An Interview with Cathy Perkins

Cypher-frontcover-Glass-Final-72dpiTell us something about you.

I’m a transplanted Southerner, currently living in Washington, with my husband, children, several dogs, and the resident deer herd. I love the Pacific Northwest – food, wine, climate, relaxed attitudes and access to the outdoors.

My books are predominantly financial-based mysteries, but I enjoy exploring the relationships in my characters’ lives. Inspiration comes from my financial day-job – I’ve learned firsthand the camouflage, hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by my villains – but people, the characters, definitely make the books page-turners.

A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, I’ve help coordinate the Daphne du Maurier contest and manage the ITW Debut Authors program and blog, The Thrill Begins. I’m a firm believer in giving back to the community, whether it’s the kids’ schools, the city or state where you live, or whatever your passion may be.

Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?

Like many authors, I’m a hybrid author in all aspects of the term. I’m still working an interesting day job, so I write in the morning before work, on airplanes (while traveling for the day job, which is not nearly as exciting as it might sound), late at night, and any other spare moment.

I read the most inspiring post the other day from a debut author who talked about giving up social events – happy hour and lunch with co-workers, for example  – in order to carve out time every day to write. I was so impressed. Although I can’t say I write every day, I try to use those “spare moments” to add words to my next manuscript.

How did you get started writing?

While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until a few years ago. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a tong-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles from my home. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon, the daydream developed dialogue, characters and a setting, and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked on writing, creating worlds and characters.

Once I screwed up my courage and showed friends my first story, they encouraged me to continue writing. I heard about a week-long writing retreat sponsored by the RWA Lowcountry chapter. I learned so much at their Masterclass, I joined a critique group when I returned home, hoping to learn more. Other writers encouraged me to join RWA and enter a few contests, including the Golden Heart. The Professor won those contests and was a Golden Heart finalist. I kept writing and learning and more of my books were published. Definitely a “dream” come true.

Describe your office. Is it organized, cluttered?

How about organized chaos? I telecommute to my day job, so I converted a bedroom into an office for it. Since I’m always working on multiple projects, there are (ahem) a few piles of paper.  On the floor, the credenza…

Since I want to keep my writing separate from my day job, I generally write at the dining room table. Of course, those windows have an eighty-mile view across the Columbia River to the Blue Mountains – inspiring!

I hear you know something about Greenville, SC, having lived there for years. But you now live in the Pacific Northwest. Which place is your favorite?

h, I love both places! I grew up in the Greenville area and still have family there, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. Greenville sits in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and has thousands of trees and lush gardens that are very different from my current home. Although Seattle, aka the Emerald City, is also known for its fantastic greenery, we’re in the process of building in the Cascade Mountains, which has its own enormous evergreens, cottonwoods, rivers and mountain-vistas.

The biggest difference between the two areas is, of course, cultural. The South has managed to hang onto its outgoing charm, while Seattle-ites are more likely to wear earbuds and a hooded rain jacket and avoid eye-contact.

I chose to set Cypher in Greenville, SC. Family-owned businesses are still very much a part of the South and something I knew intimately from both my financial job and my many friendships with business owners. I could relate to the heroine, Cara, on a professional level, as well as understand her struggle to meet her personal, friends, business and family’s expectations.

What is your next project and when will it be released?

I’m working on a lighter story right now, set in Washington’s Cascade Mountains rather than South Carolina. The starting point for it occurred while cutting up with a friend. We riffed off the opening line—There’s a body in the beaver pond. Oh, dam(n). It’s the first in a new series that my agent is impatiently waiting for me to finish!

My second WIP is the sequel to So About The Money, which will release later this fall. Its imaginative title is “Book 2.” So far it has Rockcrawlers and that llama from So About The Money may just have to show up.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

When I started playing with ideas for Cypher, I thought, What if? What if I turned the idea of an office romance completely on its head? What if instead of a person at the office, it was the company itself that everyone wanted? Although Caroline (Cara) Wainwright says she’s perfectly happy working for the advertising agency, what if she really wanted to work for the family business like her brother, if only to snag her father’s attention?

The rest of the “what ifs” about Cypher, the family’s corporation, might give away plot twists, but from the beginning, Cara wonders: since her father has always made the business a higher priority than his family, how far will he go to protect it?

