Monday, November 2, 2020

Cathy Marie Buchanan

Cathy Marie Buchanan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls.

Her latest novel is Daughter of Black Lake.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title Daughter of Black Lake works on a few levels. Hobble is daughter to Black Lake’s healer, Devout. The pair of them narrate the story and their relationship is central to the book. And with that old adage about it taking a village to raise a child, Hobble can be thought of as daughter to the entire community of bog dwellers at Black Lake. Lastly, in a way that readers will not appreciate until the final pages of the book, Hobble can be thought of as, quite literally, the daughter of Black Lake.

What's in a name?

We’ve all met people with the surname Carpenter or Hunter, or perhaps with the first name Grace or Charity. We know many modern-day names are rooted in our forefathers’ occupations and character traits. I fully embrace the old naming scheme in Daughter of Black Lake, and on the pages of the novel, you will meet Smith, Tanner, Hunter, Carpenter—each who practices the occupation his name implies—and also Devout, who is devoted to Mother Earth, and Hobble, who walks with a limp, and a druid called Fox, who is cunning and whose hair flames red.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Floored. I hold a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA. I spent the first decade of my work life in high tech. I put pen to paper for the first time at thirty-five and had my first novel published at forty-
five. As a gal who came to writing in midlife, my teenage self would have scoffed. No way had she written a novel (never mind that her nose was always stuck in a book).

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings. It was particularly tough for Daughter of Black Lake. The book is set 2000 years ago and to bring readers into the pagan world while introducing the characters and launching the tension proved to be the toughest writing challenge I have faced. I changed the opening scene a dozen times. I changed the point of view. In desperation, I rewrote the entire novel—the narration shifts back and forth in time by seventeen years—so that it moved chronologically through time, and then I changed it back to the way it was. The opening chapters did not come together until I moved the arrival of a druid priest at Black Lake from a hundred pages into the story to chapter three.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Travel. There’s nothing I like better than stepping off an airplane into a world that scarcely resembles my own. It looks, smells, sounds and tastes new, and that’s exhilarating. I think it’s related to why I write historical fiction; my love of diving deep into a time and place utterly different from my own.
Learn more about the book and author at Cathy Marie Buchanan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Daughter of Black Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue