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Friday, October 15, 2010

Caitlyn Hunter's Storm Shadows

It's always a treat to interview a North Carolina writer, this week, Caitlyn Hunter.

Welcome. Tell us a little about yourself, Caitlyn.


I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina with my husband and our two dogs, Des and Fletch. I write mostly romance, paranormal to contemporary, sensual to sweet, novels to short stories. I’m part Cherokee and all of my paranormal romances are based on one or more of the legends of my ancestors. When I’m not writing, I like to garden, can, quilt and like all writers, I’m an avid reader.

Tell us about Storm Shadows.

Storm Shadows is the second book in my Eternal Shadows series. The hero, Marcus, like his three brothers, was cursed hundreds of years ago by the Shamans for shirking their responsibilities to their tribe. As a result of the curse, they’re shape-shifters, have various psychic abilities, and they’re immortal—or so they think until Marc starts doing some research into Cherokee legends and beliefs.
Marc’s been having visions for a number of years that involve a woman. Because of the outcome of those visions, when the woman shows up on his mountain, he’s caught up in a fight or flight scenario. Should he let her into his life and risk the possibility of his visions coming true or stay as far away from her as he possibly can?
Betty Sue considers herself the ultimate plain Jane. She’s klutzy, shy, and woefully lacking in self-confidence. When her friend Nathan, Marc’s brother, offers her the opportunity to stay in his cabin on Eternity Mountain she jumps at the chance. After a few days exploring the mountain, she meets Marc and is instantly attracted to him. It’s obvious he’s interested in her too, but why is he doing everything possible to drive her away and what secrets hide behind the sadness she sees in his eyes?

Caitlyn, do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

Oh definitely. My first book, which is no longer available (thank goodness!) was full of head-hopping. Of course, all the POV jumps were fixed in the editing process but I still have a tendency to head-hop. I'm getting better at staying with one character during a scene, but I still have to remind myself constantly which character’s POV I’m in while I’m writing the scene. I've even been known to stick a post-it note on my computer with the character's name on it.
I also have a tendency to tell instead of show which as you know, is a cardinal sin for writers. I blame it on the fact that I grew up listening to my dad tell stories about his childhood in the mountains of North Carolina. I still love to "hear" a good story and it doesn't bother me when an author "tells" more than "shows" but I know that's bad so I try to avoid it. It’s a tough battle—and a constant one for me!

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

Oh yeah, Storm Shadows. I don’t usually use an outline for my books; instead I start writing and let the characters drive me where they want to go. But with Storm, I actually had an outline. It was rough but I knew exactly where I wanted the book to go and how it was going to get there. The heroine, unfortunately, had other ideas. The whole time I was writing the book, I tried to stick with the outline but Betty Sue did some shape-shifting of her own, turning into a scene-stealing monster and refusing to follow my directions. She took me on a wild ride, down roads I’d never considered going, leading to places I’d never imagined. We argued constantly—and yes, I carry on conversations with my characters—and she came very close to driving me crazy before I finished the book. I happy to say I got through it but I really hope the heroine in the next book doesn’t present the same challenge.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Most of my stories take place in the mountains of western North Carolina. When my husband and I decided to move back to the South after living in Maine for eight years, we settled on western NC because it’s close to our families in east Tennessee and I had spent quite a bit of time here as a child visiting my dad’s family. Eternity Mountain, where the Eternal Shadows series takes place is based on childhood memories of the mountain where my grandmother and great aunt lived.
My first book and two of my short stories, however, were written when my husband and I lived in Maine and they both take place there. I also have a couple of YA fantasies I wrote while I lived there that are set in Maine.
As you can see, environment plays an important part in my writing and recently my upbringing has come to the forefront because my sister, Christy Tillery French, and I are co-writing a book about our great aunt’s life growing up in the historical town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. We’re doing our best to incorporate all those wonderful stories we heard from our dad when we were kids.

Yes, I've visited Hot Springs many times and wrote about it in one of my novels, Just North of Luck except that I have a serial killer on the loose in that little town.
Any current projects?


I have another paranormal romance, Winds of Fate, coming out soon. This one’s based on the Native American legend of the Blowing Rock in North Carolina and also includes elements of the Cherokee beliefs on reincarnation.

