Today I’m visiting with my new writer friend, Catherine “Cat” Stein.
I met Cat through our Facebook group, The New Romance Café. We’re both contributors to the upcoming spring anthology, “Love in Bloom.” My story is a romantic suspense called R and R. The R and R is supposed to stand from rest and relaxation, but it’s more like romance and revenge. What’s the name of your story, Cat?
Cat: Love is in the Airship, it’s a steampunk romance, with pirates, danger, a mechanical snake, and as always, a feisty heroine
Sherri: Wow, that sounds like a fun read. I’m excited about the anthology but let’s come back to that. You are a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan? It probably seems warm here in eastern North Carolina compared to Michigan. We’re having a fairly mild winter so far.
Cat: Haha. Nothing mild in Michigan. We had record cold this week. Everyone huddled at home under blankets, drinking tea.
Sherri: Have you ever been to North Carolina before?
Cat: Only to the western part of NC, but I’ve been to the coast in South Carolina and Georgia. I’ve been to a good chunk of the 50 states and I’m working on getting to them all.
Sherri: I would love to travel. It seems time or money are always limited. Do you write full-time or do you hold down another job as well as write?
Cat: As of mid-December, I am a full-time writer. I quit my part-time, work-at-home job that I’d had forever because I really wanted to focus on making a career out of my writing. The great thing about my old job was that I was able to still be at home with my kids, but writing is my true passion and I can do that at home, too!
Sherri: How many children do you have? Do you home school?
Cat: Three kids, all girls. The oldest is 14 and the youngest is 9. And I definitely *don’t* home school. I volunteer a lot at their schools, as a Girl Scout leader, and with their athletics, but I think I would go crazy if I tried to do all the teaching as well.
Sherri: Juggling a family and writing is difficult. I have six sons. When they were young, I’d steal an hour or two to write in the morning after they left for school or in the evening after supper. When is your best time to write?
Cat: In the morning I do social media stuff and non-writing author business. I’m not at all a morning person, and it’s just harder to get the creativity going at that time. Depending on what’s going on any given day, I’ll then write during the late morning/early afternoon. Evenings I do social media stuff again, but mostly just checking in/replying between taking kids to activities, dinner, getting everyone ready for bed, etc. And then once things are calm (anywhere between 8 and 9) I sit down for my most productive writing time.
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Cat: I’ve been writing all my life, and seriously writing with the aim of publishing for maybe 3 or 4 years. I published my first book in November of 2018.
Sherri: We are close in time. I published my first book in November of 2017, my second in September of 2018. Are you Indie published or traditional?
Cat: Indie. I love having the creative control over the content, release timing, covers, and so forth.
Sherri: I really love your covers. Do you design your own?
Cat: Thank you! I love them, too! I wish I had that sort of talent, but alas, I do not. My editor is also my cover designer, and she does amazing work. I had the idea for the series look (subtle maps in the background, heroine featured prominently) and I picked the images, but she turns all that into something beautiful.
Sherri: You write Steampunk romance. Could you explain this genre to those who may not know about it? I’ve read a couple of Young Adult novels in the steampunk genre and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to reading “How to Seduce a Spy.” I just bought the ebook.
Cat: Thanks for buying the book! I hope you love it. Steampunk involves alternate-history or fantastical worlds with Victorian-era and/or Wild West aesthetic (corsets, top hats, tea, trains, dastardly villains). The technologies of the world are steam-powered or clockwork instead of electricity, and you often see wild machines, airships, and other impossible or implausible devices. The world of “How to Seduce a Spy” puts kind of a twist on steampunk, having the technology based on magic potions rather than mechanical contraptions. They do drive steam cars, though.
Sherri: What do you enjoy about writing?
Cat: I love making the characters come to life and giving them an adventure and a happy ending. All my books are very character-driven and I really love watching and helping them lead the story.
Sherri: What do you despise about writing?
Cat: Marketing is really hard and I don’t really understand it yet.
Sherri: Marketing is hard, and it can be expensive, especially for an indie author. Everything falls on us. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do interviews with my fellow writers. To give us a venue to talk about our books, writing and maybe let readers know we have books out there for sale. They can find us if they don’t know to look for us.
Tell us about your book(s) and your Main Character(s).
Cat: The Potions and Passions world is an alternate Victorian era world, where technology relies heavily on magic potions. Potions are used to light lamps, fuel vehicles, heal wounds and illnesses, make people feel certain ways or certain things, and a host of other uses.
How to Seduce a Spy, book 1 of the series, follows barmaid (and potion mixer) Elle Deschamps as she’s recruited to help travel the world trying to find new sources for the magic serum that powers the potions. Elle”s had a difficult life, but she’s determined, hard-working, smart, and has never given up on her dream of owning her own potion shop. Her quest puts her alongside Henry Ainsworth, a British spy also looking into the serum shortage. Henry is quietly competent and slightly roguish, but socially and romantically awkward. He loves sarcasm, swearing, and tea.
The Earl on the Train, a Potions and Passions novella set just before the events of How to Seduce a Spy, has hero Nick and heroine Ida meeting by chance on a train and ending up together on an epic road trip from England to India. Despite the scandal in her past, Ida has a dream of crafting and selling magic-based perfumes to the elite of society. She’s chatty, spunky, and feminine. Nick is struggling with an addiction to recreational potions and chaffing at the societal restrictions put on him because of his position in society. He’s traveling to gather intelligence for his spymaster uncle, but he’d rather be at home, redecorating.
Sherri: Is this a series or stand alone?
Cat: Each book in the series can be read as a standalone, but they share the same world and some characters do appear in both books.
Sherri: How many books have you published?
Cat: Just the two are out so far. The next book, “Not a Mourning Person”, is with my editor right now and will be out in the spring. It gives a minor character from “How to Seduce a Spy” her happy ending.
Sherri: I understand you are a football fan.
Inside Michigan Stadium. The University of Michigan is a *huge* part of Ann Arbor life (so many jobs, buildings, activities, etc.) and the football stadium (largest in the country) can hold almost as many people as live in the whole city. I was in the marching band in college and I get to be with the band on the field at homecoming every year. So that is the bell of my trumpet looking out over the field.
Cat: Yes! Huge! I go to all the University of Michigan home games and watch all the away games. We’ve had season tickets for years. Saturdays in the fall are pretty much, “Nope. Can’t do that. There’s a game.”
The first book in my Sass and Steam series (the world that Love is in the Airship is set in) is planned for a fall 2019 release to coincide with football season. It all takes place in Ann Arbor in 1904 over the course of the football season. The heroine is a die-hard fan.
Sherri: Unfortunately, our time is running short. I hope you will come back to the Creekside Café and visit with us again.
Cat: It’s been tons of fun. Thanks so much for having me!
Sherri: To follow Catherine “Cat” Stein, check out her media links below and don’t forget to be on the look out for both our stories in “Love in Bloom,” an international spring anthology. The proceeds will go to Pink Ribbon International for breast cancer research. The ebook will be available March 8, International Women’s Day. Thank you again Cat for chatting with me. Now, to finish “How to Seduce a Spy.”
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/catsteinbooks/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/catsteinbooks/
How to Seduce a Spy buy links:
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2IL8S8y
The Earl on the Train buy links:
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2QGOJYt
A production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the arboretum. Every summer these outdoor Shakespeare productions are put on, and they’re amazing.