With Cara pulling on family dynamics inside Cypher, Detective Davis Morris can push from the outside, tying together pieces of forensic evidence. He’s also falling for Cara, which makes him wonder if their attraction is desire, manipulation…or real. Talk about your personal conflict! David is investigating the murder of Cara’s friends–with everyone in her family hiding secrets and on the suspect list, including Cara. Unless they overcome their distrust and work together, more people will die.

I love it when the stakes are higher because the hero and heroine stand to lose both personally and professionally.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Self-publishing – or indie publishing, take your pick – offers both opportunities and challenges.

I love the flexibility and creativity of indie-pubbing a story. I can control the scheduling and marketing, as well as the creative aspects of the cover and any other element of the story I especially want. On the other hand, I bear the full responsibility for delivering a quality experience to my readers. That includes hiring competent editors for content and copyediting.

If you’re considering indie-pubbing a story, recognize you control all aspects of the publication. Don’t be in such a hurry to press the “publish” button that you skip important steps in editing, proofing, and designing the marketing campaign.  Either learn to produce the technical aspects of publication or hire/barter with a professional to produce a fabulous story.

CYPHER excerpt

 In this section, against her attorney’s instructions, Cara Wainwright has arranged to meet Detective David Morris at the hospital where her terminally ill mother is a patient. Newspaper coverage speculating about her murdered friends and Cara’s role in their death prompted her to give him a different perspective on all of them. Through his investigation into Cara’s life and personality, David is already fighting his attraction to her. He doesn’t know if she’s the murderer, a co-conspirator—or innocent.

Before Morris could ask [Caroline] to explain the “error in judgment” or prod her about Reese’s drugs, she said, “There may be another possibility.”

“Oh?” His attention immediately sharpened. They’d already covered his primary motives.

Her fingers drummed the table. “As far as I know, no one hates me. My family has money, but most of it’s tied up in Cypher. The company’s never been an active target before.”

Before? “Is something different this time? Have there been threats?”

“I’m not aware of any.”

She was hedging. “Anything from a disgruntled employee?”

“It’s just a feeling. That something’s going on. With the company.”

He found himself in the uncomfortable position of pulling a Pennell. He couldn’t take her instincts to court. He needed something solid. “You aren’t involved in the company?”

Caroline shook her head. He tried to focus on the subtext of her words rather than her perfume and the way her chest rose and fell sharply when she tried not to cry.

“It was a mutual decision. I enjoy my work with Robeshaw Advertising. I called Crystal earlier today. She said the police were there. Was that you?”

He wasn’t going to let her off that easily. “I could talk to your father about threats to the company.”

Her body language said, Good luck with that one.

The corner of his mouth twitched. “Already tried that, huh?”

“He’s big on Need to Know.”

“What about you?” He tried to say it neutrally. He didn’t want to be attracted to her, but he wasn’t looking forward to hearing about her love life either.

“Me? I’ve already told you, nobody’s threatened me.”

“This could be directed at you personally rather than your family. Maybe an old boyfriend?”

She recoiled as if he’d slapped her. “Bill would never—”

“If it is directed at you,” he interrupted, “the guy could try again. We need to consider the possibility.”

For a long moment, she stared at him. Then she released a slow breath and relaxed her shoulders. “You can take my old boyfriends off your suspect list.” A wry expression twitched her mouth. “I can think of one guy who broke my heart back in college, but I didn’t exactly leave a trail of crushed men in my wake.”

Don’t sell yourself short.

Long blurb

Cara Wainwright thinks life can’t get tougher when her mother’s cancer becomes terminal—until she returns home from the hospital and finds her houseguests dead.

Greenville, SC Detective David Morris, is unsure if Cara is the suspect or the intended murder victim. Searching for insight into her family, their mounting secrets, and the conflicting evidence from multiple crimes, his attraction to Cara complicates his investigation. Is the lure need, manipulation—or real?

While David pursues forensic evidence, Cara pushes for answers about her father’s possible involvement, for at the center of the mystery stands Cypher—the company her father built and will take any measures to defend.

When the assassin strikes again, Cara and David have to trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he eliminates the entire Wainwright family.

Perkins Bio

An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

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3 thoughts on “An Interview with Cathy Perkins

  1. Interesting post Cathy 🙂 You make the south sound so warm and inviting. I’d love to visit there one day.
    Great excerpt, Cypher is on my TBR pile.
    Best of luck,
    Jacquie Biggar

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