As I mentioned above, my sister and I are writing a book, Whistling Woman, about our great aunt’s life. We're very close to finishing the manuscript and hope to meet in Hot Springs for several days to edit and revise before we start the submission process.

What a great place to do that. I'm envious.

I’m also working on the next book in the Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows, which tells the story of the third Tassel brother, Luke. And I’m about ninety-five percent finished with a novella about an older, very professional woman who gets involved with a younger man, tentatively titled Strict Policies. Also, I recently pulled out one of those YA books and am playing around with it, hoping I’ll have the nerve to submit it…someday!

Wow! You're certainly a busy lady. Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

On my website, Romancing the Legends… at http://caitlynhunter.com, or on my blog, Cait-Tales at http://caitlynhunter.wordpress.com/. I also have a page on Author’s Den, Facebook, MySpace, and various other networking sites, all of which can be found through my website. I’m one of the Dames of Dialogue, a group of women writers who can be found at http://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/.

Caitlyn, I hope we meet in person soon. Continued success with all that you have going on.
Thanks, Susan

13 comments:

Christy Tillery French said...

Wonderful interview, Caitlyn (Gik) and Susan. Caitlyn's series is the best out there, without a doubt, and I'm not saying that because she's my sister! I love how she incorporates Cherokee legend into her stories and the characters she introduces. Just wish you'd hurry up and get those books out there, Gik!

I, too, let the character take me wherever they want, which can be pretty surprising at times.

Betty Gordon said...

A great interview, Caitlyn and Susan. I didn't know about your Cherokee connection. I look forward to absorbing moving stories from Cherokee legends.
Betty Gordon

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A very interesting interview! I didn't realize you and Christy were sisters. It's great that you can work together and that you both write novels.

Bobbye Terry said...

Love the interview. I am so intrigued by native American stories and love North Carolina (I was born in Durham).Thanks for the overview and information on what makes you tick as a writer. Wonderful job, Susan, as always.

Bobbye Terry
www.BobbyeTerry.blogspot.com
and www.DarynCross.blogspot.com

Joe Prentis said...

Caitlyn,

I loved reading the interview. As a frequent visitor to the Smokey Mountains, I like the history and folklore of the area. Books that touch on history in any manner will always hold my interest.

caitlynhunter said...

Aw, Christy, thanks but I still think you may be just a tiny bit biased where my writing is concerned!

As you know, Whistling Woman is taking up most of my writing time right now--can you believe we're so close to finishing? Yay!--but I think my New Year's resolution for next year has to be to finish some of the many WIPs I have and do something with them. I'm running out of room on my computer!

Thanks for dropping by. I always love hearing from you!

Caitlyn (Gik)

caitlynhunter said...

Hi Betty,

Susan asks the best questions, doesn't she?

Oh, those Cherokee legends, so many of them and so fascinating! And when you throw in all the different versions, a little confusing--but still interesting and fun.

Thanks for commenting!

Caitlyn

caitlynhunter said...

Thanks Jacqueline! Yep, Christy's my sister and I can't tell you how thankful I am to have her in my life. She's the best!

Thanks for dropping by!

Caitlyn

caitlynhunter said...

Hi Bobbye. Ah, another fan of the Native American legends.

My husband and I used to live near Durham when we were first married and he was in the Air Force. Completely different landscape on that side of the state but there are many lovely cities and towns over there. I love the Raleigh/Durham area and Chapel Hill is one of my favorites!

Thanks for commenting!

Caitlyn

caitlynhunter said...

Hi Joe,

NC is an interesting state. It seems almost every town you drive through has a sign that says "Welcome to Historic..." One of my favorite things to do when I have a few spare minutes is to research a town's history, especially how the citizens came up with some of the fascinating names!

Thanks for dropping by!

Caitlyn

Denise Verrico said...

Nice interview Caitlyn. I love shapeshifter stories. The Native American element is interesting. I love all kinds of mythologies in paranormal stories.

Pauline B Jones said...

wow, fun interview! thanks for sharing!

Arlee Bird said...

The mountain areas of western NC and East TN provide such a rich backdrop for storytelling. Sounds like you have an interesting book here, Caitlyn. Thanks, Susan, for this fine interview.

Lee
Tossing It Out