Q. You seem to have a deep understanding of the many stages of recovery that a woman must undergo when healing from an abusive relationship. Have you done a lot of research into this topic, or are you simply able to put yourself in her shoes?
A. I have always been interested in the complexities of the human spirit, and in the past, a great number of books and talk shows painted abused women as weak, spineless individuals who subconsciously chose to be in relationships with domineering, abusive men. I found that to be very upsetting and felt it was narrow-minded, not to mention disgustingly self-righteous. That led me to begin reading everything I could find about women in unhealthy relationships and to watch interviews with them on television. I learned a great deal, allowing me to write factually about their experiences and what it’s like for them once they find the courage to extricate themselves from the situation. So, yes, I have done a lot of research, and as a writer who has educated herself extensively and come to understand these women, I am also able to put myself in an abused woman’s shoes.
Q. I love your male characters—they’re so real yet so patient, strong, insightful, and tender. Does your understanding of the male psyche come from being married to your childhood sweetheart and raising two boys to manhood, or is there another secret to it?
A. The most frequent question that my female readers ask me is, “Do men like your heroes really exist?” My answer is always, “Absolutely! I personally know three, my wonderful husband and my two sons.” While raising our sons, my husband and I also had an open-door policy for all their friends, and that holds true even now that they are both grown. As a result, I’ve gotten to know lots of guys and have had the opportunity to talk with them at length about life, love, and women. Their recurring question is, “Are there any halfway attractive women out there who aren’t totally self-absorbed and stuck on themselves?” Women don’t have a corner on sensitivity. Men have feelings, too, and most of them will bend over backward to make a woman happy. The challenge for them is finding the right woman. In my stories, I bring two nice people together, and they do the rest.
Q. Your love of animals comes through in all your novels. Can you tell us a little about the animals in your life?
A. Right now, we have three dogs, Kibbles, a darling red cocker mix that we rescued several years ago; and two male Australian shepherds, Buddy and Talili, who were littermates. Both of them seem to think Kibbles is their mom, which is understandable because they are red-tri shepherds, and Kibbles has the same coloring. She is now deaf and has cataracts, so they look after her when they go out into the forestland surrounding our home.
Buddy, featured in Summer Breeze as Joseph Paxton’s dog, is a talker. It’s difficult to describe the sounds that he makes, but he truly does attempt to have conversations with us. He can also open doors and enter the house after he’s been out for a run. I’ve tried to teach him to also close the doors, but he looks at me as if I’m nuts. In the winter when we feel a cold draft, we know that Buddy has let himself and the other dogs in again.
His brother, Talili, named after a Papua New Guinean warrior, was originally our elder son’s dog. My son’s wife was raised on the island and often went diving in Talili Bay. Talili came to live with us when our son and his Kiwi spouse moved to New Zealand. (The quarantine over there for imported pets is torturously long.) Talili is fiercely loyal and protective. He also suffers from separation anxiety, possibly because his first family left him, so we must take him with us whenever we can. If we have to leave him at home, he gets even. One time he pulled every book and paper off my office shelves. More recently, he chewed up my husband’s golf bag. He is a sweet, loving fellow, though, so we can’t stay angry with him for long.
Being a writer is a solitary profession. My pets carpet the floor around me while I work and keep me from feeling lonely. My husband occasionally questions the wisdom of allowing three dogs in the house all the time, but he understands how much I enjoy their company and has never forced the issue. He’s also a big softie and loves them as much as I do.
In addition to our dogs, we have a canary named Saffron who tries to drown me out with his songs when I talk on the phone. The louder I talk, the louder he sings. We also have a resident female cougar who occasionally seeks refuge on our property, countless squirrels and chipmunks, a large herd of deer, infrequent elk visitations, and a sow black bear whose tracks I sometimes see when I’m out walking. I never worry unless I see tiny cub tracks accompanying hers. Mama bears can be very dangerous if they think their babies are in danger.
Life on Cinnamon Ridge is never dull!
Q. As you were writing Star Bright, did you encounter any particular challenges, or have any especially memorable creative moments that set apart that writing experience?
A. Writing a book like Star Bright is a challenge from start to finish. My readers expect to read a wonderful love story, and they want it to be romantic as well as sensual. I believe I delivered all of that in Star Bright, but it wasn’t easy. At one point, I wrote a scene in which the heroine, Rainie, has a dream about making love with Parker. I felt that it was a fabulous scene, but something about it kept bothering me. I finally realized that it simply didn’t work at that point in the book and would be a betrayal of physically abused women everywhere if I included it so early in Rainie’s relationship with Parker. After finishing Star Bright, I posted that scene on my website for my readers to enjoy because it seemed a shame to waste it. They loved it! It is still available for anyone who’s interested in reading it. Simply go to catherineanderson.com. and click on the Bulletin Board button to the left of the homepage letter. Then select Main Board. At the top of that page, you will see an anchored message entitled Discarded Love Scene. I hope you enjoy it!