and your work has been produced for BBC4. Tell us about your experience listening to your words broadcast over the radio.


To hear what I had written expertly performed by the wonderful actress Alex Kingston (she was Dr. Corday in ER, and, given that I’m such a huge Doctor Who fan, I will always know her as Doctor River Song) made me shiver. It’s very strange to hear your words coming from someone else’s lips, in someone else’s voice. The second of my short stories was performed by another excellent actress, Glenne Headly (she was the female lead in the super movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and was just as thrilling. Both stories featured strong female central characters – something I seem to do a lot! It was such a proud moment—being in Vancouver, on the phone with my mum and dad in Wales, listening to BBC Radio 4 as the first story was first broadcast. THAT was very special.

Jamie Tremain:

Thanks Cathy for sharing your writing life with us. Congratulations and have fun and good sales at the launch of The Corpse with the Platinum Hair and your new series.

Thanks so much for having me along!

Having fun at Bloody Words in June 2014

Cathy Ace loves crime! It’s true – she discovered Nancy Drew in her local library, then found Agatha Christie on her Mum’s bookshelves, and she never looked back. Cathy happily admits that the characters she met between the book-covers as a child have influenced her writing. “Nancy Drew was plucky, strong and independent, and Agatha Christie’s puzzles engaged me every time. I love the sort of book that mixes intricate plotting with a dash of danger, and that’s what I’ve tried to create with my Cait Morgan Mystery Series.”
Her debut novel, “The Corpse with the Silver Tongue”, was published by TouchWood Editions in March 2012.”The Corpse with the Golden Nose” was then published in March 2013, and appeared on the BC Bestseller list for the first time in April 2013. April 2014 saw the publication of “The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb”, and the fourth Cait Morgan Mystery, “The Corpse with the Platinum Hair”, will be released in September 2014.
Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy is, like her heroine, now a Canadian citizen. “Cait’s Welsh Canadian, as am I. They say ‘write what you know’, so a short, plus-sized Welsh woman, who’s quite bossy, fits the bill! But Cait and I are not one and the same: she’s got skills and talents I don’t possess, and I’m delighted to say that I don’t usually encounter corpses wherever I go!”
With a successful career in marketing having given her the chance to write training courses and textbooks, Cathy has now finally turned her attention to her real passion: crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Two of her works, “Dear George” and “Domestic Violence”, have also been produced by Jarvis & Ayres Productions as “Afternoon Reading” broadcasts for BBC Radio 4.
“The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb” was published on 15th April 2014 and will be followed by the publication of “The Corpse with the Platinum Hair” in September 2014 (already available for pre-order/order).
Cathy is proud to be a member, and now Vice President, of Crime Writers of Canada, and a member of Sisters in Crime.
You can contact Cathy Ace by e-mail at:

Talk soon,

Pam & Liz

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September Summary

Summer’s gone – the warm breezes filling my writing room may well be the last gasp of summer. Not looking forward to this winter, based on predictions that it could be worse than the last one. Memories of that season are still too fresh in my mind.

I’ve been settling into my new location at work, getting acquainted with new faces and learning how to adapt to a slightly different work environment. Missing so many of my friends back up on the sixth floor though and it’s not as easy to grab a coffee or share lunch as I’d hoped.   Very glad then to have seen so many familiar faces Friday night at our company’s annual Gala and Rewards evening.  Several co-workers received well-deserved awards, among them two who won the top prize - a week long cruise later in January when all the annual convention winners world-wide assemble for a week of fun and sun aboard a luxury cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Pam and I had a Jamie Tremain day last Saturday, directing our focus to submit Body Perfect to another publisher. The publisher who’d had the manuscript for several months, decided against it a couple of months ago. C’est la vie.   So back on the submission trail we go.

During the summer months, both Pam and I suffered family losses and are regrouping in the aftermath.  It knocked us off our writing stride and it’s been an uphill climb to regain the rhythm, but we will persevere.  We’re certainly not unique in having major life events occur, and life still does go on.  Perhaps just a little differently.  For me, it’s meant not taking anything for granted, to live each day grateful for the blessings I enjoy, and to make a difference.

Getting back on the writing track took a big step forward last weekend.  After a morning of writing and planning, Pam and I enjoyed a lively lunch with fellow writers, Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner.  They both willingly share helpful advice and we had some laugh-filled brainstorming.  Another aspect to our meeting was discussing the desire we all have to develop a writing-related group to offer resources, advice and to promote other authors in the area. As well as sharing writing and publicity ideas.   We now have the fledgling beginnings of a group – more details to follow in the near future.  I’m quite excited about this venture.

Speaking of writing resources, Donna Warner’s blog offers great tips and advice – be sure to check it out.

And Jamie Tremain’s next interview will be posted later this month featuring Cathy Ace – fun lady and successful author of the Cait Morgan series.

I leave you with this gem from one of my favourite Twitter sites – Haggard Hawks Words   @HaggardHawks   -  A  quilicom is an utterly pointless or irrelevant matter raised in a conversation.       With municipal elections around the corner, this could come in handy!



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