Catherine Dalling is not just a writer and friend, but also a talented artist.
Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m almost 48, married with two teenage children, a dog and three cats. I became a stay-at-home mum when the kids were born and other than a couple of part-time jobs have stayed that way.
Twice a week I run a music quiz at a couple of local pubs and love it, even though I have to say I now know more useless information about one hit wonders and chart stats than I am probably ever going to need, unless one of my characters ever becomes a DJ.
What started you writing?
Up until the children were born I was predominately a portrait artist, people and pets, but when you have two young children it's not easy to paint when you don't have the space. So the paintbrushes were put away and I got on with being a mum. But something was missing, I needed something creative.
I had been a prolific writer whilst I was at school, short stories (somewhere between the Famous 5 and the Hardy Boys) and rather bad poetry. So I started writing a bit of fan fiction, then it mutated into not-so short stories - always dark, either realistically so or heading into urban fantasy.
As the kids got older I started painting again, but I have to admit I had the bug for writing. I enrolled on a writing course and really enjoyed it. I have very Gothic tendencies, but other than my beloved New Rocks (a particular type of boots) you wouldn't really notice it - well until you walk into my office that is...
Some writers concentrate on one genre, others a variety. Which type are you? And what are you currently working on?
I admit to a love of all things dark and macabre, but I don't do gore. I always think the less it's described the more it affects the imagination of the reader. So I tend to stick to what I know, and love.
I have a vampire serial that is at the stage where it needs a good edit, but to be honest I've popped it in the back of the cupboard as I feel the market is so saturated in blood that it will probably drown. My vampires can wait.
I am focussing on what will hopefully become a series of books involving the Nephilim; it's still in the early stages but the characters are already shouting at me at inopportune moments, which is always a good thing.In my head the characters are real. As long as I don't walk down the street talking to myself we should be okay.
When you're writing do you need to shut yourself off from everything, or are you happy to work with everyday life going on around you?
Normally I like to be all alone, locked away without distraction, once the kids get home from school I have no hope of getting anything done. Or if I don't want to be distracted by the washing/cleaning (can't work in a messy house) I take myself off to one of the local cafes with my net book for an hour and have a couple of lattes and get my brain working. I can shut the noise out, or I can people watch (it's valid research – honest).
I used to write in silence but now I tend to have music on, something that sets the mood for what I'm writing: a bit of HIM, or Within temptation, Bach, Beethoven, it varies, of course.
You have four stories in the anthology. How would you describe them to readers?
I have to say that the OWC has been an interesting exercise for me. I remember looking at it and thinking there is no way I can actually get my point across in 200 words (she has) - probably takes me more to tell people what they are about. So looking at the four stories, each is different, but very typically me.
- In 'Heat' I wanted to get over the feel of the inner city on a hot summer night, the seedy underbelly of nightclubs, I think I did.
- Bounce – you know that kid at the back of the class that you always thought was a bit odd?This is how he could have ended up, school wasn't the happiest days of everyone's life.
- Chaos – A humorous look at the beginning of the Apocalypse.
- Witness – A look at humanity from an unusual viewpoint.
As a writer in a rapidly changing book industry, do you see your genre as benefiting from them? Or having to adapt?
I think it's a two edged sword (to use rather apt cliché). When I was growing up dark fantasy/urban fantasy wasn’t seen as a serious genre. It seem to be changing. You only have to look at the plethora of vampires around at the moment - some better than others - to see that technology (and teenage girls) seem to be the vampires friend.
I remember when the books were either nestled in with the horror, or epic fantasy and you had to read the backs of covers to find what you wanted to read. Now it’s so much easier to find something that appeals, with no end of suggestions thrust at you when you have purchased online.
I think ezines are brilliant. There’s more scope to showcase writers who would probably never see the light of day otherwise.
I used to get the bi-monthly Fantasy and Sci-Fi (my abbreviation) periodical from the states (not overly expensive) but sometimes late etc; now I have it direct to Kindle for 99p - brilliant (I don’t own a Kindle but I have it on my phone) which means I read more as it’s always in my pocket.
What authors would you recommend new writers read?
I think it depends on what you want to write, but honestly, read whatever you can lay your hands on- especially if you aren't sure of what genre you fancy, or more to the point how you want to write it.
I’d avoid how-to books until you’ve found your voice, as I think they can be slightly a negative influence; and if you read too many it will just confuse you. It’s like painting, you find your own way, or you just end up like someone else.
Don't feel you have to like, or emulate someone if it doesn't do anything for you. There is nothing wrong with not liking what someone writes. It’s not bad writing, it just isn't for you.
The same goes for your writing. Don't try to write to please anyone but yourself. If you love your characters and your story, it will show.
So read, read, and read.
Read classics (in my case) Poe, Lovecraft, Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Grey is a really well spun tale.
As for vampires you can’t beat ‘Dracula’. Bram Stoker was a genius.
But for more recent authors (and again I can really only point you in the direction I go) look at Jim Butchers 'Dresden Files', Mike Carey 'Felix Castor', Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Tanya Huff, Laurel Hamilton, and Charlaine Harris.
Where can you be found on the web?
For my writing there is a fairly new blog which will be updated on a regular basis: http://nephilims-child.blogspot.co.uk/
For my paintings: pet-artist.co.uk and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catherine-Dalling-Artist/108056759286490
Thanks you for sharing your thoughts and inspirations with us, Catherine. And I'm certainly looking forward to reading your contributions to the One Word Challenge Anthology on Monday.
And remember you're invited to the official launch on Monday, here, and on Facebook (The One Word Anthology) and on Twitter...