How did you come up with the title? Catalina is a play on cat, which is where the main character began. She was the cat; Peter (another character in the book) was the wolf and the evil Stefano – the hound that chased them both. Originally, the book was called Avalonde and The Ship Of Dreams but the ship part of the original book was deleted (though it has returned in the sequel). The publishers were not captivated with Avalonde (though were happy for me to keep that title if I wanted0 so after much thought I settled upon the main Character’s name. I am happy I did so.
Can you tell us about your main character? Catalina is an orphaned girl, strong-willed yet alone and suddenly at the mercy of her wicked aunt, Griselda. Things go from bad to worse when cat discovers her aunt wants her dead, yet though it all Catalina never surrenders, but finds ways of staying alive and along the way she meets allies who eventually help her defeat her aunt and the wicked Stefano. I like Catalina because she doesn’t have all the answers but she does of an indomitable spirit that keeps her going when all seems lost.
How did you develop your plot and characters? The plot took a lot of work. It began with this idea of a Ship of Dreams and why would a character need to travel to the West on such a ship? Even though that part of the novel never made it to the finished story, it was the beginning question that drove the development of the plot and of the main character Catalina. The other idea was the old fairytale idea of the orphaned child being much more than what they seem at the outset when they have nothing. Catalina begins in an orphanage in one Realm (called Terras Firdel) but she ends up saving another Realm, (called Arboroth). Developing the four Realms (Avalonde and Mellothande are the other two) and the crossover points between them took a lot of time.
Who designed the cover? The cover was designed by Lee Burgemeestre. It was the cover (a sample sat on my kitchen table for a few weeks) that finally slid the pieces in place in my brain so that I could finally begin working on the sequel.
Who is your publisher? My publisher is Dragonfall Press, a small independent Australian publisher of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Speculative fiction. I am very happy with them,. They are helpful, supportive and generous.
Why did you choose to write this particular book? This particular story began from a story I stared telling my son and daughter when they were very young. It started out as a story about The Ship Of Dreams and from there it grew into first, Catalina, and now Catalina and its sequel that I hope to have finished by the end of 2013, Catalina’s Choice. The children and their two cousins, Jordan and Nick, listened to each freshly written chapter. It was great to have an audience who listened to me reading out loud my story as I wrote it.
How important do you think villains are in a story? I think villains, as much as anything or anyone, really drive the story. I think the sidekicks of villains and of the heroines are almost as important. Griselda is pure evil but it is the character of Stefano, the evil knife-thrower, who I enjoyed writing the most. If the audience don’t hate your villains strongly enough, then they will not care enough about those who are battling them.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? I am setting myself the target of a new novel every year. 2010 – the Woodcarver’s Son. 2011 – the Tree Singer. 2012 – Catalina, 2013 (finger’s crossed) Catalina’s Choice.
Have you started another book yet? I have begun a new novel – a sequel to Catalina called Catalina’s Choice. It is aimed at an older audience and develops both the realms and the characters first introduced in Catalina.
Where do you see yourself in five years? 8 books published, still teaching Drama because I love both writing and teaching. In a smaller house that the house now (the children older need less space, with a shed that I can write in. Maybe planning a trip to another country while writing another novel.
One day the orphan Catalina is taken home by her lone surviving relative, Aunt Griselda. Unfortunately for Catalina, all does not quite go as expected. Her aunt hates her and makes her life miserable. She learns she is to be sold to Stefano the Knife-thrower and used as a human target. To escape a certain death, Catalina leaps through a mysterious crossover point and ends up in a new land called Arboroth.
There, she is encounters a wolf-boy and a talking rat. She is beset by a cruel and inhospitable landscape, and all the while hunted by a pack of relentless hounds. Then Catalina discovers her aunt is also in Arboroth. And Griselda isn’t happy.
This is a fantasy tale of magic, of an evil witch and a little girl who just wants to know who she is.
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
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