Please tell us a little about your new novel, Pride & Regicide.
It's a light-hearted crime thriller set in the world of Pride & Prejudice, three years after the events of Jane Austen's novel. Mary Bennet, together with her best friend Cassandra Lucas, finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I was looking for my copy of P+P one day and said to myself, "That's funny, I can't find Pride and Regicide. Wait, what?!" It was a simple slip of the tongue and it might have stopped there, except that I remembered one of the minor characters from P+P: Miss King. She was engaged to Mr Wickham and we never did find out why the match was broken off...
This is your first novel, but I know that you’re no stranger to writing. Can you tell us a bit more about your other work?
I've been lucky enough to have about 200 poems and short stories printed in various magazines and anthologies, and three books published. Two have been published by Puppywolf: Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature (my first poetry collection), and How to Win Writing Competitions (and make money), where I explain what I did to win 19 writing competitions and literary awards, and how the reader can do it too. My second poetry collection was Look at All the Women, published by Mother's Milk Books, which got some lovely reviews. I write everything, from horror to nonfiction articles.
Wow - that sounds pretty impressive. Where can readers by these books?
As a fellow Crooked Cat author, I’m sure you will agree that Crooked Cat is a wonderful publisher. How did you first hear about them, and what made you decide to submit to them?
It was by an odd circle of events, really. I have a website designed to help other writers: Cathy's Comps and Calls, in which I list calls for submission and writing competitions that don't require any fees and can be entered, or submitted to, electronically. I listed Crooked Cat on there when they had an open submission window. It so happened that two of my favourite writers (including one Sue Barnard, who wrote a terrific book called The Ghostly Father, you really should read it) had novels published by them, and I was very impressed by the quality of both books and publisher. So when the next submission window came around, I made sure to submit! I am so thrilled that such a prestigious publisher has accepted my novel and they've been a delight to work with.
Please tell us a little about the real Cathy Bryant:
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When not writing I'm generally reading, sleeping, eating, cuddling cats or my other half, or chatting to friends in person and online. I'm not the physically adventurous sort - if I want to travel somewhere exciting, I open a book. I do love to perform, though, and there's little I enjoy more than making a roomful of people howl with laughter.
What is your favourite tipple?
I rarely drink alcohol - probably about four units a year - as with all my painkillers (I have arthritis and a number of other conditions) booze tends to send me to sleep. I like the occasional Amaretto or a good brandy or port. The best wine I ever had was a Beerenauslese 1976, but that was a long time ago. It tasted like liquid sunshine.
So I down a lot of decaf coffee and tea, and a hot chocolate/cocoa hybrid of my own devising. I drink various types of water, too (gosh, Im thrilling, aren't I?!) and I suppose the most exotic thing I sometimes drink is a really good tea - a single estate Darjeeling or a Russian Caravan or Assam. At our Occasional Austen meetings (I am a member of a Janeite group who meet up in Regency dress and talk about Austen-related things (and anything else we like)) I get to sit in my gown and drink good tea while fanning myself. It's rather blissful.
Is there anything which, with hindsight, you would have done differently?
In life, or the novel?!
In life - gosh yes! I'd have stopped trying to be sensible about either a career or marriage, and let myself be a writer twenty years earlier; and I'd have spent less time listening to bad 1980s music, I should think.
In the novel - hmmm....I probably should have killed another person, and also involved the servants more - I read Longbourn by Jo Baker and it demonstrated how invisible the servant class was in the novels and society of the time. I have a plan to involve a servant in Northanger Alibi, the sequel to Pride and Regicide. He or she will play a vital part in the uncovering of information.
Tell us three things about you which you think will surprise us!
1. I was struck by lightning and bitten by a poisonous spider on the same day, at a wedding in Tennessee. The bride and groom are still together, fourteen years later, so it wasn't an omen.
2. I was born on Friday 13th, which means that all superstitions are reversed for me. Apparently I'd also make a good witch.
3. My first names are Catherine, Jane and Elizabeth, which have all been used as the names of characters in works by Jane Austen and those of the Brontës (Catherine Morland, Jane Fairfax/Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet; Catherine Earnshaw, Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Hastings).
4. (I am a rebel...) Although I love to perform and I appear quite extroverted, it's an uncharacteristic aspect of me - I'm really terribly shy, and I've only been able to come out of my shell because people have been so encouraging and kind to me. I get very nervous in company, even (or especially) when I really like the people. Many thanks to all those reading this who are among those who have helped me and supported me. I'd still be quivering unhappily and not daring to try anything without you.
Thank you for being my guest today, Cathy! Please come again!